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Patience is good; field goals are better

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

Harley from Ormond Beach, FL:
You have always downrated the importance of kickers, saying they were a dime a dozen. Then I watch Gramatica, Janikowski and, yes, even Hollis win games for their teams. I think Tom Coughlin was too impatient with Epstein. He needed to try to develop him rather than going to the street every four or five weeks for a new kicker. What do you think?

Vic: You might be right about Hayden Epstein; time will tell. Cincinnati has been very patient with Neil Rackers, because he has a strong kickoff leg, and he has started to show signs of improvement. But most teams are not patient with kickers. There are a lot of kickers on the "street," and you have to keep looking. Who knew anything about Mike Hollis? Everyone thought Scott Sisson would win the job. Gary Anderson was cut by the Bills. The Steelers are certainly happy with Jeff Reed. Most great kickers have spent some time on the "street," which is why I don't like the idea of spending a high draft choice on a kicker. It's awfully risky.

Marty from Jacksonville:
We still have the cardiac cats. Why does it seem that our team has a lack of urgency and winning attitude until the fourth quarter?

Vic: Are you sure it's a lack of urgency and winning attitude? Maybe you're right, but the psychology thing is starting to wear on me. I look at the final stats from the Pittsburgh game and I have to believe this team has a talent deficiency. Blocking and tackling mean more to me than psychology.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA:
I had mixed emotions for the Skins/Jags game, since I was a life-long Redskins fan until moving to Georgia in 1989. Did/do you have the same mixed emotions for the Steelers?

Vic: I'm not going to say sportswriters don't develop friendships and allegiances, because they do, and I have. But it's not as you're imagining. When you do this every day of your working life, you tend to "root for the story." We all want to write the winning story. I treasure the years I spent covering the Steelers and they will always hold a special place in my heart, but when Mark Brunell's conversion pass attempt fell incomplete for Jimmy Smith on Sunday, I instantly got a bad feeling in my stomach. You get close to these guys. You write stories about them. Very quietly, you come to like them and you hurt for them when they lose. In the case of Tom Coughlin, these are especially tough times. The hurt is etched on his face and I hurt for him. That's what I felt Sunday when the team I used to cover played the team I now cover.

Ryan from Atlanta, GA:
What is it about the NFL that seems to handicap kickers? There are over 110 Division 1-A football teams, and about a third of them seem to have strong, dependable kickers, yet there are still only about 20 good NFL kickers out there, and some of them are over 40 years old.

Vic: The difference is five yards farther back on kickoffs; a shorter, harder-surfaced ball; and the pressure that goes with kicking for money. If you don't believe me, ask a kicker.

Bharat from Jacksonville:
Vic, it's great to have you back and well! The site just wasn't the same without you. My question concerns the 3-4 defense, although I'm sure you've answered this before. Not to change our defensive personality, but do we have the personnel to change from a 4-3 to a 3-4?

Vic: No. The Jaguars do not have a true nose tackle and lack the kind of speed and blitz ability you need in your linebacking corps.

Mark from Fremont, NE:
I would like to know how many years are left on Mark Brunell's contract. When it's up, is he planning on retiring? Is David Garrard expected to be Brunell's successor, or is it too early to tell?

Vic: Mark Brunell has two years remaining on his contract after this season. I doubt if he plans on retiring at that time. Yes, David Garrard is the top candidate to replace Brunell.

Eric from Jacksonville:
I sincerely believe Tom Coughlin is the best man to bring us back from the depths over the next few seasons. I believe bringing in a new coach at this point would only lengthen the rebuilding phase that's underway. Do you think there's any way coach Coughlin retains his job following the season?

Vic: Winning is good; losing is bad. That's all you need to know.

Dave from Lighthouse Point, FL:
It seemed clear to me this team wasn't prepared for Kordell Stewart and his style. What is your feeling? Also, looking forward, do you think this team is headed in the right direction, I mean, not only in personnel but in management on the field and off?

Vic: The Steelers have a playoff-caliber football roster that was picked to win the AFC title this year. Do you think the Jaguars would trade rosters with the Steelers? Yes, I think this team is headed in the right direction, just as the Steelers were headed in the right direction in 1998 and 1999, when they were 7-9 and 6-10 and the subject of much criticism. They were headed in the right direction because they drafted Alan Faneca, Hines Ward, Deshea Townsend, Joey Porter, Amos Zereoue and Aaron Smith. The Jaguars have added young core players for their future the past two drafts, and must do it again next spring. That's how you "prepare for Kordell Stewart and his style," or for any quarterback and his style. You gotta have the horses.

Derryck from Orange Park, FL:
What is your take on the Jaguars offensive play-calling? It seems to be very predictable (run on first down 98 percent of the time). After the Pittsburgh game, Coughlin stated the Jags didn't rush the ball well but Fred Taylor averaged better than six yards a carry, but lacked adequate carries to hit 100 yards or better. If it's not the play-calling, then what is it?

Vic: If the Jaguars and Steelers had switched uniforms, do you think Tom Coughlin's play-calling would've been good enough to win the game?

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