Join jaguars.com Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Mark from Atlantic Beach, FL:
After coming home from the game yesterday, I watched the "Red Zone" channel for the first time. I loved the ability to stay on top of what was happening in multiple games at the same time, but the pace was a bit frenetic. Have you watched it? What do you think?
Vic: I watched it Sunday night because I was trying to get a final score on the Chargers-Giants game, since it was important to one of the paragraphs in my Chiefs-Jaguars game story. I can see why the serious TV-football fan would like the "Red Zone." You're not going to miss anything important, that's for sure. It's not for me, however, because it's just too intense.
John from Jacksonville:
Does the allowance of a lot of points and yardage by our defense near the end of a lopsided game really upset the defensive coordinator, or is it all about getting the win?
Vic: It upsets coordinators greatly when their units' rankings fall. I remember observing Dom Capers as he read through the final stats following a meaningless Christmas Eve game in San Diego years ago. Bill Cowher decided to have some fun with substitutions and play-calling in the final stages of the game, and the ball started going up and down the field. What I remember is Capers having seen the yardage totals on the stats sheet, raising his head and saying, "Merry Christmas to me."
John from Neptune Beach, FL:
Are the officials position players, as well? Is a line judge always a line judge or do they move around and develop into umpires and referees?
Vic: A few officials advance to the rank of referee, but many of them spend their entire career in a particular position. My high school football and baseball coach, Tom Stabile, has been a head linesman in the NFL for as long as I can remember.
John from Arlington, VA:
First let me say that I think the 4-3 is the way to go, but talking about the 3-4, you said you "blame it on the fans?" Are you telling me the coaches saw the fans wanted a 3-4 scheme so they did it?
Vic: No, that's not what I said. I said I blame the mania for the 3-4 on the fans, mania meaning the obsession for change, its accompanying unrealistic expectations and the resultant disappointment. This whole love affair with the 3-4 is way over the top. It's not the answer for every team.
Tim from Tallahassee, FL:
Even if you had good players on either a 4-3 or a 3-4, isn't the 4-3 just a better and more solid overall scheme?
Vic: Yes, I think it is because it's fundamentally more balanced in its alignment than the 3-4. The 3-4 is a specialty defense. It's something you can use when you have defensive linemen who are especially good at stopping the run and linebackers who are especially good at operating in space. The best way to describe the difference between the 4-3 and the 3-4 is this: A bad 4-3 is better than a bad 3-4 because there are natural running lanes in the 3-4 that can cause it to get gashed in the running game if a linebacker gets out of position.
Rich from Jacksonville:
What were those orange circular disks that were on the sideline and brought out onto the field near the players during TV timeouts? I thought they might be radio-interference devices to keep the players from talking to the coaches. Is this correct?
Vic: No, it's much more technical than that. They're for cleaning shoes. They have rubber spikes on them and the players pull their shoes over the rubber spikes and the dirt comes out. That doesn't mean, however, that they don't have radio-interference devices inside them.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
You mentioned several times that you believe the Patriots picked the Chiefs' pocket when they traded Cassel away. I guess the question is: When do you know the difference between a good quarterback carrying a mediocre team or a good team carrying a mediocre quarterback? Is trading picks away worth the chance you're wrong?
Vic: Can he make all of the throws? You have to know he can before you invest draft picks and a lot of money in a quarterback. There is certainly a track record of failure in these types of trades, going all the way back to Gary Cuozzo. Rob Johnson is a Jaguars example. Matt Schaub is one that worked. Based on what I saw of Cassel, I'm not sure he has the arm to make the deep-out and deep-middle throws.
Kevin from Champaign, IL:
Do you have any thoughts on the Ochocinco bribe?
Vic: I think it's an outrage and he should be suspended a minimum of one game without pay. Where is this guy's brain? Did he not know he was committing the most egregious of all sins against the game of football? He was suggesting the officials can be bought. He was inferring the game is corrupt. If I was the commissioner, he would be in big trouble on this one because it wouldn't stop here. I would have my eye on him for everything he does and says.
Aaron from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I greatly enjoy reading "Ask Vic" and notice that some folks ask your opinion on college QBs every now and then. I would like to take this opportunity to ask for your opinion on Arkansas sophomore QB Ryan Mallett.
Vic: He has an NFL arm, appears to be capable of making all the throws, and will likely be a high draft pick.
Clint from Richmond Hill, GA:
When the Chiefs lined up for their onside kicks, that was the strangest hold I've ever seen. Was this because of the wind or was there some sort of strategy behind that?
Vic: The kicking tee used in the NFL is cup-shaped and has a little lip on the front of it. The theory is that the "human tee" eliminates the possibility that by kicking down on the ball, the ball would hit the lip of the tee and take an unintended bounce or direction.
Forrest from Jacksonville:
Do you think it's a good idea to put Ellison out there when it's an obvious onside-kick situation? He's a big guy and his big chest pads appeared to have sent the football 10 yards the other way.
