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It's like building a house

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Paul from Jacksonville:
Average win this year is 30-23 and our average loss is 36-10. I understand that we are rebuilding but isn't it a head coach's responsibility to make sure his team is competitive for four quarters, no matter the cards he's dealt?

Vic: You really needed to ask that question? Of course it's his responsibility. He told you that after Sunday's game when he said, "I take full responsibility."

Taylor from Towson, MD:
Win or lose, I'm a lifelong Jaguars fan. Please tell me this year's losses won't lose the fan base. How do you think this year's failures affect ticket sales for the future?

Vic: That's the big question. That's the one I'd like someone to answer for me.

Ron from Jacksonville:
Former NFL coach Brian Billick said that to be considered explosive, an offense should average one play over 20 yards in every 10 plays. What's your take?

Vic: Ah, good old compucoach. I guess that sounds about right. Whatever. The Bills offense was explosive on Sunday. How did that work for them? You've gotta do it all. You've gotta play sound defense, run the ball, cover kicks, etc. Being explosive is just one of the many ingredients to winning.

Joe from Orlando, FL:
The hard part, from a fan's perspective, is that it feels like the viability of the franchise rides on weekly outcomes. When the Jaguars win, it feels like the team will be in Jacksonville forever. When they lose, blackouts loom and we start looking for the moving trucks.

Vic: Not very consistent, is it?

Fred from Jacksonville:
We never discuss coaching. We discuss players we have, the players we need, fans not doing their part and we've even discussed management (Shack Harris), but we never discuss coaching.

Vic: We absolutely discuss coaching. Last week we discussed the coaching decision to defer the coin toss option to the second half. My inbox was flooded with e-mail saying the Jaguars lost to the Titans because Jack Del Rio didn't elect to receive the opening kickoff. OK, so this week the coach won the coin toss and elected to receive. Did we not discuss ad nauseum the play-calling in the Jaguars' too-slow fourth-quarter drive against the Titans? Del Rio was asked about it in his Wednesday press conference and he agreed with the fans that the offense didn't move quickly enough. The next day, I asked Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter point-blank about his play-calling in that drive and he answered the question fully, introspectively. Don't tell me we don't discuss coaching. The bottom line is a coach knows, we all know, that if he doesn't win often enough, he'll be fired. Beyond that, what's to discuss? To go beyond that is piling on. He's the most vulnerable guy in the organization and he accepts as much. When he's fired, it's written that he didn't win often enough. It's not written that he didn't go home until midnight on Tuesdays or that his charitable foundation benefitted the community. It's just written that he lost. Guilty! Guilty of losing! Off with his head! OK, there's some more discussion. Feel better?

Mike from Jacksonville:
So teams hit a critical mass or tipping point in rebuilding (or decaying) and those are the surprise teams each year. We have only two good Shack-era picks; two years of Gene. Ouch! It's easy to see this taking two more years to correct.

Vic: I've never changed my message. I've never lied to you. This is going to take time to fix.

Joseph from Sacramento, CA:
What happens now, Vic? I agree this team was not going to be a contender, but wasn't this team supposed to at least be better than last year's team?

Vic: I'm out of answers, folks. I've stayed on message all along. I've said over and over that it's going to take time, yet, after every loss I get e-mail from people telling me this is unacceptable. Last week, I even went so far as to gather everyone around the fireplace to tell them, as delicately as possible, that this can't be fixed this year. I just flat said it. Yet, I'm being flooded with e-mail from people asking me what can be done to fix this. Draft, baby, draft. That's what has to be done to fix this, but the next draft isn't until next April. I don't know what everyone wants me to say. Do you want me to say the fix starts this Sunday? Do you want me to say the time for patience is over because now it's fixed? Is that you want, or do you just want to vent your frustration? Hey, folks, I'm just a sportswriter, not a psychologist. If I was a psychologist, however, I'd be like that guy in the commercial who throws the tissue box at the guy on the couch. You got the wrong guy for whining and crying.

Chris from Jacksonville:
As a Notre Dame fan, I complained about Charlie Weis' play-calling and lack of commitment to a balanced offensive attack. I never thought I'd see the day when Weis had an offense that ran the ball 40 times. Do coaches really change that much or is it entirely the personnel that sets the game plan?

Vic: Stunning, isn't it? These coaches know football inside and out. They can give you any kind of offense or defense you want. I'll never forget a late-season game in San Diego, which was piling up points under Don Coryell and Dan Fouts. Tom Moore was the offensive coordinator of a Steelers team that loved to run the traps and dominate time of possession. For this game, Chuck Noll told Moore to "give me one of those offenses," meaning high-tempo, throw-it-around stuff, like the Chargers. That's what Moore did for this game. The Steelers moved it up and down the field. The more they scored, the more San Diego scored. Final score, San Diego 54, Steelers 44. After the game, we asked Noll how he liked his new, high-tempo offense. "Never again," he said. Weis, like Moore, can give you any kind of offense you want. Todd Haley said, "Run it." That's what Weis did.

Nathan from Ijamsville, MD:
What are your thoughts on the Steelers-Dolphins TD/fumble call? To me, it's just another example of how over-officiating and replay is diluting the sport and creating controversy.

Vic: Replay, in my opinion, should never be used on plays in which the result of the play depends on action that occurred after the whistle was blown. I think everyone understands why. The dreaded "down by contact" was the correct ruling and should not have been abandoned because players are taught to stop playing when the whistle blows. I hate replay. I really, really do. I just think it was better to live with the mistakes, instead of being selective as to which mistakes we correct. At least the mistakes were genuine.

Steve from Hudson, FL:
Building a football team is like building a house. No one gets excited when you buy concrete and lumber; they just want to pick out paint and light fixtures. Let's let Gene and Jack do some building before we decide to get a new contractor.

Vic: I'll tell you how else building a football team is like building a house: You do a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and there comes a point after the framing is done that it doesn't look like you're making much progress, but it all comes together quickly at the end. The Chiefs are an example of that right now.

Jeremy from Norton, VA:
Was it me or did the linebackers look very slow to you?

Vic: I don't know about slow, but they didn't have a very good day.

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