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Leftwich not fully appreciated

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

Ty from Jacksonville:
Did you see the national TV ratings for the Jags/Cowboys? The most watched show since the finale of "American Idol." Not bad numbers!

Vic: That's why T.O. can be T.O. His act sells. America voted with its eyes. America likes notorious behavior.

Charlie from Jacksonville:
What was the youngest franchise to win a Super Bowl in terms of years in the league?

Vic: The Dolphins; their Super Bowl VII win occurred in their seventh season of play. Some people might say it's the Ravens because they took on the identity of a new franchise, but I see the Ravens as a team that moved and took its players with it. As far as I'm concerned, the Ravens were the Browns.

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Could you feel the frustration of the Dallas defenders in covering our receivers? I think the Jaguars are onto something with the size advantage. Will this become a trend and is separation still critical for success?

Vic: I think the Cowboys defenders would tell you that covering tall receivers is difficult. I think the Cowboys defenders would also tell you that their frustration was for Byron Leftwich fitting the ball into tight windows. The Jaguars receivers did not get separation. They did a nice job of adjusting to the ball and making the catch, but they did not get separation. If you want run after the catch, you need separation. Leftwich's performance against the Cowboys has not been fully appreciated.

Jason from Jacksonville:
In your Bill Cowher story, I like the way you worded something: "OK, boys, here it is. What are you gonna do with it?" This phrase seems to fit the Steelers perfectly to me. When you face the Steelers, you know they are going to run the ball, especially in the fourth quarter when they have the lead. It's no secret; you know exactly what they are going to do. Now try and stop it. It seems to be the same with their injury report. I'm a die-hard Jaguars fan, but I love that Steelers mentality, baby. That's smash-mouth football.

Vic: And the Jaguars play smash-mouth defense, which is why the Jaguars match up so well against the Steelers.

Karen from Scituate, RI:
I have heard commentators call the Patriots arrogant this week because of the way they handled the Deion Branch situation. Do you think it's arrogance or tough, hard football decisions that need to be made and get made by a coach who isn't endearing to the media?

Vic: There's nothing arrogant about what the Patriots did. Deion Branch was under contract to them. He was trying to hold them hostage and they weren't going to allow him to do that because it would set a precedent. Lawyer Milloy tried to do the same thing and the Patriots didn't allow it then. They saw that they were at an impasse with Branch so they allowed him to shop his talents around the league. As a result, Branch got his money, the Seahawks got their player and the Patriots got their draft pick. Everybody got what they wanted, so what's the problem? The Patriots are arrogant for protecting their salary cap? The Patriots don't believe he's an elite receiver and they weren't going to pay him as one. Wide receivers are a dime a dozen. The Patriots will replace him just as they replaced Milloy. Check back next spring and we'll see who got the better of the deal.

Brian from North Mankato, MN:
Since you brought up the issue of manipulating injury reports, do you have a guess as to what the Colts are trying to do with theirs? They had 11 questionable and 13 probable players. Montae Reagor was quoted as saying he didn't even know he was injured, yet, he was listed as questionable.

Vic: If Tony Dungy did that – actually, I sense somebody else's hand in that – then he was trying to send a message to somebody in the league office. Bill Belichick did the same thing last year. I can tell you this, they don't come any better than Dungy. He's as honest a man as I have ever known.

Bob from Jacksonville:
I am a season ticket holder and have been since day one. First off, I've been paying for tickets that had no resale value for years, just to support the team. Second, I've given away more tickets than most season ticket holders have paid for. Third, I love Monday Night Football. I love to kick back on my couch, have a couple of beers, watch the game and go to bed at an hour that still allows me to get to work the next day and pay for my season tickets, the $5 beers, the $20 parking, etc. I've been to the Jaguars' previous MNF games and had a blast, but the next morning was brutal. I can't stand getting up and going to work on four or five hours sleep. For the first time it is legal for me to sell my seats for more than face value without fear of arrest. Therefore, mine are for sale. Yep, four times face and I don't care what color you wear. I'm sorry to do this, but I've been working hard to carry this team since it began, and I'm gonna take advantage of the opportunity to cash in and get some small part of my donations to the cause back. Please don't tell anyone, but, hey, let's get real. I love to watch them play. I'm glad they're here. I hope they'll stay. But my tickets for Monday are for sale. Hopefully, the Jags can silence the crazy Steelers fans that'll probably be sitting in my seats.

Vic: I'm disgusted with you. I am going to do everything I can to hunt you down and expose you. This is an outrage. By the way, I know a couple of guys who are comin' down and they're lookin' for tickets. I could turn them in your direction. What would it be worth to you?

