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Find 'em and sign 'em

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

David from Charlotte, NC:
Was the QB sneak (draw) too obvious on the two-point conversion attempt?

Vic: Apparently it was because the Bengals had a phalanx of defenders stationed in the middle of the field to guard against a quarterback draw. The Bengals did a fantastic job of defending the play. Matt Jones was split left and the defensive back took away the slant Jones was going to run by getting inside position. Dennis Northcutt was in the slot on the left and ran a quick slant or smoke route, but David Garrard couldn't get to it due to the phalanx of defenders in the middle of the field that took his passing lanes away. Marcedes Lewis was tight to the right and ran a quick-out route that was easily defended. Jerry Porter was split right and ran a slant that should've resulted in pass interference. The moment Porter planted and cut to the inside, the defender wrapped his left arm around Porter's body, pinning Porter's left arm to his body and doing the same to his right arm by pulling himself tight to Porter's right side. When I first saw the TV replay, which was shot from the back of the end zone, I thought Porter was guilty of not giving an all-out effort for the ball with a defender closing on his face. When I saw the coach's tape, I realized why the TV replay looked the way it did. It should've been an easy call for the side judge. Stuff happens.

Marcus from Chicago, IL:
Love your column and I don't want to make it partisan but, come on, were you happy with the results Tuesday night or what?

Vic: My enduring memory of Tuesday night is the scene from Grant Park. The pictures TV gave us were of young people; a mass of young people, white and black, college kids and street kids, male and female, etc. They hugged and they were happy. This was their election. They made the difference. On this night, they accepted responsibility and accountability for a new direction in this country. I think it's wonderful.

Kevin from St. Augustine, FL:
You are a complete sarcastic jackass.

Vic: I feel your anger and I hurt for you. You should stop reading "Ask Vic" immediately.

Mark from Ankeny, IA:
You give us an unbiased, honest opinion and if it's unflattering toward the Jags, people call you a Steelers homer. If you try to be positive, people get worked up into a frenzy, but if things go wrong, you're a company man filling us full of the company line.

Vic: It is what it is.

Mike from London, Ontario:
A "$64 million dollar question" seems like an oddly specific number to throw out there. I get the idea that there's a hidden statement in that. Do you have any insights or do you think I'm missing the mark on this one?

Vic: Coach Del Rio, I have no doubt, was referring to a popular TV game show when I was a kid, and I do mean a kid. The show's name was "The $64,000 question" and it was number one in the ratings. Coach Del Rio was just allowing for inflation.

Kevin from Orange Park, FL:
Have Jeremy Mincey and George Wrighster been activated from the PUP List?

Vic: No, but they weren't put on injured reserve when the weeks 6-9 window closed. Instead, the Jaguars opted to use another three-week window the league allows teams to get PUP guys in shape before they re-join their teams' active rosters, which it appears Mincey and Wrighster will do.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
A lot of people had high expectations for the Jags this year, but halfway through the season we are 3-5. If you could change anything about the team or staff, what would it be?

Vic: I'd like to go back to last February and start over. That's a common reaction to this kind of season, but I don't think I've ever felt as strongly about wanting to turn the clock back as I do this year.

Thomas from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What is the condition of the relationship between Mike Peterson and Jack Del Rio?

Vic: I think that's obvious, but I'd sure like to think it could be fixed. Mike was coach Del Rio's first true free-agent signing. Mike was going to be Del Rio's Ray Lewis, which is to say an ultra-energetic and hell-for-leather middle linebacker sitting behind two behemoth defensive tackles. I'm not saying Mike is the equal of Lewis, but I think the concept was sound and it worked for a lot of years. I'd hate for something that had been so good for this team for five years to end on a sour note.

Christian from Daphne, AL:
Pete Prisco stated on his show that Garrard does not swivel his head; locks on one side of the field. Is that something you've noticed and is it an area for improvement?

Vic: They said the same thing about Terry Bradshaw. At the end of his career, I mentioned to him that he was criticized early in his career for not looking-off the safety. Bradshaw poked his finger at me and said, "I never, ever looked-off the safety." In other words, he interpreted what I said as an insult, that he didn't have the arm strength to fit the ball in so he had to look-off the safety. Gee, how did he ever win those four Super Bowls and election to the Hall of Fame? Pete's a passing game sissy. He likes the route tree and the progression and all of that Ron Jaworski crap. I don't care how a guy does it. Just get it done.

Jonathan from Jacksonville:
Jaguars fans haven't been hardened by defeat? We've been defeated every season. We've never won a Super Bowl. How about the reason Jaguars fans get so disappointed is that we don't see victory enough?

Vic: Gee, a whole 14 seasons and you've never won a Super Bowl. How have you endured? Just lose, lose, lose, right? Not quite. At the start of this season, the Jaguars were tied for ninth in the league in winning percentage during their existence; a .543 winning percentage (113-95).

Dustin from Kissimmee, FL:
I love the draft. Were you disappointed to see the number of rounds shrink over the years?

Vic: The reduction in rounds of the draft from 17 to 12 to seven in my time covering the NFL has left today's teams, in my opinion, with an obvious advantage that most teams ignore. The players are still there, only the rounds aren't, which means you don't have to get in line and wait your turn to pick from rounds eight through 17. Go get them. Go get the best of the undrafted free agents. How? The answer is simple: overpay for them. Give them more signing bonus than the other teams are offering. Compared to the ridiculous sums of money that are spent in unrestricted free agency, the few thousand dollars more that you'd spend in undrafted free agency is chump change. Why is it that teams will drop $10 million on a tapped-out, old man in unrestricted free agency, but they won't give an undrafted guy with young legs and intriguing potential an extra five grand? It makes no sense. If I was a personnel boss, aggressiveness in signing undrafted free agents would be my trademark. If I went back through my career and started recalling players I covered who were picked in the eighth through 17th rounds, or signed in undrafted free agency, I could assemble a very strong roster. One of my all-time favorite running backs, Frank Pollard, was an 11th-round pick and he beat out a first-round pick, Walter Abercrombie. Undrafted free agency is a treasure trove of talent and today's rosters, including the eight-man practice squad, offer a lot of places to hide and develop these players. All you have to do is find 'em and sign 'em, and signing them is probably as simple as offering them more money than the competition is offering.

Lee from Maryland:
What's your opinion of Matt Jones firing back at Joey Porter?

Vic: I wouldn't have done that, but if I had, I'd now be hoping Joey retires. Let's not forget that after a game a few years ago, Porter went to the Ravens' buses to call out Ray Lewis. My guess is that Porter will issue a response to Jones' comments.

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