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It's a simple formula

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

Sam from Jacksonville:
At the beginning of the season you said the Jaguars' playoff prospects would live or die on the legs of Fred Taylor, and it appeared to be a correct assessment. Looking back at the team's record with and without Taylor, it seems this has not been the case. Why is this and what does it say about the Jaguars this season?

Vic: I actually said the season was riding on Fred Taylor's knee. You remember the knee issue from training camp, right? The Jaguars have done a great job of finding ways to win without having Taylor in the lineup. They've won with defense and with a solid contribution from Greg Jones. I still think, however, that the Jaguars' playoff prospects are riding on the emergence of a hot running back. Maybe Taylor will get hot before the playoffs. Maybe Jones will get hot. It doesn't matter who it is but it has to be somebody. Playoff teams are often, not always but often, defined by their running back. As hot a quarterback as Mark Brunell was in the 1996 playoffs, the Jaguars wouldn't have won in either Buffalo or Denver without Natrone Means. To this day, I believe Means defines that playoff run as much as Brunell does.

Tom from Orange Park, FL:
Why isn't a defense allowed to decline an offensive false start penalty, if the offense lines up for a winning field goal with little time on the clock and misses the field goal, then a false start penalty gives them a second chance?

Vic: A penalty for a false start precedes the snap of the ball. In other words, if an offensive lineman is judged to have moved before the snap of the ball, everything stops right there. There is no play. Now, I imagine the defense could decline the penalty, but why wouldn't you want to move the offense back five yards?

Armand from Jacksonville:
I was at the game and thought both challenges should have been upheld. Could the ref have had it in for Jack because of last week?

Vic: You're being paranoid. As soon as I saw the replays of each play, I knew the play would stand. On the one, I think the 49ers receiver actually did get his second foot down, but even if he didn't, the video evidence wasn't strong enough to overrule the original call. The second one was also inconclusive. You couldn't determine that Jimmy Smith's foot didn't hit the chalk. Jack Del Rio told reporters after the game that he was informed that in each case the evidence was inconclusive. I agree with the officials' decisions. By the way, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Peter from Atlanta, GA:
In an earlier "Ask Vic" column you asked the question, "Who will lead the way?" So, it looks like the Chargers lead the way and I want to ask you, how did they do it?

Vic: They did it just as everyone said you had to do it: Run the ball and dominate time of possession. That's how you beat the Colts. There's no secret formula. It's plainly obvious. The Chargers rushed for 206 yards and held the ball more than nine minutes longer than the Colts. Through the Colts' 13-game winning streak, one question remained: Are they truly capable of stopping a big-time running game? They're ranked 10th in run-defense, which is good, but they're going to see run, run, run in the playoffs, especially if they play San Diego, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cincinnati or Denver. It's what the Jaguars wanted to do a week ago and it's what the Jaguars will try to do again if they face the Colts in the playoffs. That's why it's so important to get a hot running back. If you wanna make it to the Super Bowl from the AFC, you gotta run the ball. That's how you beat the Colts.

Danny from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Is it just me or did all the dome teams lose on Sunday? Maybe it has something to do with the pumped in noise, or should I say the lack thereof.

Vic: San Diego won in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh won in Minnesota, Philadelphia won in St. Louis and Cincinnati won in Detroit, but Arizona lost in Houston. Really, the only two domes of interest were the RCA Dome and the Metrodome. Those are the two that have been accused of artificial noise. I don't think it's a coincidence the league sent out a memo about noise control during the same week Pittsburgh played in Minnesota. The whole noise issue began with Pittsburgh's Monday night game in Indianapolis. Somebody had to speak up. Somebody had to lead the way. This isn't over. Noise control is going to become a major issue.

Scott from Woodbridge, VA:
I can't help but wonder, am I really looking at a playoff team? I don't think we expected this to be a nail-bitter.

