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Imagine it's 1972

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

John from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I'm surprised at the lack of attention given to Jack Del Rio's decision not to kick the field goal in the first quarter. Was his decision similar to the no-confidence vote Coughlin gave Epstein against Baltimore?

Vic: No, Jack Del Rio's decision to go for it on fourth-and-one in the first quarter was a bold attempt to seize control of the line of scrimmage and take the early lead in time of possession. How do you beat the Colts? Keep Peyton Manning off the field. It was a message he preached to his offense all week and his decision to go for it on fourth down was consistent with that message. It's not just about calling plays. You have to know what the big-picture quality is to those play-calling decisions. The Jaguars wanted to establish physical superiority because they certainly weren't going to win the finesse game. Converting on fourth-and-one was their first opportunity to swing the game in their favor. Physical teams don't back down from those challenges. That's what I call being aggressive; not crazy passes and trick plays. The teams that are scariest at the playoff time of the year are the ones who knock you off the ball.

Mike from Lakeland, FL:
My wife and I are considering names for our baby boy. We have narrowed it down to two names, Jaxson and Mark (after Mark Brunell) Any suggestions?

Vic: How will you tell him he was named for a mascot? Go with Mark.

Misha from St. Augustine, FL:
Vic, read your column every day. What's the difference between a punt and drop-kick and why aren't drop-kicks used now-a-days?

Vic: I think you know what a punt is. A drop-kick is not the same. A drop-kick is a field-goal attempt. A player drops the ball from any position behind the line of scrimmage, then, as the ball hits the ground or after the ball hits the ground, the player kicks it. If the kick goes between the uprights, score three points for the kicking team. Drop-kicking is a lost art. That's why teams don't use it. With that, let's please stop the drop-kick questions.

Susan from Atlantic Beach, FL:
When Daryl Smith intercepted Peyton Manning in last Sunday's game I did not see a Colt touch him, so was the ball spotted in the right spot?

Vic: An official had blown the play dead, thinking it was an incomplete pass. A whistle stops everything and there is no way of correcting that mistake.

Andy from Palm Coast, FL:
Some guy in a bar the other day was trying to tell me all NFL home games used to be blacked out regardless of ticket sales. He said President Nixon got upset that he couldn't watch the Redskins. He threatened the NFL with an anti-trust investigation, but he could make it go away if they changed their blackout rules. Is this true?

Vic: Your friend was a little loose with the facts, but he got the important stuff right. Allow me to paint a vivid picture of what your drinking buddy was saying: Imagine that it's 1972, Jacksonville has an NFL franchise, its name is the Jaguars and they are about to play the undefeated Miami Dolphins in the AFC title game. The game will be played in Alltel Stadium. Why? Because the Jaguars are the AFC Central Division champions. Jacksonville is crazy about its Jaguars and there's not a ticket left to buy. This is before the club-seat concept, so Alltel has 76,877 non-premium seats, all of which would apply to the blackout number, if there was such a thing. And there are no American Disability Act seats, obstructed view seats, military seats or any other kind of specially-designated seats to be subtracted from the blackout number because there is no such thing as a blackout number. In fact, the Jaguars have even sold 5,000 standing-room-only tickets for this game. Oh, baby this is big; the biggest game in Jacksonville sports history. Gee, it's too bad you don't have a ticket, Andy, because unless you drive to Tallahassee or Tampa or Atlanta or wherever and get a hotel room, you're not gonna see this game. Why? Because until the 1973 season, all games were blacked out in the market in which they were played, period. But this one is sold out, you say. Doesn't matter. If it's played in Jacksonville, it's blacked out in Jacksonville. That's the way it was in 1972 and before. When an act of Congress in 1973 instituted the TV blackout rules by which the game still governs home-market telecasts today, it was received by fans with tears of joy. Fans who had no chance of getting a ticket for their favorite team's games would finally see those home games on TV. It was almost too good to be true. Fans were incredulous and their greatest fear was that somehow this unbelievable windfall would be taken from them. Now, all of these years later, we have taken this luxury for granted. We have come to expect that all of our favorite team's games will be beamed into our homes, just as the owners feared and predicted.

Jenna from Austin, TX:
Why can't I get Jacksonville games here in Texas? How frustrating to only get to hear game results after the fact.

