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Jones-Drew one of four top candidates

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

Brandon from Suffolk, VA:
The incident between Miami and FIU is a perfect example of the "protect our house" mentality and where it eventually leads. I hope some of the readers who have written to this column supporting boorish behavior by fans and players will reconsider their position. Equally appalling were the on-air comments made by the former Miami player whose name I have forgotten. A better example of a player apologist I can't remember. There were players swinging helmets and crutches and stomping on fellow athletes and this buffoon was voicing his support for their actions. Sadly, I'm sure there are those that agreed with him.

Vic: If athletic competition doesn't speak for sportsmanship, fair play and disciplined behavior, it should be discontinued.

Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico:
What do you make of the Titans' last two games (a close loss at Indy and a road win at Washington)?

Vic: They won the battle of the line of scrimmage in both games. When you're starting a rookie quarterback, it's time to lean hard on the basics of the game, which is what Jeff Fisher has done. Nothing makes a team feel better about itself than kicking another team's you know what. The Titans will feed off this. They could get tough to beat if they buy into the concept of "win the battle of the hitting."

Dave from Neptune Beach, FL:
Did you hear the audio from one of the announcers from the Miami game? He was talking about wanting to join in the fight with the players. When I heard the audio from the game it made me think of two things. First, I couldn't believe what he was saying and thought that he was going to lose his job. Second, I thought of your comments about "jockocracy."

Vic: When you enter the media, you must think as media, not as a player. Too many former players don't make that transition.

Dave from St Augustine, FL:
I am reminded all the time of exactly how unknowledgeable I am about football, although I have followed it all my life. However, in your response to Matt from Monticello, IN, isn't the term he was referring to "in the grasp?"

Vic: So you're saying the official is trying to make a "P" sound at the end of that. That's interesting. I'm gonna call my old high school coach, Tom Stabile, who's one of the league's head linesmen, and ask him if it's "in the grass" or "in the grasp."

Thomas from Jacksonville:
The Titans beat the Redskins? I just don't get it! You seem to understand the Redskins. Please tell me, what in the world is wrong with them?

Vic: They're old and capped out. That's a killer combination. This is a young man's game on teams with healthy salary caps. The money they've spent on players such as Andre Carter and Adam Archuleta shows they don't get it.

Justin from Jacksonville:
Can you explain how "passer rating" is calculated? What are your thoughts on the validity of the stat?

Vic: Four categories are used as a basis for compiling a passer rating: 1.) percentage of completions per attempt; 2.) average yards gained per attempt; 3.) percentage of touchdown passes per attempt; 4.) percentage of interceptions per attempt. I think it's a valid stat because it's a way of comparing one quarterback to another. Like any stat, however, it has to accompany what you've seen. Bruce Gradkowski had several near interceptions dropped on Sunday. They were passes that should've been intercepted and would've killed his passer rating. Maybe there should be a luck rating, too. Sometimes I think the passer rating is too easily influenced by one play. For example, Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception in the Super Bowl that should've been a simple touchdown pass. If he throws for the touchdown, the difference in his rating would've been night and day so, therefore, his passer rating was really a one-play rating. My eyes know what they've seen. I don't need statistical support. The bottom line for me is how the guy played at crunch time. Did he get it done? Did he play his best football when the games were the most important? To be a top-tier quarterback, you have to be a playoff quarterback, and to be a great quarterback, you have to be a great postseason quarterback. That's how I judge quarterbacks. Tell me what they've done in the postseason.

Ryan from Las Vegas, NV:
I'm disappointed in you. I thought you answered all valid questions but I thought wrong. I must've stumped you regarding Del Rio's decision to leave Leftwich and company in for the entire game while up 38-0 vs. the Jets. What a boneheaded risk to take. I'm a fan and I'm taking Del Rio to task for that decision but you are an employee, therefore, I'm guessing you don't have the luxury or perhaps the intestinal fortitude to do so as well. Good luck to you and your career. You just lost another reader.

Vic: Good! I already have too many. Have a nice life.

Derek from Fleming Island, FL:
In the Florida-Auburn game, Chris Leak dropped back to pass but according to the officials he fumbled the ball. Wasn't his arm going forward and the ball slipped out, which would result in an incomplete pass? What are your thoughts on that controversial call?

Vic: Based on a conversation I had with an expert on NFL and college rules, they blew the call. It should've been ruled an incomplete pass. The college rules that apply to this situation are very similar to the NFL's. Leak's hand and arm were away from his body and he was moving his arm forward when the ball came out, and that should've constituted an incomplete pass. It would've been a tougher call to make had he brought the ball back toward his body and started to tuck it away. That's when you get into the application of the controversial tuck rule which, according to my source, is much the same on the college level as it is in the NFL. Different conferences have different interpretations and I'll allow for that, but all indications are the Leak call should've been reversed.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
When I was in high school in the late '70's, "in the grass" had an entirely different connotation. What has changed?

Vic: You're not in high school anymore.

Chris from Rochester, MN:
Having read all your complaints about college football, are there any programs that you enjoy following and think are doing a reasonable job balancing academics and athletics?

Vic: Boston College, Notre Dame and Penn State have been perennial leaders in graduation rates and they also have impressive bowl records and rosters of graduates who've gone on to the NFL. There are other schools that do a great job mixing academics and athletics, but those three usually top the list.

Darian from Jacksonville:
Does Maurice Jones-Drew have a legitimate shot for offensive rookie of the year, or is it practically gift-wrapped for Reggie Bush?

Vic: You're neglecting two other significant candidates. First of all, Reggie Bush may not even be the best rookie on his own team. Wide receiver Marques Colston, the fourth to last pick of the draft, is 13th in the NFL in receiving yards (414) and 15th in receptions (27) and has scored four touchdowns. Bush has only scored one touchdown. New England's Laurence Maroney leads all rookie rushers with 332 yards and three touchdowns. Bush, Jones-Drew, Colston and Maroney are the top candidates at this point in time. Quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Bruce Gradkowski have nice passer ratings and could sneak into the race, but Leinart, Gradkowski and fellow rookie QB Vince Young all play on one-win teams that aren't likely to challenge for the playoffs. Bush has the advantage of hype, but I certainly wouldn't concede the honor to him after just six weeks of the season.

Brandon from Summit, MS:
How do you get into sports journalism?

Vic: You could go to an esteemed institution of higher learning and get a four-year degree in "news journalism," which would include everything from "ethics" to "news writing" to "law of the mass media," which might require you to spend a semester studying the always-dreaded Latin. Or you could bypass all of that and be a football player.

Scott from Jacksonville:
I was informed that the Bears and Cardinals' rivalry is the oldest in the NFL. Do you have any information on this?

Vic: The Cardinals were founded in 1898 in a predominantly Irish neighborhood on Chicago's South Side and began play as the Morgan Athletic Club. The team has also played as the Normals, Racine Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals, St. Louis Cardinals and Phoenix and Arizona Cardinals. In 1920 the Cardinals became a charter member of the NFL, which was then known as the American Professional Football Association. The Cardinals are the country's oldest professional football franchise still in existence. The Bears and Cardinals played against each other twice in 1920, splitting the decisions. Those games make the Bears-Cardinals series the longest-running series in the NFL. The Bears and Cardinals began playing the Packers the following season.

Phil from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Why do you think the Jags have so much trouble against the Texans?

Vic: I don't know the reason but I acknowledge that the Texans have traditionally played the Jaguars tough. Maybe that's the answer: It's the Texans' tradition to play the Jaguars tough.

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