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Progress makes everything better

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

Clell from Bee Branch, AR:
I never know when you are serious or just being sarcastic. You referred to the "in the grass" rule. I think you meant "in the grasp." Am I right?

Vic: So you're saying it's grasp, not grass. Boy, am I stupid. All those years, I thought they were saying grass. Grasp makes perfect sense.

James from Jacksonville:
What are your thoughts about Jacksonville Municipal Stadium possibly hosting 2018 or 2022 World Cup games? If we do get the bid, could the economic impact benefit the Jags by enhancing our facilities? Or does that just go straight to the city?

Vic: I don't know and I'm not real concerned about it because by then I'll either be on the golf course or in it, if you know what I mean. I'll tell you something else: By 2022, "The Vic" ain't gonna be the only old thing around here. "The Jack" might be ready for the golf course, too.

Ronan from Waco, TX:
I recently started law school and I had a professor give us information that I thought directly related to what you are trying to do with "Ask Vic." The statement was that my generation has become too reliant on breadth of information, rather than depth, because of the wealth of information available to us. While we often ask questions regarding your breadth of knowledge, I wanted to thank you for giving me a better understanding as to the depth of football (an inside out perspective) I've gained from your articles and "Ask Vic."

Vic: Your professor is right on the money. More and more we're treating news as entertainment, rather than as information that can broaden our knowledge and understanding. I've heard the same information over and over about Michael Jackson for two weeks. The only difference is in how the information is packaged. It came with different video or a new slant, but none of it was news. People want it so the media outlets give it to them, and it's hard to blame the TV media because its business is ratings. The reader and the viewer is in control. If they say no, it'll stop. The upshot to all of this is that we are in a fantastic information age. The depth of information has never been as great or as accessible. The rest is up to us.

Ryan from Los Angeles, CA:
Has there ever been a player who didn't show signs of starting to get older and just lost it from one year to another?

Vic: I call it "going over the cliff," and I've seen several players do it. Paul Spicer is the most recent example. In the Jaguars' late-season rush in 2007, Spicer was fantastic. He was playing the best defensive end I had seen on the Jaguars since before Reggie Hayward tore his Achilles. Then, last year, Paul went over the proverbial cliff. He couldn't get off blocks. He couldn't penetrate the line of scrimmage. He went from getting a new contract to being gone from the roster. It happens.

Mike from Woodbridge, VA:
The reason it would've taken five years was because of the on-field coach that quarterbacks were. Wasn't John Elway one of the last of that kind?

Vic: You're talking about quarterbacks who called their own plays. Yes, that's one of the major reasons it took five years to develop a starting-caliber NFL quarterback in the "old days." I don't think Elway called his own plays. Quarterbacks calling their own plays began to fade in the late 1970's. Let's not trivialize what today's quarterbacks have to do. Maybe they don't call their own plays, but they have massive formation and route adjustments to make at the line of scrimmage. Today's quarterbacks are more successful earlier in their careers for a variety of reasons. First of all, they're coming out of high school with a much better understanding of pass-offense. In the "old days," good high school teams wouldn't throw more than 10 passes a game. These days, they're throwing the ball all over the field. Progress makes everything better. We reach higher, therefore, we climb higher. What do you think Johnny Unitas would've been like in today's game? Think of Unitas in a game that would allow him an entire spring to practice his craft. Imagine Unitas playing a game that favors offense as much as today's game does. Put a communications device in Unitas' helmet and give him a bulging staff of coaches devouring tape and providing information on the next opponent. Give Unitas one of today's playbooks, five-wide and offensive linemen who can use their hands to block and think what he might've accomplished. Don't compare eras; it's impossible to do that. Put players into different eras and think about what they might've been like in those eras. Ben Roethlisberger would have been just as successful in the "old days," when quarterbacks were allowed to be battered and abused. He's perfect for that era. Roger Staubach would have been a star quarterback in today's game, which favors mobile quarterbacks. What era couldn't Dan Marino have played in? Today's quarterbacks are marvelous technicians of the game. They would've been able to call their own plays and I think they would've been very good at it, but they probably would've taken just as long to acquire that ability because that's the way the learning curve was structured back then.

Jeremy from Hoover, AL:
Why does the mainstream media lay the blame for the 2008 season solely on chemistry issues? While I'm sure it played a part last year, wouldn't the lack of play from the OL, DL, WR and DB be a bigger issue? All I read about is the lack of chemistry, and I think that the belief that better chemistry will automatically fix everything is misleading.

Vic: Always blame the media, right? Well that didn't come from the media. That came from right inside the locker room. I never bought into the chemistry thing. I blamed it on getting old, getting hurt and not having enough young replacements on the roster. In my opinion, losing came first, and then the chemistry got bad. That is, however, just my opinion and I'm only a sportswriter. When the guys inside the locker room say differently, the fans' tendency is to believe them. That's fine, but let's make sure we remember who said it.

Shawn from Spring Lake, NC:
You said Henderson needs to find the answer to his lapses in 2007 and '08. I believe the loss of Stroud is a big reason he is not as effective. Do you agree?

Vic: I do not. John Henderson's best season was in 2006, when he dominated everybody against whom he played. Stroud sustained a severe ankle sprain in practice the week of the '06 season opener and was hobbled the whole season. At no time that season was Marcus able to play up to his high standards.

Aaron from Reno, NV:
Listening to "Jaguars This Week," I'm quite frankly astonished that you have Tiquan Underwood so highly regarded. What do you like about him?

Vic: I like his size and speed. Quite frankly, I'm astonished that a guy with his size and speed lasted into the seventh round. I know Kenny Britt became the go-to guy at Rutgers last year, but all you have to do is put on the tape from the previous season, when Underwood had a big year, to see what the guy can do. I like all three of the Jaguars' rookie wide receivers, but I'm looking for a home run kind of guy and I think Underwood has the potential to be that guy. I like his upside. If I'm wrong about him, I'll admit it, but I see no reason not to express my excitement for what I saw of Underwood in OTAs. Can he do it with the pads on? That's the question that has to be answered now. Pads on is a whole different ballgame.

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