Vic: I agree. It's time the NFL installs free "Sunday Ticket" in everybody's house.

Patrick from Columbia, ?:
Yesterday, in your column, Jake from Toronto said the Jaguars have the "second-best linebacking corpse in the league." I know this is a football column but can we at least spell "corpse" right?

Vic: Where would you like your bust displayed, next to Jake's or Mo's?

Jake from Toronto:
What's the "Ask Vic" Hall of Fame?

Vic: It's a place of immortality, and you're in it, Jake.

Josh from Salem, OH:
Suppose our offense picks up those three fourth-and-one opportunities that we missed. What do you think the final score would have been? In my opinion, we would have won the game by a touchdown.

Vic: Or more. Time of possession would've been so lopsided in the Jaguars' favor that there's no telling what the overall affect would've been. As much as I remain perplexed by that awful holding call on Dewayne Washington, the deciding factor in the game was the Jaguars' inability to convert short-yardage plays.

James from St. Augustine, FL:
In your opinion, how many games can the Jags afford to lose and still entertain thoughts of reaching the playoffs? Also, do you think there will be two AFC South teams in the playoffs, as there was last season?

Vic: It's impossible to answer those questions without knowing what injuries might occur in the remainder of the season. The one thing we know for sure is that the Colts can't afford to lose Peyton Manning. If the rest of this season rolls out without significant injury, my guess is that 10 wins will win the division. Then you stir in the tie-breakers. Ten wins will usually get you into the playoffs as a wild-card, too. Before the season began, I didn't expect two playoff teams to come out of the AFC South. There's a greater chance now that two teams will. Focus on 10 wins. I think 10 wins is still the magic number for making the playoffs.

Andy from Chicago, IL:
I would rather stop the run than have a pass-rush. Is that pretty much the Jaguars choice right now, one or the other but not both?

Vic: I think it is. I think it's too much to ask of their defensive ends that they stop the run and rush the passer. The major concern now is can they do either? If they can hold up against the run, I think Jack Del Rio and Mike Smith can find other ways to "affect the quarterback." But you gotta stop the run. If you can't stop the run, you can't do anything.

John from San Diego, CA:
California has many Jaguars fans due to Jack Del Rio. You mentioned his baseball career. Many would say his best sport in high school was basketball, often playing point guard with incredible ball skills, jump shot and leadership. My question is, what current or former head coaches would you compare him with in terms of style and substance.

Vic: This one's gonna shock you but, in my opinion, Jack Del Rio is Bill Cowher without the jaw. He's a smoother version of Cowher. I've covered both and I see a lot of fundamental similarities between the two. Both are outstanding defensive minds. Both believe in power football with an emphasis on pressure defense. Both came from very successful defensive backgrounds, and both were defensive coordinators briefly before becoming head coaches. They each rose through the coaching ranks quickly. Both are good motivators. They each have an AFC Central/North football personality, and their reputations as players is that of tough, hard-nosed, over-achieving linebackers. What would've happened if Cowher had grown up in San Francisco and Del Rio had been born in Pittsburgh? Maybe Del Rio would have Cowher's jaw and Cowher would have Del Rio's wavy hair.

Chris from Anchorage, AK:
Living in Alaska doesn't promote a strong sense of loyalty for any particular team. I tend to have favorites, but look at teams more objectively than most fans. I've followed a lot of what you have to say about the Jags as well as other teams. How difficult is it for you, as a sportswriter, to separate your team spirit vs. an honest assessment of the team's strengths and weaknesses? From what I've read, you've been fairly impartial.

Vic: It's never been difficult for me to be impartial in my job. It's my job. It's what I do and I like doing it. I'm not going to tell you that I don't want to see the teams I cover win, because that would be a lie. I like covering big games. I like covering a winner. I've always developed relationships with the players and the coaches and, as a result, I enjoy seeing them succeed. Over the years, that's meant a lot of relationships. I covered Tony Dungy in Pittsburgh when Tom Moore was the Steelers' offensive coordinator. They're great guys. So, when I'm covering the Jaguars against the Colts and I look down on the field and see all of those people I know and like, it tends to even my mood. Then, there's the great equalizer: I've got a story to write, and you can't do that and cheer, too. It's a job.

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