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Fixing the line will be difficult

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

James from Jacksonville:
It looks like if our offensive line does not get any better we are going to lose many games. Do you feel our line can be fixed?

Vic: I doubt if it can be fixed permanently. Patches can be applied, but I think we all knew that when the Jaguars didn't address the offensive line in the draft, we'd all have to cross our fingers and hope injuries didn't occur. So what's that law about whatever can happen will happen? First of all, the Jaguars have to find out where Mo Williams and Vince Manuwai stand with their injuries. How long will they be out of action? What about Uche Nwaneri? He came back into the game after he got his knee banged up, but he's not likely to be able to practice full tilt this week. In other words, a full personnel assessment is needed and then adjustments will have to be made. Drew Miller may have to come off the practice squad. Maybe Dennis Norman will have to move to guard. I'm just speculating, of course, but the adjustments could be radical. Charles Spencer is a key guy. He'll get a hard look this week. The Jaguars will have to put something together and game plan with their makeshift line in mind. I assure you, Buffalo is going to take the game to the Jags' offensive line. The Bills are going to turn up the volume on an injured group. They're going to throw twists and stunts and blitzes at the Jags' offensive line and Marcus Stroud is going to be the Bills' emotional leader in Stroud's grudge-game return to Jacksonville.

Alan from Jacksonville:
Witherspoon was a very bright spot for us. Can he be our Hester?

Vic: Why not? Yeah, that's shooting pretty high, but the kid really looked special on Sunday. He was so good that the Titans started squib kicking late in the game. That's the ultimate show of respect for a return man. Here's where I have to say I was wrong. I didn't like the idea of putting Brian Witherspoon in that position for his first-ever pro game. I was worried that it might be too big of a task for a kid from Stillman in his first-ever game. I was very, very wrong. Witherspoon caught the Titans completely off guard. You can tell players that a guy is fast, but they have to play against him to know how fast. On the opening kickoff, Witherspoon broke it outside and ran away from everyone. The word will get out that he's a burner and teams will game-plan accordingly, but if that game plan is to squib kick and kick away from Witherspoon, that will likely result in good drive-start position and that means Witherspoon will have done his job without even touching the ball.

Bryan from Pittsford, NY:
If a kicker kicks a ball over one of the uprights, is that supposed to be good?

Vic: "The entire ball must pass through the vertical plane of the goal." That's from the rulebook. What it means is that the entire ball must be inside the upright, which includes the upright itself. In other words, if the ball passes over the upright and the entire ball is inside the outside edge (for lack of a better word) of the upright, the kick is good. If any part of the ball is outside the plane of the upright, the kick is no good.

Sid from Pittsburgh, PA:
What do you think the Jags need to do to bounce back from this beat down?

Vic: Run the ball and stop the run. That's what the Titans did to win yesterday's game and that's what the Jaguars must do to beat the Bills. This isn't a time to get fancy. This is a time to get back to basics. The best way to pass-block is to run-block. Knock the other guys off the ball, rush the ball successfully and your opponent will become tired and demoralized. He'll stop teeing off and start standing up at the snap of the ball, looking for the running back instead of the quarterback. On the defensive side of the ball, a strong run-defense makes the opponent one-dimensional. Now you're the one calling the plays. Football is still a physical game. Yeah, it's more about passing the ball than ever before, but you gotta win the battle of the hitting to win the game. That's what the Bears did against the Colts last night.

Antron from Jacksonville:
What's your opinion about the call for an all-out blitz on third and 15?

Vic: If it works, it's great. I didn't hear any complaints when Gregg Williams was hired. Everybody was celebrating the fact that the Jaguars were going to be an attack-style defense. It's not about plays, however, it's about players. Do you have the players you need to play that style? When you blitz, you gotta get home. If the quarterback picks it up and checks the ball down, you gotta have players who can get out in space quickly and make the tackle. What if Kerry Collins had been sacked, which would've improved the Jaguars' resulting field position? What if the all-out blitz strategy would've forced a turnover? Would there be any complaints today? Again, players, not plays.

Duane from Chicago, IL:
We all know the offensive line played poorly, but don't you agree Garrard held onto the ball too long when he did have time? I mean, he's got to get rid of it or run it.

Vic: Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. I don't know. I can tell you the Jaguars max-protected several times, meaning they kept two backs in the backfield to block and that means the number of receivers in the routes were limited. In most cases, the Jaguars receivers were double-covered because the Jaguars had to load up their protection to stop the Titans' pass-rush. When that happens, receivers are going to have trouble getting open. You're going to have to hold the ball longer and wait for them to come open. It all starts up front.

Samuel from Erie, PA:
The Jags made John Clayton look smart.

Vic: Yeah, he was lookin' pretty smug as I passed him outside the Jaguars' locker room.

Shane from Jacksonville:
What is it about the Titans? They seem to beat up on us and we just can't stop it. Their record against us has been really good, even when it seems we are the better team.

Vic: They were the better team yesterday. Don't fool yourself into believing otherwise. They had a fantastic advantage along the line of scrimmage that they couldn't fully exploit because of their great disadvantage at quarterback. Had Kerry Collins played the whole game, I don't think the score would've been as close as it was. Folks, the Jaguars lost three offensive linemen last week and a fourth played valiantly on a knee injury that would've normally forced him out of the game. These things happen. Teams get runs at a position. Look at the Steelers last year at left tackle. They lost Marvel Smith at left tackle in the first game against the Jaguars, and then lost backup left tackle Max Starks two games later and were forced to play a practice-squad guy, Trai Essex, at left tackle in the playoff game. How did it work for them, huh?

K.C. from Windsor, CA:
When did Mathis forget how to tackle? And who should have been covering the tight end all day?

Vic: You got the wrong guy. Rashean Mathis wasn't the guy who missed the tackle and blew the coverage on Bo Scaife.

Andrew from Toledo, OH:
I watched that whole game and they abandoned the run when they shouldn't have.

Vic: If they had run the ball 40 times for 70 yards, I'd be inundated with questions today from people asking why the Jaguars kept running the ball into the middle of the line. They'd ask, why couldn't they see that it wasn't working? Be that as it may, I thought they should've run the ball more. Of course, I'll almost always say that.

Tom from Riverside, CA:
How do you think we will rebound next week?

Vic: I need some time to think about that question. I need more information. Could you please ask again later in the week?

Billy from Jacksonville:
I know you'll most likely find an excuse for the offensive and defensive lines and, by the way, I am a Jaguars fan of the highest nature, but heart cannot be taught. The Jaguars showed absolutely no heart at all against the Titans.

Vic: Well, Mr. Jaguars fan of the highest nature, I couldn't disagree with you more. Frankly, your e-mail angers me but I'm going to maintain my poise and address your question calmly. No heart? As their teammate remained in a Jacksonville hospital fighting for his life? People like you just don't get it. You wanna see the show because you lack feel. I feel sorry for you because you'll never be able to appreciate true courage. Mo Williams sustained a biceps injury in pregame. He probably tore it, but he gave it a go in the first series. No heart? Uche Nwaneri replaced Williams and then sustained a knee injury that left him flat on his back and having to be helped off the field. At the least, it's probably a grade one or two MCL injury, but he came back and played the rest of the game. No heart? Try doing something as simple as dribbling a basketball with a biceps injury. Try just walking down the steps with a bad knee. Go ahead, criticize the Jaguars for playing poorly. That's fair, but it's not fair to say they lacked heart.

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