Join jaguars.com Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
John from Jacksonville:
Other than the Jags beating the Jets this weekend, which games and outcomes are most important to help the Jags in the AFC wild-card race?
Vic: You root for Tampa Bay to beat Miami, Tennessee to beat Buffalo, Washington to beat Denver, Philadelphia to beat San Diego and for Cleveland to upset Baltimore. In short, you're rooting for all the wild-card contenders to lose. If you really want to take it to the extreme, you root for Pittsburgh to beat Cincinnati and take the AFC North lead because the Bengals have lost to Denver and Houston, which are AFC losses that would hurt them in the tiebreakers and, thus, make the Bengals more vulnerable in a tiebreaking situation than the Steelers currently would be.
Mike from Gallitzin, PA:
What differences do you see between the Steelers' offensive line of 2008 and 2009?
Vic: Draft and develop; that's what it's all about. Willie Colon, Trai Essex, Chris Keomoeatu and Max Starks are all draft choices, none higher than the third round. You can't rush the development of an offensive line. It takes time, commitment, patience and repetition. The Jaguars have started that process with Eugene Monroe, Eben Britton and Uche Nwaneri. Younger players will be added next year and the development process will continue.
Ryan from Albuquerque, NM:
"This organization took a very bold step in the offseason, trying to do as much as we could this year, instead of spreading it out; purging our roster," Del Rio said. Is he merely referring to stuff like signing Torry Holt, or would more players have been cut if they took a different approach?
Vic: Coach Del Rio wasn't referring to the addition of Holt, he was referring specifically to the mass exodus of players from the 2008 roster. A commitment was made to youth and cleaning out players with troubled pasts. Instead of doing it in stages, the Jaguars did it all at one time, challenging the team to find replacements as quickly as possible.
Justin from New York, NY:
I will be wearing my new Jags old-school leather helmet at the game this weekend. How is the food in the press box at the Meadowlands? Does it change for Jets or Giants games?
Vic: The press box food at Giants Stadium is outstanding, Jets or Giants. I am especially fond of the Carvel freezer.
Bobby from Athens, GA:
Why are you so opposed to the "Wildcat," almost bordering insanity regarding it? A week or two ago I saw a report that said the Dolphins gain more yards per rush out of that formation than they do normally, and they are gaining more yards per rush this year using it than last year. So if it works for them, what's the problem?
Vic: The problem is that it's not the way to develop a quarterback and, make no mistake about it, the NFL is all about the quarterback, especially at crunch time. This is a two-minute-offense league and they don't make a two-minute "Wildcat" offense, if you know what I mean. At crunch time, it's on the quarterback's shoulders and the Dolphins' quarterbacks have fourth-quarter passer ratings of 77.1 and 76.6. They've thrown six touchdowns and four interceptions in the fourth quarter and that's why they're 3-5. Ben Roethlisberger is 115.4, Peyton Manning is 113.8 and Tom Brady is 98.9 in the fourth quarter. That's why those teams win. The "Wildcat" is just not an offense on which you can rely in big games and against good defenses. I like it as a change of pace, especially if you have someone who can throw out of it, but the Dolphins use it way too much. Insanity? Maybe you're the one who's obsessed with it.
Don from Macclenny, FL:
In watching the Monday night game: Why was Ward smiling after that interception? He should have been mad and brooding on the sideline. What the heck is wrong with that guy? Or maybe the question should be why is it showing his love of the game when Ward does it, but some form of incompetence when Garrard or one of the Jags does the same thing?
Vic: It's not and it shouldn't be regarded as such. I made the same analogy after the Seattle game. Some people wear a perpetual smile. Others seem to always have a frown. It's just the way their faces were made to work. I remember a catcher named Manny Sanguillen who always smiled. He even smiled when he was angry. I'm serious. He once got knocked down by a pitch and turned to the catcher with a smile on his face and said, "Don't make me hurt you." Jaguars fans get way too carried away with sideline demeanor. It's what happens on the field that counts.
Don from Jacksonville:
After hearing so much about the youth of this team, I decided to do some research. I examined all 32 rosters in the NFL and found that, as of last week, the Jaguars had the most rookies (13) on their 53-man roster. No other team in the entire league has as many rookies. Knowing this, I'm comforted for the time being and expectant of the future. I really enjoy your coverage of the team.
Vic: Thank you, and I really enjoy your intelligent approach to football and the research you have done.
