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Not able to overcome injuries

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What happened?

Vic: Thank you for asking a straight-forward question. I'll give you a straight-forward answer: The Jaguars were playing without key defensive personnel and the offense didn't score enough points or hold the ball long enough for the defense to hold up in the face of its losses. The offense's inability to score and possess the ball, in my opinion, is the result of a quarterback who was hobbled by a foot injury. Jack Del Rio told us after the game that he was ready to make the switch to David Garrard for the start of the second half, but decided to give Leftwich one more series. When the Jaguars moved right down the field and scored to start the second half, mostly the result of Fred Taylor's 32-yard run, Leftwich won the right to stay in the game longer. As it turned out, that touchdown drive may have hurt the Jaguars.

Chris from Gainesville, FL:
I don't know if this is a slight to the guy who submitted the question or a slight to "Ladies' Day," but I think Chris from Jacksonville Beach is a guy. I could be wrong. I just don't know of many women that are privy to lingo like "coachspeak."

Vic: He's a girl now.

Tommy from Richmond, VA:
If I hadn't read the title to Friday's "Ask Vic," I wouldn't have known it was "Ladies Day." It's evident the female "Ask Vic" readers are intelligent and savvy football fans. Nicely done, ladies.

Vic: I maintain very high standards for my women.

Jim from Medford, NJ:
You keep talking about how when teams get into trouble with their cap and want to keep a player like Peyton Manning, they push the money into the future. How often does the future ever become the present if they keep pushing and pushing?

Vic: Eventually players retire or get hurt. When that happens, they're on your cap but not on your roster. That's called "dead money," and that's when the future becomes the present because all of their remaining amortization accelerates. Now you're in a real mess because you don't have the player and you don't have the cap room to replace him.

Davarrion from Buenos Aires, Argentina:
Could you get some info on why Deon Grant stopped playing in the game?

Vic: Del Rio said it was a "coach's decision." That means Del Rio decided playing another player was a better option.

Luis from Fruit Cove, FL:
I started really worrying as soon as I heard you say in the pregame show, "Why am I worried?"

Vic: All of the signs were there. I had a real bad feeling about this game because every time the Jaguars turned last week they got a pie in the face. It was expected they'd come out of the bye week healthier. As it turned out, they were as bad or worse. That was harsh news with which to start the week. Leftwich's Friday injury was the "killer."

Greg from Wayland, NY:
What was your reaction to the Fred Taylor story in the "Times-Union" about him and his contract? "But I've got incentives. How can I reach them when you're cutting my playing time?" That's one of his quotes and doesn't strike me as a team-first attitude. I was disappointed that he chose to speak out at this time about this. Your thoughts?

Vic: Pro football is about the money. I have no problem with a player being concerned about his contract. In my opinion, however, the offseason is for contracts, the regular season is for playing. Football teams must have a very sharp focus. They must be focused on one thing and one thing only: on the field performance. There isn't a coach in the league who wouldn't have seen that story the day before a critical game and not winced. It's a distraction. It means your star running back is thinking about something other than playing. I appreciate Fred's concern for his finances. I have no problem with complaining about his contract. Players should be ultra-aggressive in negotiating for their financial gain, but not at this time of the year. In my opinion, his timing was bad. He needed to put the contract stuff behind him when the season began.

Brian from Pasadena, CA:
What do you think about Fred's current contract situation? Do you think the Jaguars are trying to get rid of him and kick him to the curb?

Vic: His contract runs through 2007. So does Leftwich's. The Jaguars, to my knowledge, aren't currently negotiating with either guy. Why would they? There's no urgency to do so. Fred is in the ninth year of his career. Next year, of course, is year 10. Don't you need to know whether a guy who's played 10 years still has the legs to warrant a new deal? Isn't that logical?

Debbie from Indianapolis, IN:
As a Colts fan, I hate to admit that this is one of my favorite websites. I really enjoy your opinions and how you write exactly what you think. What is your opinion of the Jaguars now after that horrible loss to Houston? Do you think Byron Leftwich is the right quarterback for this team?

Vic: The loss to Houston, in my opinion, takes the Jaguars out of division title contention, unless something radical occurs. As far as judging the quality of the Jaguars as a football team, I'm not someone who swings too hard either way from week to week. This team isn't the same team it was when the season began. It is without several premium players due to injury and you don't replace those players overnight. My opinion of the Jaguars will be determined by their ability to develop replacements for the players they've lost. If, by the end of the season, there is strong evidence that they've developed replacements, then my opinion of this team will be even higher than it was when the season began. If that doesn't happen, however, and should things unravel, then this season will end on a very sour note. The Patriots were in decline at midseason last year, the result of several losses to injury, but they found a way to recover. The Jaguars are in the same situation. Will they find a way to recover, as the Patriots did? That's the big question. I think your question about Leftwich is ridiculous. You don't make a final call on a guy based on his performance when he was injured.

Eric from Columbus, IN:
When we started out 2-0 and claimed we had bullied the bullies, you warned us. Now at 3-3, I feel ridiculous for having whined for more respect. Forgive us all.

Vic: It's all about the long haul. You don't judge teams on one game. I'm not even sure you judge them on one season. You look at a franchise's history over several years, and then you form an opinion. Are they a perennial playoff contender? Do they always play hard? Are they always sold out? Three "yes" answers is what it takes to earn my respect.

James from Sierra Vista, AZ:
Can the Jags regroup and still make the playoffs?

Vic: It's not as easy as pushing a button. As I said, whatever chance the Jaguars have of recovering and contending for a playoff berth depends on their ability to replace the players they've lost. They had four rookies in the game on defense yesterday. How fast can those young players develop?

Paul from Jacksonville:
How is it that Reggie Williams didn't have a reception against a no-name secondary?

Vic: He dropped two passes.

Al from Kingsland, GA:
Leftwich once again says "that wasn't us out there today." Who was it?

Vic: I think you understand what he meant. He was saying the real Jaguars don't play that kind of football. I agree.

Greg from Orange Park, FL:
I guess it's a good thing that, as you constantly point out, the Jags are looking to the future with their salary cap, because it's obvious they'll never win anything of meaning in the present. By the way, when is this future they keep planning for, or does tomorrow never come?

Vic: I have no answer for your question, but I decided to use it as the representation of all the "venting" e-mails I received about Sunday's game. There, do you feel better now?

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