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Know when to move your piece

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

John from St. Augustine, FL:
I saw Jones-Drew hit a hole hard as he always does on a third-and-short and then get stopped by a defender at the first-down line, like he had hit a brick wall. I have no doubt in my mind Greg Jones would have gained that extra yard and kept our ailing defense off the field. How is Greg doing with his rehab? Are we getting closer to having Derrick Wimbush back to fill that role?

Vic: Maurice Jones-Drew is not a pounder. I think that's understood. Greg Jones, of course, was supposed to be the Jaguars' pounder and not having him hurts. Derrick Wimbush can be that pounder. He's recovering from a knee injury he sustained in the Steelers game and I'm guessing he'll return after the bye week. He's one of the reasons I've said the game against the Steelers took a lot out of this team. It was a game that produced a lot of injuries for the Jaguars, including Matt Jones' groin strain. Greg Jones underwent knee surgery a few weeks ago and is now in the rehab process.

Tim from Paris, TN:
How could you have New Orleans go up and Carolina go down after they beat New Orleans? I personally do not care about either team, I was just wondering what you saw that made you make that decision.

Vic: Forget about that up and down stuff. The designer puts it in because it looks good and provides more information, but it's meaningless, as is the whole power rankings. When I do the rankings, I ask myself, "Where does each team fit in the league?" Then I rank them. I don't give any thought to whether they should get an up arrow or a down arrow. I think New Orleans' 3-1 is deserving of a higher place than Carolina's 2-2, especially after Carolina's terrible start. This particular week, a lot of top teams lost. Five teams previously ahead of the Saints lost, so what I had to do was rank the quality of those defeats. The Panthers were the preseason favorite to win the NFC. Expectations were high and they immediately betrayed them. Now, I'll require proof. The road back to the top is going to be a little slower.

Tony from Jacksonville:
I agree with all of the comments about unnecessary celebrations. I, too, would prefer that our players just shut up and play and let their actions speak for themselves. Some of them are looking pretty foolish right now, considering the statements they made a couple of weeks ago.

Vic: History defines teams according to the final scores of their games, not the quality or quantity of their post-play celebrations. I have been pounding a message for a long time. Just win, baby. Nothing else matters. What did Lombardi say? "Winning isn't the most important thing, it's the only thing." Chuck Noll used to call it "singleness of purpose." If you're thinking about celebrating, you're thinking about something other than winning, which means you lack singleness of purpose. I know a lot of fans don't agree with me on this. I know a lot of fans want the wiggles and jiggles, and that's OK because they're fans and they don't play, but players should want one thing and one thing only, to win. Anything else is a waste of time and effort and dulls the team's focus.

Tony from Jacksonville:
Regarding the personal fouls we've had recently, do you think opposing teams would coach their players to try to entice us, knowing some players on our team lack the discipline to not retaliate?

Vic: It doesn't have to be coached. Players develop reputations and those reputations spread throughout the league. If you have a reputation for being a hothead, you can expect to be the target of derogatory remarks. If you have a reputation for not liking contact, you can expect some threatening remarks. Albert Haynesworth has the reputation for being a hothead. I'd love to have a transcript of what Cowboys offensive linemen said to have set him off. There are no virgins in this game. This is a tough game for tough guys, but it's also a game for men who can discipline their behavior. How do you respond to trash-talking? By winning the game, not by acting out a childish temper tantrum. The worst thing you can do to your opponent is win the game.

Mike from Burbank, CA:
You say the Redskins were able to score on the Jags by stretching the defense. How do you counter this in the future?

Vic: If you need another body at the line of scrimmage, you walk the strong safety up there to give you that infamous eighth guy in the box. Of course, you're now vulnerable deep over the middle. It's a chess game. You have to know when to move your pieces.

Austin from Gainesville, FL:
I think the dancing is entertaining. If you were young, you'd understand how it takes skill to dance like Stroud and Grant. I'll take a 15-yard penalty once a game to watch those two dance.

Vic: If that's what it's like to be young, then I'll stay old.

Andrew from Jacksonville:
I don't take issue with creating an adverse environment for visiting teams, but I agree that crowd participation should not affect the outcome of a game. Whatever happened to the warnings and penalties for excessive crowd noise? Was the rule changed or is it simply no longer enforced?

Vic: The old way was abandoned because the officials didn't have the guts to enforce the crowd noise rule by penalizing the home team. That's all it would've taken; a few flags and everything would've been fine. Instead, they kept warning the crowd and all of the warnings added up to wasted time that made the games too long. TV, of course, hates dead air. All of that warning time could've been used on commercials. Today's young fans are too young to remember the old way of controlling crowd noise. If the quarterback judged his team incapable of hearing his snap count, he backed out from under center and appealed to the referee, who then asked the crowd to lower its decibel level. The crowd wasn't expected to go silent, just tone it down a little. If the referee felt the noise level was sufficient for the offense to operate, he pointed the quarterback back under center, which meant play on. The offense was then on the clock. The homefield advantage back then was even more distinct than it is today. Look it up. Road teams are winning routinely now. Back then, winning on the road was a much bigger deal. Fans made lots of noise, it's just that they were expected to control their noise level when the quarterback stepped under center. I don't think we'll see a return to that format because teams today have perfected the silent count.

Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
What are your general comments and thoughts regarding the Jets?

