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Coaches know what they're doing

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

Jeff from Jacksonville:
For those that don't think the receivers are the problem, take a look at what Byron Leftwich was able to do in his game against Washington this year. I didn't think he was the problem here and neither is Garrard.

Vic: That's an interesting observation.

Ryan from Cincinnati, OH:
Could we see Chauncey Washington getting some playing time behind Maurice Jones-Drew this weekend?

Vic: That would be my expectation.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL:
Yesterday, you said players earn playing time at practice. I think a lot of fans don't realize how much happens at practice and think they know as much about these players as the coaches, even though they have no idea what happens at practice.

Vic: I wish I could take the fans with me when I interview coaches. What the fans would quickly realize in any interview with any coach is that the man is an expert in his field. When I interview a coach, I am humbled by his command of the game. If you sat in on one interview with one coach, such as the interview the media did with Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams on Thursday, you would gain confidence that what the team is doing is right and what you think they should do is just playful conversation. Your confidence in coaches would increase dramatically. Unfortunately, you can't sit in on those interviews and the gap that exists between coaches and fans is the truth the coaches can't divulge. That's the challenge in my profession; getting these guys to tell the truth. It would acquit them and explain everything to fans who are asking legitimate questions for which there are easy answers. The problem is the answers have to be avoided, lest the coaches call out players and, in the process, divulge the team's weaknesses. That'll never happen so the gap continues. What I'm asking you to do, for your own sake, is to trust that coaches know their stuff and are doing what's right and logical. If you accept that, you can get to the truth.

Mike from Orange Park, FL:
Do you think the Steelers will be able to beat the Ravens this week?

Vic: The bigger question is will anybody be left standing when the game is over? The big winners in this game are the Cowboys and Titans, the Ravens' and Steelers' opponents the following week. The first game between the Ravens and Steelers was 1970s-like. It was the most vicious game I have seen since I can't remember when. I like the Ravens in this one, largely because of the homefield advantage, but also because I think they are peaking at absolutely the right time of the year.

Brad from Orange Park, FL:
Why pay these people so much money to go out and lose? It's like no big deal; win or lose they still get millions while managing to make our town look bad.

Vic: You make a good point. What the NFL should do is, before the season begins, determine which teams are going to win and which teams are going to lose, and the teams that are going to lose should pay all of their players minimum wage.

Bryan from Woodbridge, VA:
I am really sick of hearing you old-timers talk about how you hate the way football is in its current state. Look, times change. If you can't get used to the way things are now as opposed to the good old days, then don't watch, just go play golf on Sundays. If you want football but none of the new-school stuff, like celebrating and fireworks, then don't come to the game, watch it at home with the sound turned down and close your eyes when anyone scores or gets a sack. Just please, stop complaining already. It is what it is and it's not going back anytime soon.

Vic: Oooh, you're scaring me. What are you gonna do next, a double-chinstrap pull and look mean? Please, don't taunt me; it makes me cry. I bet you like to jump in the air and bump into people, and you probably like all that smoke and fire and that nasty robot on FOX, too. You young guys scare us old-timers. Hey, kid, watch "The Greatest Game" and see how real football was played.

Greg from Notre Dame, IN:
You missed Antonio Gates.

Vic: Yeah, there were a lot of undrafted free agents I didn't mention because there are so many. Undrafted free agency is a treasure trove of affordable talent. If I was an owner, I would be very demanding of my personnel department in finding undrafted talent. Anybody can make first-round picks. The real trick is in finding the hidden gems.

Timothy from Jacksonville:
It seems like Garrard has more of his passes tipped than most quarterbacks. Could this be because of the line play or change in his throwing motion?

Vic: It's because he's thrown short so much that defenses are game-planning to knock down passes. When you throw short the trajectory of the pass is lower than when a quarterback throws long. Opposing defensive linemen are making sure they get their hands up and defensive coordinators are scheming to eliminate throwing lanes.

Edward from Lakewood, CA:
Do you consider re-signing your own free agents to be different than signing someone else's free agents?

Vic: Yes, I do. You know more about your own people than you do about other teams' players, and that makes re-signing your own player less risky than signing other teams' players.

Lewis from Jacksonville:
Will you please give us your take on Clemson RB C.J. Spiller?

Vic: Love him; he's got big-time talent. He can run inside or out. I think he'll be a better pro than he was a college player. Depending on what underclassmen decide to seek draft eligibility, the running back crop could be very strong next spring. Based on seniors only, it's not strong, but expectations are that a lot of underclassmen will come out.

Cedrick from Jacksonville:
Even though now it's certain we'll end with a losing record, it's great that none of our games have been blacked out this season. Does this say something about our fans gaining a bond with the team, or is this just visiting teams' fans filling in the empty spots?

Vic: I think it says something about Wayne Weaver's generosity and his desire for his team's fans to see his team play.

Mike from Louisville, KY:
I just came across a very startling stat: Jacksonville players have dropped a total of 30 catchable passes this season, tied with Cleveland for most in the league. How does that problem get fixed for next year?

Vic: Gee, I can't imagine. I'll have to think on that one. I can't help but think of the old coach's joke: We're not big but we're slow. How about, we're not fast but we can't catch?

Daniel from Orlando, FL:
Would you draft Pat White to be a quarterback?

Vic: No, but I'd draft him to be a developmental receiver. White is a great player. He has fantastic instincts for the game, athletic ability, speed, toughness and big-play potential. This is one of those players who offers the potential to be a "gem." You have to have a vision for him. You have to see what he can become and how he can be used.

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