Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Rory from Chestertown, MD:
How will the loss of Darius for the season affect the team?
Vic: His absence will be felt in run-defense and on special teams. Donovin Darius excels in the physical element of football. He has been a great tackler and a great punt-blocker. Pass-coverage was not his forte. Deke Cooper should be able to give the Jaguars everything they need and more in the coverage game, but can Cooper pick up the slack against the run? That's the big question that only time will answer.
Ed from Orange Park, FL:
If Byron takes another beating like he did this past Sunday, he is not going to make it though the season. The Jaguars ought to follow the Colts example in protecting Manning. Technique is their problem. Do you agree?
Vic: I agree that Byron Leftwich has to be protected better and I agree that the protection Peyton Manning receives from his offensive line is ideal, but I don't agree that the Jaguars' problem is technique. The Jaguars have a personnel problem created mostly by the catastrophic knee injury Mike Pearson sustained in the fourth game of last season. Let's not forget that not even a year has passed since Pearson underwent knee reconstruction. The Jaguars knew they had a potential problem at left tackle and wanted to address it in free agency but, as expected, all of the quality tackles who were scheduled to be available in free agency quickly became unavailable. That's the best example of how premium the left tackle position is. Everybody loves wide receivers, but when you have a chance to get a premium big guy, you better not pass on him or you'll regret it. In the Jaguars' case this past offseason, they had no chance to address left tackle other than for the way they did; by drafting Khalif Barnes in the second round. It was a down year for tackles in the draft. Jammal Brown and Alex Barron were the only tackles taken in the first round. Barron almost made it down to the Jaguars and it would've been interesting to see what the Jaguars would've done had he been available. Barnes is a plum pick. To get a guy that big and that athletic in the second round is not to be expected. I have to believe his development will be put on a fast track starting this week. I'm going to be patient and watch how Jack Del Rio, Carl Smith and Paul Boudreau address the situation up front. What they do will clearly go a long way toward deciding the Jaguars' fate this year.
Seth from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I keep seeing news stories that the Colts defensive dominated the Jaguars. Even the commentators during the game seemed to be biased toward Indy's defense.
Vic: I know what you're saying. There seems to be an incredible energy to pronounce the Colts' defense new and improved, and I think it's born of the mania to get Peyton Manning into the Super Bowl. Well, here are the facts through two weeks of the NFL season: This new and improved Colts defense has dominated two teams whose offenses ranked 20th and 29th last season in points scored and 31st and 21st in total yards. The Colts will play the Browns, Titans and 49ers the next three weeks, so it's likely the legend of the Colts defense will only deepen for awhile, but after that they've got games at New England and at Cincinnati. Let's see what the Colts do in New England. That's always been a good measuring stick, hasn't it? And let's see what the Colts do in Jacksonville on Dec. 11. That should be an interesting game, shouldn't it?
Jeff from Jacksonville:
I do not question Byron Leftwich's heart or toughness, however, I am concerned that his lack of mobility makes him vulnerable to injury and to sacks. Do you think his lack of mobility is hurting the Jaguars?
Vic: No, but I think the lack of pass-protection he received in Indianapolis did. I'm old school, Jeff. I believe passers pass and blockers block. I guess I'm new school enough to appreciate Michael Vick's magnificent athletic skills, but as soon as I applaud his ability to make things happen with his legs, I get a ton of e-mails saying the Falcons will never win the big one because Vick isn't a real quarterback. So what is a real quarterback? What does one look like, huh?
Bryan from Jacksonville:
First, I am no great fan of Leftwich. Second, I know I am not the coach. That said, why not put Garrard in during the last series against the Colts? They obviously planned against a quarterback who is not very mobile and then he was injured and even less mobile. By changing to a more mobile quarterback, couldn't it have countered a defensive game plan that was obviously working? After all, isn't it about doing whatever is needed to win?
Vic: The Jaguars had no time outs remaining. There wasn't enough time to run the ball down the field. It had to be thrown down the field and it was. Byron Leftwich connected on two big passes with a rusher in his face on both occasions and the Jaguars found themselves starting their final play of the game from the Colts 22-yard line. I guess you could say Johnny Unitas would've moved the ball down the field with a series of down-and-out completions that would've stopped the clock after each play, but Unitas wasn't very mobile, either, was he?
Wade from Jacksonville:
Why in the world was Donovin Darius playing special teams?
Vic: He has always played special teams. That's part of his value to the team. He blocked a punt and partially blocked another in the 2000 season, then partially blocked a punt against the Steelers in the 2001 season-opener that set up a Jaguars touchdown. Special teams play is important. If the Jaguars had a bunch of bottom-of-the-roster guys out there playin' bad, I'd be getting questions asking why the Jaguars don't use a few starters on special teams. Let me give you a little Vic philosophy: It's football. You will get hurt.
Stevon from Jacksonville:
I just heard straight from the coach's mouth on "The Jack Del Rio Show" that Chad Owens passed through waivers and has been re-signed to the Jaguars practice squad. I think this is terrific news for this team. With every roster spot being at such a premium in today's NFL, I understood the team's decision to release him after a pattern of critical mistakes. I do, however, believe this kid has some great abilities that still need to be polished, but he could one day be a special player for our team. The Jaguars are very fortunate to have this "jar" back on their shelf. Your thoughts?
Vic: I agree with you. I think Chad Owens has some upside. I didn't, however, share your anxiety. There was no chance he was going to be claimed.
Mark from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
You assert that "all great quarterbacks are tough guys." Do you think Peyton Manning is a tough guy?
Vic: He's started 114 consecutive games, which is to say every game of his professional football career. That's tough enough for me.
Farris from Jacksonville:
Unlike most of Jacksonville, I felt it was completely unfair for the Jags to slap Donovin Darius with the "franchise" tag again this year. Of course, everything worked out contract-wise for both parties, but I'd like you to explain what type of situation Darius would be in had he still been on the "franchise" tag. What type of situation would he have been dealing with if this turns into a possible career-ending injury?
Vic: Everything would be the same. As a "franchise" player this year, Darius would've received $4.968 million in guaranteed salary. The long-term contract he signed provided for $500,000 in signing bonus, $3.798 million in roster bonus and $670,000 in salary. The sum of those figures is $4.968 million.
Kevin from Cocoa, FL:
This might be a stupid question but it popped up in my mind last night, looking over some NFL schedules. Where did the name "49ers" originate?
Vic: The name comes from the California gold rush of 1849.
Marcus from Vancouver, BC:
I hate to call a game this early a must-win game, but starting out 0-2 in the AFC and 0-2 on the road would be tough for us. Is this week a must-win game?
Vic: It's too early in the season for must-win games, but I acknowledge the importance of this Sunday's game against the Jets. You don't want to fall too far behind the Colts in the division title race and you don't want to lose a game to a team against whom you might find yourself competing for a wild-card spot.