Half the league was inconsistent

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

Roger from Jacksonville:
When players at any other position compete for the starting job, the operative word is compete. Why is a similar competition for quarterback a controversy rather than competition? That term makes it sound as though coaches and others can't agree. Since the coach ultimately makes the decision, how can one man be a controversy? Is this term a choice by the media to encourage dissent?

Vic: A competition isn't a controversy until it becomes a matter of public debate. When you walk into a coffee shop, bar or church and the first thing you hear is people talking about who the starting quarterback should be, it's a controversy. All coaches want to avoid that. When they open the job to competition, they accept that there will be debate, but once a coach has decided on who the starter is, he'd prefer that there be no more changes. It is absolutely of the utmost importance that a team have stability at the quarterback position. Every coach knows that. Stability has been difficult to achieve in Jacksonville because no matter how much Jack Del Rio stood by his quarterback, debate raged on. There have been Wednesdays when I dreaded the start of our "Jaguars This Week" radio show because I knew it was going to be a night-long rip-Byron extravaganza. I have never covered a more unpopular quarterback than Leftwich was among Jaguars fans. Even after his best games, we would get calls criticizing him for his windup delivery, slow release and lack of mobility, or even for the way he talked or walked. Stability at the position became impossible to achieve because Leftwich played under a constant firestorm of protest. I asked Jack Del Rio on Tuesday if it's likely the job will be open to competition when training camp begins next summer, and Del Rio declined to answer because he's not ready to make any proclamations about the position. I think that's smart. I do, however, think there's a very good chance there will be an open competition at the position in training camp and in the preseason, and that would be an invitation for fans to offer their opinions. I would hope that once the starter is named, the fans will let it go. Whoever that guy is, please, give him a chance. I don't think Leftwich ever got that chance.

Keith from Miami, FL:
Would you call this season a disappointment for the Jaguars?

Vic: Yes, it was a disappointment. I go back to last March's owners meetings in Orlando. There's a breakfast at which the league's 32 head coaches sit and talk with the media, nearly all of whom are beat-reporter type guys. Of course, I chose to sit at Jack Del Rio's table. I can't remember if I asked him or somebody else asked him what his goals were for the 2006 season, but this was the answer: "You have to get into the tournament, stay healthy and get hot. We weren't healthy (in 2005) and didn't get hot. The next step is to win." Del Rio was a picture of disappointment when he met with reporters on Tuesday.

Bruce from Jacksonville:
"There's not much wrong" with the Jags, but the thing that strikes me is that this team has been inconsistent for at least the last three years, winning unexpectedly and losing the same way. Is that really just the on-any-given-Sunday fact of NFL life or is there something about this team that it has to identify and overcome for next year to step up and achieve its real potential?

Vic: Eight teams finished 8-8, four teams finished 9-7 and three finished 7-9. That means 15 of the league's 32 teams – 47 percent – finished within two wins of each other. If the Jaguars were inconsistent, then you'd have to say that 14 other teams were also inconsistent. Do you see what I'm trying to say? You're looking for dominance, but you're looking in the wrong place because the NFL isn't about dominance, it's about parity. There are a few teams with dominant records – San Diego, Baltimore and Chicago – but, for the most part, the league is about finding a way to get that one or two more wins you need. In Cincinnati they're saying, how could we have lost to Tampa? In Pittsburgh they're saying, if only we hadn't lost to Oakland. Kansas City almost blew their chances by losing to Cleveland. When you start thinking you should beat a team, that's when you're ripe to lose.

Joe from Port Charlotte, FL:
Larry Johnson will carry 30-plus times against the Colts. This must be the easiest winner pick in the wild card weekend, but by how much?

Vic: You're falling right into the trap. You want it to be easy, decisive and without question, but the league does everything it can to promote suspense. The Chiefs are going to pound Johnson at the Colts and the Colts know it. The Chiefs' great advantage is that if the Colts load up against the run, and they will, the Chiefs can turn to their passing game. The big question is: Can the Chiefs defense stop the Colts offense? Herman Edwards has really improved the Chiefs defense. Jared Allen and Tamba Hali are hard-working players who set the right tone for what has been a soft defense for a long time. I liked what I saw this past Sunday, but I still have my doubts about its ability to stop Peyton Manning. Hey, the Chiefs got torched by the Browns' backup quarterback.

Mark from Atlanta, GA :
What is your assessment of Brian Williams' first year as a Jaguar?

Vic: Jack Del Rio made this comment on Tuesday: "Brian Williams did exactly what we thought he'd do. When we can make acquisitions like that, I'm sure we'll be active (in free agency)." As far as I could tell, Williams was a significant upgrade from what the Jaguars had at the right cornerback position in 2005.

Jime from Jacksonville:
Do you think Del Rio made the right move to put in Gray in the last game of the season, or is this just going to make his offseason job harder?

Vic: When I saw Quinn Gray coming onto the field, my immediate reaction was, "Oh, no, don't do it, coach." That was my reaction because I knew the Chiefs would go into a prevent, Gray would move the ball freely up and down the field, and the talk-shows would explode with even more quarterback controversy. After the game, when I had time to think about it, I decided that it is what it is. I'm referring to the quarterback position. It's in a state of confusion right now, so, what did it hurt to introduce another guy to the mix?

Russell from Atlanta, GA:
What are your thoughts on bringing in Matt Schaub? He's 6-5 with a strong arm and has the ability to move around in the pocket. Not only that, but he would probably be good for the business side of the Jaguars. People here in Atlanta love him and I could see quite a few folks up here following the team more if he was the QB.

Vic: He's a player who will be the source of several trade rumors. The problem is the Falcons will want a king's ransom for Schaub. He's going to cost something close to what the Jaguars got from Buffalo for Rob Johnson, and Schaub has the same limited experience Johnson did. You could hit a home run in trading for him, or you could really strike out. If you're going to trade for him, you better be absolutely sure he can play.

Shawn from Santa Monica, CA:
From his comments and actions, I think Del Rio believes the QB position is of more concern than the wide receiver group.

Vic: Quarterback is always the position of most concern. You're going nowhere until you achieve stability at that position. That's got to be the Jaguars' number one offseason goal: Achieve stability at quarterback.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
What went wrong?

Vic: We know what went wrong. The team got cold in December, right after playing its best football of the season in blowing out the Colts on Dec. 10. The big question is why? I don't know the answer. I think it has to do with the quarterback position. That's where a team gets its lead late in the season and the Jaguars didn't get the mistake-free performance you want at that position late in the season as you're chasing the playoffs. I think it starts there, but I have other questions, too. Why did the defense play so poorly this past Sunday? That wasn't the Jaguars defense I know.

Justin from Richmond, VA:
What do you think of Brian Brohm's performance last night?

Vic: He's talented. He's got nice size, a strong and accurate arm and a good football head. He's a streaky passer. When he gets hot, look out. When he goes cold, he tends to get tentative and look ordinary. The one thing about him that concerns me is that he sees the rush. Too often he doesn't look comfortable in the pocket. Those feet start tappin' and then he drops his eyes to see where the rush is. That's a habit he must break.

Jeff from Fullerton, CA:
Who do you see as candidates to fill the offensive coordinator position?

Vic: I think Jack Del Rio will hire from within.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising