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Give me Hochuli and a soft pretzel

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

Jeff from Boonsboro, MD:
Trade Leftwich for a first-round pick; sounds like a great move. Do it now before he really depreciates.

Vic: The trade deadline has passed. There can be no more trading until the first day of the 2007 league calendar year in March. There has been talk recently, however, of allowing teams to trade when the season ends and before the start of the league calendar year.

Zach from Deland, FL:
The coin toss ignorance you're seeing comes from the Madden video game, where if you pick to kick or receive at the start, it will be the reverse in the second half. Madden's got it wrong, and they think Madden is the actual NFL.

Vic: So that's what it is. I should've known. Maybe they should've played the game; the real game.

Hasse from Copenhagen, Denmark:
I'd like to hear your evaluation of the last two games, in terms of how well the Jaguars prepared themselves.

Vic: Real good against the Eagles and not real good against the Texans.

Stephen from Orange Park, FL:
How amazing is Ed Hochuli? He knows every single rule for the game and explains them so well to the fans when it's an obscure rule. If all the refs were like Ed, there would be a heck of a lot less controversy.

Vic: Ed Hochuli's greatest strength is his ability to communicate the calls and their explanations to the fans. Once upon a time, there was no explanation. All the referee gave you was a hand signal. When the league went to microphones for referees to explain their calls to the fans, the ability to communicate became a major part of the job description. Hochuli has the ability to speak in a concise, complete, authoritative and friendly manner. He's a good man. He was in Jacksonville two summers ago to make the annual officials' presentation to the media, and he was outstanding. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and the enthusiasm he brought to it. It always bothers me that so few Jacksonville media attend the annual meeting with the officials. It's a chance to learn, ask questions and offer opinion, but only a few reporters show up every year. Someone asked me recently which officials I like the best. Ed is one of them.

John from Neptune Beach, FL:
You mentioned Tom Coughlin playing for Ben Schwartzwalder at Syracuse. Did you know how pivotal a leader Schwartzwalder was on D-Day with the paratroopers?

Vic: Schwartzwalder was a paratrooper and a major in the U.S. Army who was presented the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, four battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation. He was a 148-pound center for West Virginia and he coached at one of the powerhouse high school football programs in America, Canton (Ohio) McKinley. Schwartzwalder was one of the true tough-guy coaches in college football history. His star players at Syracuse include Jim Brown, John Mackey, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance, Floyd Little and Larry Csonka.

Mike from Milford, CT:
I have read your previous columns about how drafting Vince Young was a bad idea. Well, look at him. He's not putting up huge numbers but he's managing the games and winning them, too. Now my question to you is, how does it feel to be so wrong about this pick?

Vic: I'll watch him this week.

Jon from Port Washington, NY:
With the win over a tough Eagles team, does this put Jacksonville back on track toward a playoff berth?

Vic: Absolutely it does. I said a few weeks ago that if the Jaguars had lost both road games, at Houston and at Philadelphia, they wouldn't make the playoffs. I still believe that. In my opinion, if they had lost in Philadelphia, the Jaguars would not be a legitimate playoff contender today. That's how big that win is.

Josh from Nellis AFB, NV:
Well, it's obvious Nate only knows the NFL because of Madden video games. Do you think games are "dumbing down" society?

Vic: I have no problem with people playing video football. Any way a person wants to spend their leisure time is fine with me. All I ask is please don't compare video football to the real thing. Real football isn't about strategy. It's about human confrontation.

Ryan from Syracuse, NY:
"That means run the ball, force turnovers, win field position, etc. This is not a time to get into shootouts." Perfectly said, Vic.

Vic: But I didn't expect Donovan McNabb to lay an egg.

John from Springfield, GA:
Could weather or crowd noise ever cause a team to kick at the start both halves, and have you ever seen it? Thanks for your time and effort.

