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Reasons for anxiety

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

Matt from Orlando, FL:
Why has CBS stopped showing the games in Orlando?

Vic: Secondary markets are required to televise the road games of their market's team, but not their home games. The station manager of the CBS affiliate in Orlando has made it clear he prefers to air the Dolphins' games.

Ripley from Daytona Beach, FL:
How about we arrange a road game? First annual "Ask Vic" road trip; Jags vs. Titans. You know how much fun that would be? What do you think? Can you make it happen? I know it's short notice but we get a bus and maybe an inside line on some tickets, and we're there, 80-100 people cheering on the Jaguars.

Vic: That's a great idea, it's just that it's on too short notice. I guess Arizona, Cleveland and Houston are too far away for a bus. This is something we need to remember for next season. It can be done in a nice package, including some frills.

Mark from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
In the Steelers/Browns game, there was a Hines Ward touchdown catch that was reviewed. They overturned the touchdown but the replay clearly showed the Cleveland defender putting his hands all over Ward's facemask. Is it possible to challenge a play when there is a totally obvious penalty that wasn't called, hoping it was caught on replay? And just out of curiosity, could the refs have still reversed the touchdown but then said "the replay clearly shows illegal hands to the face by the defensive back" and called the penalty?

Vic: This is a great question because it goes directly to the major flaw in the replay review system. You are a deep thinker and I thank you for it. The simple answer to your question is that penalties can not be reviewed. In other words, a player can't be flagged based on what the replay revealed. That raises the inevitable question: How can it be considered fair to use replay to correct one mistake and not another? For example, how do you separate the violent twisting of Hines Ward's head and the fact that he was being judged on his ability to have controlled the ball? Are they unrelated acts? Do you think there's any chance he had difficulty controlling the ball because as he was attempting to do so his head was being twisted? I thought referee Larry Nemmers missed a great opportunity to inject some humor into the game. He should have said, "After further review, the receiver, as he was being facemasked by the defender, failed to control the ball." I understand and appreciate that we can't review every play for every possible foul. I understand that replay review was created to be used on those few significant plays that impact the game, but they are no longer few and who's to say what's significant? The system, in my opinion, is failing. Look at the Mike Alstott play. His elbow was down short of the goal line but replay was inconclusive because you couldn't see the ball. Well, unless Alstott has another hinge in his arm somewhere between his elbow and hand, we can all assume the ball didn't cross the goal line either. The biggest problem with replay review is that it's here to stay and that means the league has to find a way to make it work. The concept of "conclusive" has fallen into the realm of interpretation and that shouldn't have happened. Conclusive is conclusive and I'm seeing example after example of plays being overturned on what is clearly not conclusive evidence. In my opinion, the NFL should blow up the whole system when the season ends and go into a major overhaul of replay review and everything else related to how the league officiates games.

Andy from Chicago, IL:
Is Ronnie from Jacksonville crazy? Did he not see Wilford get hurt on a meaningless pass play in the fourth quarter or Leftwich get sacked? Points are fine, wins are better, and keeping guys healthy when you can is great. Why can't you go for the jugular running the ball?

Vic: I'm with you. When the win is in hand, the objective changes to expire the clock. At that point, you turn it over to your running game, slow the game down and reduce the number of plays. A front office guy who used to be with the Chiefs related one of his favorite Marty Schottenheimer stories to me recently. In a game in which the Chiefs had taken a comfortable lead, Schottenheimer gathered his offensive line and told them they were going to have some fun now because the passing was over. It was time to start mashing people. When you play that way, you're not going for the jugular, you're going for the heart because sticking it down the other guys' throat tears the heart out of a team. Go back to 2003 when the Titans did that to the Jaguars and Jack Del Rio ripped his team for having allowed it. That may have been the turning point in the Del Rio era. Forget about the scoreboard. What's the score at the line of scrimmage? That's where teams win or lose their esteem. That's the pro game. That's the way professionals play when the game is in hand. It's cold, it's calculated and it's effective.

Randy from Orange Park, FL:
I have a question, Vic, stemming from a play in college football over the weekend. The touchdown return in the Florida at South Carolina game of a blocked extra-point attempt resulted in two points. Can you explain this in more detail and also tell me if the rule is the same in the NFL?

Vic: The explanation won't require a lot of detail. College football awards two points for returning a conversion attempt the length of the field, the NFL does not. In the NFL, the moment the defense assumes possession of the ball during a conversion attempt, the play is blown dead.

Alex from Kronenwetter, WI:
When did this defense become so good at stopping the pass? The last couple of years have been all about our run-defense and now we're 22nd in run-defense and first in pass-defense.

Vic: Several factors have gone into the Jaguars' rise in the pass-defense rankings. Let's start with the personnel improvements. Kenny Wright and Terry Cousin have been outstanding free-agent acquisitions. Dave Campo is a top coverages coach and has brought a lot of expertise to the staff. Along those lines, Jack Del Rio and his defensive staff really focused on improving their pass-coverage, to the point of creating a 3-3-5 defensive alignment to use against Peyton Manning, which the Jaguars did with great effectiveness. We also have to consider the quarterbacks the Jaguars have faced: Kyle Boller, David Carr, Jamie Martin, Tommy Maddox and an injured Chad Pennington. When you put it all together, you get number one in pass-defense.

Roger from Jacksonville:
The owners have not yet agreed on a revenue sharing plan, upon which any new CBA will be predicated, so as it now stands, the 2007 season will be uncapped. Is it possible teams like Washington and Indianapolis, who've pushed so much salary into the future that they will be facing crippling cap problems in the next couple of years, are gambling that the '07 season will remain uncapped and they'll be able to dump a load of reserve cash into salaries that year and effectively bail themselves out of their mess?

Vic: An uncapped year would especially hurt Washington and Indianapolis; they especially need the salary cap to be extended. An uncapped year would hurt them because they wouldn't be able to keep guys in 2006, since they couldn't push amortization past '09. Washington's cap is so bad for next year that the Redskins would have to gut the team to get under the cap, so they're counting on getting an extension that will allow them to restructure contracts and push amortization deeper into the future. Indy's cap isn't as bad as Washington's but the Colts need an extension of the salary cap for the same reasons. Dwight Freeney will be a free agent following the '06 season and the Colts, no doubt, would like to get him done early. They'll need the salary cap to be extended to have the future room to push Freeney's bonus money.

Kelvin from Warwick, UK:
The three road games coming up should be three wins, but it doesn't always work like that, especially as the Jags are not yet an elite team. Which one of the three do you see as being the most difficult?

Vic: I think they all offer reason for anxiety. Tennessee is coming off a bye week. You don't think Jeff Fisher put a little extra preparation into this Sunday's game, do you? You don't think he'll have a few wrinkles ready to spring on the Jaguars, do you? The game in Arizona concerns me because the desert offers such a different environment. Even for a team coming from Florida, the Arizona sun can sap your energies. Then the Jaguars go to the other extreme in Cleveland, which will probably be the Jaguars' first cold-weather game of the year. How cold? That game will also be the Jaguars' first trip to Cleveland since "Bottlegate." And will the Browns play as they did against the Steelers on Sunday night? They were in a state of intense agitation. I'm not telling you the Jaguars are embarking on murderer's row – far from it – but road games are difficult and circumstances could make these three games especially difficult for the Jaguars.

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