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Let's make a deal

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

Joel from Orange Park, FL:
The Jaguars got an extension to try to sell out this Sunday. What is the criterion for being granted an extension?

Vic: All you have to do is make the request to the league. If the league believes you're reasonably close to selling out, they'll gladly grant the extension. The league wants the game on TV as much as the fans do.

Matt from Laguna Beach, CA:
I love this team and I want the Jaguars to be in Los Angeles. I don't think people in Jacksonville really care about their Jaguars. You guys already have requested an extension for the game against Houston. This will never happen in Los Angeles. Can you give the Jags to us? Please?

Vic: Why? So you can give them to somebody else?

Stone from Seattle, WA:
It seems as though the Jags are at a little bit of a crossroads. They are a young team with talent but they only show flashes of greatness. In your opinion, what will be the catalyst to finally getting into the elite team category?

Vic: There are a lot of ingredients that go into becoming an elite team, the greatest of which is prolonged winning. Star-quality players help. Nothing, however, will move you into the elite category faster than wins against other elite teams. The Jaguars would be considered an elite team had they beaten the Colts and Broncos, and the Jaguars will have another chance to beat the Colts when the two teams play against each other in Jacksonville on Dec. 11. It's the only game against an elite team remaining on the Jaguars' schedule, so moving into the elite category this year is going to require two things: beating the Colts and winning in the postseason.

Andy from Jacksonville:
Who do you believe is playing at a Pro-Bowl level for the Jags?

Vic: Rashean Mathis is. From everything I hear, John Henderson is playing at a Pro-Bowl level, but the Jaguars' 26th ranking in run-defense and the fact that Henderson doesn't have a sack could make it difficult.

William from Redlands, CA:
What would you say is the best course of action in regards to the receivers on this team? Is it time to sit Jimmy Smith?

Vic: An open competition is always the best course of action because it allows the players to decide who should play. Football is all about competition. If you can't handle the idea of competing for playing time, you shouldn't be playing this game. Jack Del Rio opened the wide receiver position to competition this week. Everybody is on the same page. Let's see how they respond. If I'm reading this correctly, the receivers will order themselves according to their performances.

Cindy from Melbourne, FL:
What is the difference between a free safety and a strong safety?

Vic: A free safety is more of a centerfielder or rover; a strong safety is usually a bigger, stronger guy whose skills border on linebacker-like. In a true free safety, strong safety defensive system, the strong safety will spend a lot of his day covering the tight end and crowding the line of scrimmage to support against the run. The free safety will stay back and offer support against the deep pass. Not all teams declare their safeties free and strong. They may designate them right and left. In that defensive system, the safeties are each capable of muscling up against the tight end and which safety is to cover the tight end is decided by the side of the formation on which the tight end lines up.

J.D. from St. Augustine, FL:
The change in protection since Barnes' insertion into the lineup has been dramatic. If the Jaguars make the playoffs, what consideration would Khalif Barnes get for rookie of the year?

Vic: He's been outstanding in his three starts and he will clearly get all-rookie team consideration. Rookie of the year, however, would be awfully tough for him to win. Demarcus Ware and Sean Merriman each have four sacks. Ronnie Brown is averaging 4.8 a carry and has three touchdowns. Heath Miller has 19 catches and six touchdowns.

Pete from Jacksonville:
When should we start looking at the coaching staff as the root of the problem?

Vic: First of all, what's the problem? The Jaguars are 4-3 and one of eight teams in the AFC that are playoff contenders.

James from Hernando, MS:
Everyone knows what L.T. is doing in San Diego. Why don't the Jags try letting Fred Taylor throw the ball?

Vic: Trust me, you don't wanna see that.

Ed from Neptune Beach, FL:
This weekend is a big game but I'm not hearing too much about it. What are the important matchups in this game?

Vic: The most important matchup, in my opinion, is the Jaguars secondary against Andre Johnson, provided Johnson is able to play; he's listed as "questionable" with a knee injury. Johnson is the one Texans player who can be sudden. Domanick Davis rushed 31 times for 158 yards in this game last year, so what Davis does against a Jaguars run-defense that is coming off a pathetic showing in St. Louis has to be considered central to Sunday's outcome. On the other side of the ball, Fred Taylor should have a monster day against the league's worst run-defense. Taylor's the key man for the Jaguars. He's off the injury report and coming off his best game of the season.

Tedd from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Everyone talks about the dropped passes by the receivers, but Leftwich has to take some responsibility. He guns the ball when he should use touch and overthrows receivers from time to time. What do you think?

Vic: I think he was sharp last week and his receivers, with the exception of Ernest Wilford, were horrible. Maybe Byron Leftwich should make a deal with his receivers: He'll throw the ball more softly if they'll start doing something with it after they catch it.

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