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Good week for a bye

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

Jordan from Syosset, NY:
Is this a good week to have a bye?

Vic: This is a very good week to have a bye. First of all, this team needs a rest. It was on the road for five of its first eight games and the schedule for the first half of the season was extremely demanding. The Jaguars' greatest need at this point in the season, however, is for a re-dedication to the fundamentals that are the foundation to Jack Del Rio's program. The Jaguars are 27th in the league in rush-offense and 14th in rush-defense, and those numbers aren't nearly good enough. They are very fixable, however, and I have no doubt they will be fixed and this is the perfect time to get it done. There are other deficiencies that need to be addressed, too, but in Del Rio's program – in all good coaches' programs – everything begins with run the ball and stop the run. When that's fixed, they can move on to something else.

Jon from Jacksonville:
Against our divisional opponents, Peyton Manning and David Carr, we have allowed a combined 71.5 completion percentage, 864 yards and six touchdowns and have only intercepted one pass. How can we stop them from throwing at will? We can't make the playoffs if we let teams convert third-and-long.

Vic: Defending against the pass is about rushing the passer and covering the receiver. Obviously, the Jaguars are deficient in those areas. That's why it's so important that this team get back to stopping the run. The formula for success against the pass, in my opinion, is stop the run and force opponents into obvious passing situations. Houston didn't run for a lot of yards but the Texans ran for enough (93 yards) and often enough (32 attempts) to strike a perfect balance (32-34) between run and pass. The threat of run is what's most important and Houston achieved that because they were successful enough to not have to abandon the run. Stop the run, force teams into obvious passing situations, then load up against the pass. It was a formula that worked for the Jaguars in the second half of last season.

Wil from Jacksonville:
Going back to the fourth-and-one, during the game the official stated the play was dead because momentum had been stopped, but as I read this morning I am finding statements that the whistle had blown. What is the real reason the play was dead?

Vic: They screwed this one up. There was no whistle. The explanation was that forward progress had been stopped. If that was the case, the whistle should've been blown. I think the officials got lazy with their whistles. After the ball had been fumbled, they wished they had been a little quicker with their whistles.

Hasso from Jacksonville:
Has our stingy defense gone soft?

Vic: Statistically it has, but mentally and emotionally it has not. This team is still built on the principles of sound defense. It is at the root of what Jack Del Rio believes is necessary to be successful. This should be an interesting two weeks. I expect Del Rio to take this team into his hands and re-mold it. It's difficult to do that when you're playing every week. It takes every hour of the day and week just to prepare for the next opponent. With a week off, however, there will be time for perspective, which I consider to be one of Del Rio's major strengths as a coach. He knows what he wants and he'll make sure his players and his coaches know it, too.

Lynn from Jacksonville:
One step forward, two steps back! In your opinion, following the less than good play in Houston, what should the Jaguars try to accomplish in the upcoming bye week?

Vic: All of the above and one more thing: I'd like to see them have one training camp-type practice. I think they need one day when the coach is in a bad mood and practice is a little longer and has a little more contact in it than usual. I think they need to see some genuine on-the-field disapproval.

Joel from Orange Park, FL:
Your pregame analysis was downright creepy (in honor of Halloween) and correct regarding pass-defense and riding on Byron's shoulders. I know this will be meaningless until the end of the season but I am curious. During our bye week, if the Colts and Texans each win next week, we will be tied at 5-3. Who will be the technical division leader?

Vic: You're right, Joel, it's really meaningless. You couldn't do head-to-head because Houston hasn't played Indianapolis. The next tie-breaker would be best record in division games, but all three teams wouldn't have played the same number. Best record in common games would be the third tie-breaker, and the same situation exists there: an imbalance of games. You see, you can't apply the tie-breakers in most cases until the schedule is complete. In a head-to-head situation you could do it once the teams have completed their two-game season series, but the Jaguars have split with the Colts and have only played one of the two games against the Texans. As I look at the tie-breakers and the results over the first half of the season, I see no advantage for any of the three teams at this point in the season. The Jaguars are doing well in common games and they need to continue that. For example, they beat the Chiefs and the Colts didn't. If the Texans lose to the Broncos, which I expect to happen, the Jaguars would also take a common-games edge there.

Davy from Jacksonville:
What happened to Rashean Mathis? Is this that so-called "sophomore slump" that you hear about?

Vic: I don't know what to say because opponents aren't throwing at him. Houston threw almost exclusively at Juran Bolden. I agree with you that Rashean Mathis has been somewhat missing in action, but I don't know to what that should be attributed.

Terrance from Jacksonville:
What do you think has caused a change in the way the Jaguars have played football?

Vic: A hot quarterback who took the Jaguars' minds off running the ball, and opposing offenses who were able to run successfully at the perimeter of the Jaguars defense. The loss of Paul Spicer at defensive end really hurt this team.

David from Norfolk, VA:
They seemed to know where Byron was going to throw the ball before he did. We had almost no yards-after-catch yardage. What specific tendencies do you think they picked up on?

Vic: I don't think it was a matter of picking up on tendencies. I think it was a matter of throwing a lot of short, check-down-type passes to receivers who, in most cases, were stationary. You don't get yards after the catch by throwing to stationary receivers. You have to hit guys in stride to get yards after the catch.

John from Jacksonville:
I think the most glaring problem with our defense is our secondary. What moves do you think we should make over the next few years to strengthen that department, with so many young and talented receivers in our division?

Vic: Draft pass-rushers and pass-defenders. That's how you defend against the pass: rush and cover.

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