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Bears used strange strategy

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

Matt from La Puente, CA:
Do you think players respect coaches more if they, too, have played in the NFL?

Vic: Players respect coaches for how they coach, not for how they played. I think it's important that a coach be a former player either on the professional or college football level, but I don't think a coach has to have played in the NFL to earn his players' respect. They just want to know that you understand what you're asking of them and appreciate the degree of difficulty. They're looking for a coach who gets it. That's all.

Jeff from Richmondale, PA:
Champ Bailey is possibly the best CB in the league, yet, he's getting beat by wide receivers for the same reason Rashean Mathis is. It's hard to do your job as a cornerback when the defensive line can't get any pressure on the quarterback.

Vic: You're absolutely right.

Dennis from Indianapolis, IN:
The Bears stopped the run vs. the Titans, then got beat through the air. Supposing the Jags do stop the run, do you see them being successful at stopping another air show from Kerry Collins? Rush or cover?

Vic: Chicago used a strange strategy against the Titans. The Bears loaded up against the run, effectively leaving their defensive backs in single coverage, but then they played their defensive backs off the receivers in a kind of soft man-to-man. Seeing that, Kerry Collins nibbled the Bears to death. Why be aggressive against the run if you're going to be passive against the pass? All you've done is made yourself vulnerable in one phase of the game; made it easy for the Titans to move the ball through the air. The bottom line is that if you're going to play "cover zero," you better have the defensive backs who can do it in a press position. The Bears don't and I don't think the Jaguars do either; most teams don't, which is why you don't see a lot of "cover zero." I don't know what the Jaguars' strategy is for this Sunday's game, but I doubt if they'll do what the Bears did.

Justin from Jacksonville:
Have the Jags ever played an undefeated team at home this late in the season?

Vic: Yes, the Jaguars played the 12-0 Colts in Jacksonville on Dec. 11, 2005. The Colts won that game, 26-18.

Chito from Eagle Pass, TX:
Let's say the Jags beat the Titans. I know that any team can win on any given Sunday, but what team that's left on our schedule do you believe will cause some concern to prevent this team from going to the playoffs?

Vic: There are no more Detroits on the Jaguars' schedule. All of the remaining opponents represent significant challenges. For the Jaguars to win-out would be the equivalent, in my opinion, of seven consecutive playoff wins, depending on the postseason status of the teams at the bottom of the schedule.

Patrick from St. Augustine, FL:
In reference to Mark's question yesterday regarding the best player a team showed patience with, you answered Mel Blount. Can you give an example of a Jaguars player who has achieved greatness after the team waited for him to blossom?

Vic: That's Jimmy Smith. Jimmy barely made the cut in the Jaguars' inaugural season. He broke out in the second half of the season, but Tom Coughlin wasn't fully convinced the team could win with Jimmy as its number one receiver so he signed Keenan McCardell and Andre Rison in the 1996 offseason, which made Jimmy the Jaguars' number three receiver. Then, late in the '96 season, Rison was cut and Jimmy replaced him. Jimmy caught fire and became the Jaguars' go-to receiver for the remainder of his career. What did Coughlin see in Jimmy that caused the Jaguars coach to be patient? Size and speed, which is the same thing the Steelers saw in Blount. Size and speed have bought a lot of players a lot of time to develop.

Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
At the halfway mark through the season, where do you rank David Garrard in terms of AFC quarterbacks?

Vic: I'm not into the rankings stuff. I'll leave that to that "Best Damn" station. I think they'd rank old socks if they thought it would deliver ratings. When things slow down in the offseason, I'll humor the readers who suffer from rankings mania, but rankings really don't mean much to me. I know what I like and I know what's good enough and I like Garrard as a quarterback and I think he's good enough. If I was his head coach, I wouldn't be looking for anybody to take his place.

Ali from Nashville, TN:
Do you think the Titans are the best team in the NFL right now? If not, who do you think is and why?

Vic: Obviously, I think they're the best because I have them ranked number one in my all-important power rankings, but for this week's edition I considered making the Giants number one. I probably should've because I think the Giants would beat the Titans. Frankly, I don't think the Titans' numbers are all that impressive. They're 22nd in total offense and 27th in passing and, yeah, I know that's because they run the ball so well, but is sixth in rushing really that great? They have a top-five defense but it's fallen to eighth against the run and 12th against the pass in recent weeks. I respect their record and I love how they were able to replace the defensive linemen they lost in free agency, but I'm not sold on them.

Viv from Jacksonville:
On Thursday night, Jim Otto was inducted into the University of Miami's Hall of Fame, my alma mater. Any interesting stories on one of the best centers to ever play football?

Vic: He played in the best and most ferocious football games I've ever seen or covered. I've read about his physical problems from having played football for so long and I was happy to see that he looked well last night. I watched the game and enjoyed it, but Miami's got to do something about the PA announcer. He's too loud and he talks too much. It was coming through the ESPN broadcast and it was really annoying. I think ESPN found a way to filter him out later in the game, but that guy was so annoying I almost switched permanently to the Jets-Pats game.

Brad from Jacksonville:
As of late, Del Rio and Koetter have been talking up scrapping out a win or just scoring one more point than the other guy. Obviously, the Jaguars (and myself) would gladly take a one-point win over the Titans, but is that really an ideology you want to play and live by on a weekly basis?

Vic: It absolutely is. It defines the goal as winning and nothing else. When you start playing for the point spread, you're dulling your focus. Just win, baby.

Joey from Middleburg, FL:
I'm looking to get into the sports journalism business. Do you think it's a good career to pursue and how do you like it?

Vic: I like it and it's treated me well for a long time, but I would not recommend it to young people in the act of making a career choice. The opportunities are dwindling because newspapers are dying. What's left is a lot of web sites that don't pay looking for fans/reporters. The premier jobs are being gobbled up by former players who have no journalism training. Hey, I got lucky. I got into the business when it was still at its peak.

Mike from Jacksonville:
How does an upstart media outlet become credible without press credentials?

Vic: By hiring respected writers and editors who've already acquired credibility and bringing their credentials to the upstart media outlet.

Mike from Jericho, NY:
Last night's game showed the best case study for why you should go for two to win instead of play for OT. The Pats spent all their energy coming back from a big deficit and had the momentum and their best chance to win right there at the end of regulation. I don't think they had more than three plays left in their defense. I agree with you that they should've seen they had one more play in them to win it and should've taken that chance right there.

Vic: I would've played for overtime.

Jeremy from Nashville, TN:
The simple fact is that this year the Titans are outright a better football team than Jacksonville and the Jags cannot physically match the strength or the talent the Titans bring on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Just like week one, the Titans again will dominate the line of scrimmage on offense and defense; also, they will win the turnover battle. Titans 31, Jacksonville 17. Jacksonville, get healthy and come see us next season.

Vic: I love smugness.

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