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Nine million ways

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

Charlie from Jacksonville:
I know you have said all along to temper expectations for this team and this is a rebuilding year (both of which I agree), but with the Jags winning a road game against a team fighting for a playoff spot and some win-able games coming up, is it reasonable to consider this team a possible playoff contender?

Vic: Absolutely it is. The Jaguars are officially a playoff contender and you should cease all efforts to temper your expectations and immediately lose control of your emotions and risk devastating disappointment. Or, you could just watch, since there's not much else you can do anyhow.

Mike from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What kind of college football observer are you? Do you pick the best game and watch? Do you flip back and forth a lot? Do you try to follow teams you haven't seen? Do you use DVRs to see more? Or are there multiple TVs in the Ketchman man-cave? Just wondering how a football junkie spends a college football Saturday.

Vic: Saturday began on Friday night, as I kicked off the weekend by watching the West Virginia-Cincinnati game. I'll say this for the Big East: They play exciting games. My Saturday viewing began in my office with Georgia Tech-Duke, Michigan State-Purdue, Clemson-N.C. State and Florida State-Wake Forest. I caught the exciting conclusion of Michigan State's win on the plane and then turned to Idaho-Boise State for the second half of the flight. In the hotel room, I warmed up for the primetime game by watching Alabama-Mississippi State and Auburn-Georgia, and then turned to Notre Dame-Pitt. The day concluded with my eyes shutting to Oregon's first-half blowout of Arizona State. I say all of that with honesty and shame.

Brian from Orange Park, FL:
"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." I believe Brian Westbrook did this a couple of years ago on his own to prevent the other team from getting the ball back. Philly just had to take a knee after that to run the clock out.

Vic: The Eagles had the lead at the time, which is a lot different than deciding to not score when you're trailing in the game. You don't make that decision, the coach does. What Westbrook did is no different than a quarterback taking a knee to kill the clock, or a defensive back dropping to the ground following an interception and with victory assured.

Chris from Atlanta, GA:
Another loss for Notre Dame. Jon Gruden or Brian Kelly?

Vic: That's what I meant in Friday's column when I said we'll find out on Saturday night. I was referring to the Notre Dame-Pitt game. I have to believe Charlie Weis will be fired. In my opinion, Kelly's the guy.

Joel from Jacksonville:
Having known people that have played professional baseball, I have been told that in the instance where a pitcher intentionally hits a batter in the interest of protecting his teammates and a fine is levied by the league office, the team steps up and pays it.

Vic: I doubt that's the way it's done. It's probably done in baseball the same way it is in the NFL: The amount of the fine is deducted from the player's paycheck. Isn't that nice of the league to save the player the bother of having to write a check and mail it to the league? Saves a stamp, too.

Charlie from Jacksonville:
I have a question about play-action pass plays. Does the degree to which the deception is carried out have a big effect on the defense? Are defenders actually watching or are they looking at other keys to react to?

Vic: If you really wanna sell play-action, you have your offensive linemen do a "surge and set" technique in which they come off the ball for one step as though they're going to run-block, and then set in pass-protection. When you have a top running game, as the Jaguars have, your linemen can really sell play-action with a legit-looking "surge and set." The quarterback has to also carry out his fakes completely, whether he's handing off or faking the hand-off.

Herb from Jacksonville, FL:
I completely agree with Del Rio's strategy but question why the kick was not attempted on third down in the event of a bad snap or a block, at which point there would have been a possibility of another attempt.

Vic: They did kick on third down but there was only enough time on the clock for one play. I've received nine million e-mails from nine million people giving me nine million different ways Del Rio should've done it. The bottom line is that if you're going to do it, do it the right way. Make it a walk-off kick, which is what the Jaguars did.

Stephen from Tampa, FL:
I believe you said something about admitting you were wrong if the Jags won. So let's see it, Vic.

Vic: That's not what I said. I said I would be happy to admit I was wrong if the Jaguars make it into the playoffs. Hey, I'll be happy to admit I was wrong if they're just a playoff contender in December. Neither was my expectation before the season began and there wasn't a media person or fan alive who thought either was possible after the Jaguars started 0-2 and were blown out by Arizona. Let's just enjoy what we have, OK?

Adel from Jacksonville:
While I am encouraged by the fact we may have ourselves a true number one receiver in Mike Sims-Walker, I am a little discouraged that we fear a good cornerback to the point where throwing in his direction is completely avoided.

Vic: Darrelle Revis may be the best defensive player the Jaguars have faced this season and he's probably the best cornerback in the league. You don't throw at those guys; you throw at the other guy, which is exactly what the Jaguars did in the first half when they tortured Dwight Lowery. What I found out in the second half is that when Sims-Walker is neutralized, as Randy Moss and Andre Johnson were by Revis, the Jaguars lost a bigger chunk of their offense than I considered Sims-Walker to represent. Fortunately, Mike Thomas and Marcedes Lewis stepped up and filled the void in that final drive.

Jermaine from Orlando, FL:
I know the call was coach Del Rio's, but don't you love that kind of team-first mentality?

Vic: I don't get it. Jones-Drew was ordered by the coach to fall down. What's this team-first stuff? When the coach says you fall down, you fall down or you start comin' out of the game on the goal line. I think people are making way too much out of this, as it pertains to unselfishness. The coach said do it and you do it or else. Look at it this way: If you don't fall down and you decide to score because you want the fantasy points (finger down my throat), and your team goes on to lose the game, how's that gonna work for you?

Pasquale from Tallahassee, FL:
Why wasn't there a booth review on the big fourth-down play in Sunday's game? I know the Patriots were out of timeouts, but the clock read 1:57 when it stopped.

Vic: It did not qualify for booth review because the play began outside the two-minute warning.

Patrick from Jacksonville:
I was in the supermarket checkout lane chatting with the cashier about the big win. This crotchety old man in line behind me starts blasting Mel Tucker about play-calling and claims he should be fired immediately. So I turn to him and politely declare, "Mr. Vic Ketchman says it's players, not plays; give it some time and the defense will be just fine." Without missing a beat, he says, "That Ketchman guy is an idiot." I could not stop laughing. The absurdity of it all was that the defense played solid and the Jags just got a huge win. So I heeded your advice, played nice and wished the guy a lovely evening.

Vic: He's right, but he forgot Belichick.

Michael from Fort Myers, FL:
Have you ever seen a more intelligent and unselfish move like the one Quentin Groves did? Instead of taking the sure touchdown, he went down untouched just before the goal line. Great heads-up play.

Vic: You're right. Let's look at what would've probably happened if Groves had scored. The Jaguars would've taken a 28-13 lead. After the Jets would've cut it to 28-23 with the field goal and touchdown they scored in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars would've gotten the ball back at their 17-yard line with five minutes to play and they would've probably played it safe, run the ball and attempted to take time off the clock, which might have left the Jaguars defense to have to stop the Jets and protect the lead one more time.

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