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AFC South could be in down year

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

J.R. from Phoenix, AZ:
I heard you and accept your reasoning behind not trading for talent as a substitute for drafting talent. I think the situation is a bit different now and the Jags should be looking at trading for offensive linemen. Your thoughts?

Vic: The Jaguars are already without next year's seventh-round pick, which they traded to Tampa Bay to move up and draft Quentin Groves this year. Counting the deal to trade up and draft Derrick Harvey that sent three extra picks to Baltimore and the deal for Troy Williamson that sent a sixth-round pick to Minnesota, that's five picks the Jaguars have traded so far in two years. Isn't that aggressive enough for you? How many more draft picks do you want to trade away?

Matthew from Jacksonville:
David did not look sharp to me on Sunday.

Vic: Really? I liked the bow tie.

Rick from Jacksonville:
With Vince Manuwai out, here is a practical question: Can teams add roster spots during the year when a player goes on IR? How does that work?

Vic: I don't know what you mean by adding roster spots. Here's the way it all works: Players on injured reserve are part of a team's 80-man roster. The combination of the 53 players on the active roster and the eight players on the practice squad allow a team to carry 19 players on injured reserve, which also includes guys on PUP. If a team is at 53, eight and 19 on its 80-man roster and it needs to move another player to injured reserve, it either needs to do an injury settlement with a player on the injured reserve list and remove him from that list, or cut a guy from the practice squad or active 53. You can only have 80 players total, which includes the injured reserve list.

Jeremy from Jacksonville:
I know our offensive line was in trouble, but I got to say that our game plan did not seem fluid enough.

Vic: Video football has done a terrible disservice to real football by warping the fans' viewpoint of what the essence of the game is. People who play video football, and there are millions of them who do, think football is all about play selection. Why shouldn't they think that way? That's all you can do; select a play. You can't put on the pads, get in a three-point stance, stare into the eyes of the guy across from you and feel your heart pound because you know he's going to whip you. They don't program physical dominance and the feeling that accompanies it into those games. All you can do is pick and whether or not the play you pick succeeds will have been determined by some nerdy computer programmer. Jeremy, the Jaguars got whipped up front. When your quarterback is sacked seven times and you rush for only 33 yards, it pretty much says you couldn't run or pass. Play-calling wasn't the issue. Injuries and the failures they caused were the issue. Football isn't about blips on a screen. It's about human confrontation and the Jaguars lost that confrontation.

Conrad from Richland Center, WI:
It looked to me like the Jags had a lot of trouble with arm-tackling on defense. Am I wrong?

Vic: When you're trying to tackle someone who is as quick and elusive as Chris Johnson or as powerful as LenDale White, you're going to miss some tackles. The same can be said of opponents attempting to tackle Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. That should not happen, however, when you're attempting to tackle Bo Scaife in the open field. I'll forgive the misses on Johnson and White, but not the one on Scaife.

Moshe from Mexico City, Mexico:
Which thing is worse, to lose your best offensive lineman for the season or to lose Tom Brady for the season?

Vic: With all due respect to Vince Manuwai and Mo Williams, there's no comparison. Tom Brady is an irreplaceable player. The Jaguars are going to struggle without Manuwai and Williams but, in time, the coaches will find a way to deal with the loss of those players.

Sharon from Jacksonville:
I was impressed with the Titans on Sunday and though the Texans lost to the Steelers, they came back in the fourth quarter and showed some spark. Is it fair to say the AFC South has the potential to be the toughest division in the league?

Vic: You are an amazing glass-is-half-full person. Showed spark in the fourth quarter? They got hammered. I looked up at the scoreboard in Tennessee and the Texans were losing 35-3. Then, Sunday night, I watched the Bears put the finishing touches to the whipping they gave the Colts. The AFC South sure didn't distinguish itself on Sunday. Based on the first week's action, the AFC South may be in a down year.

Donny from Lake Mary, FL:
You have quoted Chuck Noll several times before in saying, "Help is not on the way," which sums up the Jags' offensive line woes. What specifically do the Jags coaches and players have to do to salvage this season?

Vic: They have to persevere. They have to dedicate themselves to being the best they can be, regardless of the circumstances. They can't allow themselves to be discouraged or divided. This is gonna be a long haul. They'll need defense and special teams to shoulder a little more of the load in the next few weeks, until they can regroup on offense. "Help is not on the way" is a mindset. It's a way of saying don't expect someone to come in here and save you. You have to save yourself.

Thomas from Jacksonville:
How did Jackson from the Eagles and Royal from the Broncos slide into the second round?

Vic: They made it into the second round because you gotta get the big guys early; the first round is for the big guys. That's why I say you can get receivers later. They're a dime a dozen because there are so many more small, good players than there are big, good players.

Brian from Jacksonville:
Make up your mind on the Titans. Earlier, in fact maybe even as recent as two weeks ago, you said the Titans might finish last in the division. Then you watch one game and now you say they might be the division winner.

Vic: I officially picked them to finish third in the division. Why? Because they had lost three defensive linemen in free agency and because I see no future in Vince Young at quarterback. When I saw the Titans in person on Sunday, I was stunned by the dominant performance of their defensive line. Jason Jones is just a rookie. He's the big kid from Eastern Michigan with all the athletic ability but who was thought to be a project. It must not have been much of a project because it appears to have already been completed. The other rookie, running back Chris Johnson, is a difference-maker. I wasn't expecting two rookies to provide that kind of impact. That's why the change. I don't believe in this make up your mind stuff. The information changes all the time. Tom Brady is out. Am I supposed to stick with my prediction for New England?

