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No more excuses

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

Carl from Charlotte, NC:
I think I have the answer to our run-defense problem. I know we have two very talented and physically-gifted young defensive tackles, but we don't have any quality backups at that position to rotate into the lineup to give those guys a breather once in awhile. I think they played great in the first half of the game because they were fresh, and by the second half of the game they were running out of gas. I guess what I'm trying to say is we need to draft a few more defensive linemen so we can rotate players in and out of the game without a serious drop-off of talent on the defensive line.

Vic: You know, the players of today are supposed to be bigger, stronger, faster and significantly better-conditioned, but I don't remember the great defensive linemen of the past playing in a rotation system. And what about the offensive linemen? Shouldn't they need to come out of the game, too? Carl, what you say sounds good, but I'm tired of the excuses. Just stop the damn run or get somebody who will.

Don from Jacksonville, FL:
I especially enjoyed your "sarcastically mean" comment about the psychologist covering kicks in the Carolina game. So, Vic, have James Harris and Jack Del Rio figured out a way to bench Brunell and start their man Leftwich yet?

Vic: You got it wrong, Don. Mark Brunell is on this roster because of "Shack" and Jack. Take my word for it. Yeah, Byron Leftwich is this team's future at quarterback, and that future will begin no later than next year, but Harris and Del Rio had free reign to move on this year and they chose not to do that.

David from Oviedo, FL:
What I wouldn't give for a "barking" defense. The best defenses are those that yell and intimidate their opponents as well as communicate and fire up their teammates. A team that doesn't have a vocal leader will play as individuals, not as a team. This team has never had a vocal leader on defense. Do you see anybody rising to the challenge?

Vic: You've been watching too much "Playmakers." Bluster doesn't get it done; performance does. What did "barking" do for Ray Lewis last Sunday? Thirty-four points? He was a better player before he started selling video games. Yes, every good defense has a leader, and their voice speaks loudest, even when it's a whisper. You may want to try the wrestling channel.

Keith from Jacksonville:
My vote is for the mean Vic. Please don't change. Unlike a lot of people, I am not as worried about the Bills coming in because the Jags usually have a big advantage in one o'clock September games because of the heat. What is the Bills' record for playing road games against Florida teams in September, and what is the Jags' home record for one o'clock games in September?

Vic: Great question. Yeah, the Jags need a hot day this Sunday. They need to put the Bills in their navy pants and shirts and pull that tomato-colored helmet down over their ears and send them out onto the field to fry. Here's why: The Jaguars have won five of their last six games played in September at Alltel Stadium at one o'clock. They are 6-3 in their history, which includes losses to Houston in the 1995 inaugural game and one a year later. The Bills have only played once in Florida in September over the last 10 years, and they lost in Miami. I think it's fair to say the Bills aren't accustomed to the heat and humidity they're going to encounter this Sunday.

Tommy from Jacksonville:
Is it me or does Rashean Mathis tackle like a girl? During the Carolina game, he would come up to the hole and whiff on the tackle. If Del Rio says he will play the best 11, why isn't McCree in there? He had six picks last year and is better in run-support.

Vic: Obviously, Jack Del Rio judged Rashean Mathis to be the team's best free safety. But I agree with you that his run-support Sunday was weak. It was just the first game. Give this thing time to play out.

Robert from Oceanside, CA:
As a Jacksonville native living on the opposite side of the country, I depend on your columns greatly. My question is about linebackers. Given the players on the Jaguars roster, who would Vic have play at each linebacker position? And given the current lively banter that goes on in this column, I assure you this is a serious question and I can rule out Mark Brunell and Seth Marler already.

Vic: A bit of advice, Robert: Don't get too serious. It may serve us all well to stay a little light on our feet this season. Anyhow, you asked a fair question so here's the answer: I would consider moving Mike Peterson back to his natural weakside position, Akin Ayodele back to strongside linebacker (which he played last year), and giving Danny Clark and T.J. Slaughter a shot inside. I didn't like what I saw in Carolina. But I think the long-term solution is another offseason.

Rick from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
So Tony Brackens is not to blame for the collapse against the run. Does this suggest the linebackers?

Vic: I guess. Apparently defensive ends aren't expected to stop the run.

Billy from Jacksonville:
If there is any money left under your salary cap at the end of the season, can prorated bonus be moved up to free-up room in the year to come?

Vic: Other than for an extreme contract re-structuring circumstance in which years are subtracted from the contract, bonus money can not be moved forward. But salary can. That's how you do it. You re-do the contract, pay next year's salary now -- which is the equivalent of signing bonus -- but because it's salary it must be declared in full in the year it's paid. All of a sudden, money that was supposed to be on next year's cap is on this year's.

Deanna from Houston, Texas:
I would like to know the first year the Jaguars played a game and the first year they went to the playoffs.

Vic: First game, 1995; first playoff season, 1996. Are you doing a history report or something?

Kevin from Jacksonville:
You have taught me to think long-term. Even though these last-second losses are gut-wrenching, had we not lost to Cleveland last year on a "Hail Mary" we would not have drafted high enough to get Byron Leftwich. If Byron was starting Sunday, would the game be sold out?

Vic: No.

Howard from Winter Springs, FL:
I tried to set you up to look good with two questions during the preseason, in which I expressed concern about the Jags special teams, specifically kick-coverage, but you ignored me. Now everyone knows the Jags' kick-coverage sucks and we both missed our chance to be peerless prognosticators. Hurumpf!

Vic: Feel better now?

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