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Make that number 23

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

Howie from St. Augustine, FL:
Although I am in complete agreement as to the time of possession and keep Manning off the field philosophy, I am concerned about the Colts' improved defense. If they improve on takeaways and scoring it would seem the Jags are in store for an uphill battle. What do you think about the Colts defense?

Vic: I don't know what to make of it. Other than for Corey Simon, who isn't in top playing condition, yet, they didn't significantly upgrade their personnel. Their head coach, however, is a defensive genius. Aside from being one of the finest men I've ever known, Tony Dungy is one of the game's brightest minds. He's a patient guy who commits to the development of young talent, and that's probably what we're seeing on defense right now. The Colts will probably be better on defense this year because they will have had another year of Dungy's coaching behind them. I still don't think the Colts will join the upper ranks of NFL defensive units.

Anthony from Greensburg, PA:
You said the Jags took the idea from the Pats to beat the Colts by using time of possession, well, why didn't the Ravens use that idea to beat the Colts in week one?

Vic: Having an idea is a lot different from executing an idea. Defenses are able to load up against the Ravens' running game because defenses don't fear the Ravens' passing game. If you're going to run the ball, you have to present some kind of threat in the passing game. For teams that want to run the ball, the best threat in the passing game is the threat to strike deep. That's what backs off defenses; the long ball. The Ravens certainly have the running back to pound the ball, but they had the 31st-ranked passing attack in the league last season, and it's tough to run the ball when you don't pose a threat to do anything else. By the way, I didn't say the Patriots invented time of possession. Let's not give Bill Belichick credit for that, too.

Bob from St. Augustine, FL:
Do receivers make a QB or does the QB make the receivers? Why is it that the receivers for the top-rated quarterbacks always seem to find a way to get open?

Vic: That's one of those chicken-or-the-egg questions. I can tell you that Bradshaw became a much better quarterback after he got Swann and Stallworth, and that Mark Brunell didn't reach his highest level until Jimmy Smith emerged late in the 1996 season. Clearly, quarterbacks and receivers work hand in hand to achieve success, but if you made me choose between a star quarterback and a star wide receiver, I would, without hesitation, take the quarterback. Star quarterbacks are at a premium. Wide receivers are a dime a dozen.

Phillip from Monticello, AR:
Who do you think the best fit at quarterback is for the Washington Redskins, short-term and long-term?

Vic: I don't cover the Redskins and I don't know who the best fit is for now, but I can tell you who the man is for the future. When you draft a guy in the first round, he's the man. I expect Jason Campbell to become the Redskins' starting quarterback at some point this season or for the start of next season. What happened in San Diego is a lone exception.

Jay from Oviedo, FL:
I thought in one of your earlier "Ask Vic" columns, you had mentioned that prior to a game the officials would be on the field to prevent the visiting team from defacing the home team's logo at the 50-yard line by jumping up and down on it and otherwise taunting the home team and the fans in attendance. It's a disgrace to see grown men act so childish. What is the penalty the zebras are supposed to impose if this happens?

Vic: You read wrong. The following appeared on on Aug. 5: "Players engaging in pregame fights will be ejected. The officials are on the field 50 minutes prior to kickoff to observe pregame conduct. Stomping on field logos during the pregame was not addressed by the league." That information was provided to reporters by referee Ed Hochuli, following his meeting with Jacksonville reporters during this year's training camp.

Nick from Jacksonville:
Last week, one of the defensive linemen gave Byron a number that they would have to score over to win the game. The idea was that the defense would keep the Seahawks under that number. What is that number this week, in your opinion, against Indy.

Vic: Seventeen points has long been the goal of NFL defenses. Hold the other team to 17 points and you should win the game. Last year, the Jaguars were 7-1 when they held their opponent to 17 or fewer points. Against the Colts, a team that averaged 32.65 points per game last season, I think you should adjust your goal a little higher. I'll say 23. If the Jaguars hold the Colts to 23 or fewer points, the defense will have done its job and the burden of victory should fall on the offense.

Rich from St. Augustine, FL:
I know the NFL is a copycat league and no one is doing this now, but why can't someone come out with a split, two-back set like they did in the 1960's?

Vic: Even in "split backs," which was still being run in the 1970's, one of the two backs was a better blocker than he was a runner and the other one was a featured runner whose blocking skills were ordinary. The way backs are used today is more specialized. Instead of a good blocker who's a decent runner, the second back is a great blocker who's usually a poor runner, and the featured back is a great runner who probably couldn't block a toilet seat. I liked "split backs," too, but an offensive coordinator friend of mine once said to me: When I wanna gain 4.2 yards, I'll give it to the featured back, and when I wanna gain 3.2 yards, I'll give it to the other guy. When would you rather gain 3.2 yards instead of 4.2?

John from Jacksonville:
I noticed on this week's injury report that the Colts have 15 players listed and the Jaguars have three. Are teams allowed to be less than truthful with the injury report to fake out the opponent? Or did the Ravens really take it to the Colts that badly?

Vic: I think coaches can always be expected to be less than forthcoming about their injury reports, but playing against physical teams such as the Ravens will lengthen your injury report.

Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
How do the Jags calculate their attendance figures? Do all NFL teams calculate their attendance the same?

Vic: The Jaguars are one of 31 teams in the league that report tickets distributed. The Steelers report turnstile count or actual attendance.

Adam from Bremerton, WA:
I think it's safe to say the Jaguars are an underrated team that rarely gets a lot of press coverage. How much would a win over Indy this weekend change that?

Vic: A win in Indianapolis would make the Jaguars the league's hot team. They would jump to the top of everyone's power rankings and next week would be dedicated to building the Jaguars up for a great fall. Isn't that the way it works?

Pat from Orange Park, FL:
If a "nickel" defense has five defensive backs, what is the "dime?" Does it have five defensive backs and five linebackers?

Vic: The following is from the "Defense 101" series I did a year ago: "Dime—A sixth defensive back joins one linebacker, usually the middle linebacker, and four down linemen. There's no significance to the name 'dime' other than it is the next denomination of currency available. When is the 'dime defense' used? When down and distance makes it nearly certain a pass will be ordered. 'Dime' is used in that down-and-distance circumstance against three and four-wide receiver sets." You might want to read "Defense 101" in our archives.

Gary from Powder Springs, GA:
We all talk about attendance and how we local Jags fans should step up and buy tickets, but why did Houston lose its team? I was looking back through the Jags' past seasons and saw the Oilers game in 1996 with only 20,000 fans. What is the difference between then and now?

Vic: Reliant Stadium is the difference. The Oilers left Houston because Houston wouldn't build the Oilers a new stadium. After the Oilers left, Houston decided it wanted an NFL team.

Steve from Jacksonville:
When does the final injury report come out? I noticed that Roethlisberger was downgraded on the latest injury report for Sunday. Also, can a player be listed as "out" during the week, then be upgraded on the final injury report to enable him to play?

Vic: The first injury report is presented on Wednesday and it's updated each day through Saturday. Players are often upgraded or downgraded, but to go from "out" on Wednesday to "probable" on Saturday would probably get the commissioner's attention.

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