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No more 'Mr. Nice Guy'

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

Keith from Neptune Beach, FL:
You still sure we don't have enough speed at wide receiver?

Vic: Yes.

Randy from Lexington, SC:
I was at the game Sunday. On my way back home to South Carolina, I listened to the Panthers' postgame radio broadcast. The GM of the Panthers made a very interesting point. He said, in the NFL, the future is next Sunday. The more I thought about this, the more I totally agree with it. Is his philosophy or thought process off-base?

Vic: Then why does every team in the league have an army of scouts on college campuses across America, evaluating players for next year's draft? Shouldn't they be looking for players for "next Sunday." You're too good a football man, Randy, to believe teams don't plan beyond the next game. And stop listening to Panthers radio.

Jim from Tampa, FL:
Love the column. Do you think the poor showing by special teams might have Del Rio using more "non-bottom-of-the-roster" players in the future? By the way, I prefer the mean Vic to the sickeningly-nice Vic.

Vic: Rumor has it Mark Brunell is going to get a shot at "gunner." Does that answer your question?

Jason from Gainesville, FL:
Major kudos for the new "Ask Vic" picture. The site now oozes sex appeal. Anyway, what are your thoughts on the move of Mike Peterson from strongside linebacker to middle linebacker so far? Do you think it turned a very good strongside linebacker into an average middle linebacker?

Vic: Weakside, Jason; and I think Mike Peterson will eventually make it back there.

Kristian from Copenhagen, Denmark:
First I am glad to see you stopped listening to Don, since those answers were way too nice. Second, my question is how come it seemed the Jaguars led the Panthers in almost every category, yet, they still lost the game?

Vic: You're almost right. Yeah, the Jaguars led in a lot of statistical categories; big margins of victory in time of possession, total net yards and net yards passing. But the Panthers "balanced the books" on special teams and in the run game.

Cliff from Callahan, FL:
Right now, everyone is staring at me because I burst out laughing at the "psychologist covering kicks" answer. Sarcasm is part of your charm. Please don't go mushy on us. Speaking of the kick-coverage, it seems pretty consistent that the return guy will make a quick sidestep and immediately three or four Jaguars will blow right by him at full speed. Now, I'm sure there's a good reason but why don't the coverage guys just slow down 5-10 yards away and get their feet set to actually hit the return man?

Vic: I saw examples of what you're describing but, for the most part, I saw major gaps between the Panthers return man and Jaguars defenders. What you're describing is what legendary special teams coach Frank Gansz describes as "come to balance" and, yes, the Jaguars need to do more of that with their first-wave people, but they also need an earlier-arriving first wave and more defenders in it. All of that, of course, is my opinion, and I know next to nothing about special teams play. So, you have that going for you.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA:
I, for one, enjoy your style in answering the questions you receive. OK, then, "Mr. Cruel," do you have any theory for why this team does so poorly playing with a lead? The whole special teams coverage performance was psycho on Sunday. Will it be hard for Del Rio and Bates to remain friends, or is that "Bates" from the film?

Vic: Early Monday morning I was walking down the hallway in the Jaguars offices as Bill Bates was walking the other way. As we passed each other, I mindlessly said, "Good morning, Bill, how are you?" He looked at me as if to say, "Are you kidding? I had nightmares of Steve Smith returning punts in my bedroom and you ask me how I'm doing?" Of course, he didn't say that but he gave me that look and I said, "Oh, I'm sorry, Bill." I relate this story to give you an idea of what it's like for an assistant coach to have endured what Bates did Sunday in Carolina. We're talking about one of the great special teams players in NFL history, a good guy and a young, dedicated coach. What was he going to do? Run onto the field and tackle Smith? This will all pass and Bates will be the better for it. Let's give the guy a chance.

Clay from Jacksonville:
Stats question for you: If a team has 500 total yards at the end of the game and 60 yards in penalties, does the total yards become 440?

Vic: No.

David from Port Orange, FL:
Looking, again, at the Carolina game, one player's poor performance really stood out to me: Jason Craft. Firstly, his blatant pass-interference penalty set up the touchdown in the third quarter that really got the Panthers offense rolling. Secondly, I felt his man coverage on Ricky Proehl and his vain, mock-superman dive to hit the pass that sailed over his head was terrible. Don't get me wrong, I think he is an excellent corner coming into his prime, but his poor play in my opinion cost the Jaguars the win Sunday. I know you're trying to be nice now, but please, your thoughts?

Vic: I am not trying to be nice when I tell you that, in my opinion, Jason Craft's performance, which was below expectations, was not nearly as responsible for the loss as the Jaguars' inability to stop the run was. I am also not trying to be nice when I say you people gotta wake up. This team has a stop-the-run problem and it's killing whatever chance it has of improving on defense. You want a stat? Here's a stat: Following week one games, nine of the 10 teams ranked in the bottom 10 of the league run-defense rankings had lost their openers. No, statistics aren't always a true measure, but that one has to speak for something.

Mike from Pensacola, FL:
I enjoyed your article yesterday on Brunell. I thought he was great and deserved a bit of praise. How do you see the Jags preparing for a potent Bills offense? Where do they attack?

Vic: Start by stopping the run. If they can't do that, they won't be able to stop anything.

Chris from St. Catharines, ON, Canada:
Do you think the Jags showed potential in their defense in the first half on Sunday, or was Peete just that bad?

Vic: I want to believe in what I saw in the first half, but I can't deny what I saw in the second. Let's not forget, the Panthers were the 31st-ranked offense in the league last season.

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