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Quarterbacks must be tough

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

J.D. from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Did you notice with around 2:34 to play that the defense waited 15-20 seconds to call timeout after stopping a Colts runner? What's your philosophy for clock management, call time out or wait for the two-minute warning?

Vic: The Jaguars only had two times out and the two-minute warning remaining when the Colts ran the ball on first down at the Jaguars 25-yard line. They used one time out after the first-down run and chose to allow the clock to run down to the two-minute warning after the second-down play, then used their final time out after the third-down play, leaving Mike Vanderjagt to kick a field goal with 1:54 to play. Had the Jaguars gone time out, time out, two-minute warning, they may have been able to squeeze one more play out of the game, but probably not. The Jaguars were trying to find some way to save one time out for when they had the ball; that was the discussion along the sideline as the clock was running after the first-down play. Saving a time out for when the Jaguars had the ball would've required the Colts to throw an incomplete pass, however, and Tony Dungy wasn't going to risk that. If you plot this out as we've done, I think you go time out, time out, two-minute warning instead of time out, two-minute warning, time out, but I don't think it would've turned out any differently. I don't think clock management was an issue.

Martin from London, England:
I have a question regarding the cap. I saw last year that the Steelers were in good shape going into the end of last season, but Ben Roethlisberger had a season for the ages and all of a sudden they got hit with an extra $5 million cap charge for this season because of all the "unlikely to be earned" bonuses that kicked in, leaving them tight against the cap and having to re-structure some contracts. Do the Jags have any players who could potentially do the same to the cap by having an outstanding season?

Vic: The Steelers finished last season tight against the cap, which left them almost no room to house the incentive money Ben Roethlisberger earned. That meant those incentives had to go on this year's cap and, because they were now likely to be earned in 2005, they had to be counted a second time against the cap, too. They were termed "unlikely to be earned" in '04 because Roethlisberger was a rookie and had never achieved those incentives, but they became "likely to be earned" in '05 because Roethlisberger had achieved those incentives in '04. It's a double hit. The Jaguars have a lot of players with high incentive potential, but the Jaguars' '05 salary cap provides room to receive those incentives, should they be earned.

Paul from Gainesville, FL:
We may have the toughest quarterback in the league and that counts for something with me. Thoughts?

Vic: Byron Leftwich has a groin strain and nothing more. That's the best news to have come out of the loss to the Colts. The hit Leftwich took from Raheem Brock was fearful. It's the kind of hit that can blow out every ligament in your knee. Yeah, Leftwich is a tough kid and that gives him a chance to be a great quarterback because I've never known a great quarterback who wasn't tough. All tough guys aren't great quarterbacks, but all great quarterbacks are tough guys.

Patrick from Elida, OH:
I also would like to disagree with Matt from Munster, IN. I was sitting 19 rows from the end zone where Leftwich was on the ground in pain. I was impressed with the class the Colts fans had when they saw the hit. Some even called for a penalty for a low hit. Now, for my question: I have yet to see a good replay on the Colts touchdown. Was it clearly a touchdown? It looked like the ball never crossed the line to me.

Vic: Video shot by indicates Ran Carthon's knee touched down before the ball reached the plane of the goal line. It should not have been ruled a touchdown but, as you've indicated, replay failed to reveal that fact, leaving the Jaguars unable to challenge the call. That's what I don't like about replay. It can be arbitrary in its application.

Joel from Jacksonville:
Byron Leftwich didn't need this game to earn my respect, he already had it, but I have never seen toughness from a quarterback like he displayed on Sunday. What other quarterbacks would you consider tough guys and how does Leftwich compare to them?

