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Everything was at stake

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

Damien from Jacksonville:
While I was watching the Jags, I was cleaning out an old drawer and found a ticket from the Jets-Bills game from Dec. 6, 1992, in Buffalo. I noticed that the price of the ticket was $36, or only $2 less than my season-ticket individual-game price, and it was from 16 years ago. At that moment I realized what a great deal Jaguars football is. I will never give up my season tickets.

Vic: Your story reminds me of something I saw yesterday at Ford Field. There was a sign in the end zone advertising a basketball game on Dec. 3 at Ford Field between Michigan State and North Carolina, as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The sign advertised prices starting at $9 and all I could think is what must these poor people think when they see that sign and compare it to the prices they're paying for this awful product the Lions have given them? Pro football fans in Jacksonville are very fortunate.

Mike from Jacksonville:
Look, I'm sick of people telling me we need to rebuild. Look at what the 1-15 Dolphins did this year and look at what the Falcons have done. It only takes a few players and an easier schedule to make your team that much better. So with that said, what have these two teams done from being bottom feeders to playoff contenders?

Vic: You said it. Look at their schedules. Heading into the season, the Dolphins and Falcons were both in the bottom third of the league in strength of schedule. The Dolphins were at .465 and the Falcons at .461. Now stir in new coaches and regimes that have energized and improved the performance of both teams, and that and the combination of favorable schedules and better coaching and management have made the difference. Here's something else: How many players have the Dolphins and Falcons lost to injury? I could be wrong but I don't think they've been ravaged the way the Jaguars were early in the season. You're right. It can change quickly. Losing can become winning and winning can become losing. Injuries are a big factor and so is the schedule. Never overlook the schedule. I'm a big, big schedule guy because there's no doubt in my mind that a tough schedule wears on a team. It weakens a team over the long haul. The only good thing about a tough schedule is that it can battle-harden your team for the playoffs, provided you make it there.

Andrew from Jacksonville:
Why are you so reluctant to criticize Shack Harris?

Vic: Because it's a team effort. Wayne Weaver made it clear to everyone when he hired Harris and Jack Del Rio that the one-voice days were over and that decisions would be reached by committee. In other words, the credit and blame would be shared.

Bob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
I guess the Lions feel very strongly about being number 32 in your all-important power rankings. Was that really a professional football team? I knew it was bad in Detroit, but I didn't know it was that bad. They really could join Tampa Bay in the ranks of infamy. For the sake of a fine old franchise, I hope they finish the housecleaning they have begun.

Vic: The housecleaning started with the exit of Matt Millen but the major part of the retooling has yet to begin. We're talking about a team that has to undergo a complete makeover. It's difficult to imagine that it could get as bad as it is. The whole thing intrigues me. You look at that huge market and what an insatiable appetite it has for sports; you see the potential. You look at that beautiful new stadium and you imagine it filled with howling fans. You see and feel the big games that will be played in that building, but then you snap back to reality and ask yourself, "What happened here?" They'll fix it. It'll happen for no other reason than they'll get lucky, get the right guy in that place and he'll start pushing the right buttons. Meanwhile, the fan base grows hungrier with each passing loss. One day, there will be an explosion of passion that franchise hasn't known since the days of Bobby Layne and Buddy Parker.

Craig from Orange Park, FL:
If the Jaguars could trade stadiums with any team in the NFL, which one would you pick?

Vic: The ones in Nashville and Pittsburgh would fit best in Jacksonville because they have open-end configurations that would allow a view of the St. Johns River. The one in Cincinnati is kind of open at one end, too, and it allows for a nice view of the Ohio River.

Chris from Red Deer, AB:
As the Lions GM, Vic, what would you do for this team? They need help.

Vic: I would stockpile draft picks. I would trade down and collect extra picks whenever possible. They'll probably have the first pick of the draft and that would normally afford a great opportunity to move down and collect picks, but the problem in next year's draft is that it may not include a franchise-type quarterback who fits in the top spot. That's the best formula for maneuverability. Look at the teams that built their futures in that situation. In some cases, they picked the quarterback and built around him. In other cases, they traded out and got picks. Detroit needs a franchise quarterback, but the Lions also need lots of players. If I was the Lions' GM, I'd get as many picks as possible and jockey into position to pick big guys. They need linemen, not wide receivers. The first order of business for a GM, of course, is to settle on a coach who knows how to develop talent. Forget about winning. That'll come later. Player development must be the first goal.

Fatty from Jacksonville:
No one loves you because when the other team makes a good play, you compliment them, you jackass.

Vic: I took the liberty of changing your spelling of the word compliment to its correct form. I hope you don't mind.

Sal from El Paso, TX:
You know how something about two guys jumping and bumping each others' backsides doesn't quite sit well with you? I get the same nagging feeling when I see the quarterback of a 4-5 team wearing a "Huggy Bear" style fedora at a press conference, no matter how well he played against a team as abysmal as the Lions.

Vic: I like the hat. It adds flavor to my story, but I wish David Garrard had asked for my fashion opinion this past weekend. If he had, I would've told him that it's in bad taste to overdress following a win over the Lions. A simple gray suit would've fit. You gotta save the hat for special occasions. Wearing the hat after beating the Lions is like making all that smoke for the Lions to run through when they ran onto the field for the start of the game. I thought their locker room was on fire. Also, the Lions have to stop wearing those terrible throwback uniforms. They're almost as bad as the t-shirt Rod Marinelli was wearing.

Julian from Amelia Island, FL:
Can you see the Jags winning against the Titans?

Vic: Ask me later in the week. I wanna think on this one.

Issak from Washington, IA:
The Bears stopped the run yesterday against the Titans and Kerry Collins wins it with his arm. You still think stopping the run will beat the Titans?

Vic: The Bears struggled, rallied to beat the Lions. Does that answer your question?

John from St. Augustine, FL:
When you said that maybe more than just our season was on the line in Detroit, what did you mean?

Vic: Everything was at stake. Everything from the morale of the team to its self-esteem was at stake. If they had lost that game, we would be questioning everything about this team today. How could you not understand how devastating a loss would've been?

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