Jay from Jacksonville:
Everyone says the Jags need a deep threat, but I think it's more of a want than a need. Last year the Jags set multiple team records for number of plays in a drive and time of possession without having a deep threat. I have never seen defenses as demoralized as I did after those drives last year.

Vic: You're absolutely right about demoralizing teams last season with ball control. The Jaguars did it with their running game and short-passing game but, if you look at the two playoff games, you'll see that the Jaguars didn't run the ball very well. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 77 yards combined against Pittsburgh and for just 66 against the Patriots. After getting snow-plowed in the regular-season meeting with the Jaguars, the Steelers decided to stop the run at all cost in the second game and I think the Patriots did the same thing. The feeling was that the Jaguars lacked a big-play receiver so load up against the run, and I think that's exactly what the Titans did on Sunday and I expect the Bills to have the same game plan this Sunday. In my opinion, a big-play receiver is more than a want, it's a need. He doesn't have to be a get-deep guy; he can be a run-after-the-catch guy. Either way, the Jaguars need someone in their receiving corps to establish himself as a player to be feared. If that doesn't happen, the field will continue to shrink and opponents will continue to do what the Steelers started in the playoffs. Since that game, Taylor and Jones-Drew have rushed for a combined 174 yards in three games.

Patrick from Jacksonville:
Watching highlights of Favre, Manning, Cutler, etc., they're throwing the ball anticipating their WR getting open. It seemed Garrard wasn't anticipating the plays and he was waiting for the end of the route and it was too late.

Vic: I've tried to explain this several times and I've apparently failed, so please bear with me one more time. The Jaguars had to max-protect quite often on Sunday. That means they had to keep two backs in the backfield to block and often tight end Marcedes Lewis was used as a blocker, too. When you do that, you are sending a minimum number of receivers into the passing lanes and they were outnumbered by Titans defenders. Finding open receivers becomes more difficult in that kind of situation. In many cases, if Garrard had anticipated a receiver's route and thrown before he came out of his break, an extra defender would've closed on the ball before the receiver did. That's exactly what happened on Garrard's pass for Matt Jones that resulted in an interception. It was an extraordinary day. It was one of those rare occasions when four men up front were whipping as many as eight blockers. It's awfully difficult to succeed in three against seven.

Jim from Jacksonville:
If we don't have many jars left on our shelf, can we take jars off other teams' shelves, and are there any?

Vic: They may not be good jars. The kind of jars the Jaguars need are on other teams' protected rosters, not on practice squads. The Jaguars will do the best they can. In time, they'll fix the problems up front to a satisfactory level. The big fix, however, will have to wait until next spring's draft.

Logan from Saskatoon, SK:
Get Lewis the ball. Throw to him 10 times and we win.

Vic: I'd love to see Marcedes Lewis become a bigger part of the pass-offense, but that can't happen if you need him to help block. It all starts up front. Jack Del Rio has said that several times. Believe him.

J.B. from St. Augustine, FL:
Can you comment on all of the hype in the offseason and during training camp about this amazing defensive scheme Gregg Williams was supposedly bringing in? I thought perhaps he was keeping it a secret in training camp, but still keeping it a secret in week one?

Vic: Who created the hype? It wasn't Del Rio. The media? If you're going to blame the media, don't include me because I warned over and over that you have to have the right players to play the kind of attack-style defense for which Gregg Williams is famous. The 3-4 teams – the Patriots, Chargers, Steelers, etc. – that employ blitz-heavy schemes have spent years drafting to fill the roles specific to their schemes. What would happen to those teams if all of a sudden they decided they wanted to ditch their 3-4 schemes and play a 4-3? Mike Tomlin is a 4-3, cover two guy all the way but he saw very quickly after taking the job that he didn't have the personnel to play his kind of defense, so the Steelers remain a 3-4 "Blitzburgh" defense. The Jaguars have played a 4-3, cover two style of defense for a long time and they have been one of the best in the league at it. You're not going to snap your fingers and effect a personality change over night. I don't think you were misled by anybody but your own desire.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA:
What's with the torn biceps injury? How can several players have this same rare injury, even while warming up?

Vic: These players bodies are conditioned to the max. The power they house is fantastic. They have squeezed every ounce of potential out of every muscle they have, and that has put a great strain on ligaments and tendons that haven't increased in strength commensurately. That's why ligaments and tendons are popping more frequently than ever before. The strain on them is too great and just like a rope that is down to its last strand, it doesn't take much to make them snap.

Tyler from Jacksonville:
Why do you continue to answer dumb questions like "what is a stunt?" Why don't you refer people with elementary questions to research through Google or something? Tell Kristin to stop wasting all of our time.

Vic: I thought it was a great question. Terminology such as "stunt" and "play-action" need to be defined because there are a lot of people who are left to guess at what they mean. I was watching a college football preview show not long ago and a female analyst talked about how Boston College, without Matt Ryan, would have to use a lot of play-action this year, and she was using play-action to refer to roll-outs and bootlegs. All I could do was close my eyes and drop my head.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
I really hate the Titans.

Vic: Isn't that kind of silly?

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