Vic: Mark Brunell is one of the toughest quarterbacks I've ever covered. He played on a high-ankle sprain in the 1998 playoffs that left him still limping in the spring. He sustained a partially-torn ACL in the 1997 preseason and continues to play on it. His comeback game against the Steelers on Monday Night Football in '97 was one of the grittiest efforts I have ever witnessed. Terry Bradshaw had the same kind of toughness. He played with a cast on his broken left wrist in 1977, a week after the injury occurred. Bradshaw was spiked head-first into the turf in '76 and suffered a neck injury that might've left a lesser man crippled for life, but he came back late in the season and played without fear in what was the most fearful era in NFL history. For Bradshaw's final game, with an elbow injury that left him unable to throw passes in practice the day before the game, Bradshaw had his arm shot-up until he lost feeling in his right hand, then he went out and threw touchdown passes in the first two drives of the game before retiring to the sideline forever. How about Steve DeBerg playing with a rod sticking out of his little finger? Then there's Joe Montana, who returned from back surgery that would've left most people to hobble through life. Montana's toughness was never fully appreciated. Johnny Unitas may be the toughest guy who ever lived. He died crippled from the game. Bobby Layne played without a facemask and I doubt if he ever finished a game without the right sleeve and front of his jersey covered with blood from his nose. Was Norm Van Brocklin tough? Jaguars quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson was once face-masked so violently that his chin finished above the name on the back of his jersey. That picture ran on every sports page in America the following day. Kenny walked off the field and into the ambulance. Imagine that. Today's quarterbacks are plenty tough, too. Chad Pennington toughed it out last season with a shoulder that required offseason reconstruction. Donovan McNabb lit up the 49ers this past Sunday after suffering a painfully bruised chest against the Falcons six days earlier. Byron Leftwich played on a bad knee last season and, of course, you saw what he did in Indy on Sunday. Why do it? Because that's what's expected of quarterbacks. They are expected to play hurt. It earns them respect and establishes their leadership.

Mike from Jacksonville:
What makes Mo Williams a right tackle and not a left tackle? I realize the left tackle typically blocks the pass-rushing end. Does that demand the left tackle be faster or more athletic?

Vic: Left tackles have to be very athletic because they are going up against the opponent's most athletic defensive lineman, the blindside pass-rusher. Mo Williams is athletic enough to play left tackle. What probably steered him toward right tackle is the fact that he was a defensive lineman early in his career at Michigan and was rough around the edges in technique coming out of college. Now, in his fifth year as a starting tackle in the NFL, I believe Williams could make the move to left tackle and, after a short adjustment period, could settle in at the position. I could be wrong, of course; that's just my opinion. He's athletic, he's durable, he's bright and intense. What about Khalif Barnes? Is he ready to play? Is he a left or right tackle? Those questions have to be answered. You don't start moving people around for the sake of experimentation. This isn't the preseason. You don't want to weaken yourself at two positions. Trust the coaches. Whatever they do, it'll be the right decision.

James from St. Petersburg, FL:
You stated that Chad Owens was released but might be put on the practice squad if he clears waivers. What exactly do you mean by clears waivers? And if he is put on the practice squad, does this mean he could possibly play anymore this season?

Vic: When a player is placed on waivers, every team in the league has 24 hours to put in a claim for that player's services. If he is not claimed during that 24-hour period, he will have cleared waivers and become a free agent. Should that occur, the Jaguars would be able to sign Chad Owens to the team's practice squad. Practice-squad players can be moved to the active roster at any time.

Lawrence from Jacksonville:
It appeared to me that on many occasions the rush also came from up the middle. Does this mean that our guards and center are overrated? How would you correct this problem?

Vic: Left tackle wasn't the only problem spot in the Colts game. The left guard and center also struggled. The fix is obvious: Play better. Help is not on the way.

Miguel from Mexico City, Mexico:
I am really disappointed with the Chad Owens cut. What are your thoughts on this matter?

Vic: I really like the kid and I thought he was a great spring and training camp story. The cut was, however, expected. He obviously wasn't going to be used as a punt-returner and he didn't fit into the Jaguars' plans as a wide receiver. This is a chance for him to take a step back. I believe he has a career in professional football, it's just that it's probably not going to happen as suddenly as we thought it might. That's the danger of the preseason. We build guys up on what they do in practice and in games that don't count.

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