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Birth of a new language

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

Preston from Atlanta, GA:
In your playoff scenario, you talk about Denver resting players in the final week but won't they be competing with Cincinnati for the first round bye?

Vic: Yeah, it could turn out that way, but it's also possible Denver could have the number two seed clinched going into its final game at San Diego. Here's how it would work. Cincinnati plays at Kansas City in a one o'clock game on the final Sunday; Denver plays at San Diego in a 4:30 start. If Cincinnati wins its final two games and Denver beats Oakland this weekend, then Denver would have to beat the Chargers to claim the number two spot. If Cincinnati lost to Kansas City, however, Denver will have clinched the number two spot heading into kickoff at San Diego, based on a better AFC record.

Justin from Little Rock, AR:
It looks like the 49ers will likely get the first overall pick again this year. It didn't turn them around last year; they are still the worst team in the NFL. How much of an impact does the first overall pick make? Name some successes and flops from those picks.

Vic: Over the last 10 years, these are the first picks of the draft: Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, David Carr, Michael Vick, Courtney Brown, Tim Couch, Peyton Manning, Orlando Pace and Keyshawn Johnson. I'll let you be the judge.

Jared from Jacksonville:
You keep alluding to the fact that we should do everything we can to help Pittsburgh because they did it for us last year against Buffalo. As I recall, Tommy Maddox and Willie Parker started that game along with a number of other backups so Pittsburgh could rest their starters. They just happened to win with their second string. So why do we owe it to them to keep our starters in?

Vic: I alluded to no such thing. In Tuesday's "Ask Vic" I was asked that if I was Jack Del Rio and I had already clinched a playoff berth, would I play my starters against Tennessee. I said "no." The Jaguars owe the Steelers nothing. The Steelers are paying the penalty for having lost to the Jaguars. Bill Cowher made a personnel mistake and it may cost him a playoff spot. That's the way it goes. Remember, however, the door swings both ways. I was besieged with e-mails last year whining and crying about the Colts tanking it against Denver. If you don't think you owe it to another team, then don't expect another team to owe it to you. Is that fair?

Ryan from Jacksonville:
It seems as if teams are trying to pick on Rashean Mathis more and more. Is this really happening or does it appear this way because Rashean has become a hometown favorite, causing everything his way to be noticed?

Vic: Mathis is being picked on because he's the guy the Jaguars are putting in single coverage. He's the Jaguars' best athlete on defense. He's the guy who has the true shut-down corner talent. All great cornerbacks are put in that role and all great cornerbacks go through bad stretches. Champ Bailey is considered to be one of the premium cornerbacks in the league and he went through a real slump last season, beginning with an embarrassing performance on Monday Night Football against the Bengals. It can happen that way when you're put on an island. Mathis is going to have to play his way through it. He will.

Robert from Cincinnati, OH:
My parents (season ticket holders) stayed home Sunday. Their reason was the cold. They just arrived here in Cincinnati. I told them that wasn't cold, this is cold. They do not plan on going outside.

Vic: I guess Florida really is a state of mind. Our temperature is expected to reach the freezing mark tonight, but, shhh, don't tell anybody. We want everyone to think it doesn't get cold in Florida. It makes for a great excuse when we don't wanna go to the game.

Reggie from Barney, GA:
Let me get this straight, baby, straight. All the Jaguars have to do this Sunday is win, baby, win. Then they'll be in the playoffs, baby, playoffs.

Vic: I think you've given birth to a new language. We'll call it Davisese.

Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Why go freeze and watch an awful performance? The fans are always right. Stop taking on the fans.

Vic: I don't accept that answer. The same thing happened last year and it was embarrassing. I don't want it to happen again, against Tennessee. If the Jaguars need to win that game to make the playoffs, and I certainly hope that is not the case, there can be no excuses for poor attendance. You don't have to agree with me, like my opinion or even respect it, but you better believe this: If that game is for the playoffs and Alltel Stadium is half full, the national media is going to pound this town even worse than it did last year after the Houston game. That's not a threat, it's a forewarning, and I'm saying it because I don't want anyone to get caught off-guard.