Vic: It's a scrappy team that appears to have bought into its new coach's program.

Todd from Jacksonville:
What did you think about Marcus Stroud's comment that he is not a robot, when asked about the silly unsportsmanlike penalty he received for dancing with Grant? To me that response was unbelievable.

Vic: I want to be given a truthful response when I ask a question, so, I appreciate Stroud's honesty. My concern is for his lack of regret. It was a penalty that clearly hurt the Jaguars.

George from Baltimore, MD:
While on the subject of TV analysts, I always thought Tom Jackson was one of the best. The worst is Michael Irvin, who has his picture in the dictionary next to "player apologist." Your thoughts?

Vic: Tom Jackson has been doing TV commentary for a long time. He was one of the first former players to really tell it like it is. Michael Irvin is still a player. I don't even listen.

Amit from Atlanta, GA:
I completely agree on the player celebration issues, but I have realized something: This is a business, an entertainment business, so I can see the celebrating as part of the entertainment. I'm sure many people (not me) were interested in what kind of dances Chad Johnson was going to do after the rules of celebration were tightened. Your thoughts?

Vic: Yeah, it's an entertainment business but, first and foremost, football is an athletic competition, and we derive our entertainment from that competition. It should be entertainment enough. When we add choreography, football stoops to the level of professional wrestling.

Johnathan from Waycross, GA:
I agree with you about lowering the crowd noise, but you know as well as I in this day and age that the fans would never cooperate. I go to the games to watch the teams compete. It would be nice to go home for once without my ears ringing. It would also be nice for security to tighten up on profanity. I'm about ready to stop going to games because I'm tired of my kids having to be around that language.

Vic: I feel sorry for people like you who are being driven away by the garishness that exists at sporting events today. How would you like your kids to be exposed to the profanity that was coming out of the RCA Dome speakers when the Jaguars played there? That's when I realized stadium behavior was over the top.

Jon from Cabot, AR:
How about those Bears? The defense is clearly the best in the league and suddenly they think they're a passing team. If both teams play up to their full potential, can anyone beat the Bears in a game?

Vic: What is it about overreaction that is so much fun? What am I missing? I must be missing something because so many people love to overreact. Why do we want to so badly to crown a champion a quarter of the way through the season?

Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico:
Do you think the Jaguars defense was completely exposed by the Redskins, or was this just a bad game for our defense, on top of the injuries? Do you think the Jets will try to do the same? Do they have the players to do it?

Vic: I was prepared to just pass it off as one of those days, until Jack Del Rio said he saw it coming. Nobody, but nobody, knows football as these coaches do, and Del Rio is as good an evaluator as I have ever known. He turned thumbs down to me on a couple of hot teams last year, and he turned out to be absolutely right. How about Bill Belichick's decision to steer away from the Steelers? Did he have that one pegged right? When a coach tells you something, listen, because they know their stuff. They are experts at football evaluation and when a head coach tells me he was worried about his defense's ability to stop an opponent, I don't dismiss it. He's telling me he saw matchup problems. I don't think the Jets present the matchup problems the Redskins did, but I can't be sure about that.

C.J. from Jacksonville:
Is it a possibility the Titans will fire Fisher at the end of the season? I think that would be a mistake. What do you think?

Vic: Jeff Fisher is an outstanding coach, but the situation in Nashville is in hard decline and that can often result in a housecleaning. If it does, Fisher will get a new job right away and it might be with a team that's poised to win. If the Titans clean house, it'll be their loss, not Fisher's.

Dale from Yokosuka, Japan:
I read the question from the deploying guy. I was in the same situation last year. One of my concerns was that I wouldn't be able to get to your column because of the limited band width on the ship underway. I even asked about a low band width version of the site, remember me?

Vic: Yeah, I remember you and I'm so happy to know you're safe and sound.

Kenney from Jacksonville:
On a personal level, who is your favorite person in the Jaguars organization?

Vic: My favorite person is intern Nate, who provided me with so many scintillating factoids in the FedEx Field press box. My favorite one began with: "This is the first time since the last game that the Jaguars …"

Chris from Williamsburg, VA:
In your column you wrote about "fans taking on the attitude of the player" and I was a little unsure about that statement until just recently. I attended the Jags-Redskins game with full intention of cheering for the Jags but being respectful of where I was. As I took a trip to the concession stand I was utterly accosted by an extremely intoxicated Redskins fan calling me every name in the book and getting in my face. I took the smart road by telling him it's just a game and I walked away. This disgrace of a fan was wearing a Sean Taylor jersey. I'll never doubt you again.

Vic: I don't remember making that remark, but I like your story. You were wearing a Jaguars jersey, weren't you?

Jody from Fort Pierce, FL:
I get the impression some fans go to the movies to eat popcorn rather than to watch the movie. I go to the game to see my favorite team play football, not to hear someone yell or to see how well the players can dance.

Vic: I like to watch.

Anthony from Jacksonville:
You have told us many times how you do not cheer or show emotion during a game. That's your job and you're being professional. I get that. But you are being paid to watch the game, unlike myself, who has to purchase the ability to enjoy this form of entertainment. Please don't forget, it's still entertainment. Take the fans out of it and what do you have left?

Vic: A football game, right? Isn't that the centerpiece of the event? I don't wanna take the fans out, but are we forgetting why we're there?

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