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Pursuit of immortality

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

Dave from St Augustine, FL:
I was reading over the tie-breaking procedures for the wild-card teams. It looks like we are going to have to go fairly deep into the steps this year with so many teams on the bubble. It's a fairly easy process to follow until it gets into strength of victory and strength of schedule. What goes into strength of victory? Is that tracked anywhere so we can see how the teams are doing in that regard? Or do we just wait until it's all over and see what the NFL computes?

Vic: Strength of victory is the combined record of the teams you've beaten. Strength of schedule is the combined record of all of the teams on your schedule. I don't have the updated SOV and SOS percentages but heading into this past weekend's games the Jaguars' SOV was .407 and SOS was .486. Both of those are toward the middle of the league. The NFL keeps close tabs on all tie-breaker stats but, honestly, I don't expect the Jaguars to need them. Just focus on the next game. My expectation is for the Jaguars to head into the final week of the season with a wild-card berth clinched.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I am glad I stayed the entire Indy game; exciting finish. You said this game would tell you a lot about David Garrard. What's your verdict? Personally, I was underwhelmed until the fourth quarter, at which point I was really impressed with how he spread the ball around and moved.

Vic: I was not underwhelmed. I think he performed impressively early in the game when he was getting no help from his running game. The stuff at the end was nice and makes everyone feel good but I'm not going to judge a guy on what he does at surrender time. In the first half, he was 10 of 14 for 98 yards and a 90.8 passer rating. There's nothing wrong with those numbers. He needed help.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I feel sick for Kyle Brady. He finally gets some passes his way and there goes the ball like a greased pig. What caused that, poor ball protection or picture-perfect tackling by Indy?

Vic: I think the one was the result of leaving his feet. When you do that, there's a tendency to lighten your grip on the ball. You wanna have your cleats in the ground and your pads down and over the ball, prepared to strike a blow.

Jerry from Clermont, FL:
I guess things will cool down on the respect issue until the playoffs. I mean how can we earn respect beating all the sub-.500 teams in the league? We have to win in the playoffs for respect.

Vic: That's right. A month from now, that opportunity will present itself again. The next three weeks are the path to that opportunity.

Steve from Jacksonville:
Vic, your blog is a flop in my book. You didn't even mention Brady's fumble in the second half, or that he had three on the day including the one that went out of bounds. Rather blase and fairly useless in my opinion.

Vic: Thank you for your comments. The following blog entry appeared: On 12/11/2005 2:09 PM, Vic wrote: (second quarter, 5:47, Kyle Brady fumble) That's a killer fumble. The Colts will attempt to kill what's left of the first-half clock. Brady's second lost fumble occurred with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter and the Colts ahead, 23-3. At that point, the outcome was pretty obvious and I was beginning to look at the bigger picture. The next entry was: On 12/11/2005 3:20 PM, Vic wrote: (end of the third quarter) The Jaguars clearly appear to be stunned. I really think they believed they would win this game. The kind of information you're seeking is presented in the full game story account, which I also write, in addition to a postgame editorial, and which appear on a couple of hours following the conclusion of the game. My blog is intended to be less formal. It's intended to supplement what the reader is seeing on television or hearing on the radio. Most readers don't want to be told what they already know.

Chris from Crestview, FL:
I think of myself as a Vicologist, and for the most part I believe in most if not all of your football beliefs. However, your fourth-and-one stumped me. I thought that with you as a coach we would pound the rock. Yes, it was early but I think that if you can't convert one yard, you're not gonna win anyhow.

Vic: Do whatever you want, but make sure it works. They pounded the rock on fourth-and-one in Pittsburgh, didn't get the first down and sure could've used at the end of regulation that field goal attempt they passed up in the first quarter. I believe in defense. I think your philosophy is why not go for it, they're going to score anyhow? That's surrender.

Jacob from Villanova, PA:
In one of your earlier "Ask Vic" columns you said that whoever beat the Colts would have first place in your power rankings. If the Chargers win next week against the Colts, even though they are 8-5, will they be number one?

