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Burning question in Indy

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

Geoff from Clermont, FL:
Where is this new pocket-passing, gun-slinging, Carl Smith offense we've all been hearing about? I realize the Jags wanted to keep the Jets defense on the field but Fred Taylor having 37 carries without reaching 100 yards is ridiculous, especially on the last possession of the first half when the Jags went three-and-out on three running plays, giving the Jets the ball back with plenty of time on the clock. Will we be seeing more of the offense later this season?

Vic: If you have read this column for any period of time, you would understand that I am a firm believer in the merits of ball-control football. I'm not the person to whom you want to lodge complaints about a conservative game plan. Pete Prisco loves the passing game. You should address these types of questions to him.

LeRoi from Cleveland, OH:
Last week after the Indianapolis game you said on "Reporters' Corner" that a lot of teams will be looking at the game tape of our loss to the Colts. The Colts offense was once again stagnant against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Is it possible that in our stunning defeat the Jaguars defense was able to set a trend or a standard on how to disrupt Peyton Manning and that offense?

Vic: In the Browns' case, they didn't need to take their lead from the Jaguars, though you can bet the Browns' defensive coaches studied hard what the Jaguars did against Peyton Manning. Romeo Crennel is the Browns head coach and he was the Patriots defensive coordinator in each of the Patriots' playoff wins over the Colts the past two years. You might say the Patriots are the masters of beating Manning. What did they do this past Sunday to hold Manning touchdown-less? They overloaded with defensive backs, played "nickel," kept everything underneath and forced the Colts to beat the Browns with the run, which the Colts did. The difference is that the Colts now find themselves having to win games 13-6 and 10-3, instead of by the whopping margins they enjoyed last season. If this trend continues, can the Colts continue to win low-scoring games? That could become one of the burning questions of this season.

Bob from Queens, NY:
What is the problem with Jacksonville fans in your "Ask Vic" column? I am a Jets fan and we lost a good football game on Sunday. I was there and it was a hard-fought, entertaining game. What more do your fans want? Leftwich looked strong, Taylor is a beast. You controlled the clock, took some shots down the field and your defense was downright punishing. I say if your Jacksonville fans can't be happy after a victory like that, then maybe they don't deserve a team. Maybe I will move to LA and become a Jaguar fan.

Vic: I'd rather it not come to that.

J.D. from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Paul Spicer having a breakout year?

Vic: Spicer has three of the Jaguars' seven sacks. He also has 10 tackles, six quarterback pressures, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He is having the best year of his career and I find it intriguing that this week's opponent is the Denver team that broke Spicer's leg in week two a year ago.

Warren from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I understand that running the ball is key to winning an NFL game, but we did well against the Seahawks with a not-so-great ground game, didn't we? Should we try to go downfield more against a not-so-good Denver defense, or should we keep giving Taylor the heavy load?

Vic: Denver is number 12 in overall defense. That's pretty good. The Broncos are 15 against the run and 13 against the pass. Those numbers are especially credible coming off a game against a high-powered Kansas City offense. I think the answer to your question is that the Jaguars will probably need to be more balanced between run and pass to beat the Broncos. The Jets had major problems on offense, with a sore-armed quarterback and a sore-kneed running back. The Jaguars' game plan for the Jets game was obviously a reaction to what the Jets couldn't do on offense. Denver, as evidenced by last night's game, is going to offer a stiffer challenge on offense. The Broncos are 13th overall on offense; ninth in rushing and 19th in passing. Stopping the run is obviously going to be a key for the Jaguars defense. Denver has a better offense than the Jets, which will probably require the Jaguars to respond with a more aggressive offensive game plan. Pro football is all about match ups.

Shawn from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Friggin' Reggie Williams for mayor?

Vic: I've gotten several obtuse e-mails from you today. Are you OK? Do we need to send help? If it's nothing serious, then take two aspirin and run the ball.

Eric from Jacksonville:
I can't figure out why the Jaguars didn't go for two points with the score 19-14. Getting two would have assured that a Jets touchdown would only tie the game and not put them ahead. Even if we had missed the try for two, a touchdown would have still beaten us. It ended up costing us a trip into overtime. Your thoughts, please.

Vic: Whoa! Had the Jaguars gone for two and missed, there wouldn't have been an overtime because the Jets would have won, 20-19. This is another example of how conservative football produced a win for the Jaguars. The "go for one/go for two" chart says that when leading by five go for two, but Jack Del Rio went for one and I completely agree with that decision. Right after the Jaguars scored, the guy sitting next to me in the press box said, "go for two, right?" I said, "no way; it's too early for that." I don't buy into any of that chart stuff. I don't think the two-point conversion should be used until teams are down to their final possessions. That's the only way of being able to predict what's going to happen and, even then, it's not a certainty. I believe in conservative football because it makes you play every play of the game. That's what you want from your team; guys committed to a 60-minute effort. You don't put teams away in this league. All you do is set the bar higher. The more you score, the more you force the other guys to score, and they probably will. NFL games go down to the wire. The good teams make plays at crunch time. Don't try to avoid it. Make the plays.

Brian from Davenport, IA:
Can we please run sweeps with Fred Taylor instead of just straight up the middle?

Vic: You're not going to run sweeps on John Abraham, Shaun Ellis and Jon Vilma. That's too much speed. Don't scheme schemes; scheme personnel.

Steve from Maitland, FL:
I was being a stat nut like usual and I noticed the Jags were ranked second in total defense. What exactly is total defense and is it an important stat?

Vic: Total defense means total yards allowed. I think it's a very meaningful statistic and so do coordinators because, eventually, yards are points, unless you're a team playing with a lot of big leads and opponents are piling up prevent-defense passing yards late in the game. That, of course, is not the case with the Jaguars. The Jaguars are eighth in the league in points allowed, but let's not forget that 10 of the 44 points scored against the Jaguars this season were allowed by the offense. Points allowed is the most important stat, but total defense and points allowed tend to go hand-in-hand. That's why the jury is still out on the Colts defense. It's number one in points allowed but 21 in yards allowed. Something's not right. Which is it? We'll see.

R.J. from Jacksonville:
It's time to ask that dreaded question. How close are the Jags to avoiding a blackout this week?

Vic: As of the close of business on Monday, the Jaguars had 278 non-premium-seat tickets to sell to avoid a blackout. The greater concern is the Bengals game the next week. There are about 2,200 tickets remaining for that game.

Jason from Orange Park, FL:
From speaking with the coaches, what kind of vibe do you get regarding Khalif Barnes? Do you buy their comment that he was held out against the Jets because it was a tough matchup on the road, or do you think they only said that simply because Barnes is not progressing as hoped?

Vic: I think they decided not to activate Barnes for Sunday's game because they knew the Jets would throw John Abraham, Bryan Thomas and every speed-rusher and blitz they had at Barnes, and they didn't want the kid to get shell-shocked in his first pro football game. You gotta watch that kind of stuff. If a kid loses his confidence, he's done. Look at what happened to Chad Owens. I also think the possibility exists that we, meaning the media, might have been used a little last week. By sending signals that Barnes might play, the Jets probably wasted some time preparing special rush packages for the rookie. Oh, well, I've been used before.

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