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Both tents needed to go

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

Derick from Jacksonville:
Obviously LaDainian Tomlinson is having a bad season, but do you really believe he's going over the hill? He had the toe injury this season which limited his ability to cut and a lot of experts believe the offensive line is not what it used to be.

Vic: Fans find it difficult to believe big-name players can lose their skills quickly. Mystique dies a hard, slow death. Over the hill? I don't know because I don't cover him, but he wouldn't be the first great running back to go over the cliff. He'll turn 30 next June and that's an old 30 because there are a lot of miles on those tires. Here's a story about tires that might serve as an analogy. The tires on my car's rear wheels had only ever been on the back wheels, therefore, they had a lot of tread left on them. They looked young but, in fact, they had a lot of miles on them and that made them old. All of a sudden, they just disintegrated. Something inside separated and both tires, at the same time, came apart. I told the tire guy that the tires had a lot of tread left on them and he told me that it's not about tread, it's about miles. A tire only has so many miles in it and when you've reached the limit of its usefulness, the tire is done, regardless of how young the tread looks. It's a young tire's game.

Casey from Portsmouth, VA:
I just finished watching the 1978 Super Bowl. About 30 minutes into watching the game, I became inherently aware that something was different about this game. I sat up and listened more closely. It wasn't long before I knew exactly what the difference was. It was amazing. The commentators were using the majority of their time to talk about the football that was being played on the field and the strategy of the game. Sure they mentioned how outspoken "Hollywood" Henderson was, but there was no interviewing of Brett Favre's wife or 30-minute tirades about recent transgressions by some player. What has changed? Why is the action on the field no longer enough? It is for me.

Vic: You're talking about Super Bowl XIII, so first of all understand that you're talking about one of the classic games in pro football history. Your point, however, is insightful because what you're describing is the difference between football being presented as an athletic competition and football being presented as entertainment. When I watch film of old games, I feel as though I am watching from the grandstands. When I watch football on TV today, I feel as though I'm in a theater. That's the difference.

Greg from Notre Dame, IN:
I was at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday for a college basketball game and I can say for a fact that they were piping band noise into the loudspeakers. Just thought you might want to know.

Vic: It begins.

Ed from Danvers, MA:
I love it when you describe the stadium you're visiting and would like to hear more.

Vic: My initial reaction to new Soldier Field was yuk. I didn't like it outside or inside. As the game wore on, however, the place started to grow on me. What I forgot when I first critiqued the stadium is that it was confronted by a unique design and construction problem. The city demanded that the colonnades from old Soldier Field be preserved or the site couldn't be used to build a new stadium. What that meant is that the colonnades would shape the building and that was a problem. Frankly, I don't think the colonnades were worth keeping. They add nothing to the structure and appear as something waiting to be torn down. Obviously, however, they are historic landmarks that required preserving. I've softened on the place. I'm not crazy about the George Jetson motif but I appreciate the design problems the architects faced and the fact that they were able to put a new, state-of-the-art facility on an old but wonderful site. The combination of the view of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline is too good to abandon.

Spencer from Matosinhos, Portugal:
I just wanted to let you know your blog entry, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that tent now," had me on the floor for a good minute. Just wanted to say thanks.

Vic: I consider it to be one of the great triumphs of my sportswriting career. Hey, that's an attempt at humor, OK? I spotted those tents in pregame and started my crusade then by calling it to the attention of a Jaguars official. The tents should not have been permitted because the rule states that the home team must offer the visiting team all of the sideline equipment that's provided to the home team. The Bears had two warming tents. I checked with the Jaguars and they said they were not offered warming tents. The Bears claimed the tents were intended to be used for ball boys and video equipment but that shouldn't have mattered. When Robbie Gould and Brad Maynard were seen entering and exiting one of the tents, somebody ordered that the Bears take that tent down. The other stayed up, however, and I saw that they were using it to warm helmets. I checked on it this morning and I was told the other tent was also an infraction.

Jason from Jacksonville:
Which wide receivers do you think the Jags will bring back next season?

Vic: That's a great question. In my opinion, that is a position that absolutely must be addressed and I'm not talkin' about in the first round of the draft.

Aaron from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Now that you have seen all three of them play in person, which rookie running back impressed you the most, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte or Steve Slaton?

Vic: All three are real good in their unique ways. Slaton is a pure speed back. Johnson is a speed back who can run between the tackles. Forte lacks speed but he is a complete back. He runs inside best, but he can catch the ball in the flat and do something with it and I also saw him cut down Daryl Smith with a block when Smith was rushing the passer. Johnson and Slaton are special because of their speed, but they can't do it all. Forte can and I think that's why I like him a little more than the other two, especially on a cold-weather team. He's a bigger back than the other two and I think he might be more durable over the long haul; his running style lends itself to that, too, as it does to soft or frozen fields. Do you realize that only 70 yards rushing separate the three backs?

Mark from Boise, ID:
As a team I consider a rival of the Jaguars, I would like to congratulate the Steelers on their win over Dallas. That was one of the most entertaining games I've seen and I've seen some good ones.

Vic: That game is a classic example of the value of crunch-time quarterbacking. One guy got it done at crunch time and the other guy made the game-losing play at crunch time. All of that technical crap Ron Jaworski talks about is fine, but it doesn't mean anything if a quarterback can't get it done at crunch time. I want the guy who can. That's number one. Give me the guy who plays his best when the game is on the line and I'll live with his technical flaws.

Jeff from Melbourne, FL:
So I'm guessing the Jaguars were huddling around the heaters?

Vic: No, they weren't. I watched and they did themselves and their team proud. In fact, I thought the Bears were the ones who were obsessed with staying warm.

James from Jacksonville:
I felt like that was Derrick Harvey's best game, yet, as a pro. Your thoughts?

Vic: It absolutely was his best game. He had an impressive tackle for a loss, a quarterback hurry and a pass-defensed. His performance against the Bears is something on which he can build.

Jason from Jacksonville:
Zero! That is the number of pass plays the Jags have of 40-plus yards this year. The last time any team went a full year without having a 40-yard completion is 1996. The passing game is pathetic.

Vic: The failure to stretch the field was the problem on opening day in Tennessee and it remains the Jaguars' greatest failing on offense this season. The inability to get the ball deep has shrunk the field to the point that they can't even throw short. The slants are gone. The curls are gone. Even the quick outs are being challenged. If it wasn't for Maurice Jones-Drew breaking tackles after making catches in the flats, the Jaguars wouldn't have had any passing yardage in the first half of Sunday's game. I'm not saying it's the receivers' fault and I'm not saying it's David Garrard's fault, but the blame falls somewhere and that has to be identified and fixed in the offseason or the Jaguars are doomed to repeat history next season. Every team the Jaguars face knows the Jags can't get deep and, hence, tighten their coverage underneath. That's why Danieal Manning settled on that Jerry Porter post route. That's why Manning was able to intercept that pass and give the Bears an early lead. There was no fear of getting beat deep.

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