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Not all teams are fine

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

Kevin from Jacksonville:
What are your thoughts on the Titans owner saying he'd like to see Young get the start? Do you feel like he's undermining the authority of Jeff Fisher as the head coach in doing this?

Vic: It's not a good thing.

David from Jacksonville:
You had some time dealing with this issue. How much of a controversy was there with Joe Gilliam and Terry Bradshaw? Would love to hear some anecdotes.

Vic: When it began in the training camp of 1974, the players were on strike. Bradshaw honored the picket lines and Gilliam didn't. Gilliam was fantastic in camp while Bradshaw was absent and we all assumed Chuck Noll was rewarding Gilliam for his performance and for having the courage to cross the picket line. It wasn't until 20 years later, as I was doing a story on the 20th anniversary of the '74 Super Bowl team, that Chuck gave me the real reason for making Gilliam the starter. He said that for a game in Houston Bradshaw went to his hometown of Shreveport, La., and missed curfew at the hotel. I have a feeling Brad more than missed curfew, if you know what I mean. Chuck said Bradshaw needed to mature and commit to his profession and that having to fight to regain his job in '74 made that happen.

Tim from Savannah, GA:
Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech said he thinks his offense would work in the NFL. He said rather than having one high-priced quarterback, you could afford three or four players that fit the offense for that price. What do you think about that idea? I was thinking about how you mentioned small-market teams would have to be innovative in order to succeed in the post-salary cap era, plus, it's sure fun to watch them play.

Vic: There is no coach in America I respect more than Johnson. I became infatuated of him when he was at Navy. I disagree with coach Johnson, however, on the notion that the triple-option could work in the NFL. Here's why I disagree: The basis of the triple-option isn't the ball-handling, it's the size of the line splits and the cut-blocking that occurs. First of all, those huge line splits wouldn't work in the NFL because NFL linemen are so quick and powerful that they would burst through those splits before the offensive linemen could cut them. Penetration is the enemy of option football and the triple-option wouldn't make it to the edge before the quarterback got knocked down. Secondly, even if it was successful, the preponderance of cut-blocking up front would cause so many injuries and lost money that the NFL would quickly out-law cut-blocking. Coach Johnson needs to stay right where he is, if that's the offense he wants to run.

Ed from Jacksonville:
In your response to Maxwell, you reply, "I see." No, you do not see. Neither Maxwell nor Fred is addressing/blaming/talking about ticket sales. Both e-mails have to do exclusively with developing a vibrant downtown. We love ya, but your snarky, blithe replies without having thoroughly read or trying to understand the original e-mails is lazy writing.

Vic: You don't get it either, Ed. I'm tired of hearing how the team is to blame and the city is to blame and the ticket prices are to blame and the marketing is to blame, etc. I'm tired of hearing lame excuses and complaints. I'm tired of hearing fans demand that Jack Del Rio be held accountable but they don't hold themselves accountable for the poor attendance. When are they gonna point the finger at themselves, Ed? When are they gonna stop blaming the selling and start blaming the buying? Now do you get it, Ed?

Ben from Farmington, CT:
With the history between the Titans and the Jaguars, could there be any possible way the Titans could ambush us? We may get beat, but we ought to know them well enough not to be ambushed. The next two games are circle-the-calendar games for the coaching staff; they need these wins.

Vic: This isn't a video game, Ben, and the Jaguars aren't exactly unbeatable. They just had to go into overtime to beat a Rams team that is 0-7.

David from Gaithersburg, MD:
When they do start playing in Orlando, will season-ticket buyers be forced to buy those games?

Vic: Of course not; that would make no sense. The idea of playing games in Orlando would be to relieve Jacksonville of a portion of its ticket-buying burden. Why would you make the same fans who won't go to a game in Jacksonville go all the way to Orlando?

Jason from St. Augustine, FL:
I agree with your comments about today's game being over-officiated. You hit the nail on the head with the need to look at the status bar on the screen to see if "flag" appears after a big play. I had developed that habit without even realizing it. If the league asked for your professional opinion about what should/could be done, specifically, to address this issue, what would you tell them?

