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Keep an eye on KC, Cincinnati

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

Sol from Atlantic Beach, FL:
The finale in KC looks like it may be win and you're in.

Vic: I like creating little scenarios that pique our interest, so here's one: If the Jaguars win the next two games, they'll clinch a playoff berth before the final regular season game. If the Jaguars lose the next two games, they won't make the playoffs. If they win one of the next two games, they'll have to win in Kansas City to make the playoffs.

Scott from Carbon Cliff, IL:
I can't believe the amount of dropped passes in today's NFL. What could possibly be the reason these professionals are dropping so many passes that high schoolers would be expected to make?

Vic: It's not about their hands, it's about the guy who's about to take their head off. Receivers take their eyes off the ball so they can sneak a peek at what's around them. Great receivers don't do that. Great receivers are fearless. There are, of course, only a few great players at all positions.

Pulin from Jacksonville:
I am surprised at how the Steelers only have two wins at this point. I noticed you said in the power poll "Big Ben" isn't the problem, so I was wondering what you think the problem is.

Vic: I said Ben Roethlisberger isn't the problem because Roethlisberger turned in a fantastic performance against the Broncos and the Steelers still lost. Roethlisberger threw for 433 yards and had one receiver fumble the ball away after catching a pass near the goal line and another receiver fumble the ball away as he was attempting to reach it across the goal line following a catch. The Steelers are losing because they are fumbling. They lost fumbles on a punt return and a kickoff return in each of two games, and those lost fumbles were the difference in both games. Against the Broncos, those fumbles left the Steelers facing a 14-0 deficit midway through the first quarter and caused Roethlisberger to throw 54 passes in that game. Roethlisberger has thrown a lot of interceptions and he has been a big part of the turnover problem, but interceptions weren't the problem against Denver. Look at the Steelers' rankings: Sixth in total offense, fifth in passing, eighth in total defense and ninth against the run and against the pass. Those aren't the typical rankings of a 2-6 team, but that's what happens when you turn the ball over. The Steelers are the perfect example of the need for ball security. All of that is the long answer. I also think there's a short answer. I think they took the year off. I think they have a classic Super Bowl hangover.

Brad from Vancouver, BC:
A while back you said Fred Taylor gets extra money every time he puts on the jersey. Does Byron lose out on extra money by not dressing or is his contract structured differently?

Vic: Byron Leftwich's incentives are very difficult to earn. For example, he could earn up to $1.2 million in incentives this year but those incentives would be difficult to reach even if he played in every game. In his first three seasons, he only earned $200,000 total in incentives. Some of his incentives are for Pro Bowl, top five in passer rating, interception percentage, etc. He wasn't on pace to earn those incentives this year so he's really not losing anything.

George from St. Augustine, FL:
Would you put Jim Plunkett on your list of deep-ball throwers?

Vic: Plunkett threw a great deep ball. I always thought he was the closest thing in the modern era to Otto Graham. What I mean by that is that during Graham's era quarterbacks tended to put more air under their passes. In the modern game, because of a greater emphasis on getting pressure on the quarterback, passes are quicker, shorter, flatter and more precise. Quarterbacks in the modern era have to have more of a short-stroke arm. Quarterbacks such as Graham, Sammy Baugh and Bobby Layne would "launch" their passes. That's the way Plunkett threw the ball. I can see him now with the ball resting in his right hand as he drew it back, his body tilted as he launched the pass. Plunkett is the true definition of a winner. He overcame great hardship to win the Heisman Trophy at Stanford and then win two Super Bowls with the Raiders.

Joshua from Orange Park, FL:
If Garrard does a good job the rest of the way and leads us into the playoffs, would we then switch to Byron in the playoffs if he were healthy?

Vic: I don't understand how anybody could read the story from Jack Del Rio's press conference on Monday and not fully understand the situation. Del Rio could not have painted a clearer picture of the quarterback position. It's time to move on. Too many people are using this situation for personal entertainment. The facts are easily understood.

Michael from Pensacola, FL:
How divided is the team on the QB situation?

Vic: Fans tend to think of football players as fans, and that's a mistake. Believe me when I tell you that players are most interested in their position and how they perform at it, and that's just what coaches want. Coaches want players to be completely focused on doing their specific jobs, and I have never known a player whose number one concern wasn't for his job security. In other words, I sense no division at all because I sense that players have little interest in who plays quarterback. I sense a locker room of players whose only concern is playing well enough to please the coach. It's always been that way on every team I've covered.

Tim from Lake Butler, FL:
How will Garrard starting the rest of the year affect his unlikely to reach goals in his contract? Will he end up getting paid twice as much with all the stats he is about to rack up?

Vic: The fact that he's playing now gives him the potential to reach some of his incentives. He can max out at $2.2 million in incentives this year, but a lot of those incentives are high end and he's not likely to reach them. He has a 50 percent play time incentive he could reach. He also has some incentives for top 15 in the NFL in specific passing categories.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Sitting in the stands watching your team blow out a hated rival is always great, unless you look around and realize that maybe 15-20 percent of the stands are filled. That was pathetic. I brought a poncho and was a little uncomfortable, but I thought of the people who attend games in Cleveland or Buffalo where the teams stink and the weather is horrible and they sit there and watch the game and enjoy it. Are we just soft or spoiled or both?

Vic: As I've said, no-shows aren't a big thing with me. Tickets unsold are what concern me and that's not an issue this season. The only thing that causes me to wonder about no-shows for Jaguars game is that I have no doubt there wouldn't be no-shows for the Florida Gators if they were playing, say, Mississippi State or Central Florida in the rain. Why is that?

