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Achieving proper perspective

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Jim from Jacksonville:
I don't get it. You say we don't need to be concerned about the Jags performance last week because its preseason, yet, you can pick the Dolphins as a surprise team based on their performance in the preseason? Please explain.

Vic: I look, I see, I decide. What I saw in the Dolphins, I like. I like their energy. I like the young quarterback and I like the time the old quarterback is going to buy the young guy and still keep the Dolphins competitive. I especially like the Dolphins' draft and good drafts will always win my favor. Time will tell. If at the end of the season I was wrong, tell me.

Richard from Jacksonville:
What should I look for in the third preseason game?

Vic: The standard answer is that you should look for something closer to a regular-season game, but I still think it's about evaluating individual personnel. When I look at a preseason game, I look at those players about whom I have questions. I don't care what Maurice Jones-Drew does in the game. I don't care if he fumbles on the one-yard line again because I have no questions about Jones-Drew. He's quality. He's one of the team's nucleus players; a developing star. I wanna watch Khalif Barnes and Richard Collier. Can they hold down the left tackle position? I wanna watch Rob Meier and Tony McDaniel. Can they be the other defensive tackle? I wanna watch Quentin Groves in pass-rush situations and Reggie Hayward in run situations. Can Groves be that pass-rusher and does Hayward still have the legs to be strong against the run? That's what the preseason is for me. It's a time for me to get answers to questions and concerns I have about this team. It's my scoreboard that counts and my scoreboard is very different from the ones at each end of the stadium.

Chris from Jacksonville:
I know you don't have the guts to answer this question but I'll ask it anyways. Why in the world did we not draft Dennis Dixon in the sixth round, considering our need for both a young quarterback to develop and for a backup?

Vic: Well, the first answer to your question is that the Jaguars couldn't draft him in the sixth round because he was selected by Pittsburgh in the fifth round. Nonetheless, the Jaguars could've picked him in round five, one place ahead of the Steelers, but elected to pick Thomas Williams. Why? Do you really need to ask that question? Because they think Williams is a better player. I hope that's the answer. If it isn't, it will have been a mistake.

Wallace from Jacksonville:
I just love Paul Spicer's quote about the Derrick Harvey holdout: "It's time to get down to business." There comes a point when greed is a bad thing and in my opinion Mr. Harvey and his agent have reached that point. What do you think?

Vic: Greed is always a bad thing and I don't think Derrick Harvey is guilty of greed. He's attempting to negotiate a contract that will determine his financial gain in professional football. I regret that the deal isn't done but I won't fault a guy for being a hard-nosed negotiator, and neither will I fault the team. It's professional football and it's about the money, for both the player and the team.

Robert from Jacksonville:
I don't know if you saw the game between Tampa and New England, but Tampa looked explosive on both offense and defense. I think this upcoming game against Tampa will tell us whether we have what it takes to go to the next level or not.

Vic: One of my favorite coaches is Chan Gailey. He's a great guy and has always been very accommodating to the media. Chan has one of those pure southern personalities that I love when it's genuine, and it is with him, and I can hear him saying, "Vic, if you believe that, then you go ahead write it." I do not, however, believe it, Robert.

James from Jacksonville:
Do you think Reggie Williams and Jerry Porter will have enough time to work with Garrard on timing before the regular season begins?

Vic: No, I don't, and I think it's going to hold David Garrard and the passing game back a little bit.

Tim from St. Petersburg, FL:
Groves was ineffective last week and that has resurrected the mantra that he is too small to be an every-downs defensive end. Dwight Feeney is a smallish end. How does he do it?

Vic: With leverage, that's how. Yeah, he's quick and he certainly uses his quickness to beat offensive linemen, but when he locks up with a blocker that is much bigger than him, he doesn't get swallowed up and that's because he plays with leverage. Freeney gets low. It's natural for him and that's why he can play defensive end. The problem with a lot of standup college defensive ends is that they don't play with leverage. They tend to want to get over a guy instead of under him. Derrick Thomas played with leverage. He's one of the tweener types who could play with his hand on the ground because he played with leverage. When a standup college defensive end can't play with hand-on-the-ground leverage, he needs to be a linebacker.

Michael from Jacksonville:
What makes Brian Williams the starter at safety over Gerald?

