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Fans take lead from players

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

Craig from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I'd be very interested to know how many times Jaguars opponents this season have opened the game with a pass to the TE? The Colts threw to Pollard this week, last week it was Heap, I believe it was Wycheck the week before. I know the Bills threw to the TE because Mathis tried to take his head off and he still caught it. How many times has this happened and why can't we figure out a way to cover TE?

Vic: In five of the Jaguars' first six games, their opponent's first play was a run by their feature running back. Buffalo, in week two, began with a pass to its tight end. In week eight, The Titans' first play was a pass to tight end Erron Kinney, Baltimore began with a pass to tight end Todd Heap the following week, and the Colts' first play this past Sunday was a pass to tight end Marcus Pollard. Hmmm, I think you're onto something; that's three consecutive games in which the opponents' first play was a pass to the tight end. It would appear as though they're focusing on a player they believe the Jaguars can't cover.

Todd from Jacksonville:
Is there any precedent to explain the TV situation Sunday? At the conclusion of the Dolphins/Titans game, CBS showed the final three minutes of the Jags game. I was thrilled to see it, but isn't that clearly in violation of the blackout policy?

Vic: The conclusion of the Colts-Jaguars game was shown on local television as a result of the Miami-Tennessee game concluding prior to the start of the 4:15 p.m. game scheduled to be shown to the Jacksonville TV audience. That combination created a window of opportunity for the local CBS affiliate, as the networks are permitted by rule to show the conclusion of another game in that kind of "window" situation.

Pete from Jacksonville: :
What are your thoughts on Miami's defeat at Tennessee? If you thought the Jaguars were bad against them, look how a team who thought they were at the top of the ladder got no production whatsoever. This is chilling when it comes to our next game.

Vic: Look at it another way. The Jaguars defeated a team this past Sunday that dominated the Dolphins in Miami a week earlier. The same Colts defense that was flattened by Fred Taylor held Ricky Williams to 36 yards rushing.

Roger from Jacksonville:
I enjoy your column and respect your views. Heck, most times, I even agree with you. I'd like your opinion on what strikes me as a "chicken or egg" question. The players, coach and owner often admonish fans for their less-than-enthusiastic support, noting that a loud home stadium gets the players pumped up. I don't know of any successful football team that doesn't get enthusiastic support from its fans, but which comes first, fan support or competitive play? I get a little annoyed at professionals earning six and seven-figure salaries expecting fans, who pay three or four-figure season ticket prices, to get them "up" for the game. Give me something to cheer for (like Sunday's win), and I'll yell plenty.

Vic: In my opinion, it is the players' responsibility to provide an inspired performance at all times, regardless of the circumstances. It's what they do; they are professionals. The crowd takes its lead from the players and, when that happens, the result is a spontaneous and genuinely enthusiastic response. We saw that this past Sunday at Alltel Stadium. In time, the players and their fans develop a bond. They become one and inspire each other. But, the first step toward that day must begin on the field. That's where the game is played; not in the stands.

Tim from Jacksonville:
First off, I love the column. Second, do you think there's a chance in this upcoming draft that the Jags may draft Kellen Winslow Jr. from Miami, or are their sights on Roy Williams of Texas?

Vic: The Jaguars' sights aren't set on anyone. It's too early for that. Their scouts are in the information-gathering process now and won't begin intense value board work until after the scouting combine in February. When the board work begins in earnest, that's when teams begin focusing on potential picks. As far as Kellen Winslow Jr. is concerned, he's obviously an abundantly-talented kid who's headed for early selection next April, but he didn't help himself with his embarrassing tantrum following the Tennessee game. That's going to turn off a lot of scouts and coaches. Nobody's looking to draft a problem.

Brian from Davenport, IA:
I am trying to keep the high going from the Colts win with this comment, and for those who think there's a chance of making the playoffs still. In 1996 we won six in a row. This year we would have to do eight. Is there still hope?

Vic: Do you want the truth or a feel-good answer? First of all, let's take a look back at 1996. The Jaguars won their final five -- not six -- regular-season games to make the playoffs. They became one of the few teams to make the playoffs with a 9-7 record. In those days, there were only three divisions, so the playoffs field was comprised of three division champions and three wild-card teams. It's different now. There are four divisions, which means each conference's playoff field is going to be comprised of four divisions champs and two wild-card teams. In that system, the Jaguars would not have made the playoffs in '96. The bottom line is 9-7 is not likely to win the AFC South title this season, and just as unlikely to win a wild-card berth in a two-team wild-card field. Enjoy the games for what they are, and focus on what the Jaguars are attempting to establish: their future.

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