Ben from Phoenix, AZ:
Mike Tice is blaming Minnesota fans for scalping tickets and costing the Vikings a homefield noise advantage against the Steelers Sunday in the Metrodome, but I can't help but wonder if it's any coincidence that the noise in the dome fell off dramatically the week that the NFL formally warned everyone about it.

Vic: I get your point, but I think you're missing an even bigger issue. Wasn't Tice found to have scalped Super Bowl tickets? How could he fault Vikings fans for having done the same thing; selling their tickets for profit to Steelers fans? What a horrible double standard. By the way, the Vikings had five false starts in that game. They literally had trouble functioning in their own dome, which is an amazing irony for a team that has trumpeted for years their self-proclaimed distinction for having the noisiest stadium in the league. The Vikings have long delighted in watching visiting teams false-start and struggle to deal with the din in the Metrodome. Sunday, they were the "visiting" team.

Calen from Port Orange, FL:
What is your opinion of David Garrard's play so far? Has he shown the ability to become a starting quarterback?

Vic: Garrard was made a scapegoat for Sunday's poor offensive showing. All indications are he didn't play well and David willingly accepted blame. I'm not going to be an apologist for him, but what about those drops? Jimmy Smith dropped one. Reggie Williams dropped a wonderful third-down throw and Matt Jones dropped a short, soft toss over the middle that would've given the Jaguars a first down at the 49ers 10-yard line. Add those three "catches" and the yards that would've gone with them and a touchdown that might have resulted from Jones' "catch" and what do Garrard's stats look like? I believe in Garrard's abilities. I love his scrambling ability because it's what I consider to be just what you want in the way of mobility in a quarterback; he moves to buy time to throw. What I still need to see from Garrard before I can say he's a starting-caliber quarterback is proof that he has the instincts of a big-time passer. He hesitates. He has a tendency to stare down receivers. At some point, he's gotta let go of the inhibitions and let it fly. All of the other stuff – the leadership, mobility, athletic ability, personality, toughness, etc. – he has in more than ample supply.

Jim from Jacksonville:
I just wanted to say the article you wrote after the win in Denver about the team plane circling the stadium was one of the finest pieces of writing I have ever read.

Vic: Thanks, Jim, but, you know, that was nine years ago. Are you catching up on your reading or just doing a memory lane thing? I can't remember what I wrote, but I'll never forget that day and that night. It is one of my most cherished football memories.

Ricky from Jacksonville:
First they want Garrard, then Wilford, then Matt and Greg, even a new offensive coordinator. Do any other teams get this bad of negativity from their fans?

Vic: All fans are critical. They want their teams to win. Your question, however, slapped me across the face a little bit; it woke me up. You're right, the Jaguars have tried everybody and probably everything in their quest to produce an offensive playmaker. If one doesn't emerge in what's left of this season, I think we can assume the Jaguars need to find one in the offseason. It has been my experience during my years of covering football, that when a team continues to struggle on one side of the ball or even on both sides of the ball, the reason is usually a lack of talent.

Matt, deployed to the Middle East:
Thank you for your column. I find it very informative and entertaining, however, I want to disagree with an answer regarding how many tickets Mr. Weaver has purchased to prevent blackouts. How many seats did he cover up? Financially, that's the same as purchasing those tickets since they are no longer available. In my opinion, Mr. Weaver and the Jaguars are doing everything they can to promote this team and make it successful in Jacksonville.

Vic: You are absolutely correct. By covering nearly 10,000 seats, Wayne Weaver did, in effect, purchase them for those games that might've sold more tickets than Alltel Stadium's 2005 capacity allowed. We know, for example, that the Jaguars could've sold more tickets for the Indianapolis game. I hesitate, however, to say your statement applies to all games because covering those seats allowed Weaver to put the games on local TV without having to write a check to the league for unsold tickets.

Quentin from Amsterdam:
Love your blogging; it's a good way for me to follow the Jaguars games. What if the Jaguars clinch a playoff berth? If Byron can play would you give him another week of rest, or would you play him to get him in a rhythm with the offense?

Vic: When he's ready to play, you play him. It's that simple.

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