Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Brian from Orlando, FL:
Vic, can you give me some info on the new VIP seating being experimented with by the NFL? Do you like the idea?
Vic: The league has approved on-field seating at four trial games. This Sunday's game at Minnesota is one of those test sites. Four seats will be put on the field. Obviously, the idea is revenue-motivated. New England has been doing something similar for a few years. I believe it's a promotion that involves a lounge chair company sponsorship. As you would imagine, I don't like the concept. I see it as another invasion of the field and I think that should be a particularly sensitive issue right now because of the recent NBA brawl. I know I'm perceived as being somewhat backward-thinking on these matters, but I can't help but be the purist that I am. Football is a game I love and revere, and I don't like it when it is treated in a cheap way. The football field is a place for toughness, not lounge chairs. In the grandstands, fine, but not on the field. The field is the game's altar and only people with a working function should be permitted on it.
Jay from Queens, NY:
What do you think is the best way the Jags can attack the Vikings, offensively?
Vic: I don't think attacking the Vikings offensively is the issue. The Vikings' defense is 26th overall; 22nd against the run and 25th against the pass. The Jaguars should be able to achieve balance between run and pass, which is important in any game. You want to be able to win time of possession, for the purpose of limiting the Vikings' time on offense. That's what's most important; long, sustained, time-consuming drives. Drive the ball, eat up the clock, don't turn it over, score touchdowns instead of field goals; those would be my four keys on offense.
Doug from Orange Park, FL:
I have become a big Daryl Smith fan. What is the status of his knee?
Vic: He's off the injury report. He's ready to go.
David from Smyrna, TN:
Do you think the play-calling on the offensive side of the ball has become very predictable at times?
Vic: I'm not opposed to predictable play-calling. The best offenses in history have been predictable: The 49ers had "option right pass," the Cowboys ran the lead draw with Emmitt Smith, the Steelers ran the traps with Franco Harris and Green Bay had the "Packer Sweep." Are you surprised when Peyton Manning drops back to pass? In fact, I think it's important that an offense becomes predictable. That's when you know it's established an identity. My problem with play-calling is when it becomes self-serving. I don't wanna know how many plays the coordinator has in his playbook. I wanna know which ones represent the true personality of that team and if the players are dedicated enough and have they been coached well enough to make those plays work. Those are the teams that win championships; the ones who say this is who we are and this is what we do and then do it.
Quinton from Greenville, SC:
In response to your editorial about the Colts stopping the run, I agree that their run-offense has improved, but I think their run-defense is ranked high because teams throw the ball more against them. It would seem that yards per carry is a better stat for measuring the quality of a run-defense than rushing yards per game. How many yards per carry do the Colts give up and where does that number rank?
Vic: Prior to Thursday's win over the Lions, the Colts were 18th in the league in yards allowed per carry, 4.3, against the run. That was three spots lower than their number 15 ranking in rushing yards allowed per game. You're right, a bad pass-defense will invite opponents to throw, but the Colts' run-defense average per attempt isn't awful. They should be able to hold their own in a cold-weather, run-the-ball playoff game.
Ryan from Markham, Ontario:
I know you told us that the NFL isn't a video game, but it seems Peyton can press the "touchdown" button at will. What makes Manning that much better than every other QB in the league? Why does it look so easy for him?
Vic: The Colts do make it look like a video game, don't they? The Colts offense is unbelievable. They run it and they pass it and they gain yardage in big chunks. In my opinion, the thing that makes Peyton Manning so successful is his mental grasp and discipline. He knows exactly what he's to do and how to do it and he never strays from the plan. The ball is always out quickly and what that tells you is he has no hesitation in knowing where to go with it. He makes it all look so easy because he executes the play exactly as it is intended and, of course, all plays are theoretically designed to score. The number one goal of any defense playing against Manning is to confuse him and disrupt his timing. Not many do, do they? The Patriots disrupted Manning's timing in last year's AFC title game by jamming the Colts' receivers and making Manning hold the ball. That's how you beat him; make him hold the ball. But the NFL took the jam away from teams in the offseason by announcing a "major emphasis" on enforcing the five-yard rule. One more thing: Edgerrin James' success feeds Manning's. As long as the Colts are able to run the ball, defenses won't be able to sell out to stopping the pass.
Patrick from Arlington, VA:
Love the column, love the questions, love the answers. How are the Jags doing injury-wise? Seems we haven't lost that many players but the ones we have lost seem to be either among our keys to winning or were just coming into their stride. It's easy to blame players and coaches for mistakes and losses, but aren't these injuries a big part of it? And can we overcome them this year?
Vic: The one injury that really hurt the Jaguars was the loss of Paul Spicer in week two. Spicer was the Jaguars' best defensive end and losing him made a position of concern a position of intense worry. Mike Pearson was a loss but Ephraim Salaam has filled in nicely. Otherwise, the Jaguars have been very fortunate for the second straight year. They appear to have weathered the Byron Leftwich storm and that's most important of all. You can't lose your starting quarterback and expect to function at your highest level.
Umar from Plano, TX:
What do you think are the key points to beating the Vikings and what's the status of Randy Moss?
Vic: Vikings coach Mike Tice told Jacksonville reporters on Wednesday that he expects Randy Moss to play this Sunday. Obviously, keeping Moss from running wild becomes a "key point" in the Jaguars' attempt to beat the Vikings. I don't think you're going to stop the Vikings offense but you have to slow them down. Keep everything in front of you, no big plays; I gotta believe that's the defensive plan.
Rob from Hilton Head, SC:
At 6-4 and in the hunt for an AFC wild-card berth, how crucial is it to beat the Vikings this week and then the Steelers at home?
Vic: The Jaguars need wins. I still believe somebody will make it into the AFC playoffs with 10 wins, so a win over the Vikings would take the Jaguars one win closer to 10. To answer your question directly, this is what I think the Jaguars' formula for making the playoffs should be: Win their three remaining AFC games, plus one against one of the three NFC teams left on their schedule. Three and two almost certainly would get them in, and it doesn't matter which one or two of those NFC games you win, but the Jags must win those three AFC games because AFC record will be the number one tie-breaker.