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It's not a video game

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

Jami from Jacksonville:
It's hard to tell from the quotes you read here and in the newspaper, but were the players mad after losing Sunday? I know the fans that sit in section 228 were disgusted with the performance we saw. I've seen a pattern that makes me wonder if we can claw our way back into the playoff picture. With the exception of the game in Indianapolis, it seems to me that when we've needed a big performance the Jags haven't shown up. Am I off base?

Vic: The Jaguars players with whom I spoke following the game were clearly upset by the loss. Fred Taylor was in a testy mood. John Henderson sat at his locker stall as though he was frozen in time. Marcus Stroud was clearly distraught. Josh Scobee cleared out as fast as he could, for the obvious reason. Losing hurts. Professional football is a money game, for sure, but these players are also invested emotionally. As far as "not showing up" in big games, I don't agree with you. I thought the Jaguars "showed up" for both Indianapolis games. Denver and Kansas City were clearly big games. The loss to Tennessee is a major disappointment and criticism is justified. If it turns out that Sunday's loss costs the Jaguars a playoff berth, then this team will have learned a harsh lesson. The question is: What is that lesson? I'm struggling with that question because I'm not going to blame every loss on being flat. That's too easy. Immediately after the game, I started thinking they were flat again. Now, a couple of days removed from the game, I've abandoned that train of thought. There are usually more logical, more tangible reasons teams lose games than they were flat. Why did the Jaguars lose to the Titans? Look at the stats; they made almost no plays in the passing game.

Kyle from Jacksonville:
Is it me or were the Titans throwing near Washington all day with success except for the interception? What can the Jaguars do to improve their pass-defense?

Vic: Dewayne Washington got beat for a long touchdown pass. It hurt the Jaguars' cause, no doubt, but I didn't get the feeling the Titans were picking on Washington exclusively. Rashean Mathis was beaten deep twice but Steve McNair couldn't get the ball to his receiver either time. The Erron Kinney play was one of the big plays of the game and it wasn't Washington's fault. I think you're picking on Washington more than McNair did. The bottom line is Washington's interception in the fourth quarter should've iced the win.

Dan from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
How much did David Garrard's trade value drop after Sunday's performance?

Vic: When teams scout a player, they don't look at him solely from a success or failure standpoint. They look at his raw skills for the purpose of projecting what he might do, rather than what he's done. David Garrard did not have a great game against Tennessee, but neither did his receivers. Garrard plays football's most premium position and in the two games he played I believe he showed enough raw talent and instinct for the position to warrant a first-day draft pick in a trade. I don't think his trade value dropped as a result of his performance against Tennessee.

Rajesh from Jacksonville:
The Titans won the chess game, right?

Vic: Yeah, I think that's a fair statement. The Titans' defensive strategy was to go heavy against the run and to dare David Garrard to beat them with the passing game. The Jaguars' receivers got single coverage and should've been able to make big plays, but they didn't. It was a logical strategy against a quarterback making only his third pro start and it worked.

James from Hernando, MS:
I have been one of your fans since you've been writing with the Jags. With the Jags losing to the Titans on Sunday, did that loss really hurt them so bad that it will be almost impossible to get into the playoffs or do they still have a relatively good chance of getting in?

Vic: It hurt their division title hopes significantly. Because it was a division loss, the Jaguars have no hope in a division title tie-breaker situation. That means the Jaguars are literally two games behind the Colts with six to play. So let's turn our attention to the wild-card race. In my opinion, the Jaguars are in a very good spot. I still believe 10 wins could get them into the playoffs. Let me put it this way, somebody's going to make it into the AFC playoffs with 10 wins. I believe that to be true because Baltimore's, San Diego's and the Jets' remaining schedules are brutal. Let's use Baltimore as an example. The Ravens have to play at New England, at Pittsburgh and at Indianapolis. Should they lose those three games, they would finish no better than 10-6, and since all of those are AFC games, the Ravens might be vulnerable in the conference-record tie-breaker. I don't want to go too deep with this stuff because there are too many games remaining to know who's going to do what. I'll just say this: The Jaguars are in good position, but they've got to start winning. That's all, just win.

Josh from Sierra Vista, AZ:
I noticed you mentioned the Carolina-Clemson brawl. Are you happy the universities took a stance on this issue? Being a life-long Clemson fan, it pains me greatly not to be able to follow my team to a bowl game this year, however, I'm proud we were able to take a stance against popular opinion of alumni and boosters.

Vic: Congratulations, you have a healthy attitude toward college athletics. Yes, I'm satisfied the two schools spanked themselves, but I think they should also take a hard look at their programs. They should ask themselves, what is it about the way we recruit and the way we coach that would permit this to happen? Dignity can never be the cost of victory, especially for esteemed institutions of higher learning.

John from Jacksonville:
With Rolle out of the game, why didn't we at least take a couple of shots with Jimmy at his replacement?

Vic: Aren't you forgetting that pass over the middle that was dropped? Some people think it might've gone all the way. Why is it that the coaches are taking the hit for this game? Why not the players? On second-and-two and third-and-two, the Jaguars ran the ball and didn't gain an inch. The next time they had the ball, they tried to throw it, and that didn't work. Then they kicked it and missed that. Who's to blame? The coaches? Hey, this isn't a video game. It's not about pushing buttons; it's about making plays.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
I would like your opinion on the play of our offensive line. Our inability to run the ball on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter Sunday to put the game away clearly contributed to our downfall.

Vic: The Jaguars rushed for 151 yards and a 4.7 yards-per-carry average. By and large, David Garrard got good pass-protection. From what I've been told, the offensive line played well, but you're right about those two running plays. When the Jaguars needed to pound out a first down, they couldn't do it.

Mark from Jacksonville:
I'm sick of everyone talking about the blackouts and the Jags moving to Los Angeles. Please, give us some perspective. I saw that the Jags are averaging over 68,000 (tickets distributed) per game. How does that rate against the other teams?

Vic: You can't do it that way because the size of most teams' stadiums restricts their tickets count. We're all going to have to wait until next season, when the size of Alltel Stadium is reduced to about 66,000. Then we'll know how this town compares to other places in the league.

Armand from Atlantic Beach, FL:
At this point in time, what is our most glaring weakness and what is our greatest strength?

Vic: The Jaguars' most glaring weakness is its failure to convert short-yardage plays. It has cost this team two games (Indianapolis and Tennessee) this season. Put those two games in the win column and the Jaguars are 8-2, in first place two games ahead of the Colts and with the tie-breaker clinched. That's what short-yardage failures have cost the Jaguars this year. It was a problem last season and the team addressed it by selecting Greg Jones in the draft. Obviously, the situation needs to be addressed more fully. As far as their greatest strength is concerned, I would have to say it's the Jaguars' future. They have a good-young quarterback, a nice roster and a healthy salary cap.

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