Vic: Yes, I have seen it, but I can't tell you when. I thought we were going to have an example of it on Sunday in Philadelphia. In my opinion, Andy Reid screwed up. Because of the wind and because the Jaguars were playing with a quarterback making his first start of the season, I thought the Eagles should've elected to defend the north goal when they won the coin toss. That would've undoubtedly caused the Jaguars to then elect to receive. The result would've probably been a kick into the end zone that would've left the Jaguars to start the game facing a stiff wind at their 20-yard line. Instead, the Eagles elected to receive, began the game at their 20 with a three-and-out that left the Jaguars to begin their first drive downwind at the Eagles 48. It produced the only touchdown of the game. Had the Eagles elected to defend the north goal, they almost certainly would've had to kick off twice. The north end of "The Linc" is the downtown side of the stadium. Had Abner Haynes won the toss, he probably would've said: "We'll kick to the downtown." I asked Jack Del Rio about losing the coin toss and the Eagles electing to receive and he said: "It didn't hurt my feelings. You almost want to play defense in both halves."

Tariq from Jacksonville:
When is the "Ask Vic" birthday?

Vic: According to our archives, the first-ever "Ask Vic" was published on March 7, 2001.

Jared from Edison, NJ:
Honestly, who cares about Garrard vs. Leftwich? What us fans want to know is: Press box hot dogs or pretzels?

Vic: Pretzels; it was a great touch. They have them at Gillette Stadium, too. It's a Northeast thing; big, soft pretzels and mustard. Those pretzels were super salty. My only complaint is that they weren't warm. They were fresh, just not warm.

Tom from Custer, WA:
If you want to compare QB statistics, then compare won to loss ratio.

Vic: Yeah, I agree with you, but I don't think it's that simple in this case. David Garrard had two near interceptions on Sunday. The same was true in the 49ers game last year. Those passes should've been intercepted and had they been intercepted they would've been touchdowns and the Jaguars would've lost both games, and that would've left Garrard's record at 3-3 in his last six starts, which is exactly what Byron Leftwich's record is in his last six starts. As Jack Del Rio is fond of saying, I think you have too small of a sampling.

Steve from Honolulu, HI:
Do you think Alvin Pearman will take Chad Owens' spot as the first-string punt-returner?

Vic: Pearman and Owens have been competing for that spot and I think Pearman deserves to keep it this week, based on his 29-yard return in Philadelphia.

Armando from Vacaville, CA:
Why is there so much controversy at the quarterback position? Why can't coach Jack Del Rio compromise and play Leftwich in the first half and Garrard in the second?

Vic: That would be the worst solution. It's time to pick and stick.

Steve from Jacksonville:
During the game, the officials stopped play and said the defense was not set. Does the offense of a team have to wait until the defense is ready, or can they just snap the ball immediately as soon as the offense is set?

Vic: When the offense makes a substitution, the defense is given reasonable time to make its own substitutions. That's what was involved in that delay situation on Sunday. If the offense doesn't substitute, then they dictate the tempo and the defense is not given time to make substitutions. A no-huddle offense is a way of forcing the defense to keep the same personnel on the field. For example, if a defense has a ferocious pass-rush that involves a third-down personnel package, the way to keep that personnel package off the field is to go no-huddle on first down, without making substitutions between downs, of course. The offense also dictates the pace inside the two-minute warnings.

Ricky from Jacksonville:
Do you think the Jaguars will ever try a system like the Gators are doing with Tim Tebow and Chris Leak?

Vic: The Steelers did it in 1995 with Neil O'Donnell and Kordell Stewart. When you have a quarterback who is such a fantastic runner that you feel a critical need to use his talent, there's nothing wrong with doing the Leak-Tebow thing. David Garrard is a very mobile quarterback, but I don't think his running skills are so dramatic that they should warrant that kind of an arrangement.

Robert from Valencia, CA:
It has been my long-standing opinion that the Jaguars play up to or down to the quality of their opponent. What, if anything, can this be attributed to? Am I completely off base here?

Vic: Someone told me on Monday that of the 13 games played in the league on Sunday, the favored teams won seven of them. That means that six teams played down to the level of their opponent. Get what I mean?

Oscar from Jacksonville:
I know there's a quarterback controversy on our team, but isn't this a controversy a coach would like to have? I mean, it's not like the debate is about two bad quarterbacks.

Vic: Every coach wants two good quarterbacks, but no coach wants a quarterback controversy. Again, it's time to pick and stick.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
The Jaguars go up to Philly and get back to our basic philosophy: run the ball, stop the run, and we win. I realize that this is not the most exciting brand of football, but why don't the Jags just stick to this simple plan every week?

