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I would've been a sissy

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions. Vic:The number of questions I'm receiving daily have exploded in recent weeks. If your questions have gone unanswered, I apologize. Please don't feel frustrated or that you've wasted your time. I read them all. You've probably noticed that I've used more questions daily. I'll try to keep the count as high as possible. Thanks to everyone who takes the time to write to "Ask Vic." You are the true authors of this column.

Chris from Mocksville, NC:
Am I the only one who thinks all the hype surrounding the Patriots 21-game winning streak is totally lame? I mean it is over two seasons! Why not throw in their preseason record when they went 1-3? It would make just as much sense as including last year's record with this year's.

Vic: I don't agree with you. I think it's a major accomplishment, especially in the salary cap era of alleged mediocrity. Look at this past weekend's results: Arizona beat Seattle, Miami beat St. Louis and Cincinnati beat Denver. Those are all upsets and they happen every week in this league, but they never seem to happen to the Patriots, do they? Hats off to Bill Belichick and company. They are truly worthy of the title of champions.

Kenneth from Gallatin, TN:
Do you honestly believe Tom Brady is as good as everyone claims he is? I think Brady is simply a product of New England's system. I would, however, love for New England's record to continue and then meet Jacksonville in the playoffs.

Vic: Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the game because nobody wins like he does. Product of the system? In my opinion, the Patriots are a product of Brady.

Dan from Thousand Oaks, CA:
I am now convinced we are the best team in the AFC South. We made tons of mistakes and didn't convert in short-yardage or in the red zone and we still beat the Colts. Before the game I was skeptical as to whether or not we were legit title contenders but now I am convinced. What are your thoughts?

Vic: The Jaguars are division title contenders. It's what I expected of them.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
I am one of those fans who wanted Leftwich out after just watching him in the preseason. I didn't want to give him a chance. Right now I am glad that he is now a success and will hopefully lead this team to a playoff appearance. Do you think all of our games will have the close finishes or will we start to dominate teams more as the season continues?

Vic: This is not a league of domination. A lot of Jacksonville fans keep waiting for blow-out wins, but it's not going to happen. This is not college football. There are no Vanderbilts or Dukes. All of the NFL's rules are intended to prevent lopsidedness, and you might have noticed that college football is going the same way, too. Mississippi State lost to Maine and Florida lost to Mississippi State, right? Don't think in terms of dominating. Yes, expect close finishes the rest of the season.

Mike from Burbank, CA:
Next week a defense-minded Jaguars coach will go up against a defense-minded Texans coach. The Texans have the advantage of having a former Jaguars defensive coordinator and some ex-Jags players. Should I be worried? They have beaten us before. Please give me some words of comfort.

Vic: That ex-Jags stuff means nothing. The NFL has become an homogenized league. Should you be worried? No, because this is sports and sports isn't supposed to add to your worries. But if you're asking if the Texans are capable of beating the Jaguars, the answer is clearly yes. Sunday's game in Houston will be every bit the test this past Sunday's game in Indianapolis was. That's why Jack Del Rio and all of his head-coach counterparts continue to preach the gospel of "one game at a time." There are no lay-ups in today's NFL.

Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
Since you have proven to be right so often, I am asking you to expand your prognosticating prowess beyond the Jaguars. As much as I love my adopted NFL team, I can't wait for LA to get a team. So please, Vic, will we get a team soon, and if so who will it be?

Vic: You'll get a team. I guarantee that, and it'll be soon, but which team it'll be is rapidly becoming the hottest question in the NFL. There are obviously candidates, but I haven't found anyone who seems to have a handle on the issue, yet.

Lou from Jacksonville:
I was trying to decide which quarterback of the past Byron Leftwich reminds me of. Although he has his own unique style, the one guy that came to mind was John Elway. Obviously, it's too early to put Byron in the Hall of Fame, but the way he drives his team to winning fourth-quarter scores, his confidence and the way he inspires his teammates is reminiscent of Elway. Who would you compare him to?

Vic: Bernie Kosar in his prime.

John from Atwater, CA:
Would you please let us know what Leftwich's year-to-date totals are compared to David Carr's totals?

Vic: Byron Leftwich has completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 1,664 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions and a 90.1 passer rating. David Carr has completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,641 yards, eight touchdowns, five interceptions and a 97.8 passer rating.

