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Beware of Droughns

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

Fester from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Any chance the Cardinals let Greg Jones score that touchdown in the fourth quarter so they could get the ball back and not expire time on the clock? Otherwise, the Jags would have just run time off the clock and then kicked a field goal and be two scores up anyway.

Vic: Great question; I couldn't help but wonder the same thing. There's no way to know for sure. I asked Jeff Lageman, in his tape review, to see if he could detect anything intentional on the Cardinals' part in that 25-yard touchdown run by Jones. Jeff looked at it and told me the Cardinals were trying. He said they were in a nine-man front, Jones creased them and one of the Cardinals defenders missed the tackle.

Nishant from Jacksonville:
How do teams get film to look at and study during the week? Does the league regulate it so that it's an even field for all teams? Also, are they allowed film from any game of the team they are facing or is it freedom for any game at all?

Vic: The taping of games and the distribution of those tapes is a highly-regulated and scientific procedure within the league. Each team is responsible for taping its games from specified angles, then sending a tape of that game to each of the team's next three opponents. The next opponent gets that tape on Monday; the following two opponents get a tape of that game on Tuesday. For example, the Browns got the Jags-Cardinals tape yesterday and the Jags got the Browns-Vikings tape. The remainder of the league's other games from each week are shipped to each team from the league's dub center and arrive at their 32 destinations on Wednesday.

Skeeter from Jacksonville:
I've noticed that Tom White's crew seems to be one of the more flag-happy crews. Do you agree?

Vic: The out of bounds penalty on Deke Cooper was so off the wall that it's difficult to see something like that and wonder if the guy who threw the flag actually saw the play.

Stacy from Orange Park, FL:
What do you think of the play of Rob Meier?

Vic: If what Rob Meier and Paul Spicer are doing is what happens when you break your leg, then Byron Leftwich may quarterback the Jaguars to the Super Bowl if he gets back in time for the playoffs. Meier and Spicer, both of whom sustained broken legs last season, have played at a premium level of performance this season. They are no longer "just guys." Spicer has 6.5 sacks and Meier has five, which means they rank first and third in sacks on the team. The Jaguars paid Reggie Hayward a $10 million signing bonus and Hayward has been worth every cent of the money, but how do you explain the value the Jaguars are getting out of Spicer and Meier? These are two rugged, team-first guys who play as hard as any players I have ever covered. Without them, there's no doubt in my mind the Jaguars would not be 8-3. Spicer, Meier and Terry Cousin are three bargain-basement players who've accounted for more big plays than any other trio on the Jaguars defense. Tom Coughlin deserves a pat on the back for having provided Jack Del Rio with Spicer and Meier, and I applaud Del Rio for knowing their value and how to use them.

Joe from Mayport, FL:
Three years ago we tried to lure Mariucci to come here and work his magic but he ignored us and went to Detroit. We kind of got lucky, don't you think?

Vic: Everybody loves name recognition. Remember last winter when the Titans signed Norm Chow to be their offensive coordinator? I got tons of e-mails from fans who were incredulous that the Jaguars let Chow get away. Name recognition should have nothing to do with hiring a coach. More than anything else, he has to fit within the framework and personality of the franchise.

Shannon from Jacksonville:
First, I would never wish an injury on anyone, much less a classy guy like Byron. That being said, I am one of the many people who were begging for anyone else besides Byron get a shot at leading this team. My question is if David plays outstanding and leads us to the playoffs and possibly further if Byron cannot play, do you think there's any chance of us switching starters and even possibly trading Byron next season?

Vic: No.

Lorenzo from Jacksonville:
You said the Cardinals franchise would turn around once they get a new stadium. How so when they can't fill the stadium they are now playing at?

Vic: The new stadium to which the Cardinals will be moving next season will provide revenue streams the team has never had and desperately needs. You're right, of course, about the need to fill the stadium. My information is that the Cardinals are way behind in the execution of their move into their new stadium. My information is that they haven't even set ticket prices; haven't sold a ticket, yet. That's not good. If they ever get around to selling tickets, however, and if they find fans to buy them, their new stadium will give them the financial ability to compete with the rest of the league. They have had no such potential to be competitive while playing in Sun Devil Stadium.

Pete from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
You sure hit it on the head when you said we needed to worry about Adrian Wilson. Who should we worry about this week?

Vic: Reuben Droughns; he's rushed for 941 yards and caught 31 passes. He's the quintessential power back. He's the snowplow the Browns need in that division in December and the Jaguars defense better be ready to play when they step into Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday.

Daniel from Wichita, KS:
Who do you think was the hardest hitter ever?

Vic: "Night Train" Lane would get some votes.

