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Explode? Be patient

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

Ty from Jacksonville:
What is going on with these roughing-the-quarterback penalties? Both Jag penalties for roughing were marginal in terms of roughing. I mean, when a defensive lineman is about to bring his arms down on the QB, how do the refs think he can pull up and not touch the QB? Jack Lambert said it best: "Put a dress on the QBs."

Vic: It was a long time ago when Jack Lambert said that and you bring back memories because I was standing right there when he said it. We laughed. Little did we know how prophetic and enduring Lambert's statement would be. You can not touch the quarterback's head. It's that simple. I don't think John Henderson's foul was marginal, but even though Lionel Barnes' "touch" barely made Jake Plummer's head move, it'll get called every time by every official who sees it. Lambert was right. The league started protecting quarterbacks by putting skirts on them in the early 1980's, and since then the league has completed the ensemble with everything from panty hose to accessories. It's good Lambert is retired.

Luis from Green Cove Springs, FL:
I heard commentators calling coach Shanahan's decision dumb for not kicking a field goal, but haven't the Jaguars shown that with some time left they could win the game? In my opinion the Broncos' coach showed respect for Byron's ability to execute under pressure.

Vic: At first I didn't give much thought to Mike Shanahan's decision to run another play on third down, but after listening to everyone's argument against it, I have to say I agree with them. What was left to accomplish? His offense had moved the ball into comfortable field goal range for Jason Elam, and the wind was to the Broncos' back. Just kick it. In my opinion, Shanahan may have been guilty of trying to do too much. He wanted a walk-off field goal and I understand the reasons for that, but kicking on third down would've been the smart play. What if they had bobbled the snap from center? Fall on it and try again. There were only 37 seconds left to play. He should've kicked.

Rajesh from Jacksonville:
I prayed to Lord Ganesha, the "Elephant God." There is 11-day festival that began on Last Saturday and I prayed to Lord Ganesha for Jags victory. I just wanted you to know Ganesha did listen to my prayers.

Vic: He must be a Jags fan.

John from Jacksonville:
After watching a little bit of the Lions game, I have to agree with you that the money is on the table for a QB in his third year. I am starting to see some really good things from Byron as he matures that most people don't pay attention to. For example, he made two throws to Jimmy over the top of arguably the best corner in the league and didn't get picked at all. Do you see Del Rio giving him a little more freedom?

Vic: It's like giving the keys to the car to your son. If he brings the car back without wrecking it, you'll give him the keys again. In Buffalo, Byron Leftwich "wrecked the car" a couple of times, so his driving was restricted against the Broncos. There were no wrecks against Denver, however, so Del Rio's confidence in Leftwich is likely to increase and as that continues it's likely Leftwich will get more drive time. He's just a kid and, as you might expect, he gets a little careless behind the wheel.

Marty from Jacksonville:
What has happened to updated scores from around the league that used to be displayed on the scoreboard during the game? I only saw an update twice during the game and it was shown so quickly I only could get parts of it.

Vic: I have taken your complaint, which also echoes mine, to the right people. I'd like to see other things added to the scoreboard, such as updated yardage totals.

Keith from Jacksonville:
In the game against Denver, the Broncos called a timeout and during that timeout they challenged the call on the field. The call was upheld and the Broncos lost a timeout. The timeout that was penalized, though, was the same one that was used before the review began. Shouldn't a timeout that had not been used been taken?

Vic: Apparently the Broncos were attempting to signal the officiating crew for a "challenge," but they weren't able to convey their wishes, so they called a timeout. Then Mike Shanahan told the referee, Gerry Austin, that it wasn't a timeout the Broncos wanted, but, in fact, they were attempting to stop play to "challenge." Austin accepted that explanation, which I think is fair. When the Broncos lost the "challenge," they lost the timeout they called but really didn't want to call. I don't have a problem with the way it was done.

Justin from Jacksonville:
With Del Rio, Musgrave and Leftwich all saying the offense is about ready to explode, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks they have purposely been running a vanilla offense the entire time and have been saving their big-time plays for these next two games versus our two division rivals. Am I crazy?

Vic: Not at all, and Oswald acted alone, too. Justin, just accept the fact that the Jaguars got lucky. There's nothing wrong with being lucky, as long as you take advantage of it. I don't think this offense is ready to explode and I don't think the Jaguars saved anything for the Titans and Colts. What Jack Del Rio did against Buffalo and Denver was to execute perfectly logical game plans, considering the current strengths and weaknesses of his team. I can't compliment him enough for having squeezed two wins out of 401 total yards and 20 total points. That's great coaching, with or without luck. I believe that in the second half of the season the Jaguars offense will become a strength and Del Rio will react accordingly. But I see no signs that it is ready to explode. I see signs that it's improving and I expect the Jaguars offense to be more forceful and score more points against the Titans than the Jaguars did in either of their first two games, but I also expect Del Rio to continue to play it close to the vest. It is what it is. Accept it.

