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Colts could be 'hottest' ticket

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

John from Baltimore, MD:
I will be home in Jacksonville the second week of November. I wanted to buy tickets to watch my Jags crush the Ravens but mid-range price tickets were not to be found in pairs. In contrast, there are an abundance of tickets for the Texans game the previous week. What do you think the "Pittsburgh game" of this season will be and are you as excited about the week-10 game as I am?

Vic: I'm glad the Baltimore game is a "hot" ticket, but the one that I think really has a chance to be the equal of last year's Pittsburgh game is the Dec. 11 game against the Colts, given the right circumstances. If it's with the division lead on the line, I would expect it to become the "hottest" ticket for Jaguars fans since the 1999 AFC title game. Don't forget, the Pittsburgh game last year wasn't a "hot" ticket in Jacksonville. It was a "hot" ticket in Pittsburgh.

Tom from Melbourne, Australia:
Which game early in the season will provide the best barometer for the Jags' chances of making the playoffs, Colts, Jets or Steelers?

Vic: I think we should use all three. If the Jaguars fare well in those three games, it would leave little doubt about the Jaguars' status as a playoff contender.

John from Jacksonville:
Is there a way to classify the five-most mentally challenging positions in football?

Vic: Right off the top of my head, I would say quarterback, center, middle linebacker and free safety. Those are the players who traditionally bear the most responsibility for getting everyone into the right alignment; they make the calls, so to speak. I don't think there's a fifth position that falls into that category. The rest of them are somewhat equally demanding mentally.

James from Sierra Vista, AZ:
Does the TV blackout rule pertain to "NFL Sunday Ticket" as well as to local TV stations?

Vic: Yes, it pertains to "NFL Sunday Ticket," too. When a game is blacked out in a city, it's blacked out, period.

Bob from Jacksonville:
If Cedric Benson sits out the year and goes back into the draft next year, what compensation do the Bears get?

Vic: They wouldn't get any compensation, unless they create their own. Should it happen that the Bears fail to sign Benson, I think you could expect the Bears to trade his rights to another team before the draft. Otherwise, they would've wasted their first-round pick this year.

Chris from Jacksonville:
What's wrong with being a pocket passer? It's worked for Tom Brady.

Vic: It's worked for a lot of quarterbacks. Mobility is a wonderful thing because it allows for an outlet when protection breaks down. Mobility, however, is often overused and can cost a quarterback his career. Peyton Manning is a pocket passer. If you look in the dictionary for the word immobile, you'll find a picture of Manning and Byron Leftwich holding hands, and most people would think Leftwich is in good company. Passers pass and blockers block. That's one of the things I like about pocket passers. They define those roles. The quarterback's responsibility is to pass the ball and the line's responsibility is to provide the quarterback time to pass the ball. Quarterbacks don't like lines that don't provide a pocket and lines don't like quarterbacks who leave the pocket. If the Jaguars offensive line provides Leftwich with the time he needs to throw, I have no doubt this will all work just fine. If he gets the time and it doesn't work, then the blame falls on him. He is not responsible, however, for making his own time.

Jim from Jacksonville:
What is a trap-pass and an inside trap?

Vic: An inside trap is a running play that sends the running back over guard behind a block that's intended to trap or deceive the defensive tackle into believing he is unblocked. The guard pulls out, hoping to cause the defensive tackle to believe the guard is getting out ahead of the ball on a sweep and that the defensive tackle will not be blocked. The defensive tackle better reconsider quickly, though, because he's about to say hello to the other guard, whose intention is to kick out the defensive tackle. It's a block that can spring a running back into the secondary in the bat of an eye; it's a piece of blocking artistry that's beautiful in its execution. A trap-pass is a play-action fake to a running back behind trap-blocking action, followed by a pass. The blocking action and play fake freezes the linebackers. The Colts are the master of the latter, which is no coincidence since their offensive coordinator, Tom Moore, was the offensive coordinator for Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh when the Steelers were the most notorious trap-blocking team in history.

Vincent from Jacksonville:
Is it normal for rookie left tackles to struggle like Khalif Barnes has been doing or is he just not meeting expectations?

Vic: Left tackle is the most demanding position on the offensive line. Some personnel men think it's the second-most difficult position of all to play; it's certainly in the top five. The struggles Khalif Barnes has encountered are typical of a rookie tackle. Let's not forget that he began his career at Washington as a defensive lineman.

Nick from South Kingstown, RI:
After watching that game against Atlanta, I was extremely disappointed in the number of fans who left that game. I'm sure a lot of them were thinking, "well, it's raining now; looks like it's time to go home." That was an embarrassment, the number of fans left in the stadium. What happened to the hardcore fans of this city? If you're a diehard fan of this team, you stay out in the rain and support your team, even during the preseason. What's your take on that?

Vic: I think you're being too harsh. Even in the most diehard, tradition-rich NFL cities, the combination of rain and a late start for a preseason game on a week night would've produced the same effect. I won't candy-coat it. I think everyone knows that. In this case, I can appreciate the circumstances.

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