David from Jacksonville:
Am I correct in calculating that a win against the Texans this weekend would give the Jaguars their 100th regular season victory in team history?

Vic: You are correct.

Kevin from Dunkirk, MD:
What happened to the old rule that a player can't lose his job due to injury?

Vic: That's not a written rule. Some coaches might have that rule but I wouldn't have it. No way. Let me tell you a story that goes back to 1992. I was covering a team that lost its starting quarterback to an injury. The backup played pretty well and won important games late in the season. When the starter was ready to return to the lineup, the rookie head coach was asked: Do you have a rule that players do not lose their jobs to injury? The head coach paused. He was clearly not prepared for the question and probably didn't even have a rule, but he was a former player and immediately used that as his point of reference, which caused him to answer, "Yes, I do." What a mistake. The starter returned to the lineup on a lot of rust, lost in the team's first playoff game, and as if that wasn't bad enough, the coach was now saddled with this rule for the rest of his career. Actually, he would change his rule because there would be instances of guys losing their job to injury. My rule would be all jobs are open all the time. Evaluation would be ongoing and the best players will play.

Catherine from Jacksonville:
I was listening to "Jaguars Reporters" on my way home on Monday. I can barely stand to listen to some of the callers. They make my brain hurt. Can't you devise some kind of football IQ screening, or maybe some kind of idiot siren that would go off to warn listeners of what is coming?

Vic: My wife said to me on Tuesday, "You gotta stop being so grumpy." I looked at her for a moment and then asked, "What did I do?" She said someone at work had complained to her about me being grumpy on Monday's radio show. I thought about it and decided she's right, so next Monday I'm going to be nice and agree with everyone, even the ones who make the siren go off.

Ben from Phoenix, AZ:
Daryle Lamonica? Wow, you're really reaching back for that one. If you had to choose between Lamonica and Ken Stabler, as John Madden did in the early '70s, would you have made the same choice he did in ultimately giving Stabler the job?

Vic: Absolutely, I would. The first playoff game I ever covered was the "Immaculate Reception," and few people remember that it was Stabler's coming-out party. In fact, if it hadn't been for Stabler, there wouldn't have been an "Immaculate Reception." Stabler replaced Lamonica late in the game and led the Raiders to their only score of the game, with Stabler scoring on a scramble. That gave the Raiders a 7-6 lead and, of course, necessitated the "Immaculate Reception." Stabler was a great quarterback, but there's one major rap against him: He threw too many interceptions, 222, vs. touchdown passes, 194. Understand, of course, Stabler played in the bump and run era, in which quarterbacks threw a lot of interceptions.

Jon from Santa Barbara, CA:
To quote Waren Sapp, "Jerramy Stevens is a sissy." What did you think of his performance on Monday? I think he is a sorry excuse for a football player and his mouth is too big.

Vic: Stevens ruined his reputation in the Super Bowl when he shot his mouth off during the week and then dropped pass after pass in the game.

Al from Kingsland, GA:
I can assure you, empty seats talk to Mr. Weaver.

Vic: So what were the empty seats saying, Al? Being a playoff contender for a second consecutive year isn't good enough? We want Byron? We want Quinn? We want a domed stadium? A win over the Titans doesn't excite us any more? How dare you offer us the second-most affordable ticket in the league? Or how about please move to another city? I don't get it, Al. What were the empty seats saying?

Sean from Jacksonville:
I appreciate you answering part of my question, but you failed to address the conflict of interest issue. Do you agree a conflict exists and, if not, please explain why? And by the way, please don't make the mistake of me viewing this site or your column as an endorsement of your credibility as a journalist. I assure you I have my suspicions about your credibility. That said, I don't dispute the entertainment value of your product. No hard feelings. I just don't think you can be unbiased when you get paid by the organization you write about.

Vic: Are you back again? I don't get it. If I thought a particular television network was, say, unfair and unbalanced in its reporting, I wouldn't watch it. Why do you read my stories? I acknowledge your concerns. They're valid. That's why it is so important for me to build a trust with the reader; because the fact that I am paid by the team I cover is a credibility obstacle that must be overcome. With some readers, I've cleared that hurdle. With others, such as yourself, I haven't. You think you're getting to me, but you're not because I am completely at ease with my efforts in providing the truth. I do, however, understand and appreciate your suspicions. I'd probably have them, too, but at some point I would make a decision on the trust factor and if I decided the credibility isn't there, as you have, I wouldn't come back. I think that's what you need to do at this point. Please, don't come back. You won't hurt my feelings.

Daniel from Orlando, FL:
We ask you. Who do you ask?

Vic: Players, coaches, owners, scouts, capologists, etc. I ask anybody who I consider to be a credible information giver. I then forward that information to you.

Mark from Wichita, KS:
Now that we are halfway through the season and with teams pushing to get into the playoffs, which six teams do you see coming out of the AFC?

Vic: Indianapolis, New England and Baltimore appear to be division champions. The west is a three-way fight. I believe Denver and San Diego are going to make the playoffs, which makes the sixth playoff spot a battle between Jacksonville, Kansas City and Cincinnati. I think we can start keeping an eye on Kansas City and Cincinnati.

Josh from Jacksonville:
How hard is it to keep from showing your true feelings as a journalist? It has always seemed like you take it personally when anything bad is said about Byron. Do you want him to start because you like him more? I personally just want the guy who gives us the best chance to win.

Vic: It's always bothered me that Byron Leftwich hasn't been treated with the fairness and respect he deserves. I'm talking about the treatment he's received from some fans and some media. That's what you sense in me. Football is a king of the hill game. The best man wins. I have no problem with one player replacing another player in the starting lineup. I just don't like the way Leftwich has been treated.

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