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All teams go through cycles

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Mike from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Dominant teams take what they want, but the Jaguars aren't a dominant team. The sooner Jack Del Rio recognizes this and humbles himself to take what he can get, the better off we'll be.

Vic: That's exactly what they did on Sunday. The Jags opened the game with a game plan that was obviously tilted toward throwing the football against the league's 30th-ranked pass-defense, instead of running against the number six rush-defense. Eighteen of the Jags' 23 plays in the first half were passes and 30 of the Jags' first 38 plays in the game were pass plays. Did you even look at the stats or did you just have your mind made up that you were going to be critical of the game plan, regardless of the facts?

Gabe from Jacksonville:
What's football weather in your mind?

Vic: I like it cloudy and chilly. Football is for sweaters and coats. Football is all about the fall of the year, with winter on the way. I like the smell of damp grass, fallen leaves and cigar smoke. That's just me. That's how I grew up and those are the conditions I associate with football games. This is the perfect time of year in Jacksonville. The heat and humidity are gone and the smell of damp turf penetrates my office door, as I am located just down the hall from the field tunnel. When the day comes that I retire, I think I'll miss that smell more than anything else about this game. It reminds me of playing football in the backyard as a kid, being tackled onto the wet grass and leaves and having my face pressed against the earth by a pile of bodies delighting in the roughhouse, everybody laughing as the guy on the bottom yelled, "Get up, I can't breathe."

Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
After a certain number of years, do a head coach and a quarterback become "married" in the sense that their fates are directly tied to each other?

Vic: Yes, they do, for the obvious reason that the length of head coaches' careers are determined by winning and losing and quarterback is the position that has the greatest impact on the outcome of games. In the case of great coaches and great quarterbacks, they are more than married, they are one and the same: Starr and Lombardi, Montana and Walsh, Graham and Brown, Luckman and Halas, Bradshaw and Noll, Aikman and Johnson, Brady and Belichick, etc.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
I understand one player simply being beaten by another player or by two players, but I don't understand repeatedly allowing rushers to go totally uncontested to the QB. Is that still on the player or on the play?

Vic: It's on the player, Jeff. It's his responsibility to execute the play. It's just that simple.

Chris from Jacksonville:
What are your thoughts on Patrick Willis?

Vic: He's a fabulous player. Sunday, I thought I was watching Paul Posluszny all over again. The 49ers obviously saw the success Posluszny had against the Jaguars and they featured Willis in the same role with the same result. The Jaguars were getting hammered up the middle and I fully expect the Texans will use DeMeco Ryans in the same manner.

Andrea from Jacksonville:
When was the last time we won a game on the West Coast?

Vic: It was in Oakland in the final game of the 2004 season. The Jaguars have only played on the West Coast four times under Jack Del Rio, twice in '04 and twice in '09. The Jaguars are 1-3 in those games.

Julio from Riverside, CA:
Time to bring in a kicker and try him out?

Vic: This is the perfect example of the wild, angry, knee-jerk reaction to losing I despise. You wanna cut Josh Scobee because he had a bad day? Let me tell you, there are several teams out there that would jump at a guy with his leg strength, range and long-term upside. It's insanity to suggest bringing in kickers off the scrap pile because a guy with one of the strongest legs in the game had a bad day.

Aaron from Jacksonville:
What do we improve on next season besides a pass-rusher?

Vic: You improve everything you can, with the hope you'll have the chance to fully address all of your needs, but no team is able to do that. It's a long-term process of collecting core talent through the draft. Those positions you're unable to address in the draft, you have to address in free agency in the form of patches that may, in some cases, be one-year fixes. The balance between drafting core players and patching in pro personnel is what defines a personnel department's skill.

Jeff from Fullerton, CA:
I know you stated the Colts could have everything locked up by the time they visit Jacksonville, but what if they are still undefeated by then? Do you think they may keep the starters in to go for 16-0?

Vic: No, I don't, because I don't see where that's of any importance any longer. The Patriots did it in 2007 and all it did was give the Giants a template for how to beat the Patriots the next time they played them, which was in the Super Bowl. The goal is to win the Super Bowl. The Colts have had a fabulous run of success but they haven't gotten full value out of that run because they're only 7-9 in the postseason in the Peyton Manning era. In my opinion, all of their focus should be on winning the Super Bowl, not going 16-0, and resting your key players and assuring they'll be healthy for the playoffs is the best strategy for winning in the postseason.

Jimmicane from Cardiff, CA:
I go to one Jaguars away game every year and this year I chose San Francisco, being that it's close to my current home and I've always wanted to visit Candlestick. I was not impressed. The stadium is more haggard than I could have ever imagined. The only stadium I've ever seen that comes close would be the Orange Bowl. My $90 ticket didn't allow me to view nearly the entire game and I wound up just watching the video screen, which broke right before halftime and distorted the picture for the rest of the game. When we left, we sat in gridlock traffic for no less than three hours. I'm not kidding. I would just like the people of Jacksonville to know how good they have it. I hope they appreciate it because things could be so much worse.