Vic: Sometimes the other team takes you out of it. The Redskins did that. They jammed the line of scrimmage, took the run away and said beat us with the pass, and the Jaguars nearly did. You have to be able to do both. When you can, then you can do what you want. That's why it's so important that this team develop a consistent and productive passing game. Count on it, the Titans are going to crowd the line of scrimmage and dare the Jaguars to pass.

Chris from Jacksonville:
Do you think the Jags would have used the same game plan against the Eagles if Leftwich had played?

Vic: Of course they would've. Garrard's talents are a good match with the running game because he adds rushing yardage to the total, but Leftwich is just as capable of handing off the ball.

Brian from Conway, AR:
Don't worry, Vic, I will vote that you are not an idiot in your poll, even though you despise us Arkansans. I've been a Jaguars fan since their first season and I remember those that made fun of me are now Jaguars fans just because of Matt Jones.

Vic: I'm counting on you to get out the Arkansas vote. I have concerns in Arkansas. The campaign, at times, did not go well and I may have failed to get my message out to the great people of the pig state. Let me take this time to tell you all what a great people you are and how much I root for the Razorbacks on Saturday. I am Vic Ketchman and I approved this message.

Chris from Malvern, AR:
With all of the early mornings, frequent travel, tons of free hot dogs and moronic questions asked, what is the life expectancy of a sportswriter?

Vic: We tend to die just prior to retirement.

Chris from Jacksonville:
At this point in the season, how do you rate the addition of Mike Tice to the coaching staff?

Vic: It looked pretty good on Sunday, didn't it?

Jordan from Jacksonville:
Since we are still above .500 and we are playing our longtime rival, the Titans, do you think fan morale is high enough to see a full house on Sunday?

Vic: The good thing about this quarterback controversy is that it creates interest and that could help fill the stadium on Sunday. Jack Del Rio would be crazy to say who his quarterback is. Why alienate one quarterback's legion of fans? Make both factions come to the game.

Tyler from Jacksonville:
I do see where you are coming from in response to the coin toss because you are right, but Abner Haynes made his mistake in overtime. That was a completely different scenario.

Vic: I used the Abner Haynes situation because it fully describes the three options available to the team that wins the coin toss, introduces weather into the decision and provides an example of what can happen if you don't say the right thing. You gotta keep it simple. "I want the ball," or "I want that goal." Don't say "I wanna kick" unless that's your number one priority. You can usually achieve that by choosing the goal. If you're going to kick, at least make sure you get the goal you want.

Bryan from Jacksonville:
The NFL won't let Mike Nolan wear a suit, but they'll let Bill Belichick wear a sweater that rats chewed the hood off? I know you aren't a fashion guy, but come on, aren't these people supposed to be professionals?

Vic: Belichick is a rogue. He's a late-'60's, early '70's leftover. He also has a miserable personality, which is the thing I like most about him.

David from Lincoln, NE:
As you can see, I'm from Nebraska and I'm 17 years old. You're probably thinking what is a kid from Nebraska doing on Well, I get the same feeling when I walk into our local sports bar to watch the Jags games. I get the weirdest looks when I have my Fred Taylor jersey on. It's like they don't know that the Jaguars are a team.

Vic: I'm counting on you, kid, to get out the Nebraska vote. And stay out of bars, kid.

Chris from Jacksonville:
What exactly are the rules regarding movement by an offensive lineman? It seems the line for Indy moves an awful lot once they are in the three-point stance.

Vic: Offensive linemen are not permitted to move once they assume their stance. The league has had to make an exception with the Colts offensive line, however, because several of their linemen suffer from gastritis.

Adam from Sandown, NH:
I was amazed, to say the least, by the performance that Tom Brady put on against the Vikings at the Metrodome. Were you as impressed as I was? Ten different receivers got involved. He's the best quarterback I've seen in my lifetime.

Vic: If you are in the AFC, you know you'll have to stop either Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or both in the playoffs. That's what makes the road to the Super Bowl so difficult in the AFC.

Bill from Jacksonville:
Appearances to plug "Desperate Housewives," interviews that voice-over football plays, and now Paris Hilton, Shirley MacClaine and a stupid bobble head race at halftime. Make it stop, Vic.

Vic: I can't. I'm powerless. I hate it more than you do. I don't know if I could stay a fan if I had to watch the games on TV only.

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