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Much has changed about the AFC

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

Dan from St. Augustine, FL:
I think the Jags are a cold-weather team. They always seem to play better in the elements.

Vic: It was not cold. Trust me, I was there. It was in the mid-40's and the wind was light in an enclosed stadium. It was perfect football weather. Anybody who thinks that was a cold day needs a rocking chair and a shawl.

Beau from Burlington, NJ:
You should be proud of how passionate your readers are. It seems like people either hate you with passion or like you with passion. It must make you laugh to know someone took five minutes of their day to tell you how much they dislike you.

Vic: Tomorrow is pay day.

Derrick from Jacksonville:
Jones-Drew is the best RB in the league at picking up blitzes. Your thoughts?

Vic: He takes pride in it and that's why he was upset that he missed the block that allowed David Garrard to be sacked in the pass-pass-sack series in the fourth quarter. Jones-Drew was so upset about his missed block that he made a point of throwing a key block in Garrard's quarterback draw run for a first down later in the quarter.

Corey from Austin, TX:
Your description of Cutler sounded a lot like a young David Garrard. Do you think Cutler will develop similarly to Garrard?

Vic: I don't see the comparison. Cutler isn't nearly as athletic or as physical as Garrard. Cutler is a pure pocket passer. He's one of those guys who truly has to master all that crap Ron Jaworski talks about. Based on what I saw on Sunday, Cutler has a long way to go. He does not appear to be a savvy quarterback.

Rob from Melbourne, FL:
Garrard was definitely on against the Broncos. He seemed to look more comfortable in the pocket than he did against the Steelers. Against the Steelers it looked like he was trying to guide his passes as if he were playing darts. Against the Broncos, however, his throwing motion was complete and fluid. Did you notice the same thing?

Vic: I really didn't but I'll take your word for it. Do you think it might have something to do with the fact that the Steelers have the number two defense in the league and the Broncos have the number 30, or that the Steelers are number two in the league in sacks per pass play and the Broncos are number 23? Against which defense would you feel more fluid?

Dan from Orlando, FL:
What is your time off schedule? You seem to work Monday-Friday and Sunday. Thanks for all that you contribute.

Vic: Don't forget Saturday, baby. I'm on the clock in the hotel on Saturdays, too. My union takes care of that. As for the bye week, I'm going to take Wednesday-Friday off, but I'll work extra hard today and leave you with something for tomorrow. The union says I shouldn't do that but I like you guys.

Nathan from Rogers, AR:
Can you explain the "Tuck Rule?"

Vic: If the player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional movement forward of the hand starts a forward pass and it remains a pass until he tucks the ball back into his body or re-cocks his arm.

Kevin from Festus, MO:
Do teams need to start adjusting even further on defense? With the obvious advantages moving offenses forward, is it really possible to protect a lead of seven points or fewer in the closing minutes of a game?

Vic: You make a very good point. The proliferation of offense in the NFL, as stimulated by the league itself, is such that defenses have been handcuffed by rules that are tilted in the favor of offense. In my opinion, it's nearly impossible to play pass-defense because the officials won't allow you to do it. Defensive coordinators only have one outlet for their frustration: Sack the quarterback. That's the one the league can't legislate against. Quarterbacks still can't complete passes while lying on their backs. That's why even today, the quarterback must go down and the quarterback must go down hard. It is the essence of defense. It's the only defense against the league that defense has. Sack him. Sack "The Man." He's the trophy.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
What do the eight stars on the league's logo signify?

Vic: The eight stars on the NFL shield represent the league's eight divisions.

David from Jacksonville:
Is there anything stopping the Jaguars from going 3-0 in the next three games?

Vic: Ask the Giants.

Sam from Orlando, FL:
You said a few weeks ago we needed four wins before the bye to have a decent shot at the playoffs. Well, we have three. Has anything changed?

Vic: It was more than a few weeks ago and I think I said the Jaguars needed four wins by the bye week to be a legitimate division title contender. I could be wrong – I'm not going to go to the bother of looking it up – but I think my emphasis was on winning a division title. Anyhow, has anything changed? Yeah, you bet something has changed. The AFC has gone soft. Tom Brady is gone for the season. The Colts and Patriots are 3-2. The Chargers and Jaguars are 3-3. Those were the four AFC preseason favorites and they have a combined record of 12-10. At 3-3, the Jaguars are a legitimate playoff contender. I don't think you can say the same about them in the division title race.

