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Don't mess with the courts

Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Scot from Jacksonville:
I think you should post all of the questions you receive on-line so we can all vote on which ones you answer. Then you should write three answers to each question, post all three and let us vote on which one should be the real answer. After all, we're the fans.

Vic: Scot, thanks for entertaining us with a little sarcasm, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to get a message across to all of the "Ask Vic" letter-writers who are dismayed their questions aren't published. Folks, "Ask Vic" has grown out of control. Questions are pouring in. I hear that little e-mail bell in my sleep. I genuinely feel bad I can't answer all of the questions, and I'm trying to come up with a solution. I'm open to suggestions.

Tri from Gainesville, FL:
In terms of the rulebook, what's the purpose of having both offensive tackles covered by a tight end or receiver? How does having a tackle uncovered hinder the game, such as holding or false starts?

Vic: You might have misinterpreted the meaning of the word "covered." The rules state the offensive team must have seven men on the line of scrimmage. The two players at each end of those seven players on the line of scrimmage are the "ends." A tight end lines up close to a tackle, while the split end is positioned a distance from the other tackle. In each case the tackle must be "covered," or positioned to the inside of the ends. If the tackle is not "covered," that means one of the ends has not lined up on the line of scrimmage and a penalty will probably ensue for not having seven men on the line of scrimmage. That formation rule exists so defenses might identify those six players on offense who are eligible receivers: the ends and the four players in the backfield, which would include a flanker or wide receiver who must be positioned off the line of scrimmage.

Rob from Jacksonville:
Vic, the Jags followed your philosophy and ran the ball and stopped the run last Sunday and still got shellacked. They stuffed Travis Henry in week two and certainly ran it better than Buffalo. Is there a caveat to your philosophy (you have to throw the ball and stop the pass, too)? It seems to be a bit short-sighted to say you have to run the ball and stop the run to win in the NFL because it doesn't necessarily work.

Vic: Is there a caveat? Yeah, I'd say so. Run the ball and stop the run won't work if your pass-defense experiences a complete meltdown. The Jaguars' pass-defense has allowed seven touchdown passes in three games. To put that into perspective, there is no quarterback in the league who has thrown seven touchdown passes to date. The idea is to stop the run and force the offense to become one-dimensional. When that happens, sacks and interceptions usually follow.

Bryan from Milwaukee, WI:
What are your thoughts on the Maurice Clarett situation? I think if he happens to win his little lawsuit against the NFL, the league should screw him back by imposing a rule stating players less than three years removed from high school should only be eligible for a team's practice squad; for developmental purposes only, of course.

Vic: Bryan, I'm not an attorney, but I can tell you the courts don't like have their decisions ignored. If the NFL did what you're suggesting, it would suffer major financial damages, and whatever political favor the league has built over the years would be lost. Don't forget what happened to baseball in the mid-1980s. The owners decided the way they would deal with skyrocketing free agency salaries would be to not sign free agents. Makes sense, right? But the players association hit major league baseball with a lawsuit charging collusion, and it cost the owners $280 million in damages. Once the courts rule, you may not operate in contempt of that decision. The courts established free agency, and the courts were not going to permit the baseball owners to conspire to effectively extinguish it. The Maurice Clarett matter is of huge importance to professional and college football. I'm thinking the most prudent course might be for the league to keep it out of the courts.

Jon from Jacksonville:
Whatever happened to developing talent in the NFL? Over the last few years the Browns and Bengals have drafted quarterbacks early in the first round. They throw them in and they fail. Why not let them sit and bring them along in a timely manner?

Vic: Jon, free agency and the salary cap have caused a lack of patience. As far as Steve Young is concerned, he came to the 49ers after he had failed with the Bucs. He was an inexpensive quarterback who was acquired for the purpose of being a backup. That he developed into one of the great quarterbacks in the history of the game was completely unforeseen.

Chad from Easley, SC:
What is the percentage that a player will play if listed as doubtful, questionable, probable?

Vic: A player listed as "doubtful" is regarded to have a 25 percent chance of playing, "questionable" is 50 percent, and "probable" is 75 percent.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA:
Leftwich is quickly arriving on the landscape, ready or not. What is your opinion on how he'll hold up physically as a non-mobile quarterback. Also, could you refresh my recollection as to McNair's first game and first-start stats?

Vic: Fortunately for Byron Leftwich, he has come to the Jaguars at a time when the performance of their offensive line is in ascent. Steve McNair made his first start in the next-to-last game of his rookie season, 1995. Against the Jets, he completed 13 of 27 passes for 198 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and an 85.1 passer rating. He played in his first game a week earlier, replacing Chris Chandler and completing 16 of 27 passes for 203 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 79.7 passer rating.

Joe from Green Cove Springs, FL:
If Leftwich starts against Houston and the Jags win quite handily, does he start the next game, even if Brunell is healthy?

Vic: If Byron Leftwich starts this Sunday and performs impressively, one of the first questions Jack Del Rio will be asked on Monday is if he subscribes to the philosophy that a player can not lose his starting job due to injury.

Deanna from Houston, TX:
Hi, it's me, again, the "football virgin." First of all, thanks for the great advice earlier, it's working. I will be going to my first pro game this weekend. I get to see the Jags beat the Texans. It would be great to meet you. I have tickets in the lower-level end zone, section 117, row D.

Vic: Deanna, I'm a married man.

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