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Losing is a part of life

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

Jeff from Jacksonville:
Can a season like this actually make a fan base stronger in the long run?

Vic: It can harden the steel, so to speak. Losing makes you appreciate winning. When you're hurting, all you want to do is stop hurting. Say it any way you want, but the absence of winning makes the heart grow fonder for it.

Amiel from Jacksonville:
I'd like to see Quentin Groves at linebacker.

Vic: In a 3-4, yes, but not in a 4-3. He's a rusher, not a pass-defender.

Lawrence from Tampa, FL:
Do you think rebuilding isn't as big a task as it used to be? I mean, look at the Falcons and Dolphins. They are in the hunt for the playoffs after having really bad years last season.

Vic: Rebuilding still requires patience. What you're suggesting is that the Dolphins' rebuilding didn't begin until this year, but I think you can trace it to as far back as 2005, when the Dolphins' first three draft picks were Ronnie Brown, Matt Roth and Channing Crowder. As far as the Falcons are concerned, it's not often that you're going to find a rookie quarterback do the things Matt Ryan is doing this year.

Darren from Jacksonville:
Which offensive line position needs the most attention, tackle, guard or center?

Vic: Left tackle clearly is the position that requires more attention than any other. It's one of the premium positions in football and the Jaguars don't even have a candidate to replace Khalif Barnes, whose contract will void a few days after the season ends.

Brandon from Malabar, FL:
I was wondering how you felt about the progression of Gerald Sensabaugh?

Vic: I think he's distinguished himself in recent games. I think he's really starting to come on. He's one of those guys the Jaguars have patiently developed and now he's starting to return a dividend on that investment. Sensabaugh is in the last year of his contract and he'd be attractive in free agency, at the right price, of course.

Jo from Jacksonville:
Do you now believe Brett Favre is the difference in Green Bay and New York?

Vic: He is with the Jets, but he wouldn't have been the difference with the Packers. The Packers don't need him. Aaron Rodgers is having a great year. He signed a new, long-term contract, which means the Packers have their future in place at sports' most important position. They absolutely did the right thing in letting Favre go. Why pay $12 million more for something you already have on your roster and it's younger? The Jets got the guy they needed to make a run this year, but how much longer will he be that guy? I don't like short-term investments. I like what the Packers did. Always take the long-term outlook.

Al from Fruit Cove, FL:
I hope I'm wrong on this but Sunday it almost seemed like some players were performing in a way to get the coach fired, like little children trying to spite their parents by not doing what they are told to do. Could this really be a result of bad chemistry in the locker room?

Vic: I'm not trying to downplay what Fred Taylor or Jack Del Rio have said about the importance of team chemistry and that it isn't as good on this year's team as it was on last year's, but I don't put a lot of stock in team chemistry meters. I think they can be one of those emotional measuring sticks we use to overlook the real problem: You just don't have the talent you think you have. This stuff you're saying about trying to spite the coach and get him fired is soap opera crap. I think you're trying to ignore the truth, too. This team needs to reenergize its roster and that's not as easily fixed as taking the team to a movie.

Kevin from Oakland, NJ:
It looks to me like Matt Cassel is playing a pretty good Tom Brady. Is it possible the Patriots scored big twice?

Vic: It's possible. Cassel is really playing well. One look at him tells you that he's out of a mold the Patriots have for quarterbacks and Brady is clearly the standard, but let's not forget that at this point last season the Patriots were undefeated and Brady was headed toward the all-time single-season touchdown record. Let's also not forget that the Patriots began this season with the easiest schedule in the league, a ridiculously low .387 winning percentage by its opponents last season. Only five of the Patriots' 16 games this season are against teams that finished .500 or better last year. Bill Belichick and his staff have done a great job with Cassel, but the Miami team they whipped on Sunday is the same Miami team Baltimore crushed about a month ago with a rookie quarterback at the helm.

J.D. from Jacksonville:
Do you think the specter of a possible rookie salary cap in 2010 will cause more NCAA juniors than usual to skip their senior years? Will it be a big factor?

