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Press conference revisited

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

Tony from Jacksonville:
Chris Mortensen said Byron Leftwich took pain-killers to get him through practice last Wednesday, which supposedly irritated Del Rio. Where does he get his info and if it is legitimate info, why didn't anyone in Jacksonville report it? Do they just make this stuff up?

Vic: They don't hold press conferences to announce that a quarterback has taken aspirin. Mortensen said he got his information from a "team source." Obviously, it's a "team source" who doesn't want to be identified. I've got some news for you: Football players take pain-killers. They are prescribed by doctors. It's a physical game that promotes aches and pains. I don't know what the big deal is about this story. Byron Leftwich has been a dedicated player for this town, this team and its fans. He deserves more respect than to be anonymously accused of abusing pain medication.

Nate from Macclenny, FL:
Concerning the speed of Vince Young, I was rather impressed when he ran down Rashean Mathis.

Vic: Mathis was on a bad hamstring. Healthy, Mathis will always out-run Young.

Paul from Jacksonville:
I know how you feel about fans digging into fans of opposing teams. How do you feel about fans taunting players from the opposing team? The seats emptied as the rain came down in Sunday's game and the crowd behind the away bench was pretty merciless. No profanity, but a few Titans players definitely lost their composure.

Vic: I didn't know empty seats could talk.

Tyler from San Mateo, CA:
In your opinion, how many rushing yards does Fred Taylor need for Hall of Fame consideration?

Vic: He would need a lot; a whole lot. Fred's problem is that he doesn't have any Pro Bowls. You're not likely to be identified as one of the best players of all-time if you haven't been selected as one of the best players during your time.

Robert from Lexington, KY:
The team with fewer turnovers went 11-1 last week. The only team that won with more turnovers is the Redskins and I think you know what happened there.

Vic: Turnovers are so critical to winning that coaches are obsessing about them. I watched two games on TV late Sunday and in each game a tackler was attempting to strip the ball on every play. Coaches are literally sacrificing the art of tackling for the sake of forcing fumbles. That's how important turnovers have become. They literally are, as you've pointed out, the reason teams win or lose. I don't think all interceptions hurt because some interceptions are nothing more than punts, but a fumble is never good because it's at no gain of field position. The first rule for every coach has to be: "Don't fumble the ball."

Mack from Houston, TX:
At midpoint, can you rate the draft picks for us?

Vic: Marcedes Lewis—still waiting. Maurice Jones-Drew—spectacular rookie season. Clint Ingram—developing into a solid player. Brent Hawkins—speed-rusher, as advertised. James Wyche—on practice squad. Dee Webb—contributing in sub packages.

Mike from Dallas, TX:
Is it me or have the Jaguars been winning when Matt Jones is full strength? It looks as if he draws different coverages when he plays and that opens up plays for other receivers. What are your thoughts on this?

Vic: You're really reaching now.

Frank from St. Augustine, FL:
I noticed on Sunday that one of the Titans coaches was holding up placards for the Titans offense to see. One said "ACE." Do you know what that was all about? I have never noticed that before. Is it something they use to combat crowd noise?

Vic: I don't think crowd noise was a concern on Sunday. The Titans were using the placards to call out personnel groupings for Vince Young. In other words, they were relieving him of what is a typical quarterback responsibility.

Brad from Topeka, KS:
What I got out of your last article is that Jack Del Rio said Leftwich probably won't be back until he has surgery on his ankle. Is this what you believe will happen, or was there something I was missing on that article?

Vic: I thought the story was easily understood, but maybe it isn't, so, let's do this again. Del Rio said Byron Leftwich has an ankle injury that leaves Leftwich only able to function at 85-90 percent of his capability. The coach then said he doesn't expect Leftwich's recovery to improve until he has a long period of time to heal, and some sort of clean up surgery will probably be required. I wasn't real concerned with a specific timetable when we were quizzing the coach during the press conference because it was obvious there is no timetable for Byron's return. It's hoped David Garrard can hold the job the remainder of the season and Byron can get on with the business of repairing his injured ankle.

Rashid from New Castle, PA:
If Byron needs surgery, why not just get it over with now, as opposed to the offseason?

Vic: They may do that. I don't know. I didn't get the feeling, however, that it's any kind of involved surgical procedure. Clean up surgeries are commonplace among football players. A lot of them are done arthroscopically. Please understand, I don't know the specifics of Leftwich's medical situation, so I'm just assuming the information I have points toward a benign clean up procedure. Del Rio explained to us in Monday's press conference that the main reason he hasn't divulged the specifics of Leftwich's injury is because that is medical information privileged to the person who is injured. If Byron wants to talk about it, he will. I have no doubt he will be quizzed by the media about the nature of his injury on Wednesday, when the players return to the stadium.

Ken from Yulee, FL:
John Henderson seems to knock down a lot of balls thrown by quarterbacks. Do they keep stats on this and, if so, how does "Big John" compare with the rest of the league?

