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Draft order plan continues to work

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

Kevin from Jacksonville:
I go to the University of North Florida. In the middle of the campus there is what is fondly known as "The Green." It's just a large patch of grass where the students can go to relax. There's usually something happening there. Political booths are set up, footballs are thrown back and forth, and people sometimes lay out to get some sun. One day there was a volleyball net set up and a bunch of gentlemen were playing. They had a large crowd gathered around. A young gentleman scurried to bump the volleyball to set up another one of his players. As he scurried, he got guy-wired and brought down on his back in front of everyone. The problem continues, Vic.

Vic: One day at practice, my eyes started wandering over the surrounding area and they fell upon the enormously high antenna that towers over the stadium parking lots. I had seen it a million times but I had never noticed that it is attached to several imposing guy wires. I turned to one of my co-workers, an "Ask Vic" reader, and I said: "Look at that TV antenna. What do you see?" He looked and then said, "guy wires." It was the first time he had ever noticed them, too. Now, I see them everywhere I go.

Jay Dee from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
How would you describe your relationship with Jack Del Rio? Any good stories to tell?

Vic: It's coach/writer. That's all it can ever be allowed to be. We've played golf together, we share football stories together and I think it's obvious we share a passion and could develop a stronger bond, but not now. I understand that and I think he does, too. It was the same thing with Tom Coughlin. He always took little shots and I always knew they were purposeful; a way to make sure the relationship maintained its edge. Why? Because we have jobs to do and they are often adversarial and you can't allow your professional performance to be compromised by friendship. When it became apparent in the end that Tom was going to be fired, we let our guard down and developed a strong friendship that continues. Look, what I've been telling you all these years is the truth. It's the code. There is no cheering in the press box. To let it be any other way would be to embarrass yourself professionally. When I covered the Steelers, I liked to watch, and it's no different now that I cover the Jaguars. Any other way would be a disservice to you.

Andrew from St Augustine, FL:
I feel this year more teams are playing like they do in the playoffs. Going hard, hitting hard, etc. Do you agree?

Vic: Yes, I do. That's an astute observation. The teams that are winning are the ones that go hard all the time. You can't save it for the prom in this league.

Manuel from Jacksonville:
Would you please explain in simple terms what "nickel" and "dime" are?

Vic: "Nickel" is five defensive backs, "dime" is six.

Benjamin from Jacksonville:
If, on Monday, a team lists a player as out for the following Sunday's game, can they reverse that decision later in the week? Both last week and this week, Willie Parker has been listed as "out" as early as Monday afternoon.

Vic: A player can't be listed as "out" on Monday because there's no injury report until Wednesday. If he's listed as "out" on Wednesday and he becomes "questionable" on Friday, you're gonna get a call from the commissioner's office. If there is any chance that a player might play on Sunday, he is supposed to be listed as "doubtful."

Jeff from Cedar Rapids, IA:
I plan on watching this Sunday's game at my favorite bar. It is right down the street from me so it makes it convenient. Problem is it's a Steelers bar. After last year's wild card game, things got a little out of hand between myself and the Steeler nation. Any advice on how to survive in a hostile environment?

Vic: Go to a Jaguars bar.

Viktor from Sydney, Australia:
You sure you don't want to re-think your statement about drafting at the bottom of the order being a disadvantage for consistently winning teams? About 60 players are told by their agents that they have first-round talent. Only 32 of them can be drafted in the first round. Late in the first round and the second round is where you find talented players who are not a great economical risk, and they often come with chips on their shoulders, too.

Vic: Yeah, I'm sure I don't want to re-think my statement. I have a binder in one of my desk drawers that includes round-by-round print-outs of every draft for the past 20 years. If I gave you that binder to look at, you'd change your mind. Yeah, the bargains are there at the bottom of the first round, but the bust risk is much greater. Simply put, there are more great players and good players drafted at the top of the first round than at the bottom of the first round. This draft order plan for parity continues to perform its function long after its creation.

Tom from Jacksonville:
Doesn't Roethlisberger's ability to extend and finish a play remind you of McNair in his heyday?

Vic: Yeah, he's got some of that in him. I've also heard people say he reminds them of John Elway. In my opinion, he's not quite as good a scrambler as McNair or Elway, but he has their strength to ward off defenders and if you give Roethlisberger an open field to run, he'll make you pay. Frankly, I'm not sure I've ever seen a quarterback like Roethlisberger. He's different. Usually, when they're that tall, they're not as nimble as he is. Jim Plunkett and Roman Gabriel could throw the ball with defenders draped on them, as Roethlisberger does, but neither Plunkett nor Gabriel had Roethlisberger's mobility. I think Roethlisberger is unique.

Don from Little Rock, AR:
I'm curious about your reply to Dewayne's question about Matt Jones. He may be playing tougher, but mainly he's getting the opportunity to play because of attrition in the wide receiver ranks. Everyone here in Arkansas knows he's a laid-back guy; he just needs to get on the field. They are finally putting him out there because they had no choice, and now he's showing them. Coaches are hard-headed sometimes. Matt, work on that YAC average; you can do better than that.

Vic: Sometimes fans can be hard-headed, too. When the Jaguars drafted Jones, all we heard from the Arkansas crowd is that we didn't know what we had just drafted. Frankly, I think the Arkansas fans were the ones that didn't know what the Jaguars had just drafted. They kept painting him as some kind of wild hog that couldn't be captured; some kind of wonderboy who could do anything he wanted. Our mistake was that we might've listened to you. For his first-ever game, he was featured in a slash role for which he was miscast. Truth be known, Jones isn't the slash player you all thought he was. He's just a simple possession receiver who has settled into that role and is slowly, surely expanding it. As far as the turn-around in his career, it had nothing to do with attrition at his position. Right from the beginning, he was force-fed the ball in the red zone and was primed for stardom. That was a mistake. Everybody needs to earn it and now he is earning it. The difference is in Matt. The guy who left OTAs is not the same guy who returned for the start of training camp.

Joni from Jacksonville:
Who do you think is more responsible for the demise of the Oakland Raiders? Is it Al Davis or Lane Kiffin?

Vic: The Raiders were floundering long before Kiffin got there.

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