Vic: Generally I would tell them to clean up the rule book. Get rid of the gray areas and make the whole thing simpler to interpret and enforce. Specifically, I would advise them to revisit the passing game and the fouls that pertain to it. I would recommend that the league go back to the old rules governing pass-interference, as far as contact being allowed until the ball is in the air, including contact initiated by the offense. In other words, all contact is fine until the ball is in the air. I'm not condoning holding, just bump-and-run types of contact. One of the big problems I have with the way the rules are now is that defensive players are deliberately running into receivers inside five yards of the line of scrimmage, for the purpose of drawing an offensive pass-interference penalty, which they can do without risk because it's inside five yards. You see, that's what I mean about too many gray areas. There are just too many loopholes in the rules and their interpretations. I don't want to return the game to its 10-7 roots of the 1970's, but I'm tired of a game that has always been about physical contact being officiated in the secondary as though it's basketball on grass. I would rather see passing the football made more difficult and points decline than having to watch games turn on ticky-tacky pass-interference penalties that put the ball at the one-yard line for a team that couldn't put it there itself. Offense has been favored enough. I'm all for the rules governing defenseless receivers – it should've been done a long time ago – but I don't like 70-yard penalties for bumping a guy.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
Why haven't I thought of this before? Titans are sure to have an earlier pick than the Jags and obviously have a need to take a franchise QB. Even if he's not at the top of their board, does Fisher do it to the Jags fans as he seems to enjoy doing by having us facing Tebow on Sundays?

Vic: I wouldn't worry about that.

Tim from St. Louis, MO:
Which one of the 6-0 teams will lose first?

Vic: I expect Denver to lose in Baltimore this Sunday. I see Indianapolis being the last unbeaten team. The Colts' schedule doesn't get tough until mid-November.

Sonny from Jacksonville:
In your article, "Expect trench warfare," you state the game will likely be one of run and stop the run. The Jaguars threw the ball all over the Titans in the first game and they have the worst pass-defense in the league. It would seem we should play to their weakness. What are your thoughts?

Vic: I think the Titans will return to their true identity of a run-first team, and I think the Jaguars got back to that kind of football against St. Louis and would like to stay there, especially on the road. We'll see.

Dennis from Jacksonville:
Why are you so high on the Jags looking to play in Orlando?

Vic: Because it would be a way of reducing the ticket-sales burden in Jacksonville without leaving the Jaguars' market. It would also be a way of increasing the fan base. I see it as a way to save the franchise, so to speak.

Marc from Minot, ND:
When and for how long do the players hear the transmissions in their helmets? Up to the snap of the ball? During a play?

Vic: Radio transmission capability begins when the previous play ends and transmission is terminated with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock or the ball is snapped, whichever occurs first. If a team is in no-huddle, for example, it's possible the quarterback can receive coaching through the transmitter right up to the snap of the ball. I don't like that.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Why do old dudes have to wear tank tops to the game? I'm not a big fan of eating a cheeseburger while being confronted by some guy with a back sweater. Can I text security?

Vic: Blame it on tank tops?

Jason from Jacksonville:
Six of the NFL's week-seven games were decided by 28 points or more. If I wanted to watch a blowout, I would watch college football. It is getting to the point that teams that don't have a great quarterback can't compete with teams that have great quarterbacks. Do you think the league is going to turn into a league of haves and have-nots? If so, how can they reverse that trend?

Vic: First of all, this is a new phenomenon. It's not as though we've been subjected to this week after week, year after year, so let's give it a chance to see if it's real or just a temporary thing. Secondly, I won't buy into the large-market vs. small-market spending thing because some of the best teams right now are small-market teams and some of the worst are from large markets. As I have said, I think what we're seeing is the result of competence overwhelming incompetence. The teams that are getting blown out need to examine how they do business and compare it to how the good teams do business. The game is fine. The problem is that all of the teams in the game aren't fine.

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