Alec from York, PA:
Do you know what the conditions were for the draft pick the Steelers traded to New England for Patrick Cobbs? I see Pittsburgh has cut him and I wanted to know if they still have to give up a pick, which would seem like a waste since they didn't even keep him on the team.

Vic: The pick was conditional. The Steelers would've had to give New England a seventh-round pick if Cobbs was active for three games or on the Steelers' roster for five. He was neither, of course, so the trade is off. The Patriots and Steelers have active personnel departments. They both like to wheel and deal in draft picks. The Steelers wanted to re-sign Cobbs to their practice squad, which would've made him a free pickup, but Cobbs elected to sign with Miami and join their practice squad. He's a good player. I'll bet Belichick isn't too happy about having him back in the AFC East.

Mike from Saratoga Springs, NY:
I was looking at the salary breakdown for the Jags on Fox Sports and I couldn't help but notice that players such as Alvin Pearman, Nick Sorensen and David Garrard all have higher salaries than Byron Leftwich. How is it possible these guys all make more money then our fearless leader Byron?

Vic: Byron Leftwich got his money in signing bonus, which was $10.9 million. It's common for high-priced players to have low salaries. Premium players command guaranteed money. What you were looking at is strictly salary. I don't even know why anyone would publish those figures. They're meaningless without providing the bonus money a player has received or will receive.

William from Savannah, GA:
I admire your usually uncanny insight and knowledge of the game, but I completely disagree with you about having to get to Thanksgiving before you really get a feel for where teams stack up. I believe that by week six you get a pretty good idea of where teams stack up because their strengths and weaknesses are pretty well exposed.

Vic: As of week 12 of last season, the Steelers were 7-5 and on a two-game losing streak with a quarterback who appeared to need thumb surgery. Bill Cowher, in fact, wanted Ben Roethlisberger to hang it up for the season and get the surgery. Roethlisberger wanted to hold off on the surgery until the Steelers were eliminated from playoff contention. They then went on an eight-game winning streak that made them the first team in history to win a Super Bowl by winning three playoff games on the road. When did you get your feel for what the Steelers would do?

Jesse from Temecula, CA:
There was one drive where I believe Matt Jones had three or four catches on the drive and set up a Leftwich touchdown. Has Jones started to become Leftwich's go-to guy and the replacement for the great Jimmy Smith? I personally thought he played pretty well.

Vic: I'm starting to get a feel for what Matt Jones can do and I'm starting to get the feeling that we had this guy all wrong from the beginning and he was cast incorrectly. From the beginning, we had the notion that Jones was going to be a do-everything, run-all-over-the-field kind of guy. Frankly, I haven't seen any of that. What I see is a tall receiver with very soft hands. I think those are Jones' identifying traits; not speed and elusiveness. What I see is a guy who is developing his skills and who I believe could become an accomplished possession and red zone receiver. I think Jones is the opposite of his billing and I have no objection to him becoming a possession and red zone receiver. I think he's a guy who's going to win the jump balls. I think he's a guy whose best routes are going to be curls and fades. In my opinion, all this hype for his run-after-the-catch ability is out of line and off base. In my opinion, when he becomes skilled at the craft of running routes and catching passes, what the Jaguars are going to have will more closely resemble Keenan McCardell than Jimmy Smith, and what's wrong with that? I think Jones has the ability to catch a lot of passes for a lot of years, but not in a way or in the role that was forecast for him.

Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
What is the Jaguars record under Jack Del Rio when they win the time of possession battle?

Vic: Last season, the Jaguars were 8-2 when they won time of possession.

Roy from Jacksonville:
Why is the NFL allowing the Jaguars the option of wearing so many varieties of uniforms? What happened to one color home and one color away? Is this league-wide?

Vic: I wish the league only allowed one color at home and one color away, then I wouldn't get all of these uniform questions. I'm starting to wonder if people think this is a fashion show instead of a football game. All right, these are the rules: Each team is permitted to have three different jerseys. The Jaguars have a teal jersey, a white jersey and a black jersey. The black jersey is their "third jersey" and may only be worn twice a season. The Jaguars have three pants approved for use by the league. They have white pants and black pants and the design for a teal pair that mimics the black ones. The teal pants is only an approved design at this time. You must designate in advance which jersey you are going to wear for each game and you may not change that designation. Coach Jack Del Rio decides on what jerseys his team will use in the upcoming season, during an offseason meeting with equipment manager Drew Hampton, after, of course, the schedule is announced. The Jaguars have designated their teal jersey for Monday night's game. You do not have to designate what pants you're going to wear. The Jaguars have decided to wear their white pants on Monday night, but they could change to black the day of the game. The Steelers have decided to wear their gold pants on Monday night.

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