John from Jacksonville:
My expectation for the Jaguars season is second place in our division. If the Jaguars finish in second place and the Steelers finish in second place, the Jaguars will play the Steelers in Jacksonville next year to a sold-out stadium. Go Jags and go Bengals.
Vic: That's correct. Thank you for explaining one of the elements of the NFL scheduling format.
Aaron from Jacksonville:
Can you go over next year's home schedule? Obviously, we play Houston, Indy and Tennessee, but which AFC and NFC divisions do we play and do we know at this point in the year which teams in those divisions?
Vic: The AFC South plays the AFC West and NFC East next year, which means the Jaguars will play every team in those two divisions. They'll play the Broncos, Raiders, Eagles and Redskins at home and at the Chiefs, Chargers, Cowboys and Giants. The Jaguars will also play the AFC North and AFC East teams that finish in the same place in the standings this year the Jaguars do. As it stands right now, that would be the Ravens in Jacksonville and the Dolphins in Miami. Eagles fans will fill up "The Jack" and the Ravens would bring some people, too, but those are the only teams that are likely to give the Jaguars a ticket-sales boost.
Gary from Rexburg, ID:
What do you think of Mike Sims-Walker's year so far? Do the Jaguars have the number one wide receiver they have been looking for since Jimmy Smith retired?
Vic: When I watched Sims-Walker early in his rookie training camp, that was my first thought, that he was the next Jimmy Smith. Injuries have kept him from meeting that expectation, but he's healthy this year and he is on the verge of becoming a legitimate number one receiver.
Tommie from Chesapeake, VA:
If the Jags win their next three games and the Texans, Dolphins and Colts games are not sold out, then the citizens of Jacksonville deserve to lose their team. No more excuses. To be in a rebuilding year, other than the Seahawks game, the Jags are playing terrific ball. Your thoughts?
Vic: If the Jaguars win their next three games and there's not a significant spike in ticket sales for the Texans, Dolphins and Colts games, then we'll know winning isn't the answer.
Lance from Orange Park, FL:
In the past, when I've written to your column, I've shared in filling your mailbox with comments of the negative variety toward the Jaguars. I've decided, as a loyal fan, I'm through with that. I've never experienced in my life where negativity ever accomplished anything. With that said, besides what we know already, can you shed some insight as to what the Jaguars have planned in the future to generate fan support for our team, and insure they stay in Jacksonville where they belong?
Vic: I'm so glad you've come over from the dark side.
Caryn from Jacksonville:
I haven't heard anything about Ernest Wilford's injury. Any news?
Vic: It's a low-grade, high-ankle sprain.
Eric from Norfolk, VA:
There's been a lot of talk about how bad our defense is, and deservedly so, but how close are we to having a complete offense?
Vic: I think the Jags do have a complete offense. It's up to the quarterback now to eliminate the bad games. As I said last week, that's my challenge to him. David Garrard does jaw-dropping things. He has great games that leave no doubt he is an NFL-caliber starting quarterback that can lead a team to victory. The problem is there are too many bad games, such as the one in Tennessee. Those have to stop. When they do, this offense, provided Maurice Jones-Drew stays healthy, has all of the components to be very good.
Devin from Valdosta, GA:
Am I the only person absolutely disgusted by the new rule banning SEC coaches from verbally assaulting the SEC officials' calls? Isn't freedom of speech a pretty good idea?
Vic: It's common to any league for coaches and players to be held to a code of conduct as it pertains to criticism of the league and its officials. I don't have a problem with that. The media, however, can't be constrained by the SEC and I am stunned the media that covers the SEC hasn't "killed" the officials and the conference for the latest bad call. I'm talking about the replay review ruling that supported the no interception call in the Alabama-LSU game. The replay clearly showed the ball was intercepted.
Duran from Rapid City, SD:
I know this is dumb but I died laughing when one of the announcers said there was a block in the back by the intercepting team, when the play was a punt and no interception had occurred. Is there just too much going on for those guys to lose focus for a second or what?
Vic: Died laughing because a guy said intercepting instead of returning? Is it really that funny or unforgivable? If goofs by the officials entertain you, you should watch some SEC games.
C.J. from Savannah, GA:
Why do you have four teams with records of 3-5 ranked higher than the Jags?
Vic: One of those four 3-5 teams, the worst of the bunch, in my opinion, beat the Jaguars 41-0. What would people say if I put the Jaguars ahead of the Seahawks? Homer? Shill? Company man? Jaguars apologist? Hey, the Jaguars are gonna have to have a lot better record than the Seahawks before I can rank them higher.