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Never dispute Elias

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

Mike from Jacksonville:
I want to see Del Rio get more animated and call out his players after a performance like Sunday. Light a fire under them. It seems that after a performance like Sunday's or the ones against the Seahawks and 49ers, we just hear the same old platitudes. I know Del Rio is no Ditka, but Jones-Drew did more to motivate the team this year than Del Rio. What can Jack do to motivate and focus this team?

Vic: You're asking the wrong guy because I'm not into that rah-rah crap. I'm into guys doing their jobs. I'm into guys who are motivated from within. It's the only kind of motivation that lasts. That rah-rah stuff only lasts until the first time you get knocked on your wallet. The real motivation, the kind you need at the end of a drive, when you're tired and there's no time for a pep talk, comes from deep inside you. Chuck Noll hated the rah-rah. Rookies would join the team and shout encouragement from the bench because they thought that's what they were supposed to do, and Noll would turn and say, "Hey, we don't do that here." Noll wanted all of his players to focus solely on doing their jobs, not leading cheers. When I look down at a sideline and see a lot of rah-rah coaches getting emotionally involved in the game, I know that's a staff out of control. I wanna see composure. I wanna see a focused involvement in the game, not a lot of gyrations that do nothing more than entertain the fans. On this subject, we greatly disagree. I don't need the sideline show and I sure don't need players celebrating a pass completion. Just do your job. Pep talks and fiery speeches are meaningless. Mike Tomlin said, "We will unleash hell here in December," and the fans loved it. What did they get? A team that looks like hell. Just win, baby.

Justin from Jacksonville:
Was the Jags offense that bad or the Dolphins defense that good?

Vic: The Dolphins won up front on both sides of the ball, but the Jags defensive line more than held its own in the second half. I give the defensive staff credit for having made successful halftime adjustments. They tightened the front and played cover two behind it and the Dolphins didn't adjust to the change until late in the game when they were trying to run out the clock and started running outside. Offensively, the Jaguars had a bad day. I don't know why but I think it was shared by all positions. Maybe the Dolphins defense is that good. I know it's better than its ranking, which was damaged beyond repair early in the season.

Jeremy from Oceanside, NY:
With the Colts clinching homefield advantage, how long do you think Peyton Manning will play on Thursday?

Vic: Jim Caldwell said he won't rest his players. He said he's going to treat this game as any other. Frankly, that surprises me. I wouldn't do it that way. I'd get Manning and as many starters as possible on the bench at halftime. What more do the Colts have to accomplish or prove? For them, this season is all about the postseason now. In my mind, the Super Bowl is everything. I could care less about an undefeated season. You play to win the Super Bowl.

James from Orange Park, FL:
What is your prediction on how the Colts' arrow is pointing?

Vic: I don't know where their arrow is pointing because it can't point much higher than 13-0. What I will do is directly answer the intent of your question, which is to mock my comments of a few years ago that the Colts' arrow was pointing down. I was wrong. I made a major mistake in not foreseeing the new CBA and its impact. At the time, the Colts and several other teams were facing salary cap Armageddon, but I failed to fully comprehend what the new Total Football Revenue model under the new CBA would do and what it would mean. It shot the cap up so high that the cap became irrelevant. When is the last time you can remember a team having salary-cap problems? I'll answer the question for you: Not since the new CBA. I missed it. I didn't see it coming. It was just what the Colts needed and exactly when they needed it to keep their run of success going. I guarantee that Bill Polian didn't miss it. He saw it coming. He's very bright. The issue for the Colts now, of course, has nothing to do with the salary cap and holding the current team together. It's all about getting the most out of Peyton Manning's great career. It's all about winning the Super Bowl.

Skip from Jacksonville:
You say there should be no anger after yesterday's loss, but you act as if it was just another game. The playoffs were on the line. The game was there for the taking, but Garrard had another one of his bad games. Am I angry? Yeah, I'm angry. It's over. My wife and I have sat in those stands for 15 years. We will be there again next year. All the same lame excuses. Another 8-8 season?

Vic: Obviously, it wasn't your fault. You did all you could do, right? You're asking me to share your pain and I won't do it because it makes no sense to allow the outcome of a football game to control my emotions. Even when I was a kid and I thought the world depended on the outcomes of football and baseball games, I was still able to shake off my disappointment without becoming angry. I think the Jaguars' arrow is pointing up and good years are on the way. Maybe that'll help you cope with your misery, but I can't guarantee that, either. You may need a little Kipling: "If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same."

Carlos from Barcelona, Spain:
I was just wondering about your thoughts about that quarterback draw on the last offensive play of the game for the Jags. It was just so obvious, even I knew it was coming, as everybody else did, so why not try to misdirect the defense with this knowledge, or try something unexpected?

Vic: I didn't hear any complaints when it worked against the Steelers in the 2007 playoffs. In fact, that was the play that got David Garrard his big, new contract and the fans cheered. I didn't hear any complaints when the quarterback draw was used to beat Houston last year, even though the Texans knew it was coming and had three guys standing right in the middle of the field waiting for Garrard. The first time it doesn't work, however, everybody knew it was coming and knew it shouldn't have been called. I thought it was a good call. Hey, they had tried everything else.