Vic: It's called "passes-defensed." Any time a player knocks down a pass, he's credited with a pass-defensed. John Henderson has four. I don't know of a league-wide ranking of defensive linemen for that stat.

Sean from Jacksonville:
I've seen you make reference to yourself as a journalist. Is that really what you consider yourself? Isn't it a huge conflict of interest for you to be paid by the organization you allege to cover in an unbiased manner? Are you sure you don't put the team's desired spin on things? Aren't you really a Jaguars spokesperson or publicist?

Vic: Those are all questions you have to answer. Yes, I consider myself a journalist. I believe I am worthy of that distinction because I have a degree in journalism from a university and because I have spent 35 years in the media business covering the NFL and a lot of other things, too. What I think, however, is meaningless. You have to be the final judge of my credibility. If you don't think I'm credible, I urge you to never read this column again. The fact that you do read it would suggest that you do, in fact, believe I'm credible. Your accusatory tone is probably the result of some kind of resentment you harbor toward me. That's OK. I don't even know who you are. Have a nice day.

Will from Jacksonville:
Coach said it was Byron's ankle that was stopping him from playing. Do you buy it?

Vic: Yes, I believe that to be true.

Jimmy from Savannah, GA:
If Byron says he is ready to go, why did he not "dress" for the game?

Vic: He hasn't "dressed" for the last two games. That's the tip. That's what tells us that he wasn't ready to go. When Leftwich didn't "dress" in Philadelphia, my suspicious reporter's nature was aroused. For the pregame portion of my blog on Sunday, I made a point of seeking out information about whether or not Leftwich would "dress" because I knew it meant something more than his status for that day's game. Maybe it's a nose for news or just instincts acquired over the years, but the fact that he didn't "dress" for either game spoke volumes to me.

Beau from Burlington, NJ:
Fred Taylor's career average is 4.6. How many people have finished their career averaging over that?

Vic: Not many. Jim Brown leads all running backs with a 5.2 career rushing average. Barry Sanders has a 5.0, and O.J. Simpson and Tiki Barber a 4.7.

Spence from Jacksonville:
Who threw the best long ball you've ever seen? We were discussing this and the name thrown out most was Bradshaw.

Vic: Yeah, Terry Bradshaw threw the best deep ball I've ever seen; certainly ever covered. He would throw the ball with his feet together and just flick it with his arm and the ball would sail 60 yards downfield and drop straight down into the receiver's hands. Mark Brunell threw a beautiful deep ball. I don't think he ever got the credit he deserved for being a long-ball passer. Joe Gilliam is the other guy who comes to mind that I covered. Oh, man, could he throw it. There have certainly been a lot of great long-ball quarterbacks. I'll give you a name you don't hear often: Daryl Lamonica, the "Mad Bomber." He had a great long-ball arm.

Daniel from Jacksonville:
Del Rio claims Byron won't start because he's only 85-90 percent. Did Del Rio say that with a straight face?

Vic: Yes, he did. Then I asked what Leftwich did to his ankle and the coach stopped talking. We badgered him but he still wouldn't talk. Then he told us about the privileged medical information situation.

Joe from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
You beat the Colts by running it down their throat and time of possession. Isn't that what the Jaguars did and still lost?

Vic: Yeah, but the Jaguars also threw two interceptions, allowed a punt return for a touchdown and missed a chip-shot field goal. The time of possession strategy requires perfection. It's a very demanding strategy to execute because it does not allow for mistakes. The Steelers used that strategy to beat the Colts in the playoffs. The Steelers executed it to perfection the whole game, then made one mistake near the end when Jerome Bettis fumbled the ball and it almost cost the Steelers the game. It is, nonetheless, the way you beat the Colts. It's how the Chargers beat the Colts last year and it's what the Patriots should've done on Sunday night. We'll see on Dec. 10 if the Jaguars can do it.

Dylan from Atlanta, GA:
Did you see it coming?

Vic: No, I didn't. I had a pretty good idea Leftwich's injury was going to last longer than first thought, and I expected Garrard would be the starting quarterback again this week, but I wasn't expecting what I heard on Monday.

Terrence from Lacey, WA:
Back to free agency. Of the names you listed on Monday, wouldn't it be beneficial to re-sign Bobby McCray and Vince Manuwai to long-term deals?

Vic: You could do that. Or you could use the "tender" system in restricted free agency to your advantage. It's a process that buys teams time and salary cap room. Most teams use it, but, of course, if you're absolutely convinced a guy's stock is only going to rise, you'd probably prefer to do something long-term.

Terrence from Lacey, WA:
Looking into the future, what are the main focuses of this upcoming offseason?

Vic: The quarterback situation has to be resolved. It's going to be the offseason headliner.

Zoltan from Budapest, Hungary:
I have a question to you about Ahmad Carroll. Why the team signed him for this year, when he doesn't play?

Vic: He's a jar on the shelf, Zoltan.

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