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Head coaches lead

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
If Del Rio doesn't have a say in the draft and he gave up his defensive play-calling responsibility and Koetter calls the offensive plays, what's left for Del Rio to do?

Vic: What's left? Are you kidding? What's left is to lead his football team. How many times have I written it in this column? Assistant coaches coach; head coaches lead. This isn't a video game. Real football is about a lot more than pushing buttons. Real football is about establishing direction and philosophy for your entire football operation. It's about working with the personnel department to make sure players that fit your direction and philosophy are acquired. It's about working with your medical and conditioning teams to make sure your players are applying themselves to the physical tolerances of your program. It's about working with the franchise's public relations department to make sure the fans are getting the message you want to send about your football team. It's about working with the team's sponsorship, marketing and ticket-sales departments to assist in making the franchise successful in the ways that drive revenue. A head coach has far-ranging responsibilities, off the field as well as on the field. On the sideline during the game, he's got decisions to make involving players who've sustained injury and who might replace those players and how that might alter the game plan. On Tuesday's, which is the game-planning day, he needs to be fully involved with the strategies being devised for all three phases of the game, not just defense. I could go and on. When I read a question such as yours, I see the damage that's been done by this plays mania. Calling plays is the last thing that's done in a game. Before a play can be called, a million other things have to be done in preparation for calling that play: scouting, breaking down film, creating a travel itinerary, assisting your coaches and making sure your stamp is on everything your staff decides, etc. That's what a head coach does. He leads everybody. His eyes are on everything and his presence patrols every inch of the program that bears his name.

Reese from Frederick, MD:
What is the meaning of the comment, "The actual numbers are definitely going to be important next year."?

Vic: It means Wayne Weaver won't be looking behind the numbers next year, as he did in deciding that 8-8 wasn't a true barometer of the 2010 team's success and performance. It means that next year 8-8 will be 8-8 and, based on my interpretation of what I heard in Weaver's press conference on Monday, 8-8 won't be a satisfactory result next season.

David from Jacksonville:
When was the last time we heard of any issues off the field other than philanthropic endeavors and community involvement? In the past we might have had this same record, but with several police blotter issues and attitude difficulties. I believe that truly needs to be recognized and appreciated. Please comment.

Vic: I agree. The reason I haven't mentioned it is because I don't want to curse this wonderful run of law-abiding behavior the Jaguars are on. Plus, I also think law-abiding behavior should be the norm, not the exception.

Christopher from Jacksonville:
How big is surgery for a torn meniscus? I assume it isn't as bad as Aaron Kampman's torn ACL.

Vic: Torn cartilage often results in floating bodies that irritate the knee. They can be removed arthroscopically. They only become a problem when the cartilage has become so damaged that there's not enough of it left to cushion the knee. That's when we hear about a knee procedure known as microfracture, which is a technique intended to grow new cartilage. Microfracture is major knee surgery; removing small pieces of torn cartilage arthroscopically is not. Repairing a torn ACL is known as knee reconstruction. Once upon a time, it was the death knell of all knee surgeries. These days, players routinely recover from torn ACLs, but not without intense rehab and time. Kampman did it last year and now he'll have to do it all over again. The good news is that he knows he can do it.

Paulo from Salvador, Brazil:
The Jaguars are the worst in the league in turnovers. Why they lost the ball so much? Does it say something about the offense?

Vic: Actually, Buffalo is the worst in turnover margin at minus 17; the Jags are minus 15. The problem is double-edged for the Jaguars: They turned it over too many times (33, which is seventh-worst in the league) on offense, and they didn't cause enough turnovers (18, which is tied with Denver and Houston for the fewest in the league) on defense.

Eddie from Cocoa, FL:
Why weren't you on the Gene Smith radio show last night? I was really hoping to hear your questions for the GM.

Vic: I was doing the Wayne Weaver press conference and the story from it.

Ryan from Cincinnati, OH:
"We will certainly look to add a wide receiver in this draft." Mr. Weaver mentioned Mike Thomas, Jason Hill and Jarett Dillard; do you think the fans should take the absence of Sims-Walker's name to mean anything regarding his future in Jacksonville?

