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Jags couldn't push Bills over edge

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

Rick from Jacksonville:
From most of the media and especially from the Jaguars, we've been told not to panic about the play of the Jags. My question is when should we panic?

Vic: Do whatever you want whenever you want. Run around in circles, if you'd like. You don't need our permission. I don't know what that's going to accomplish except making you dizzy, but I don't think the media has any expectations for how you're going to handle this 0-2 start. Is that the problem, that we didn't tell you to panic? If we had warned you that losing is possible, would you feel better today? OK, then let me be the first to warn you: Losing is possible. In fact, it's darn near inevitable.

Greg from Largo, FL:
I'm trying so hard to keep my cool during this frustrating performance. I am now a full believer that the Jags receivers are the number one problem with the team.

Vic: I agree with you. I see no suddenness. I see nothing that would cause fear in an opponent. I like to ask myself: What was the difference in the game? The answer is simple: The Bills' wide receivers were the difference. Lee Evans made the big play and James Hardy made an acrobatic, game-winning touchdown catch, Josh Reed made drive-sustaining possession grabs and Roscoe Parrish stretched the field by his mere presence alone. Give David Garrard the Bills' receivers and the Jaguars win the game. I'm sure of that.

Todd from Fruit Cove, FL:
This one hurts, Vic. You got any words of wisdom to make the pain go away?

Vic: Be patient. Be resilient. Keep it in perspective. It's not life or death, it's just a game. This team and its coaching staff are too talented for this to continue. They'll get it turned around and they will be playoff contenders. I won't guarantee it but I believe it. That's the best I can do. Two weeks into the season is far too early to quit on the year.

T.D. from Jacksonville:
Explain to me why the Jags ran three straight plays out of the shotgun at the end of the game, especially when the running game was doing well. I would have at least come out in a running formation.

Vic: With 4:10 to play and at their own 20-yard line, trailing by a point? T.D., I gotta tell you, if the Jaguars had run the ball in that situation, my inbox today would be smokin' with fans demanding the dismissal of Dirk Koetter. First of all, the Jaguars' running game was NOT doing well. They were about to rush for fewer than a hundred yards in consecutive games for the first time in four seasons. Secondly, they needed to do something in the passing game to back the Bills away from the line of scrimmage. The Jaguars needed to light some kind of fire under their offense; they needed a big play and you usually look to your passing game for big plays. Had they hit a pass for a sizeable gain, I have no doubt they would've mixed in the run, but once you threw incomplete on first down, I don't think a run up the middle would've been a popular choice.

Greg from Largo, FL:
Why does it seem that all teams play the Jags exactly the same?

Vic: That is, in my opinion, a major problem right now. It started in the Pittsburgh playoff game. After having been mowed down by the Jaguars' running game a few weeks earlier, the Steelers decided to sell out to stop the run in the playoff game. They decided to keep their base defensive personnel on the field in pass/run down-and-distance situations, effectively daring the Jaguars to throw. Every team since then has done the same thing and the result is that Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew have combined for a mere 240 yards rushing in the four games since and including that playoff game in Pittsburgh. The Bills took that strategy to new heights on Sunday. They did something I haven't seen a team do since Willie Lanier played middle linebacker for the Chiefs. The Bills had middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, at a mere 238 pounds, step forward before the snap and put his hand on the ground, effectively becoming a nose tackle. That's how loaded up against the run the Bills were and Posluszny was surprisingly successful in that role. In order to get Taylor and Jones-Drew back in the groove, the Jaguars need to begin making plays downfield in their passing game, to back defenses away from the line of scrimmage and force opponents to play "nickel" and "dime" personnel more often. When you get the little guys on the field, that's when you can run the ball.

Andrew from Toledo, OH:
Did the Jags offensive line look like it's going to be okay until Meester can come back?

Vic: That's a great question. I wish I had the answer. The answer, of course, will be provided by the Jaguars on the field. After the game, Jack Del Rio said of his offensive line that "it felt like they gave us a chance." I would agree with that assessment.

Andy from Roswell, GA:
OK, I've calmed down a little. While the offense definitely has its issues, I'm concerned about our defense. Twice in two weeks the defense has crumbled at crunch time. Are they wearing down at the end of the game?

Vic: Everybody was wearing down. The heat was indescribable. Whatever the fatigue factor was, however, it should've been tilted in the Jaguars' favor. The Bills were running on fumes; the Jaguars were not. Your point that the defense crumbled at crunch time for the second time in two weeks is accurate, and I think it's reason for major concern. Every coach wants to take a lead into the fourth quarter. Every coach wants to believe that if he has the lead going into the fourth quarter, he can turn the game over to his defense and they'll preserve the win. You want to make your opponents one-dimensional, then tee off with your rush and force a turnover. That's the way this team was built to play. If Del Rio can't trust his defense to preserve the win, then this truly is going to be a very long season.

Abel from Jacksonville:
It sure was hot at the game. Some people had to be helped out of the stands because of the heat. I can imagine how bad it was on the field for the players.

Vic: It was brutally hot, and that is not an exaggeration. I don't care what the temperature was, it was the "hottest" football game I've ever witnessed. I saw several instances when the Bills looked gassed. They were on the edge and about to collapse, but the Jaguars just couldn't convert enough third downs to keep the Bills on the field long enough to push them over the edge. I had several players tell me that they looked at the Bills' faces and they were gasping for breath and grimacing, but the Bills won time of possession and that's why the heat didn't collapse them. Every time it appeared they were on the edge, they were able to get off the field and recover. In the first half alone, the Bills had a six-minute time of possession advantage. That's why I say that one fix will fix it all for the Jags. If they can make some plays downfield with their passing game, it'll open up the run for Taylor and Jones-Drew and that'll result in more time of possession and a fresher defense at crunch time.

Terry from Jacksonville:
I have an opinion about respect. The media doesn't give respect, it reflects respect. Pittsburgh and Cleveland get respect because their fans give it to them. Fill the stadium, defend your team, be more than passive. As Gandhi said, "We must be the change we desire to see."

Vic: That's beautiful stuff, but did you hear those Cleveland fans "defend" their coach when he kicked the field goal on fourth down last night? Jaguars fans in attendance yesterday – there were significant no-shows for the obvious reason – were very enthusiastic. Del Rio asked for their support and they gave it to him.

Ted from Jacksonville:
You keep talking about the field shrinking for the Jaguars. What do you mean by that?

Vic: The field is 100 yards long. The more of it you can use in any one play, the more of that field you will require the defense to respect and defend. The Jaguars' longest pass completion on Sunday was 15 yards. If a defense can play on a 15-yard field, it's going to win.

Trey from Jacksonville:
Is USC that good or is Ohio State the most overrated team in the country?

Vic: USC has fantastic talent. They may be an all-timer. Ohio State wasn't ready for that kind of game. When they get Terrell Pryor settled in as a full-time quarterback and Chris Wells back in action, they'll be a powerful team.

Don from Jacksonville:
When you say players and coaches talk to the media, don't you mean they talk to the public, but through the media? Is that far from reality?

Vic: That is the reality. When players and coaches address the media, they should see themselves as talking directly to the fans.

Norman from Nampa, ID:
Is there a limit as to the number of captains a team can have?

Vic: A team may have as many as six players wear the letter "C" on their jerseys. All six of the Jaguars' captains wear a "C" on their jersey.

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