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Making sense of Friday night

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Jodi from Fleming Island, FL:
Looking at our punting stats last year, we gave up an incredibly small amount of punt-return yards. This year our special teams look even better than last. Can special teams play make a difference this year in the win-loss column?

Vic: It can if you make big plays in the return game. That's where the Jaguars concentrated their special teams efforts in the offseason and, based on the preseason opener, they may have struck gold in sixth-round draft picks Deji Karim and Scotty McGee. They were fantastic in the return game against the Eagles and if they can play all season as they did in game one of the preseason, they will clearly make a difference in the Jaguars' ultimate fate. Where are the people now that complained about taking return men in the sixth round?

Seth from Ocala, FL:
Well, it looks like we still have a ways to go before the Jags are where they need to be.

Vic: Of course they have a ways to go. For starters, it's game one of the preseason. Secondly, it's year two of rebuilding. Please tell me you didn't expect to see a finished product against the Eagles.

Kevin from St. Augustine, FL:
Vic, someone looked very Brady-like on Friday night and it wasn't Garrard. I think McCown has the physique, smarts, accuracy and arm to be the starter for the Jags. Garrard looked confused. Example: screen pass he threw out of bounds. He could have tucked and run with it. He is forcing himself to try and be a gunslinger and he is not. He never leaves the pocket.

Vic: You don't want your starting quarterback leaving the pocket and subjecting himself to physical abuse because a screen pass was sniffed out by the defense in the first quarter of the first preseason game of the year.

Mark from Daytona, FL:
I'm trying to support our starting QB, but when our backup throws three great balls that our starter has trouble doing in the course of a whole year, I start to lose hope in our number one.

Vic: I know, it's tough to extend that support beyond the first quarter of the first preseason game of the year. The frustration builds and you can only take so much before you explode. Based on what happened Friday night, I think Jack Del Rio needs to abandon all of the work this team put into the offseason and its plans for 2010 and start over. It's the logical thing to do.

Jarrett from Jacksonville:
McCown put up nice numbers when he got a chance to play a handful of games in 2007. What is it about him that says he's not starting material?

Vic: My guess is that Luke has yet to convince anyone that he can consistently perform at the peak of his potential. There's no doubting his talent. He'll make an eye-popping throw in practice, and then he'll make a throw that makes you want to close your eyes. Friday night, he was eye-popping. He'll have more opportunities and if he continues to play at a high level, his stock will rise.

Doug from Jacksonville:
Just curious if McCown could start in a preseason game to see how he matches up against the number one defense.

Vic: I like the way you think. Playing against the ones is a lot different than playing against the reserves. Joselio Hanson and Macho Harris sure ain't Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs. Yeah, there's a chance coach Del Rio would want to see McCown get some time with the ones, but David Garrard is this team's starting quarterback and a coach has to be careful about sending signals that might sabotage his starter's status among his teammates. You need a quarterback who is the unchallenged leader of the team. You don't treat this position as you treat others.

Brady from Richmond, VA:
Well, what I got from game one of the preseason was we cannot move the ball or stop the ball, so it's pretty much gonna be a long season. What do you think?

Vic: I think the Jaguars uncovered a lot of weapons. Troy Williamson and Tiquan Underwood caught the home-run balls. Zach Miller made a nice catch in traffic and I think there's a chance he could turn out to be this team's best weapon in the passing game. Rashad Jennings has hands like Lenny Moore and Ronnie Harmon. I think Jennings could become a big-time pass-catcher out of the backfield. How about those two return guys? They averaged 38.3 and 34.7 in kickoff returns. Maurice Jones-Drew rushed twice for no yards and Mike Sims-Walker caught one pass for two yards. Stir in what those two guys can do and I think the Jaguars really have something going for them on offense.

Sid from Pittsburgh, PA:
How would you grade the Jags' first preseason game?

Vic: An overall grade doesn't work for preseason games because they are almost always two games. The Jaguars were dominated in the first game but won the second game. The first game is the more important of the two so the overall feeling is one of disappointment.

Jake from Pittsburgh, PA:
A lot of articles I've read on the AFC South seem to have the Jaguars securely holding the fourth spot in the division and close to the bottom of the entire NFL, yet, I have some sense of optimism and hope about this season. Do you feel the same way or is this just wasted energy?

Vic: What I feel for the Jaguars is a sense of satisfaction that the roster is in ascent. As long as it stays that way, I know winning is in the team's future. I can't predict when that'll happen, but I know it will happen, just as I knew losing was in this team's future a few years ago, when I looked at the roster and saw old players in decline.

Renee from Freehold, NJ:
Let's just forget about the haircut for a moment and work on getting you a new suit. Are you serious?

Vic: It is what it is.

Mike from Gallitzin, PA:
You were absolutely right, Vic. Tim Tebow successfully changed his throwing motion in preparation for his pro day. Last night showed that, when under pressure, Tebow will revert back to his old motion.

Vic: It is what it is.

Ryan from Chamberlain, SD:
I watched the Jags-Eagles game on and through your amazing game blog. Thank you so much for your coverage of the game. Also, was Luke McCown's performance the best in Jaguars preseason history like you thought?

Vic: Yes, it was.

Luis from San Juan, PR:
What's your opinion on the pass-rush?

Vic: It wasn't very good on Friday, but it was without Aaron Kampman and Tyson Alualu. Those two players and rookie Larry Hart represent the hope for a better pass-rush in 2010 and I thought Hart gave some indications on Friday of his pass-rush potential. He also showed me some things in Atlanta I liked. Hart is a player on the rise. Alualu is the guy I wanna see play now. I know what Kampman can do. Alualu is the lynchpin of whatever improvement the Jaguars will make on defense this year. He's the disruptive, play-making defensive tackle they need in that three-technique position.

Lee from Jacksonville:
Peyton Manning's pick-six didn't cost the Colts the Super Bowl. Interceptions happen now and then. Poor offensive line play and special teams was the reason. Bill Polian said so.

Vic: I knew that. It's never Peyton's fault. It's always somebody else's.

Brian from Jacksonville:
What can we take seriously from Friday night's game against the Eagles?

Vic: You have to have a feel for the preseason to know how to apply it. The one thing you absolutely don't do is to put any stock in the stats. If you really want to go to the trouble of analyzing preseason games, you have to look hard at the tapes and judge each player independently. A good throw is a good throw, even if it's dropped, and a bad throw is a bad throw, even if it's caught. David Garrard made a couple of what should've been drive-sustaining throws and they were dropped. Who knows what those drives would've produced had those passes not been dropped? On the one, he was hit as he threw. Hey, wasn't that one of the focuses of the offseason, to keep him from getting hit? Well, if Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton had been in the game, he probably wouldn't have been hit. In other words, to analyze these games accurately, you have to be objective, and I'm not getting that from the e-mails I've received. What I'm getting are e-mails from people with a bias and they're using the stats to support their bias.

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