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More linemen needed

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

Gabe from Jacksonville:
Was the field wet? Scobee slipped on his plant foot. On the first fumble it looked as though Monroe lost his footing, which allowed the hit. The Niners had a couple of plays where a Jags corner or wide receiver slipped and busted the play. Coincidences?

Vic: Candlestick Park is built next to the water at sea level and, as a result, its turf is always soggy and slippery at this time of year, as the sun begins to set low in the sky. Coach Del Rio called it last week. He knows the turf condition in San Francisco and he warned his players about it, but experience is always the best teacher. If the Jags were playing there this week, I have no doubt more players would be electing to wear seven-stud shoes.

Jim from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
It is comforting to know the brilliant minds of football that continue to say a quarterback has to be 6-4 or taller to be successful in the NFL have never watched Drew Brees.

Vic: He was the 32nd overall pick of the 2001 NFL draft, franchise-tagged by the Chargers and signed to a big free-agent contract by the Saints. Clearly, Brees hasn't been discriminated against due to his lack of height. What's your point?

Marty from Reseda, IN:
Once upon a time, when you actually enjoyed pro football, didn't you experience the highs and lows that come with being a fan? Your advice to fans is always to remain monotonous, robotic and unaffected as possible. Do you think it's really more fun to be a fan that way? Or is it just a case of misery wanting company?

Vic: That hasn't been my advice at all and, of course, you know that. My advice has always been to love and enjoy the game, but to also control your emotions so that you don't embarrass yourself, as you have by misrepresenting the facts for the purpose of enabling your obvious lack of emotional control.

Daniel from Honolulu, HI:
I hope you had time to see the Stanford game this weekend. What a joy to watch them play real football, not that spread formation crap. I'd like to see that RB in a Jaguars uniform next season.

Vic: I watched from a delightful perch across the street from the hotel, as I visited with one of my college roommates. Toby Gerhart is fun to watch. Does he have the feet for the pro game? That's the only question I have about him.

Jim from Jacksonville:
On Sunday, Garrard was hit hard and pulled down after he was out of bounds. Del Rio was fuming. Was a penalty not called because the Jaguars had a holding penalty called?

Vic: In my opinion, a penalty was not called because it appeared Justin Smith let go of David Garrard's jersey before Garrard went to the ground. You wanna hear something amazing? The Jaguars have not been flagged for a defensive pass-interference penalty all season. Is that unbelievable or what? I've seen teams get hit with two or three in one series.

Jack from Jacksonville:
Give us your best Bobby Bowden story.

Vic: I only have one story because I've never covered Bowden's teams at Florida State. My story is about a walk-on kicker named Bill McKenzie, who may be responsible for Bowden's success at Florida State. Huh? Yeah, McKenzie was the kicker in 1975 that kicked the game-winner on the final play of West Virginia's win over Pitt. Bowden has often said it may be the most important win of his coaching career because it's possible he would not have gotten the Florida State job had he lost that game. The win allowed West Virginia to get a bid to the Peach Bowl, where it beat Lou Holtz and North Carolina State. Bowden became the Florida State head coach and West Virginia went on to have four consecutive losing seasons. The cupboard was bare and Bobby knew it was time to get out. He sure landed in the right place. "A lot of times the Florida writers will ask me to tell them what my favorite games of my life have been and I always mention the West Virginia-Pitt game of 1975," Bowden has said. "That was one of the most exciting games. Number one, it was my birthday. Number two, my son Tommy caught several key passes in that game, and then McKenzie kicked that field goal as time ran out. That was always one of the most exciting games I've ever been around." He's a great coach. He should've been allowed to leave on his terms.

Jeff from Westminster, CO:
Tom Brady has certainly earned his place in the Hall of Fame. This year, however, he does not look as good as Manning or Brees. How would you rank the top five quarterbacks by their performance this season?

Vic: Can we wait until the postseason, please? That's when you find out who the top quarterbacks are.

Jim from Jacksonville:
You said the Patriots were getting old. I thought they were collecting a lot of draft picks each year, which I would think would eliminate that. What do you think happened?