Vic: Yes. If the Colts wanna be number one in my power poll, they gotta play all out. In my opinion, the pursuit of an undefeated season, which is clearly within the Colts' grasp at this stage of the regular season and with homefield for the playoffs in their possession, is too precious a distinction to sacrifice for the sake of rest. They'll have a bye week before their first playoff game. We're talking about immortality.

Scott from Seffner, FL:
I heard something about a jaguar animal exhibit that Wayne Weaver put together. Do you have any information on that? I'm taking my family to see the 49ers game and they would love to see actual jaguars.

Vic: Take her to the zoo, Rock.

Gary from Suffolk, VA:
I know the Colts walked the safeties up for run-support and that is why our running game was so ineffective. Is it just me or do you think the formula for any team against us is to put eight in the box and dare us to throw?

Vic: The Colts are not a "walk the safeties up for run-support" kind of defense. They did some of that on first down in a "cover three" scheme, but the Colts predominantly play a soft "cover two" scheme that leaves both safeties deep in the middle of the field to protect against the deep pass. That's always been Tony Dungy's defensive philosophy; "cover two defense," which he learned as a player from Bud Carson. "Cover two" is not a run-defense; it's a pass-defense. The Colts were by and large stopping the run with their front seven. When their safeties saw it was a run, however, they shot up to the line of scrimmage very quickly. Sanders and Doss are tough, aggressive tacklers.

Jordan from Lincoln, NE:
I think fans and media need to take it easy on the Jaguars and not make too much of this loss. The Colts have been doing this to everyone for the entire year.

Vic: What's this, a voice of reason? On Tuesday? Reason usually doesn't return until Wednesday.

Rashid from Pittsburgh, PA:
Do you think Byron Leftwich will be 100 percent ready by the time the playoffs arrive? Also, why has there been no talk about his progress?

Vic: First of all, the only way you can re-evaluate a broken bone is by x-raying it and you can't do that every day for two reasons: 1. Radiation exposure is not a good thing; 2. x-rays retard the healing process. A broken bone usually requires 4-6 weeks to heal, depending on the circumstances. You make your diagnosis and then you let the thing heal. Leftwich was supposed to come off crutches this week and be re-evaluated. We'll probably have more news on his condition later this week.

Kyle from Charleston, IL:
Did the Jaguars elect to receive at the beginning of the game? If they did, I believe they should have put their defense on the field because their offense always comes out flat first series.

Vic: So you wanna give the best offense in the game the ball to start both halves? That's an interesting strategy.

Tony from Jacksonville:
How do you think our team will respond against the 49ers after having such a major letdown?

Vic: This is professional football. These men are paid handsomely to respond each week. They will respond.

Ruby from Jacksonville:
As a female fan who actually knows more than some of the guys out there, I have been confused by some of the referee calls lately. Have there been changes in calls and penalties in the last year or so? If so, is there a book that can keep a fan up to date on changes?

Vic: It's called the "Official Playing Rules of the National Football League" and before you can use it you should take a course on how to use it. It couldn't be more confusing if it was written in hieroglyphics. I do a story every summer in training camp on rules changes; it coincides with a visit from an officiating crew that meets with the media. If you have a question, ask and I'll do the best I can to answer it. Please, don't ask too many.

Dan from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What seed would the Jags need to be to get a home game in the playoffs?

Vic: They'd have to be the fifth seed and they'd have to be playing the sixth seed in the AFC title game. That's the only way.

Daniel from Orlando, FL:
Do you think if we made the playoffs there's any realistic chance we could actually play our best and pull off a successful challenge for the championship?

Vic: Based on what I saw Sunday, the only way anybody is going to beat the Colts in that dome is if the quarterback chokes big time. They are a great team.

Daniel from Portland, IN:
First off, I would like to thank everyone in Jacksonville; my stay there was great and everyone was very friendly. I was surprised by the number of Colts fans in town. It seemed to me like they were trying to take over the town. Were you also surprised by the Colts fans that showed up?

Vic: I didn't even know there were any.

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