Join jaguars.com Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Ryan from Richmond, VA:
May Peyton Manning be the last we see of play-calling quarterbacks? Or does any other quarterback in the league do something similar to the style of Johnny Unitas?
Vic: Manning doesn't call his own plays. He changes plays at the line of scrimmage but he doesn't call the play that's called in the huddle. Young fans are so removed from the days of quarterbacks calling their own plays that they're not sure what it means. It means this: In the old days, the head coach and the offensive coordinator, and in many cases they were the same guy, stood on the sideline with little to do. Their work was done during the week when they coached their quarterback as to what plays the team wanted to run against the next opponent and in what down and distance and against what defensive looks those plays should be run. At that point, they turned the game plan over to the quarterback. The play-calling was in his hands. If the sideline wanted to send a play into the game, they used a messenger player, which was usually a running back or a receiver. If Unitas was your quarterback, however, you didn't do that. In those days, managing the game was part of being a quarterback. Now we use the term "game manager" derogatorily. We define "game manager" as someone who receives the play from the sideline, communicates the play, gets everybody in the right positions and then gets out of the way. In the old days, it was just understood that the quarterback was the game manager and that meant he was calling the shots.
Kamal from Novi, MI:
Era is a strong word, but do you define different phases in a franchise's history by its coaches or starting QBs?
Vic: Yeah, you might. If Vince Lombardi had been your coach, he might define three eras: the Lombardi era, the pre-Lombardi era and the post-Lombardi era. The same goes for great quarterbacks. A truly great coach or quarterback can each be used to define three eras in a team's history.
David from Gainesville, FL:
Do you think players from the big conferences, such as SEC, Big 10 and PAC 10 often times fail to meet expectations because they were over-achieving in college, or is the level of play around them better and so they are able to perform better?
Vic: I think often times they are the products of hype, which never took into consideration the player's shortcomings, only the tendency of the schools' fans and the media that covers those conferences to heap praise on everything and anything that represents dear old U. I saw two rookie defensive backs in mini-camp with great-looking feet and ball skills, and one is from William and Mary and the other is from Division Three Wheaton. You find football players where you find football players, and they can't bring the band with them.
David from Carmel, IN:
Been bleeding teal since the beginning and reading you, as well, during that time. You have been saying that the recent moves in terms of acquiring and developing personnel are what you have wanted all along. I also recall some of your comments about how small markets in the coming age of no CBA are going to have to be creative and try to find guys wherever and however they can. Sure looks to me like Gene Smith and company have surely been working the creativity angle hard. So my question is, between you and Gene Smith, who's been listening to whom? Have you been dropping hints all along this spring where the Jags were headed, or were you just hoping? Regardless, my grade for this draft is a solid A.
Vic: I always knew my philosophies agreed with Gene's. I always knew he was a draft-first guy, and I don't think it's just a coincidence that we share the same beliefs. Gene is a product of Blesto. I can remember seeing him in the Steelers' offices when he was a young scout. Blesto was headquartered in Pittsburgh and run by the legendary Jack Butler. He taught Gene how to scout and the scouts I covered were part of that same influence. It was all about value. That's what I learned and, clearly, that's what Gene learned, too. When I look at Gene's first draft class, I see value. It jumps out at me and I saw it on the field this past weekend, too. You don't get value in expensive free agency and you're risking value when you reach for draft prospects who address need. Those days are over.
Carol from Phoenix, AZ:
No question. Just want to say thank you. I very much enjoy "Ask Vic."
Vic: Well, thank you, Carol. That's so nice of you to say that on a Monday morning.
Joe from Jacksonville:
Why is Daryl Smith being moved to OLB and Justin Durant to MLB? Is Durant a better run and chase guy, therefore, more suited to play MLB in a cover two scheme?
Vic: You got a lot of things going on with that second question. I don't think it's about cover two. I think it's about Smith being better in pass-coverage than Durant, which is the general perception, though I will tell you that I saw Durant jump a route in coverage on Sunday that made me go wow! I really don't think any of this is real important. The main thing is to get your best players on the field.
Paul from Arlington, VA:
A lot of the talk lately has been about the draft class and what we can expect them to provide in their rookie season. I think I'm more interested in what Harvey and Groves can provide with a full offseason under their belts. The team made bold decisions to move up and draft them. What is a reasonable expectation for the two young pass-rushers?
Vic: Get sacks now. I think that's reasonable. They were drafted to sack the quarterback, so sack the quarterback.
David from Jacksonville:
I just read your article about mini-camp stars. The coverage on the Jags over the past few weeks has been very positive and I'm starting to get excited about the team and our prospects. You're getting my hopes up that we're a playoff-caliber team.
Vic: I've never said that. In fact, I have discouraged thinking like that. I saw young talent on the field. In some cases, I thought the young guys made the old guys look bad this past weekend. I have never, however, suggested that this team will be a playoff contender. That's the hope and that's the goal, but it should not be the expectation. This is rebuilding. I've said it over and over. If you wanna fool yourself, go ahead, but don't blame it on me.
Jonathon from Gassville, AR:
What do you think about London's bid to host a Super Bowl and do you think it will happen?
Vic: I would not be in favor of that, at least not until London has an NFL team.
Sam from Jacksonville:
I'm a faithful reader of your column and a listener of "Jaguars This Week." I have two questions related to things discussed on JTW that I'm hoping you'll address. During the dog days of last summer, you mentioned on a show that you had a good-guy story about Buddy Ryan and you didn't get to it out of the break. I'd like to hear that story. Also, you mentioned on last week's show that you believed Rashad Jennings ran a 4.5 40. I checked on NFL.com and they have him listed as a 4.67. I don't place too much stock in 40 times, but that would seem to be a significant difference. Can you explain the discrepancy?
Vic: First of all, on Jennings, the Jaguars have a 4.5 on him. They probably have the 4.67, too. You can find any kind of time you want on a guy. Guys don't run the same time every time. There are combine times and pro-day times and personal-workout times and junior-days times. The difference between a 4.5 and a 4.67 is one bad step or stumble or bad start. As you said, you shouldn't place too much stock in 40 times. Once the team is satisfied that the guy has enough speed to be successful, all the 40 times are meaningless. Jennings is fast enough. As for the Buddy Ryan story, it goes like this: I worked at a newspaper that had in its circulation area the town from which Doug Plank came. Plank was a hard-hitting safety for the Bears and he was Ryan's favorite player. Ryan named the "46 defense" as a tribute to Plank, who wore number 46. Often I would call the Bears' PR department and ask them to get a message to Plank to call me so I could do a story on him. Ryan always intercepted the message and gave it to Plank with this order: Call the guy. A few days later, Ryan would call me and ask if Doug had returned my call, and then Buddy would ask: Do you need anything from me? That's my idea of a good guy. Yeah, I know Ryan had a nasty streak in him, but he was always good to me and that's why you'll never hear me say anything bad about him. He also gave us one of my all-time favorite quotes about a player trade. It was about a running back named Ernest Jackson. "I'll trade him for a six pack and it doesn't have to be cold," Ryan said.