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Need a little couch time

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

Craig from Albany, GA:
I love your column! Technology is at the level where we could make a game-day decision regarding a blackout. I know you aren't a technical guy (understatement), but why is the game blacked out so early in the week? The NFL can't keep up with the tech guys?

Vic: Just buy a ticket. That's the purpose of the 72-hour rule; so the blackout has enough time to sink in and stimulate ticket sales. Somewhere along the line fans forgot that the foundation on which professional sports is built is ticket sales. All other forms of revenue followed. The owners want you to buy a ticket. They'll let you see it for free on TV, but only after all of the tickets are sold. It's not about trying to find a way to give the product away. It's about sales. It's professional football.

Frank from Middlesex, NJ:
You never seem to answer my questions and I believe they're better than some of the other questions that you've answered a thousand times. My question is this: I see Byron and the offense getting a lot of heat, which to some degree is understandable, but I don't see the offensive couch getting any. I've seen both games and it seems to me they are executing a lot of their plays but they're just bad calls that don't put us past the first-down marker. Shouldn't the offensive couch have some of the blame, and do you think couch Del Rio is looking at the offensive couch at all for answers?

Vic: Please don't get mad at me, Frank, but the "couch" just struck me funny and I had to use your question. I've gone hurricane goofy and I guess I needed a good laugh.

Matt from Orlando, FL:
I couldn't be any happier about this win over the Titans. It seems as if so far everything you have said to look for has come true. I was curious as to how many times the Jags have had a 3-0 start, and how have they finished their seasons with that good of a start?

Vic: The Jaguars were 3-0 on two other occasions. In 1997 they lost to Denver in the wild card round of the playoffs, and in 1998, after getting off to a 5-0 start, the Jaguars won their first division title and made it to the divisional playoff round before losing to the Jets.

Elliott from Jacksonville:
Have the Jaguars ever beaten the Titans or Oilers in their home stadiums before?

Vic: The Jaguars scored the franchise's first-ever win in Houston on Oct. 1, 1995. They won in Houston the following year, too, and in Memphis in '97 and in Nashville at Vanderbilt in '98. All of those wins were against the Oilers. The Jaguars had never beaten the Titans in Nashville since the franchise was re-named and it moved into The Coliseum, until yesterday.

Tony from Jacksonville:
Leftwich is now 8-8 in his first full year at the helm. It's great seeing come-from-behind wins, but why doesn't our offensive coordinator put him in the shotgun more when he's struggling?

Vic: The shotgun is a good change-of-pace formation and it's especially suited for when a team has to throw the football. You're not going to sell a defense on play-action at that point, so why try? But the shotgun is not a good formation out of which to run the ball. It can be done and a lot of teams do it, but you're talking about a lot of delay stuff that is built on finesse, and when you're running the ball with finesse, you're not really running the ball. When did the Jaguars offense come to life in Tennessee? When they started to run the ball. Fred Taylor gained nine and 25 yards on consecutive plays, then LaBrandon Toefield replaced Taylor and gained 15 up the middle. The Jaguars rushed for 34 yards in the first half, then exploded for 102 yards in the second half. They seized control of the line of scrimmage. They became the physically dominant team. That's when the game changed. You can't do that out of the shotgun.

Jon from Ocala, FL:
I didn't get to see the game due to hurricane coverage, so how did the Jags' pass-rush do without Paul Spicer?

Vic: The Jaguars sacked Steve McNair three times for 13 yards lost, so, obviously the Jaguars were able to affect the quarterback without Paul Spicer. But they didn't do as well against the run without Spicer. They missed him.

John from Washington, DC:
No one likes to see injuries on the field for either team, but it sure does look like the Jaguars frequently inflict some serious hurting on their opponents. The Titans started dropping like flies in the second half. Do the Jags have a reputation for hitting hard and, if so, is it seen as a positive or looked down upon like Denver's chop-blocking tendencies?

Vic: Physical play is a definite positive. Winning football is built on physical superiority and the Jaguars are playing a physically superior brand of football under Jack Del Rio. Once upon a time, the Titans played that kind of football. I didn't hear any complaints about the Titans then, and I'm not hearing any complaints about the Jaguars now.

Rainer from Charlotte, NC:
What do you think it will take to get the Jacksonville offense to score consistently throughout the game? Will it happen soon?

Vic: It will not happen soon. It will take time. This is a team with a young quarterback who is learning to play the game. He will require more learning.

Chris from Pass Christian, MS:
What do you think is the reason we move the ball so well late and in pressure situations. Is it that this team now has the heart of a champion, or is it something else?

Vic: The Jaguars really didn't move the ball well late in the Denver game. As for the rally in Buffalo, it was built on that 45-yard "Hail Mary" pass to Jimmy Smith, so I'm not inclined to bang the drum about that drive. But the two touchdown drives in Tennessee on Sunday offer distinct evidence of two reasons for the Jaguars' success: A running game that came to life and a passing game that benefited from that running game. In the first touchdown drive, the Jaguars faced only one third-down play, which resulted in a touchdown pass from Byron Leftwich to George Wrighster. In the game-winning touchdown drive, the Jaguars converted two third-down plays (and a fourth-and-one), but only one of them involved long yardage. The Jaguars offense came to life late in the third quarter because it all of a sudden stopped facing third and long, and that is directly attributable to the running game.

Lane from Orlando, FL:
I was curious about where Buffalo, Denver and Tennessee rank in total defense after three weeks. Maybe the offense isn't that bad and we're just going up against good defenses?

Vic: Buffalo is fourth, Denver is second and Tennessee is 12th.

Mickey from Jacksonville:
What happened during halftime? What switch was turned on that made Leftwich look more like a veteran QB, versus the rookie he looked like in the first half?

Vic: My information is that the Jaguars made some key adjustments.

Rodderick from Jacksonville:
Can you post Jack from Nashville's e-mail address from the 9/23 "Ask Vic" column? I just want to help deliver the crow.

Vic: I had a nice conversation with Jack on Sunday. He found me after the game and told me how wrong he had been about the Jaguars. He said the Jaguars were a powerful team and might go all the way. Jack is really a good guy.

Justin from Jacksonville:
Do you think Sunday's game against the Colts will be a sellout?

Vic: It doesn't get any bigger or better than this. I'll be disappointed if Alltel Stadium isn't full on Sunday.

John from Jacksonville:
For those of us who are too lazy to look up the stats, would you mind telling us where the Colts ranks in total offense and defense, as well as the Jags?

Vic: I wouldn't mind at all. The Colts offense is second and the Jaguars defense is eighth. Hmmm, that should make for an interesting matchup. The Colts are dead last in defense and the Jaguars are dead last in offense. Hmmm, interesting matchup there, too.

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