Vic: You're asking the right question but in a convoluted way. Yes, even though 2010 could be an uncapped year, there would still be a rookie salary cap and, yes, more juniors will want to skip their senior years to enter the 2010 draft, but not because there's a rookie salary cap but because they'll want to avoid a potential players strike in 2011. The possibility exists that 2011 could result in a lockout or, more likely, in replacement players.

Larry from Jacksonville:
I think the coaching staff has at least a fair idea of what needs to happen next year as far as the team goes. My question is, what do the fans need to do? What can we do to change so many from fair-weather types who throw up their hands and announce I quit when a team has a bad year, to those like in Pittsburgh who bleed the team colors and support the franchise win or lose?

Vic: Let's forget about bleeding team colors. Nobody has to bleed. No fan should make a football team the focal point of their life. The coaches will do that. All the fan has to do is be sensible. Watch and listen. Know that when you're 1-5 at home, you've got work to do. Know that a pep talk isn't gonna fix it. Now, be patient and let the corrections occur. It's a fun process to watch unfold. In my opinion, it's the biggest part of the quest to win.

Thomas from Jacksonville:
Leaving the stadium on Sunday my seven-year-old son crushed me with the question, "Dad, is it normal to go home sad every time we leave the game? Everyone seems sad."

Vic: The answer is, yes, it is normal. It sure was normal when I was a kid. My dad and I almost never saw the Steelers win. They were the worst team in the league. They only had eight winning seasons in their first 40 years. I guess times change. If I had asked my dad if it's normal to go home sad every time we leave the game, he would've said, "OK, I know how to fix that. We won't go any more." I'm not kidding. That's what he would've said and that's why I wouldn't have dared ask that question. He was the one bummed out so if I wanted to see another game I had to cheer him up. "Hey, dad, I think they're gonna win next week. Layne'll beat the Browns. You watch," I might've said; probably did say. "You're nuts," he would've said; probably did say. Tell your kid to hang in there. Life's tough.

Ed from Orange Park, FL:
In addition to the offensive and defensive lines, isn't there a need at cornerback and maybe a developmental quarterback?

Vic: Absolutely there is. As much as this team needs big guys, if a cornerback is at the top of their board when it's time to draft, I'd have no problem making him the pick. If there's a quarterback at the top of the board when it's the Jaguars' turn to pick, then I think you can trade down and do some business.

Don from Jacksonville:
Jack Del Rio seems to have a lot of pride and takes losing quite seriously. Do you know him well enough to be able to guess what his next corrective adjustment to this team might be?

Vic: Yeah, I think I know him well enough to know what he's going to do in the offseason. I think he's going to get rid of any player he perceives to be an obstacle to winning and he's going to make a concerted effort to acquire young, physical players.

Jason from Vancouver, BC:
With all of the injuries the Steelers have had this year (and still seem to be having), what do you think their chances are of going on a run similar to 2005? The two seasons seem to be very similar.

Vic: I don't think they have much chance of that. Making it into the playoffs will still be difficult for them, with a schedule that includes games at New England, at Baltimore, at Tennessee and Dallas. How's that for a schedule? I don't think I have ever seen a more difficult schedule than the one the Steelers have this year, and it comes in a year in which the Steelers are clearly trying to rebuild their offensive line. If they win the AFC North, it will be a great achievement.

Zack from Daytona Beach, FL:
In honor of the annual Florida vs. Florida State game, I wanted to ask: How would you stop the Gators?

Vic: The quarterback must go down and the quarterback must go down hard.

Colette from Beach Haven, PA:
What would you say was the defining moment of this season? I am looking forward to our team coming back next year and seeing what they can do.

Vic: I'll give you four choices: 1.) Ben Roethlisberger freeing his arm with half of the people in the stadium hanging onto him and completing an 18-yard pass to Hines Ward. 2.) Matt Jones nearly catching a Hail Mary pass in the end zone against Cleveland. 3.) Reggie Nelson trying to push Justin Gage out of bounds as Gage completed a 56-yard touchdown reception. 4.) Brad Meester hitting himself between the legs with a snap from center against the Vikings.

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