Steve from Jacksonville:
I believe the Denver Broncos offensive line won't talk to the media because they don't want to be constantly asked about their chop-blocking methodology. Do their opponents shake their hands after the game? Have any gone on to be successful elsewhere? Do they sleep good at night? Why does the NFL allow this to continue?

Vic: By definition, it's not chop-blocking. It's simply going low and the rules permit it. What really bothers me is that one of the Broncos' offensive linemen wears pads on the back of his calf muscles, which is a means of protecting his legs while he's leg-whipping an opponent, and the rules don't permit that. The league will probably address the issue in the offseason. If I was an opposing coach, I might address it before the offseason.

Weiner from Jacksonville:
Would you have sent Scobee out to kick a 53-yarder?

Vic: What a pressure-cooker decision Jack Del Rio faced. The next time you think it's easy being a head coach, put yourself in Del Rio's shoes with 38 seconds to play in Sunday's game in Indianapolis. I've tossed it around in my head for two days and I'm still not sure what I would've done. Well, that may not be true. I think I would've taken the sissy way out, and it pains me to make that admission. Two thoughts would've been growing through my head: 1. If I punt, I'm resting my fate on the overtime coin toss. 2. If I try the field goal and miss, the Colts will probably move into field goal range and kick the game-winner, and I will be the most hated man in Jacksonville all week. We're talking about a real big game. A loss would've killed the Jaguars' divisional title hopes. All of that would've been turning in my head, right before I yelled, "Punt team!" Del Rio's got guts, and his team is playing like they have guts, too.

David from Jacksonville:
With only three tough games in the season left, could we see the playoffs as a reality or are we in for a rude surprise later on?

Vic: That's the mystery that makes this worth watching.

Brian from Jacksonville:
What is the ranking of our offense and defense in the NFL?

Vic: The offense is 15th overall (25th in rushing and 11th in passing), and the defense is 18th (15th against the run and 22nd against the pass).

Daniel from Arcola, IL:
Do you still think Scobee was a reach in the fifth round?

Vic: It looks like I was wrong, wasn't I?

Rajesh from Jacksonville:
If you think this scintillating victory over the Colts is a top 10 win, can you recall the other nine?

Vic: I don't have a chart of "Jaguars greatest wins" in front of me all of the time. I was just guessing that it was pretty big, but since you've asked, here are nine other Jaguars games I might put in the team's all-time top 10. They are ranked in chronological order: Win over Pittsburgh in 1995; win at Baltimore and win over Atlanta in '96 regular season, and wins over Buffalo and Denver in '96 playoffs; Monday Night Football win over Pittsburgh in '97; MNF win over Miami in '98; playoff win over Miami in '99; win over Philadelphia in 2002.

Keith from Miami, FL:
You say that next year will be a Jaguars-Texans affair, well, is it because of their salary cap situations that the Colts and Titans won't be in?

Vic: Of course it's about the salary cap. Everything is about the salary cap. If you want to know what a team's prospects are, look at its salary cap. It all begins there.

Ben from Rolla, MO:
In your opinion, why can't we convert short-yardage situations? How are we going to fix it?

Vic: There's no deep, dark secret to this. On the goal line and in short-yardage you need a surge from your offensive line and a forceful charge from your running back. We're talking about another specific skill that has emerged in recent years; the specific ability to move the pile. All of a sudden, we have short-yardage specialists. Look at the Steelers: Out goes Staley and in comes "The Bus." Jerome Bettis' great career has been reduced this season to one-yard gains, but it's a role that has produced seven touchdowns. The Jaguars have two Bettis-type backs, Fu and Greg Jones. The ingredients are there. They'll get it fixed.

Mike from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Vic, you can run but you can't hide! A few weeks ago after the Jags win over Tennessee I stated that I saw flashes of Montana and Elway in Byron Leftwich, but that I knew it was too early to expect that from him on a consistent basis. I asked you if I was making too much of his success so far and you simply said "Yes." Since then you have referred to him as an "elite quarterback" and as the "NFL's new gunslinger." I want to know if you are ready to modify your answer to my original question?

Vic: No.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
I've repeatedly heard you say that the second half of the season is a less challenging schedule (or words to that effect). Based on the current records of the scheduled competition, do you still feel that way? It looks to me like the second half schedule is equally challenging.

Vic: What I like about the second-half schedule is that five of the eight games will be at home, as opposed to five of the first eight being on the road. Of the final eight games, three teams currently have winning records. No, I'll stick with what I said.

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