Dave from St. Louis, MO:
(I read) an article about David Garrard and his battle with Crohn's Disease. There's little reason to question that he's a warrior and a person of strong character. He has used his own battle to help educate and encourage others to seek better forms of treatment. Could you please elaborate on this for those people that are not familiar with his story?

Vic: Crohn's Disease results in inflammation of the colon. Untreated, it can pose major health problems. That's what happened to David in the spring of 2004. He was having abdominal distress and didn't know he had Crohn's. By the time he was diagnosed, he had sustained too much scarring of the colon for it to be treated by medication only. He had a section of his colon removed and he has been in good health ever since. There is no cure for Crohn's but, in David's case, it's hoped the effects of Crohn's will have been restricted to that part of the colon that was removed.

Dan from Thousand Oaks, CA:
What do you think about the speed dimension Garrard adds to the quarterback position?

Vic: Mobility is a big part of Garrard's overall skills. The guy can move in, around and out of the pocket. I have no problem with any of that. A player has to follow his instincts. If they tell him to flee, then that's what he should do. If he's not acting instinctively, he's not using the gift that makes him special. I do have a problem with designed runs. In my opinion, they should be kept to a bare minimum. This team is in a playoff race. This is not the preseason; this is not a time to experiment. Quinn Gray has never taken a snap in a regular season game. In my opinion, you don't want to invite trouble.

Jonas from Jacksonville:
I think all the Jags have to do now is go 3-2 and we are in the playoffs and, hopefully, Leftwich will be back by then. What do you think?

Vic: That's a sound strategy.

Stevon from Jacksonville:
After watching the Colts game last night, and other dome teams throughout the season, I have a nagging question I really need your help with. If the turf is artificial, why do I see dirt being kicked up?

Vic: That's not dirt, it's little rubber pellets. Field Turf is a mat of plastic blades of grass set in a bed of black-rubber pellets. When you step onto a field covered by Field Turf, you get the distinct aroma of car tires.

Janice from Jacksonville:
What does it mean when a penalty results because an offensive player was "covered up?"

Vic: It's another way of saying "illegal formation." A "covered up" player refers to an intended eligible receiver who has either moved too close to the line of scrimmage or someone to his outside has moved too close to the line of scrimmage, effectively eliminating the interior player from pass receiver eligibility. If he was supposed to be an end and a flanker to his outside has moved too close to the line of scrimmage, the end is no longer an end because he is not at the end of the formation. He's "covered up." Here's another example: If a slot receiver who is supposed to be two yards off the line of scrimmage, making him a member of the backfield and, therefore, an eligible receiver, moves too close to the line of scrimmage, he becomes "covered up" by the split end to his outside and, therefore, is not an eligible receiver. To be a pass-eligible end, you have to be at the end of the formation and, of course, there can be only two ends. To be a pass-eligible receiver out of the backfield, you have to stay off the line of scrimmage.

Phil from Seaford, NY:
As of right now there is no powerhouse team in the NFC. Who, in your eyes, is the best team in the NFC?

Vic: Seattle's 9-2 record deserves that kind of respect, but I could be persuaded otherwise very easily. The team that could do that persuading is Carolina, but I need to see more firepower and consistency on offense.

Joe from Jacksonville:
I was wondering if you think Garrard is ready to lead his team into the playoffs? From what you've seen of him up until now, do you think he can step up to the challenge and maintain a strong poise throughout the playoff run?

Vic: Garrard is an immensely talented athlete. He has true gifts. He's a powerful and mobile player who has legit speed. He has a strong arm and a textbook throwing motion. The first time I saw him, he reminded me of Steve McNair. The only negative I've seen in David is a tendency to hesitate. He will stare down receivers, but so did a lot of great quarterbacks early in their careers. What remains of this season will probably determine Garrard's future as an NFL quarterback. There is no better test of a quarterback's talents than a late-season playoff run. I can't answer the question you've asked, but the next five weeks will.

Nathan from Richmond, VA:
The broadcasters of last night's game mentioned the Colts have the right to shift money in Peyton Manning's contract in order to reduce his salary cap hit. Huh?

Vic: It's called contract re-structuring and it's a way of pushing money from the present into the future; not extinguishing it, just moving it. In a common case of re-structuring, salary is converted to signing bonus, which means that money is then prorated over the remaining years of the contract. It was the Jaguars' signature cap maneuver in the late-1990's and 2000-01. It will buy you years, yes. It will also buy you an inevitable collapse. Ask the Jaguars. Ask the Titans. Next year, you can ask the Redskins. They're the next "batter," at which time the Colts will step into the on-deck circle.

Kelvin from Warwick, UK:
I'm curious to know what you thought of the blocking penalty called against the Steelers after Roethlisberger threw an interception at the end of the second quarter. Perhaps they should play touch football on a turnover or no tackling at all.

Vic: I knew it would come to this; a 15-yard penalty for tackling the ball-carrier.

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