Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Justin from Jacksonville:
Speaking of giving Fred the "damn ball," were you impressed with Musgrave's opening series of play-calling against Indy? I liked the seven runs in a row.
Vic: Like it? I got so excited I jumped up and kissed Vito Stellino on the cheek.
Billy from Brunswick, GA:
Do you think the defensive problems are all around or really center around our cornerbacks? I mean, the line is shaky, the linebackers are OK, but the defensive backs are really terrible. Are there any free agents available we could pick up?
Vic: Billy, I'm going to answer your question with an old Chuck Noll line: Help is not on the way. Do you understand what that means? It is what it is and it's up to the coaches and the players to fix it.
Billy from Live Oak, FL:
First time I've read your site and I appreciate your short and forthright answers. So answer this if you will: Would you agree that our players look dismally, well, individualistic? Did you see the Colts defense? They were jumping up and down, motivating one another and literally demoralizing the Jaguars. That's team motivation, rarely seen in today's NFL or any other team sport for that matter.
Vic: Billy, I hope you'll come back and visit us tomorrow, after you get mad at me for the way I'm going to answer your question today: I think all of that jumping up and down stuff is a bunch of crap. Yeah, I saw it, and I also saw Fred Taylor rush for 126 yards and a 7.4 yards-per-carry average.
Ray from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
In the picture above the "Ask Vic" column, are you dictating the column to Brian Sexton or can you type? I see Brian as an "A" student in typing class and you as the type of person to buy him lunch to do your dirty work. I couldn't take anymore "time for Leftwich" questions either.
Vic: You're very perceptive, Ray. Brian went to the Catholic school and carried the nuns' groceries to the convent. I went to the Catholic school and got caught smoking.
Mike from Boise, ID:
Except for the first half of the first game, our offensive plays look similar to that under Tom Coughlin. I thought we were supposed to open it up with Musgrave's play-calling. Your thought?
Vic: Mike, the first time I heard Wayne Weaver utter those immortal words, "No more three yards and a cloud of dust," I knew they would become an issue. First of all, the Jaguars don't have the personnel to open it up. Secondly, opening it up is not a good strategy for winning. Want a great stat? In the first two weeks of the season, there were 25 teams that ran the ball 30 or more times in a game. Their combined record was 24-1. Give me the cloud of dust.
Civ from Jacksonville:
Nice picture of Jason Craft getting beat on the Jags home page. How many more times is Del Rio going to let that happen? And what happens in the locker room during halftime? Does Del Rio let the team know what you golf, and that just gets everyone depressed?
Vic: Oh, that's funny, Civ. I'm dying laughing.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
First of all, I want you know that I look forward to reading this column each day. My question is, what do you think Fred Taylor thinks to himself when he sees Ricky Williams getting the ball 41 times on the ground? I would think he has to say to himself, "I would be setting records left and right if I got the ball that much." What do you think?
Vic: I once asked Fred Taylor a question similar to that and he looked at me like I was crazy. Ricky Williams is a pounder; Taylor is not. Williams' most impressive talent is his durability, and don't dismiss that as not being a true skill. Durability is most important, especially in the salary cap era, when teams are desperate to get dependable return for their money. Williams already has 93 rushing attempts this season. The next-highest in the league is Edgerrin James' 72. Taylor has 53, which is near the average for the league's feature backs. Rule of thumb is that high-attempts running backs have lower yards-per-carry averages than low-attempts guys, for obvious reasons. Williams is averaging 3.7; Taylor is averaging 5.1. The bottom line is that Taylor has never been known as a durability guy. Every effort has been made to protect him from injury. Of course, as a running back's rushing attempts increase, so does the risk of injury. I'd like to see Taylor in the 20-25 range. Anything over that might produce diminishing returns.
Bobby from Orange Park, FL:
We know that once Brunell made it to the first game we had to pay him this year's salary. With Jimmy Smith not playing a game yet due to his suspension, can the Jags still cut him and not have to eat his salary this year? If they could, how would the rest of his money hit the cap?
Vic: The Jaguars' salary cap has already been credited with the four-game suspension portion of Jimmy Smith's $3.25 million salary. If they cut him prior to his return, they would void the remainder of that salary from the team's cap. Of course, Smith is a vested veteran and the rule applies to him as it did to Mark Brunell; if Smith is on the roster for one game, you pay him in full (minus the four-game suspension amount). As far as Smith's impact on the salary cap if he was cut, it would be all amortization-based. His remaining amortization is $10.2 million, of which $3.1 million would be applied to this year's cap and $7.1 million would go onto the 2004 cap. That's the problem; $7.1 million in "dead money" in '04.
Jason from Jacksonville:
I need some help in understanding what coach was talking about in the preseason hype this year. He said our defense would be an attacking style of defense. If our corners are having trouble covering guys, why aren't we sending some extra guys through the line to cause a little havoc?
Vic: Blitz isn't the only tactic that defines an attack-style defense. As soon as Jack Del Rio talked about implementing an attack-style defense, I began getting questions in bunches asking how much I thought the Jaguars would blitz this season. I explained then that Carolina didn't blitz much last season; that under Del Rio the Panthers were very vanilla with their pass-rush scheme, and that was the real genius in their success. When Del Rio spoke of an attack-style defense, he was referring to a "gap" concept on his defensive line. The old, time-honored style of defensive line play is called "two-gap," so named because the defensive lineman plays head up on the offensive lineman and is responsible for the gaps to his right and left. The defensive lineman engages the blocker, finds the ball, then sheds the block and makes the play; it's read and react. In the "gap" concept, the defensive lineman lines up in the gap between two blockers and attacks that gap seeking penetration that would disrupt the play. He's trusting that a linebacker will cover him from behind should the back break the line of scrimmage. It is that "gap" concept Del Rio had in mind when he used the words "attack-style defense."