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New-age thinking

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

Jeff from Staten Island, NY:
What if he missed it?

Vic: Then you are the butt of every joke in America for the next few days, but Josh Scobee didn't miss it and Jack Del Rio's strategy was so successful, so cutting edge that he is the toast of American sports today. His instructions to Maurice Jones-Drew to stop at the one-yard line so the Jags could make a game-winning field goal the final play of the game will be debated on every sports talk show in the country this week. Would I have ordered that strategy? No, because I am old and cowardly. I would've allowed the touchdown and turned the game over to my defense. I like that message. I like that kind of inner strength, etc. Well, this is a different league from the one I "grew up" covering. This is a league of offense. The NFL is so obsessed with favoring offense that it makes no sense any longer to turn the game over to your defense. The officials will just call some ticky-tacky pass interference penalty that'll put the ball on the one-yard line and hand the victory to your opponent. I give credit to Del Rio for having the courage to do what he believed was the right thing to do. If it had backfired, it would've been all on him. Because it worked, I think we're all realizing today this is the new NFL and it requires new ways of thinking and strategizing.

Chad from Orlando, FL:
Belichick would do anything to keep from giving Manning the ball back with two minutes left. I thought it was a good move. Would you agree, or do you think it was a bad move?

Vic: What Bill Belichick did was the extreme example of not giving the ball back to the other team. It was also the single-dumbest coaching strategy I have ever seen. He looked so pathetic as he walked off the field that I actually felt sorry for him. I know what he was thinking when he made the decision but shouldn't a little voice of reason inside his head have said, "Easy, Bill, easy." I mean, that's just over the top, going for it on fourth down deep in your own territory. Making matters worse was falling asleep at the switch after failing on the fourth-down try. He should've allowed the score and given his quarterback a chance to march down for a field goal. Instead, he let the Colts score and expire the clock. What Belichick did was mix new-age and old-school thinking and the combination was lethal. Once he went new-age, he needed to stay that way. Look, you punt the ball and play defense. Maybe your punter kicks the tar out of the ball and the Colts have to go 80 yards. You figure it's going to take them eight plays or so to cover that distance, so you'll have eight chances to sack the quarterback, strip the quarterback of the ball, intercept a pass, etc. Belichick is also guilty of something else: Getting into a pass-happy game that left his defense gassed at crunch time. That's the big problem with not having a running game; you lose complete control of the tempo. He'll have trouble living this one down.

Mike from West Haven, CT:
Has going back to the 4-3 made the Jaguars defense better?

Vic: It absolutely has. It hasn't helped the pass-rush but it's helped the rush-defense, as you would expect when you have another hand on the ground. The mania for a pass-rush can be destructive. It can make you scheme crazy, but schemes don't rush the passer, players do, and you have to have players who fit the scheme or it won't work.

Ruben from Oxnard, CA:
Is the success of the Jaguars draft class indicative of what we should expect from future Gene Smith draft classes?

Vic: Yes.

Kevin from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Bill Cowher made a comment to Jacksonville that we should get out and support our team, as we may find ourselves in the playoffs. I had two thoughts: 1.)What class coming from a previous rival head coach. 2.) How embarrassed I am by the lack of comprehension of the citizens of this city of what the impact really is here if they don't change this quickly.

Vic: We are going to be under the microscope this Sunday when the Jaguars host the Bills, and 50,000 ain't gonna call off the dogs. You think it was bad before? You ain't seen nothin' if Jacksonville Municipal Stadium is a sea of teal on Sunday.

Jerell from Orangeburg, SC:
How big was the final drive for the Jags and David Garrard?

Vic: Consider the alternative. Had the Jags lost, they'd be out of playoff contention and left with little more to do than play out the season.

Matthew from Bartow, FL:
In your opinion, what realistic chance does Toby Gerhart of Stanford have in the NFL?

Vic: I don't know because I haven't done my homework on him, yet, and I've only seen Stanford play once. I think the better question is: Why aren't Gerhart and Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt getting more hype for the Heisman? Everyone keeps saying it's a bad year for Heisman candidates. What's wrong with Gerhart and Nesbitt? I think they're super candidates. They've led their schools back to football prominence.

Boomer from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I know you're not a big fan of speculation, but where would this team be with a pass-rush?

Vic: I hear you and I understand what you're proposing but, frankly, I think the Jaguars' record would be the same. Yes, you need a pass-rush to be a championship contender, but I think we've obsessed way too much about it over the first nine games of the season.

Conor from Missoula, MT:
He runs, he catches, he blocks and is becoming a true team leader. How big of a steal was Maurice Jones-Drew in the second round?

Vic: He's the fourth-leading rusher in the NFL, leads the league in rushing touchdowns and is one of the best all-purpose players in the league. Jones-Drew is a star and is, without a doubt, the best draft choice of the James Harris era. Let's at least acknowledge that much.

Ross from Farmville, VA:
When was the last time the opposing defense put their best cornerback on a Jags receiver?

Vic: I can't remember, but it was probably when Jimmy Smith was playing. One of the interesting things that happened yesterday was that the Jets decided at halftime that Mike Sims-Walker was worthy of Darrelle Revis' exclusive attention. As it turned out, that wasn't a good thing for Mike, but it's a great thing for the Jaguars because now they know they truly do have a receiver worthy of the "number one" designation.

Joel from Atlanta, GA:
"Why risk a snap and hold?" Agreed, not to mention a blocked extra point that could have cost us a game recently.

Vic: Yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking. I thought about the missed extra point in Tennessee and the botched hold earlier in the season, but they all got it done perfectly this time and that's all that counts.

Tim from St. Louis, MO:
Have you ever seen a more intelligent play by a running back like what MoJo did to win the game?

Vic: Whoa! Jones-Drew did what he was instructed to do. Del Rio made this call; this is his genius and that needs to be acknowledged. No running back that has ever played, with the possible exception of Joe Don Looney, would ever fall down at the one-yard line on his own. That kind of strategy has to come from the coach. I'm flooded today with comments such as yours, from people who think Jones-Drew did this on his own. It's mind-boggling to think fans would actually think a running back would do that. Help, please, I'm losing my mind.

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