Daniel from Jacksonville:
Would you say that the Jaguars giving up all of those yards to Denver was more the Jaguars defense being worked or the fact that they had to spend so much time on the field due to the offense struggling so much?

Vic: The Jaguars defense was on the field for all but 11 minutes of the second half. That had to have a negative effect on them in the late stages of Sunday's game. But we shouldn't ignore a few early danger signs: The Bills and Broncos each had some success running at the Jaguars' perimeter, and opponents will see that and concentrate on it. And the Broncos did some business in the Jaguars secondary, and opponents will see that and concentrate on that, too, especially if the Jaguars are unable to rush the passer. Paul Spicer's injury is very discouraging. I think it'll be very interesting to watch how Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Mike Smith address Spicer's loss and the other concerns I've mentioned. Del Rio and Smith are outstanding defensive minds. I enjoy watching them strategize.

Doc from Ormond Beach, FL:
Great job, your column helps the fan base communicate and build a camaraderie that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. My question or observation is this: Reggie Williams has shown nothing in the two games I've seen. Ernest Wilford, on the other hand, has something to show for his efforts. I feel Wilford will prove to be the better of the two in the long run. Has anyone else observed this?

Vic: You must also observe that in Reggie Williams the Jaguars invested a ninth pick of the draft and the sizable contract that goes with a pick that high. You can't quit on that kind of investment after just two games. The Jaguars embarked on a rebuilding project last season. Frankly, they are only in year two of that project. Let's make sure we don't let impatience and a 2-0 record cause us to lose perspective. This team is still in the process of trying to find players. I believe the Jaguars can contend for the division title, but this team is not about now, it's about later.

Wil from Jacksonville:
Do Jaguars fans need to prepare for this year the way the 2000 Baltimore Ravens fans prepared for their championship season? Should we expect defensive battles with an offense whose only job is to not lose the game?

Vic: You've lost perspective. The 2004 Jaguars are not the 2000 Ravens.

Brian from Richmond, KY:
Great website! I find myself checking it almost hourly to see if there's any new content. In reference to Scott's question yesterday asking whether the Jaguars were the Titans' biggest rival or not, I was in Nashville last weekend and asked our hotel's shuttle bus driver who the Titans' biggest rival was and he responded with, "Baltimore, definitely the Ravens." I found it hard to believe at the time that Baltimore was a bigger rival to the Titans than the Jags, but after doing some thinking about it, it's kind of hard to be rivals with a team you've "owned" since the 1999 season.

Vic: And that won't change until the Jaguars take control of the AFC South from the Titans.

A.J. from Jacksonville:
How many fans were there in attendance for the Jaguars home opener? Keep up the good work, the website is awesome.

Vic: The Jaguars have changed their policy for announcing attendance. Previously, they announced the actual in-house attendance. Beginning with this past Sunday's game, the attendance figure the team announces will be the number of tickets distributed for the game. I can tell you that 69,127 tickets were distributed for Sunday's game. I can't tell you how many people were actually there, but I'll bet it was close to the tickets-distributed figure. That was one of the best crowds in Jaguars history and it confirmed the impact of a TV blackout on ticket sales. The walk-up lines Sunday were enormous.

Fabio from Raleigh, NC:
Now that we've apparently lost Spicer for the rest of the season, how do you expect the Jaguars to perform defensively? Do you think the team can continue its defensive dominance without its best defensive end?

Vic: That's the big question. How do you atone for the loss of your best player at a position where you were already judged to be thin? I wish I could answer that for you.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I just discovered that Vic Carucci has an "Ask Vic" himself, so who's copying who? There could be some serious lawsuits going on here. What's the deal?

Vic: The other Vic and I had a laugh about this at the Buffalo game. I told him I don't have a problem with it, as long as he doesn't do a golf tournament. That's were I draw the line. I take golf very seriously.

Joe from Orange Park, FL:
My neighbors and I had a rather heated discussion concerning the topic of draft strategies. One of them, after a few adult beverages, said I would be surprised at the number of active players chosen in the later rounds of the draft. My guess is that less than 20 percent of all active players were chosen in the fifth round or higher. Settle a small wager and educate us.

Vic: All right, put down your pops and pay attention. There are a lot of players on NFL rosters who were drafted in rounds five and after. Common sense would suggest that because there are 1,696 active-roster players (not counting 256 practice-squad players) in the NFL and they had to come from somewhere. I don't know what the percentage is of active players who were drafted in rounds 5-7 or were undrafted, but what I can tell you is this: Last spring I did a careful examination of rounds 4-7 in the previous five drafts and I was stunned at how few starters came from the second day of the draft. I then looked at rounds 1-3 and what I saw was that there was a dramatic drop-off from round two to round three. A lot of personnel people and coaches believe the draft has become a two-round event, as far as starters are concerned.

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