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As good as their plan

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

Andy from St. Augustine, FL:
When Tomlinson lined up at QB in the Charger game and Brees was split out to the left, why on earth wouldn't we have clobbered Brees? Both times Tomlinson ran the ball, couldn't we have legally knocked their QB's block off? Not that it would have changed the outcome of the game, but wouldn't it discourage other teams from using these types of "gimmick" plays against us?

Vic: You can't be serious. Do you think they might've retaliated against Byron Leftwich, who happened to be under a significant rush much of the day?

Jacques from Alexandria, VA:
What led Ben Roethlisberger to be the third-rated/selected QB in the draft? Did Manning's name cloud the eyes of the scouts to give him the edge? How did anyone not see that Roethlisberger is a couple of notches better than Manning?

Vic: We can't know that, yet. Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers aren't playing, and Ben Roethlisberger is playing only because Tommy Maddox is injured. Roethlisberger has been outstanding in his first three games, but he's a rookie and eventually he'll play like one, too. That's to be expected. If you remember, however, Roethlisberger was the number one quarterback last spring on "Vic's Value Board." I used a very simple formula of evaluation: He's bigger, stronger and has a better arm than the other two guys. In my opinion, Manning rode the fame of his name to the top of the draft, and Rivers went ahead of Roethlisberger because most scouts felt Rivers was more fully developed and able to play sooner. The knock on Roethlisberger was that he had played against secondary competition and would require more development time.

Cindy from Jacksonville:
I attended my first game when the Jags lost to the Colts. Even though they lost, you could actually feel something from the players. They are really giving it their all. Do players tend to play harder for a good coach?

Vic: Players tend to play harder for a coach in whom they believe. In my opinion, the key to coaching is making your players buy into your program. You need to be able to give them a plan for winning they believe will work. All players and coaches want to win. When winning occurs, players' faith in their coach's plan grows. That's what happened between Jack Del Rio and his players in the second half of last season. They bought into his way of doing things, and I think that's what you sensed in their effort against the Colts. A coach is only as good as his plan. Del Rio's plan is very sound, and it begins on defense with "stop the run."

Jerry from Jacksonville:
When does a coach throw away the game plan and start passing?

Vic: When time becomes a factor. With the score 21-0 in the second quarter on Sunday, the Jaguars stayed with their game plan and scored on a 15-play, 77-yard, ball-control drive. That made it 21-7 at halftime and the game plan was still alive, but when the Chargers pushed the lead to 27-7 with :46 left to play in the third quarter, it was goodbye game plan.

Tim from Jacksonville:
If tight ends have been giving our defense problems, we're going to have a big challenge this Sunday?

Vic: Yeah, but Tony Gonzalez really isn't a tight end. He's a featured pass-catcher who just happens to be positioned as a tight end. The difference is that defenses don't defend against him as they would a traditional block-a-lot, catch-a-little tight end who is more girth than giddy-up and can be covered by a linebacker or strong safety. You'd like to have a strong safety whose coverage skills are good enough to match up with Gonzalez', but if you don't have that kind of strong safety, you'll use an extra defender against Gonzalez. He's a sensational pass-catcher who could just as easily line up at wide receiver.

Vaughn from Jacksonville:
When we were winning there was a big deal made about ticket sales. We have lost two in a row and K.C. is only 1-3. Is a blackout to be expected or are ticket sales going well?

Vic: A TV blackout is almost certain.

Danny from Jacksonville:
Toward the end of the first half, we called timeouts defensively in order to get the ball back and score with 1:15 or so remaining. We were throwing dinky five-yard passes rather than out routes to stop the time or vertically up the field, and everyone was so slow getting back to the line. Can you please explain what that was all about?

Vic: I didn't notice that the Jaguars were slow getting back to the line, but I can tell you that the five-yard "check downs" to which you referred are a strong indication of Byron Leftwich's schooling as a second-year quarterback. At this early stage of a quarterback's career, the emphasis is on not throwing interceptions. It is pounded into his head, don't force the ball into coverage, dump it off to the "check down" receiver. It's part of a quarterback's natural progression and I think it's very positive that Byron Leftwich appears to have embraced that concept. It will help him later in his career when he is more able to mix daring and caution.

J.D. from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Did the Jaguars try to enter the running for Grant Wistrom last year? You've reiterated that problems like this are fixed in the offseason, so who's likely to be a high-quality free agent defensive end in the 2005 offseason?

Vic: It's too early to know who might be available, but I'll bet there won't be many of the high-quality variety and those of that ilk who are available will be very expensive. Pass-rushing defensive ends are at a very high premium. The Jaguars gambled on Hugh Douglas and lost and I would hope they've learned their lesson. It's too early to know about next spring's draft class, too, but early indications are the defensive end class will be strong. There's where you'll get your fix. The Jaguars were not a bidder for Grant Wistrom.

Harley from Ormond Beach, FL:
You told us Del Rio and Harris were "best available player" drafters. Did they switch at the last moment or was their judgment bad to select Williams over Roethlisberger?

Vic: BAP is fine but there's got to be a degree of sanity in operating that way. A year after selecting Byron Leftwich with the seventh pick of the draft, the Jaguars couldn't select another quarterback, even if he was the BAP. So, what's the answer? How do you stick to the BAP philosophy if the BAP is a player you can't draft? You move to another position in the draft order where the BAP at that spot plays a position that fits your needs. By doing that you recover the value of the BAP you didn't pick, and move to a place where you can adhere to your BAP philosophy.

Rick from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
How much does Lageman weigh these days? Any nagging injuries? Can he still run? Is there any way we could get him out of the tree stands and into the weightroom?

Vic: In other words, you think he might be able to solve the problem at defensive end, right? Forget about it. He's been softened by retirement. First of all, he eats like a condemned man; cake, ice cream, anything that'll fit on a fork or spoon. For the trip to San Diego, he either killed or bought some animal that he then dropped into his "smoker." Jeff brought the carcass onto the plane and shared it with us on the way to San Diego. The plane smelled like an outdoor barbecue. It was the world's highest cookout and it was delicious. The Simple Life? Compared to Jeff, Paris Hilton has it tough. Football is something he used to do.

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