Vic: Their recent drafts haven't been nearly as strong as the drafts that originally built the Patriots into champions. Their last impressive draft was in 2005.

Ancil from Charleston, WV:
I think it's time the NFL had a written policy on resuming play following a concussion. I think Hines Ward was expressing the traditional view that players lie about their symptoms in order to take the field, but as old-school as I know you are, how do you think the NFL should handle players who suffer concussions during a game?

Vic: Leave it to the doctors and the players. They'll figure it out.

Allen from St. Clairsville, OH:
I'm thinking of trying to get tickets to the Cleveland game but have never been there. What do you think? My only second thought is due to the bottle-throwing incident years ago.

Vic: You'll be fine, as long as you don't get silly. Cleveland is a great football town with a dynamite stadium. Maybe we'll get some lake-effect snow to complete the atmosphere.

Kamen from Hawthorne, NY:
Playoffs or not, the thing I'm most looking forward to is next year's draft. What would you say are the top four or five positions that need to be addressed in the next draft?

Vic: The Jags need more linemen, on both sides of the ball. I would see that as their top priority.

Aqeel from Toronto, Canada:
When this season began, my friend, who is a Packers fan, asked me what I thought of the Jags this year. I replied that it's a rebuilding year so I would be happy with 8-8 after last year. To me, they are right in line with that expectation, if not exceeding it. The fact that games actually matter in December is a bonus. I think fans should also be thankful for all of the other things that are different this December, such as no suspensions, no players and coaches feuding and a team that has so far won at home.

Vic: This Sunday, in the first week of December, the Jaguars will play a high-stakes game that could decide the final playoff spot in the AFC. I never expected that would happen and I am most thankful for it. Yeah, this is December. This is my favorite month. This is when we find out which team has what it takes to get hot and get on a roll for the postseason. This is real football from here on out.

Lee from Jacksonville:
So what is the solution to the defensive scheme (using the MLB to spy on Maurice Jones-Drew) that has been used against the Jags in the last two games?

Vic: It's called keying on a runner and it's been done for as long as I can remember. When you have a featured back, the defense is going to key on him. That's why play-action is so effective for teams that have strong running games and feature backs. You beat keying several ways, from the simple act of blocking it and defeating it physically at the point of attack, to out-scheming it with misdirection and various formations, including an unbalanced line. It didn't work against the Jaguars the last two weeks due to scheme, it worked because the Jaguars got physically beat inside.

Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL:
Why did Andre Johnson's touchdown get overturned? He had two feet down in the end zone when he was still upright and had full possession and control of the ball at that point in time. I thought two feet down and possession is a touchdown. Why did the referee make such a call?

Vic: I don't know for sure because I wasn't there. What I can tell you is that a receiver catching a pass while in the act of falling to the ground, which it appears Johnson was doing, must control the ball through contact with the ground, which Johnson did not.

Andy from Jacksonville:
A week-long primetime showing of "Christmas Vacation" on AMC; Vic, does it get any better?

Vic: I saw that last night and I started to laugh. They really need to coax Chevy Chase out of mothballs and do another sequel. "Christmas Vacation II: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure," which did not include Chase, is an insult.

Dave from Boston, MA:
After years and years of sitting and watching, I think it's safe to say you have an incredible feel for the game. You often know when upsets are coming and when powerhouses aren't all they're cracked up to be. If you were to bet (I don't know if you do) on every NFL game for a season, I'm betting you would break even and net a sizable profit.

Vic: In my previous life as a newspaper man, I did a Friday picks column. I picked every game in the league for that week against the spread, which meant I picked against the spread for every game in the whole season. At the end of the year, my record was always just a few games over .500. It's a really tough thing to do.

Duran from Rapid City, SD:
I just read something that might make you chuckle. It was a fan saying he doesn't go to games anymore because he doesn't like the security and doesn't like getting patted down. We are doomed.

Vic: That's a new one: Blame it on 9-11. I'll put that in the excuses vault.

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