Vic: Six years in the league, 77 starts and 16 career interceptions make Brian Williams the starter. He's a proven, veteran defensive back who combines coverage skills with tackling ability.

Bill from Middleburg, FL:
I love your column; only one complaint. You seem to have a need to always be right. You say not to be worried about the preseason, yet, you are concerned about Garrard's protection. Isn't that talking out of both sides of your mouth? Am I right?

Vic: I'll let you be the judge. I have concerns, but I don't lose sleep over them. I saw things last Saturday I didn't like, but I'm not ready to abandon my expectations for this team. That's my position.

Darren from Vancouver, BC:
If you are over the age of 12 and you wear a sports jersey, you probably look ridiculous. T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats are acceptable; jerseys on old people are not. Just letting you know.

Vic: So, I guess you want me to wear a coat and tie in the press box, right?

Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
Do you think Ryan Hoag has a chance to make the team?

Vic: I think he deserves a chance. He's got a soft pair of hands and nice instincts for the passing lanes, but the thing I really like about him is that he's one of those rare receivers who "plays along the ground." What I mean by that is that he catches the ball in stride and keeps running. He's able to feel where defenders are while his eyes are on the ball and he's able to make the catch and sidestep defenders while in stride. Hines Ward is great at that. This generation of receivers who have to face-up to the quarterback to catch the ball lack the kind of run-after-the-catch ability I think a Hall of Fame receiver should possess. I like Hoag's ability to play along the ground.

Tom from Jacksonville:
Do you wear a Jaguars jersey when you are in the press box on the road?

Vic: Yeah, but white only. I'm a traditionalist. I wear teal at home, even for one o'clock games in September, and white on the road.

Chris from Arroyo Grande, CA:
Do you think they'll ever change the regular season, 54-man roster?

Vic: I heard they're going to 53 this year.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I'm tired of hearing the preseason doesn't matter. It matters enough that I get charged full price for my ticket. It matters enough that I pay $7 for a beer and $8 for a hamburger. All offseason, we fans have been reading that this can be a special year for the Jaguars. It sure would be nice for the Jaguars to show a glimmer of being a Super Bowl contender this preseason. I know preseason records don't count, but football is a form of entertainment and the last two games have not been entertaining. Wouldn't a team be better off to build some momentum and excitement heading into the season by playing well (at least while the starters are in) than playing poorly? At the very least, it may help with ticket sales.

Vic: I hope you find what you need in the way of entertainment. As far as the ticket prices are concerned, would it make you feel better if the Jaguars assigned a lower cost to your preseason tickets and a higher cost to your regular-season tickets? The cost of a season ticket is the cost of seeing a season of NFL football. The price is divided evenly among 10 games because it's an easy way to do it. What does it matter? The preponderance of fans attending preseason games are season-ticket holders, so what does it matter what price the team assigns to the ticket? It's the total price for the season that counts and that's not going to change by lowering the price for a preseason game. You know that. As far as building momentum in the preseason, the Colts were 2-11 combined in the 2005-07 preseasons, and they won the division title each of those years and the Super Bowl in one of them. John, there is no such thing as building momentum in the preseason. It is what it is and I think veteran fans understand and accept that.

Tony from Jacksonville:
Players play, coaches coach, fans fantasize and agents control us all.

Vic: You forgot writers write.

Cedrick from Jacksonville:
It's not okay to be worried about the Jags in the preseason. I have and have had complete faith in them since I attended their inaugural game in 1995 when I was three. But can I be disappointed in them?

Vic: Cedrick, it sounds to me as though you have achieved proper perspective at a very young age.

Jon from Jacksonville:
What are you doing for hurricane Fay?

Vic: We're buying battries. We only have a couple of more stores to hit and I think we will have cornered the market on battries. I already got the water taken care of. I've filled every bottle in the house with water. I even dumped out what was left in a Drano jug and filled it with water. You can never have enough water and battries.

Chris from St. Augustine, FL:
How many teams do you think looked back at their season and said, "Week three of the preseason was the turning point for this team?"

Vic: Yes, there is intelligent life in northeast Florida. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderfully glib sense of humor. Come on, Fay, baby. You and me. I'm ready for you. I got battries and water. Let's do it.

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