Vic: I didn't include that statement and those remarks in my story from the press conference because I didn't consider them to be a meaningful or comprehensive representation of the Jaguars' wide receiver situation. I think Wayne was just trying to provide some conversation and awareness of the young talent the Jaguars have acquired. At the time, he was talking about the offensive side of the ball.

Bruce from Jacksonville:
Tell me how next year will be better with the same coach, the same QB and a more difficult schedule? I cannot understand this decision in business or in football terms.

Vic: Do you realize that the coach and the quarterback aren't the only people on the team? Do you realize that as you improve the talent around the quarterback and the coach, the quarterback and the coach tend to perform better? What has happened to the fan perception that the game has been reduced to the quarterback and the coach? I see it as a major problem because it's causing us to lose our sense of the game and its true meaning.

Eben from New York, NY:
What's the theory behind announcing the decision to keep Del Rio at 5:30 p.m.? That sounds like the Jaguars wanted to make this as little of a national news story as possible; announce it late in the news day, right before most sports channels are set to start airing games. It seems like the organization sometimes tries to shy from media attention.

Vic: You wouldn't be a very good PR man, Eben. The press conference began just in time for the start of the local TV news, which allowed the local TV stations to go live with their coverage. It was the most attended Jaguars press conference since it was announced that EverBank would purchase the stadium's naming rights.

Rob from Milwaukee, WI:
How many sacks did the Jags get since Kampman was put on IR?

Vic: The Jaguars had 14 sacks through the first eight games of the season with Kampman, and 12 in the final eight games without him.

Hector from Long Beach, CA:
Del Rio's record as Jags head coach is 66-65 overall, 20-28 in the last three seasons and 4-11 in December and January; he is the first coach since the NFL merger in 1970 to lead the same team for eight years without capturing a division title. I'm not saying Del Rio should have been let go, but can you convince us that the right decision was made?

Vic: That was the intent of Weaver's press conference on Monday. Wayne went out of his way to explain the rationale he used in making his decision. Read my story from it, please. By the way, I know of no other team or owner that would've done that. It is not standard operating procedure for teams to announce why they didn't fire their coach.

Tim from Randlett, OK:
Who are your league MVP and offense and defensive rookies of the year?

Vic: Tom Brady is my MVP, Maurkice Pouncey is my offensive rookie of the year and Ndamukong Suh is my defensive rookie of the year.

Cheyne from Greensboro, NC:
I think playoffs or outski is fair. You?

Vic: When the Jaguars started the rebuilding process, I was asked what would be a fair expectation of how long it'll take, and I said 3-4 years. Yeah, I think it's fair. It's not as though the AFC South is a power division.

Harrison from Fernandina Beach, FL:
If Kampman had stayed healthy all season, would the Jags being playing this weekend?

Vic: He would've made a difference in Indianapolis. Injuries, however, are a part of the game and the Colts sure have had their share.

Brian from St. Augustine, FL:
Did the Jags put eight men in the box much in support of the run?

Vic: You can't do much of that against the Texans, because of their strong passing game. If you load up against one, you're gonna get the other. That's what balance does. It makes defenses play it straight, or guess and run the risk of getting beat on a big play.

Bill from Jacksonville:
How can a team in the eighth year of a coach's tenure allow the most points in the history of the franchise? This year's team gave up more points than the first-year expansion Jaguars. How is that possible, Vic?

Vic: Here's how it happens: First of all, we are in the age of offense. We are in an era of high-scoring games. I think everyone would agree that the league has legislated against defense and the result league-wide has been an increase in yards gained and points scored. The second part of the equation is the Jaguars' draft failures. They largely spent the first four years of the Shack and Jack era drafting for offense, then turned to defense in the 2007 and '08 drafts by selecting 10 defensive players, only two of whom are still with the team. This is gonna take some time. I know you don't wanna hear that but I don't know what else to tell you. The roster Gene Smith inherited in 2009 was worse than expansion-like.

Kyle from Charleston, IL:
In an effort to identify the questions that need to be asked, will David Garrard be the starting quarterback of the Jaguars next year?

Vic: I don't think that's one of the questions that needs to be asked. I think it's a foregone conclusion that he will be the Jaguars' starting quarterback next season. I think it's also a foregone conclusion that the team will draft a quarterback and that player will likely become the team's quarterback of the future. The real question will then become: When does that player step into his future?

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