Vic: His job is to strip the interference. He keeps the blockers from crashing into the guy who's going to field the kick. I gotta tell you, I'd feel a whole lot more secure attempting to field a bouncing ball with Atiyyah Ellison protecting me than I would with six guys charging at me without interference. One of the most frightening injuries I've ever seen on a football field was the broken leg Dave Thomas suffered in attempting to recover an onside kick in Cincinnati a lot of years ago. You could hear Thomas' leg break like a piece of wood throughout Riverfront Stadium. Think about it. Would you prefer to have a blocker as you field the ball? I thought you would.
Ed from Jacksonville:
I enjoy your writing and your opinions and that you are a true fan of the game. I see the fan maybe coming out again after they beat the Chiefs. We all need to enjoy it and remember it's still rebuilding time.
Vic: It amazes me how people struggle with the balance of expectation vs. hope. My expectation is the Jaguars won't make the playoffs but my hope is they will. I can balance the two. I can be true to my expectation, yet, acknowledge that they're in contention. Lowering your expectations doesn't mean giving up; it just means you're identifying the talent deficiencies. If there was one thing I could give the fans, it would be the ability to accept defeat without going to pieces. My hope is the Jaguars will win in New York because that would mean they're in the playoff race and I hate seasons in which I have to cover a team that's out of it by Thanksgiving. I love December tiebreakers. So, what if they lose? Hey, I can deal with it.
Goran from Jacksonville:
Is there a quarterback this year that is not on anybody's radar that might be the steal of the draft?
Vic: The guy I can't get out of my head is Armanti Edwards of Appalachian State. He's going to have to play wide receiver or running back in the NFL, but he is a mouth-watering prospect for a team that would like to use the "Wildcat" in a diversionary, change-of-pace way. This hike-the-ball-and-run-with-it stuff is garbage, but if you have a guy who can run and throw, oh, that's a different story. I like that kind of guy and I think Edwards can be that kind of guy. He is one of the most dynamic players I have ever seen.
George from London, Ontario:
Do you think LeGarrette Blount would have been reinstated if the Ducks were 2-7 right now and out of the Pac-10 title race? I don't think what he did was unforgivable but I was wondering what your opinion was on the subject?
Vic: I have long been of the opinion that college athletics should be held to a higher standard than professional athletics because college teams represent this country's esteemed institutions of higher learning. These aren't just football teams, these are representatives of a student body that is, by and large, the best of America's youth. Those who bear the name of their school and its colors must conduct themselves honorably or be removed from the team. I would not have reinstated him.
Patrick from Nashville, TN:
If the Jags beat the Jets, could they make a run to the playoffs?
Vic: That's the question everyone is asking this week. When I asked it of Jack Del Rio on Monday, coach Del Rio said, "We'll find out." What I can tell you is this: If the Jaguars beat the Jets, the Jaguars will be considered playoff contenders, whether we want them to be contenders or not. This is the game of the year, to date, and I love it. I really doubted that I'd have a game of such high stakes this late in the season. I feel fortunate to have this. Unfortunately, it's supposed to be warm in New York on Sunday, so I won't be able to fool myself into thinking it's December.
Jason from Carlisle, PA:
Did you also have the misfortune to see Jon Gruden in the booth once more on Monday night? Glorifying Jack Tatum? How sad is Mr. Gruden's performance thus far and how much longer do ESPN and the NFL allow this embarrassment to continue? I, for one, will not be watching any more MNF while Gruden remains in the booth. Your thoughts?
Vic: I found the Tatum piece to be curious. I'm trying to be kind because I know Tatum is of poor health and I've considered that to be the possible impetus to ESPN running the feature on him, but it didn't sit well with me, either. On Gruden's performance, however, we disagree. I think he does a fantastic job of analysis. Yeah, he gets a little too mushy at times, but his and Ron Jaworski's analysis of the action is sensational. In my opinion, the NFL is in a strong run of broadcasters right now – I love Cris Collinsworth's work, too – and that's good because I've felt for a long time that the NFL didn't have near the quality of broadcast teams that other sports do, particularly baseball and hockey. My only criticism of Gruden's and Jaworski's work is that they are overly intense at times. Sometimes I don't want the time between plays to be filled with replays and diagrams of what I just saw. Sometimes I just wanna see the looks on the players' faces and watch the offense come out of the huddle. Sometimes I wanna be my own analyst. The bad news for you is that Gruden won't be leaving the booth, unless he decides to take a coaching job. He's good at both.
Jeremy from St. Augustine, FL:
The two onside kick attempts by the Chiefs were not legal. The kicking team has to have at least four players on each side of the kicker. The fourth player was on the other side of the ball, holding it.
Vic: In the event of a holder being used, the holder counts to the side of the ball to which he needs to count.
David from West Lafayette, IN:
Did you see all the Pittsburgh fans in Denver? Towels everywhere! It seems Jacksonville isn't the only city to sell out on the Steelers. I see it happen everywhere.
Vic: It is an amazing phenomenon. This would've been a good year for the Jaguars to play the Steelers in Jacksonville eight times.