Jordan from Riverside, CA:
The Colts just acknowledged that Peyton Manning had a second knee surgery. Why would they keep it a secret? To protect him or to justify to the public that they were putting him in the game?

Vic: I don't know the answers to those questions; you'd have to ask them. I don't, however, like that kind of subterfuge, for the obvious reason that I'm a reporter and I intensely dislike hiding news. I think the fans deserve to know. I think every fan who plopped down a lot of green to buy a Peyton Manning jersey deserves to know what his status was for the start of the season. I think every fan who pours his heart and soul into every NFL season deserves to know the truth.

Dave from Jacksonville:
Is it just me or do you think Dennis Northcutt makes a huge difference in the passing game?

Vic: He made a difference. It wasn't huge but it was significant. I like him as a receiver, but I think he has to be used in the manner for which he was originally signed, which is to say a number three or slot receiver.

Nathan from Richmond, VA:
You mentioned in your blog that Mike Shanahan was using formations and motion to keep the Jacksonville defense out of "cover two." I tried looking this up but I couldn't find anything that explained it very well. Can you elaborate?

Vic: He made them play "nickel" and sub packages by using three-wide and one tight end, four-wide, five-wide, bunch formations, etc. In the process, I think he opened the running lanes, which allowed Michael Pittman to rush for 109 yards. I also think he confused his quarterback. Cutler just isn't ready for crowded passing lanes, yet. He had receivers running wide open and never saw them. I think all those people running around in the secondary were a blur to him.

Steven from Albuquerque, NM:
I was at the game in Denver on Sunday and was reminded how awesome of a stadium Invesco is. So, I was wondering out of all the stadiums you've visited, which one do you like the most?

Vic: I've answered this question several times. I like nearly all of the new ones. They're fantastic and Invesco is one of them. I really, really like it. I feel as though I'm sitting in a remodeled Mile High Stadium and that's what I like the most.

Marion from St. Augustine, FL:
Please clarify something for me regarding defensive pass interference rules. I was under the impression that a defensive player can not raise his arms to deflect a ball unless he turns his head and actually makes a play for the ball. Is this a college rule or a change in the NFL ruling that has come about?

Vic: What you're describing is called "faceguarding" and it is permitted in the NFL. I repeat, there is no penalty for faceguarding in the NFL, though I doubt I could convince Ellis Hobbs of that fact.

Diamond from Tallahassee, FL:
Six-year, $30 million contract and he's not a major part of your plans? In training camp you said Jerry Porter was the best wide receiver we had by far, and I agree. Help me understand how he suddenly fell out of favor with Jack Del Rio.

Vic: It wasn't training camp, it was early in spring OTAs that I said Jerry Porter was the best receiver on the field. Then he injured his hamstring, underwent surgery on it in July and missed all of training camp. Apparently he's not fully healed yet.

Jonathan from Minneapolis, MN:
Why do you think Matt Ryan has a natural feel for the game?

Vic: If you don't know the answer to that question, I'm not sure I can explain it. Did you see the pass that set up the field goal? Do you think it's just a coincidence that he found the open receiver, put the ball in a place so the receiver could make the catch, get two feet down and go out of bounds to stop the clock? Do you think it was just a coincidence that he was able to do all of that and still have a second left on the clock? All of that is what defines a player's feel for the game. He feels the field and the players on it. He just knows where everybody is and what to do. He even has a body clock that regulates his movements. What about Roethlisberger? Do you think he showed some feel for the game on that third-and-18 pass to Hines Ward? Why is it some guys just keep getting it done and some guys never do? You play video games, don't you?

William from Jacksonville:
Since we all know the esteemed Mrs. K will ship you out at some point, will you be hanging with Snoop or Jenny during the well-earned bye weekend?

Vic: I will be hanging with a lot of men of similarly advanced years, all of whom will be playing in an esteemed member-guest golf tournament that encourages cigar smoking and other such-related guy things. The practice rounds begin tomorrow afternoon and the tournament begins on Thursday. I am tingling with a kind of excitement I haven't felt since my First Holy Communion.

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