Vic: I know you're not kidding because I was there. Candlestick is a terrible place to watch a football game. As I sat in the bus after the game and looked out over the sea of cars in the parking lot and the line of headlights trying to make the left turn onto the freeway, I thought to myself that Jaguars fans would never go to another game if they had to do this once. Jaguars fans are unbelievably spoiled by how easy it is to get to and from Jaguars games. This has been a memorable season for me because I'm watching a team in the process of being rebuilt and I like that. It's also memorable for something I'd like to forget but probably never will. I'm talking about the horrible attendance at Jaguars games. It saddens me at every home game because I've never known anything like this and, from what I've been told, it could hit bottom this Sunday against the Texans.

Kyle from Jacksonville:
During the game I was getting excited about how David was throwing the ball when he had time. Was that something you were encouraged by or was it merely a result of the defense San Francisco was playing?

Vic: I think David Garrard is a beautiful passer of the football. His throwing motion is an artistic mix of power and grace. I have no reservations about his ability to put the ball on his receivers' hands. What Garrard has to do is avoid the negative plays. On Sunday, it was six sacks and two fumbles. He's got to get the ball to the outlet receiver in the face of the blitz. When he does that often enough to make blitzing risky, the blitzing will stop and Garrard will have more time to throw farther down the field, as all quarterbacks want to do.

Adam from Cypress, CA:
With pass-rushing at a premium in the NFL, how is it that the top four players in sacks this season consist of two fourth-rounders, a fifth-rounder and an undrafted player? Is the position that difficult to scout?

Vic: Yes, it is. Pass-rushers are the most difficult players to project into the NFL. Probably as much money is wasted on failed pass-rushers as on quarterbacks.

Artie from Portland, ME:
You claim the recent decline in the Notre Dame football team is the result of higher academic expectations. Do these elevated expectations to do well academically hurt the team as far as recruiting star players or because the team can't spend as much time studying football?

Vic: I didn't invent this. "Sports Illustrated" did the story a few years ago. It used T.J. Duckett's recruitment as the example. He wanted all his life to go to Notre Dame, but his recruitment quickly ended when he was sent to see the academic advisor. Look, it's real simple. Notre Dame has a calculus requirement for all freshmen. Look at the teams in the current top 10 and ask yourself how many of those teams would be in the top 10 if their players had to pass calculus. It's almost funny when you think about it. I can think of one team in particular. Notre Dame also voluntarily set higher GPA and SAT standards for its recruits than the NCAA requires. What Notre Dame has to do is decide whether it wants to continue to handicap its coach's ability to recruit talent and keep that talent eligible, or is it willing to lower its academic standards for the sake of allowing its football program to compete on a level playing field. I'm not advocating one or the other, but I will say this: If they want to handicap themselves by playing at a higher standard, which I think is honorable, then they need to adjust their expectations downward. Why are the big-name coaches passing up the job? For the obvious reason that they know they can't win on a national level given the current policies regarding academic requirements and red-shirting and gray-shirting.

Saud from Marietta, GA:
One thing I've noticed this season is that a lot of teams with losing records have begun to play much better and actually give good teams a well-fought game. What in your opinion helps a coach motivate his team after such a devastating season?

Vic: Jobs are on the line all the time. That's the motivation. Professional football players are playing for their paycheck. When they play poorly, they run the risk of losing their job and their paycheck. You don't play for dear old U. You play for you.

Dane from Jacksonville:
Did the Patriots get old?

Vic: Of course they did. The aging of a football team is a very difficult thing to avoid without, at some point in time, having to take a step back or having to turn your roster over. I get the feeling from fans that they expect great players to stay great forever and for great teams to never have to rebuild. That's nuts. All teams have to rebuild from time to time. Some do it a little more gracefully than others, but all teams go through cycles.

Jo from Jacksonville:
I know a lot of people are going to call Brees the best QB after Monday's game, but at the end of the day it's about winning championships and Brady has three and Brees has yet to get to the big game. So wouldn't you suggest people hold off on that until January?

Vic: It's about what you do in the postseason. I've always said that. Brees is 1-2 in the postseason. I would expect that to change in the upcoming postseason.

Roger from Jacksonville:
Can anyone seriously question the curse of the "Terrible Towel" any longer? Since I'm a statistics guy, I calculated the odds of a team losing eight games in a row and then winning five in a row. It's about one in 167. Of course, if the team is better than average, the odds are even longer, and I think the Titans are a better than average team (an 0-8 run followed by a 5-0 run is more likely in a worse than average team).

Vic: It is a little spooky, isn't it?

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