Mike from St. Johns, FL:
I didn't buy a ticket to the game for Sunday because when the Jags have a full stadium, they lose. Statistically speaking, the Jaguars play much better with a quiet stadium. I wish about 20,000 of my fellow fans would've realized that and we could've destroyed the Dolphins, if only there were 40,000 instead of close to 60,000. Instead, we got more fans and the Jags lose. Just don't buy tickets, baby.

Vic: You're a funny guy but, seriously, whatever happened to that stuff about the Jaguars playing well against the good teams but playing down to the level of the bad teams? I'm still getting that question from fans. Are you kidding me? When this season is over, we'll look back on it and I have no doubt the explanation of the Jaguars' successes and failures will be very logical.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
Win or lose this Thursday, at the end of the game I'm giving these guys a standing ovation for giving us one of the most fun Jaguars seasons in history. In all likelihood, we're not going to make the playoffs, but the future is there and I'm eagerly going to be purchasing as many season tickets as I can afford to watch the fun next year.

Vic: That's one way to look at it.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I'm not going to renew my tickets until Garrard is replaced. I see absolutely no progression in Garrard and, hopefully, more fans opt out to send a message to Mr. Weaver. If you don't draft an exciting QB next season, I'm not coming next season.

Vic: That's another way to look at it.

Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
Did you see the demise of Notre Dame football coming? Do you think it is still capable of beating other programs for recruiting when it is cold, isolated, heavy on religion and academically strict?

Vic: Isolated? Where did you get that? It's an hour from Chicago and sits within one of America's great industrial megalopolises. No, I did not see Notre Dame's demise coming and I should've because I've long been aware of the impact of red-shirting, Prop 48, heightened academic standards, etc. I covered a program that had hit bottom and it was believed it was because it couldn't recruit due to a two-year language requirement. The requirement was dropped and four years later they won the national title. I don't see cold weather or religion as a problem but, yes, heightened academic standards are difficult to overcome for the reason that we usually are given brawn or brains, not both. I knew all of that but I just figured Notre Dame is the one school that could overcome it, because of its incredible advantages. If there's one guy who can overcome it, it's Brian Kelly. He's that good of a coach. We'll see.

Tim from Tucson, AZ:
I believe the reason fans are so slow to accept that players and teams get old is that the talking heads make the same mistakes on their analysis. Just pay attention to the next free agency period, when someone signs a proven star that was not re-signed. They see him for all the things he's done, rather than for the potential he has for the future.

Vic: I completely agree. I call it the "People Magazine" approach to football writing. Good football writers don't do that. Good football writers know or find out what a player's real value is and they don't use name recognition to mislead the fan.

Rob from Middleburg, FL:
You need to hedge your bets. I believe you also begged for us to draft Brady Quinn. How did that work out?

Vic: That's not true. I barely mentioned Brady Quinn's name in my pre-draft coverage in 2007 because it was generally believed Quinn would be long gone before the Jags would pick. My pre-draft coverage at the quarterback position focused on Kevin Kolb, who the Jaguars liked and offered the potential to fit where the team was drafting in the second round. It wasn't until the Jaguars were on the clock in the first round on draft day that I made mention of Quinn. He had surprisingly slipped to the bottom of round one and I was asked, on our draft-day radio show, what I thought the Jaguars should do and I said they should draft Quinn because I had no doubt he was the highest-rated player left on their board at that time. That would've been my answer for any player at any position. The Chad Henne situation was very different. It was obvious he would be available when the Jags went on the clock, and it was thought he might be available even in the second round, which he was. Henne's stock had dropped following a bad senior season due to a nagging shoulder injury, but he was a player I loved. He was a big, tough guy with a powerful arm, pro-like mobility and a Michigan pedigree. Whereas I barely mentioned Quinn in '07, I featured Henne in my pre-draft coverage in '08. Ask GM Gene. He knows.

Chris from Jacksonville:
Last week, John Clayton said in an answer to a fan's question that he had a friend who thought removing the facemask would solve the concussion problems in the NFL. So, Vic, are you the friend?

Vic: We talked about it. Do I think it'll happen? No.

Andrew from Stanley, NY:
Elias Sports Bureau and do not indicate the Jags control their destiny. They say that if the season ended today the Jags would be in. That is because there is a four-way tie for the second wild-card spot and no one has a head-to-head sweep, therefore, conference record would be the tiebreaker, which the Jags currently own. However, if the Jags win out and Miami also does, while the Jets and Ravens each lose one, then the Dolphins and Jags would be tied. The Dolphins would be in due to owning the head-to-head, therefore, saying the Jags would be in if the playoffs started tomorrow, does not mean they control their destiny.

Vic: Wrong. If the Jags and Dolphins each win-out, the Dolphins would be the AFC East champion and the Jags would be a wild card. Elias HAS, in fact, said the Jaguars control their own destiny. It's win and in, under any and all circumstances. Never dispute Elias.

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