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Quarterbacks make the difference

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

Rob from St. Augustine, FL:
Just wanted to point out one thing I didn't agree with in the Durant article. More three-man fronts because of line depth issues? I think we have more depth on the line than at linebacker. Our starting three are great, with special teamers behind them. Our defensive line has three capable starters at tackle and end.

Vic: I don't know of anyone who has the high regard you have for the defensive line. Everybody I know sees the defensive line as a concern, whereas linebacker appears to be a position of strength. Maybe you're right and we're all wrong. We'll see.

Bryson from Gainesville, FL:
Do you see all of this year's draft picks making the final roster?

Vic: Yes, I do.

Jonathan from Jacksonville:
I still don't get why you called it "in the grass." Was that supposed to be a joke?

Vic: Yeah, it was a joke. It was for the column's old-timers, who may remember some fun we had with "in the grass" a few years ago.

Martin from Fernandina Beach, FL:
What do you think other teams saw (or didn't see) in Tiquan Underwood that led them to pass on him?

Vic: I think two things caused Underwood to fall: a statistical decline from the previous season and a bout of the dropsies early in the season.

Derek from Fleming Island, FL:
In one of the questions last week pertaining to World Cup games being possibly played at the "The Jack" in 2018 or 2022, you responded with "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." Are you saying the stadium will be demolished and replaced by a golf course?

Vic: I was saying that by 2022 "The Jack" will be 27 years old and that's old for stadiums these days. The Vet, Three Rivers and Riverfront were all about 30 years old when they got the big boom. Look at the age of stadiums that have been abandoned: Foxboro, the Kingdome, the Big Sombrero, the Silverdome, the RCA Dome. Giants Stadium and Texas Stadium are next. All of those stadiums were abandoned at about age 30; some older, some younger. By 2022, my guess is "The Jack" will be showing its age and there will be talk about sending it to the golf course, if you know what I mean.

Doug from Jacksonville:
Who are your top starting quarterbacks in the league?

Vic: Ah, yes, the definitive "Dead Zone" question: What is your ranking of quarterbacks in the league? When you get this one, you know you are in the heart of the "Dead Zone." It won't be long now; training camp is just around the corner. The top quarterbacks? That's easy: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers. I think those are your clear-cut leaders. Matt Ryan is ready to break into that group. I'm not sure about Joe Flacco. He has big upside but I think he's going to need more seasoning than his rookie season might indicate. Tony Romo knocks your socks off, and then he has games that make you understand why he was undrafted. He's not a crunch-time player and that bothers me. He's got to change that. Jay Cutler is a sensational talent; he's a real gunslinger type, but he has a Bert Jones tease look to him, too. Donovan McNabb has been an elite quarterback for a long time, but he needs to win it all to get his due. I really liked what I saw in Aaron Rodgers last year. I think he has top five potential. Kurt Warner is a consummate pro and he has at his disposal the best receiver in the game. Carson Palmer is at a crossroads in his career. I love the way Eli Manning rose to the occasion at crunch time, but he often looks too wimpy for my tastes. I need to see more from him. David Garrard was sensational in 2007 and not as bad as people think he was in '08. Come on, look at his receivers last year. I'm looking forward to seeing him build a relationship with a new receiving corps. That's my "Dead Zone" evaluation of the quarterback position.

John from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Draft articles had Terrance Knighton projected as a nose tackle. Was he playing that position during the 3-4 drills in underwear practice? If not, who was?

Vic: Who said anything about 3-4 drills? I never mentioned that the Jaguars used four linebackers. I only said they used three-man fronts. Yes, Knighton is a wide-body tackle who is more run-stuffer than pass-rusher.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
Basically what I'm expecting is an 8-8 year, maybe 9-7. I hope we win the division, however, looking at the trends, you need a top 10 defense to win the Super Bowl. Are we looking at making any moves to improve the defense? I think we really need to make a few smart moves to improve our defense.

Vic: The Jaguars traded their 2010 second-round pick to get a third-round pick this year, and then they used it to select cornerback Derek Cox. They preceded that pick by selecting defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. The Jags signed safety Sean Considine in free agency and they traded Dennis Northcutt for safety Gerald Alexander. They also claimed defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison and defensive back Kennard Cox off practice squads last December, and they signed some good-looking undrafted guys, too. You may be underestimating what they've done in the offseason. I can tell you one thing they didn't do: They didn't spend $13 million to sign a reject cornerback.

Richard from Jacksonville:
Any idea how the backup QB competition between the two Todds will shake out?

Vic: I don't see Todd Bouman and Todd Boeckman as competing against each other for the backup job. I see Bouman competing to prove he's worthy of the backup job and I see Boeckman competing to prove he's worthy of staying around in some capacity. For Bouman, it's about now. For Boeckman, it's about the future.

G.W. from Hurricane, WV:
If you could only explain this decade of football in one sentence, what would it say?

Vic: "Quarterbacks make the difference." That's how I would describe what this decade has taught us. It didn't start that way. Baltimore won the decade's first Super Bowl with a journeyman quarterback. Two years later, Tampa did the same thing. Overall, though, when you look at the impact Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have had on this decade of football, you can't deny the need for a top-notch quarterback. You could say that about any decade, but never more so than now. Matt Ryan put the exclamation point on the sentence last year when he literally took a dead franchise and led it into the playoffs and, more importantly, gave it the potential to become elite in the next few years. The bottom line is you're not gonna win the Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer at the controls nowadays. Seven of the decade's Super Bowls have been won by a guy named Brady, Manning or Roethlisberger.

Jason from Virginia Beach, VA:
How long have you been doing "Ask Vic?" I think I started reading as a sophomore in high school back in 2000. Has it really been almost 10 years of "Ask Vic?"

Vic: The first column appeared on March 7, 2001. The original intent in creating the column was that it would be an opportunity for readers to ask salary cap questions. At the time, the Jaguars were facing major cap problems and roster decisions would have to be made based on cap circumstances. "Ask Vic" has grown into a whole lot more than for which it was intended. The volume of questions is nearly unmanageable during the season, and the flow of questions during the "Dead Zone" is still steady enough that the column requires constant attention. I get questions from around the world and I've had people stop me on the street, in stores, in stadiums and even at golf courses, wanting to talk about a particular question or answer in "Ask Vic." I love doing the column and I am greatly appreciative of all its readers who have made "Ask Vic" what it is. Next month, "Ask Vic" will conduct its sixth annual golf tournament. It's a highlight day of the year for me because the event has such fantastic energy. If someone told me I'd be playing in a golf tournament with 36 foursomes, I'd cringe at the prospect of slow play, but it's never been like that. Everybody shows up with a smile on their face, the play is fast-paced and the highlight of the day seems to be the post-golf luncheon because that's when we all get together in one room and talk football. I love things that are naturally successful and that's the perfect way to describe the "Ask Vic" golf tournament. It's successful because the people who play in it want it to be successful. This is their column and their friends and their day to celebrate both. I can't wait for Aug. 21 to get here. The next "Ask Vic" will appear on Monday, July 20.

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