Vic: You're looking at a playoff team, yes, because they're going to make the playoffs. What you're questioning is the quality of a one-point win over the 49ers and I think that's a valid concern. In September, a one-point win is fine. In October, it's fine, too. In November, it'll still work. In December, however, as a team is heading for the playoffs, a one-point win over a 2-12 football team is worthy of concern because you need to be playing your best football when you enter the playoffs and a 10-9 win over the 49ers is not the Jaguars' best football. They have two more weeks to get on a roll. It can be done. The light can get turned on real quick, as long as you're playing physical football, and the Jaguars are. All they need is for a play-maker to emerge on offense. That's what has to happen. Hang in there.

Brady from Salem, OH:
After watching the game against the 49ers, I think the hot back would have to be Greg Jones. Fred Taylor will forever be my favorite running back, but I really like the way Jones is running the football. I like seeing the power running. Do you agree with Jones being the hot back or Taylor?

Vic: Nobody likes power running more than I do. I'll take the pounder all of the time, but it always comes down to yards gained. Fred Taylor averaged 3.6 yards per carry on Sunday; Greg Jones averaged 3.7. Those averages don't qualify either guy as being a "hot back." Let the competition continue. Who's going to get hot?

Seth from Jacksonville:
With the 49ers having no times out left, why call a pass play on third down with 1:21 to go? Run the ball and punt with :40 left.

Vic: Jack Del Rio wanted to do something a little more than that. He wanted to give David Garrard a pass option, with the idea that if somebody was wide open, go ahead and throw it. Otherwise, run with it or even take the sack; anything that would keep the clock running. Garrard did the one thing he shouldn't have done; stop the clock, in this case by throwing an incompletion.

Tim from Jacksonville:
Can you please tell me what the Jaguars' offensive identity is?

Vic: That's what they're trying to establish. They have two games left to do it.

Matthew from Melbourne, Australia:
With the fifth seed in the AFC all but locked up, can you give us an early indication of what the Jags will need to do in order to go into Foxboro and beat the Patriots?

Vic: Normally, I would say run the ball and dominate time of possession to keep Tom Brady off the field. The Patriots, however, are sixth against the run and 30th against the pass. To beat them, you're probably going to have to match your quarterback against their quarterback. That's a tough matchup. It didn't work real well for the Bucs, did it?

Biff from Jacksonville:
Why do we always struggle against the bad teams?

Vic: Why did the Chargers lose at home to the Dolphins one week before winning in Indianapolis? I'm not one of these people who buy into the "play down to the competition" conspiracy. The people who believe that obviously didn't get the memo on parity. Good teams lose to bad teams. That's the way it is in the NFL. Seattle had to rally to beat Tennessee. Why do people struggle to understand the parity concept?

R.C. from Jacksonville:
I see a game like yesterday, where the playoffs are on the line and the stadium is less than half full. What a pathetic showing by the fans. A game like this would have been packed to the rafters in a real NFL city. Using the rain as an excuse is pure hogwash. When I see support like this I wonder if our city is worthy of an NFL team and if we do, indeed, have the support to keep them around.

Vic: Jacksonville is worthy and it has done a great job of supporting the Jaguars this season. This team is one game away from having gone a whole season without a home blackout and that would be a major accomplishment. I will, however, offer Jaguars fans a couple bits of advice: 1.) Buy a coat; a real coat. 2.) Stop acting like it doesn't get cold in Jacksonville. It gets plenty cold here and it happens a lot. We get temperatures in the 20's every winter and there are nights when the heat pumps in my neighborhood don't turn off all night and sound as though they're going to blow up.

Dan from Chicago, IL:
I'm a big fan and I love your column, but for the sake of goodness please stop with the just win babies and the just score babies. It's not going to catch on and you can do much better for a catch line.

Vic: Not catch on? Man, you're crackin' me up. Dan, I didn't invent "just win, baby, win." It's over 30 years old and it very definitely has caught on. I suspect that Al Davis will have it inscribed on his tombstone. It's probably the most significant thing he's ever said. I love it, baby, love it.

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