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Reggie Williams is number one

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

Jack from West Melbourne, FL:
I've been an "Ask Vic" reader for a long time, so I'm embarrassed to say it took me more than 10 hours to figure out why we lost to the Redskins. I got distracted by the air attack on both sides of the ball, got distracted by the bad replay on the non-fumble, got distracted by the stupid penalty for the celebration. We lost the game because we were not able to run the ball and stop the run.

Vic: There was more to it. Yes, the Jaguars' inability to run the ball and stop the run allowed the Redskins to dominate time of possession, which they did by more than 11 minutes. Think about that for a minute. The Redskins had the ball more than 11 minutes longer than the Jaguars did. I expected the Jaguars to have trouble running the ball. There was no doubt in my mind Redskins Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams would see what the Jaguars did against the Colts and bulk up to stop the run and dare the Jaguars to throw it. I thought the burden of proof in this game was on Byron Leftwich and the passing attack and they did more than prove themselves. They were fantastic. The Jaguars offense had four plays of 30 yards or longer – all of which were passes – for the first time in 97 games. What I wasn't expecting was a collapse on defense. The 481 yards the Jaguars allowed is the most since 2000. It was the difference in the game.

Mike from Mill Valley, CA:
Despite the losing effort, you've gotta be impressed with Reggie Williams. I think he's close to establishing himself as a big run-after-the-catch threat. Do you think he has a brighter future than we all thought four weeks ago?

Vic: When training camp began, I never thought Reggie Williams would approach the kind of performance he's provided through the first part of this season. Against the Redskins, he played at a star level. He has claimed, without a doubt, the distinction of being the Jaguars' number one receiver. After trying him in different roles, the Jaguars have found the role that suits him: a run-after-the-catch receiver. It goes hand in hand with his toughness. Even when he was struggling to make catches, there was no denying his toughness. The guy can take a hit. He's a physical blocker. He likes to tuck the ball under his arm and plow. The problem was we all wanted him to be something else. We saw his height and we wanted him to catch lobs, but he's not an alley-oop receiver, he's a tough, along-the-ground guy. Reggie's early failings, it would seem, were the result of not being cast in the right role.

Chris from Brevard, NC:
The passing game comes alive but the running game and defense is non-existent. What's going on? Is this a coaching issue or just inconsistent play?

Vic: I don't know what it is, but you're assessment is right on the button. Let's break it down into run-offense, pass-offense, run-defense, pass-defense and special teams. Of those five aspects of the Jaguars' overall performance on Sunday, the pass-offense was, by far, the best. I won't buy a "coaching issue." This is a top staff. In "Game Preview," however, I did express anxiety about this game. I didn't like what I was feeling. I didn't like the fact that the Jaguars were coming off three intense games and heading into a game for which there was no special intensity. The Redskins are a team the Jaguars don't regularly play and they have no rivalry or historical perspective for the Redskins. It wasn't a division game or a conference game. On top of that, the Jaguars were a beat up team. They never completely recovered from that Monday night game against the Steelers. That one took a lot out of this team. I also didn't like the emotions of the Brunell-Leftwich confrontation, though, it would seem the two quarterbacks canceled each other out. I don't know if those are reasons or excuses. I just didn't think this game had the Jaguars' attention as completely as the first three did.

Nicky from Massapequa, NY:
What are your thoughts about the team after a quarter of the season?

Vic: I'm going to throw out that defensive performance against the Redskins. That wasn't the Jaguars. I'm also going to throw out that 9-0 job against the Steelers. I'm not throwing out the win, but I think 9-0 was a false indicator. In my opinion, the Jaguars have a very good defense, but injuries have hurt them and they need to get more impact play from their linebackers. Is it a good defense? Yes. Is it an elite defense? Not yet. Offensively, I'm going to throw out that 156 yards rushing in the first half against the Colts because everyone runs the ball against the Colts, and I'm going to take a do-it-again attitude toward the performance of the passing game against the Redskins. In short, I think the way the Jaguars have played in the first four games is indicative of who and what they are. They are good enough to win convincingly at home against good teams, and good enough to almost win on the road against good teams. The Jaguars are a good team. They are playoff contenders. They need to fix their defense, re-commit to the running game, hold on to the passing game they displayed against the Redskins and improve their special teams. All of that can be done.

Carson from Tampa, FL:
It's an understatement to say the Jaguars miss Reggie Hayward.

Vic: Yes, it's an understatement. Everyone knew they would miss him. He was their best defensive end and pass-rusher. At one point in Sunday's game, Bobby McCray, Tony McDaniel and Rob Meier were in the game. This is not a criticism of those players, but they were supposed to be reserves. Hayward is gone for the year, Marcus Stroud has limped through the first four games on a bad ankle and Paul Spicer has had a nagging groin injury. The Jaguars need to beat the Jets and then spend the bye week getting people healthy.

Mark from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What is the point of having replay review when, even after two minutes of looking at perfect footage of the play, the referees can't get a call on the field correct?

Vic: You're asking the wrong guy. I'm all for getting rid of replay review. If we did that, we could make the wrong call a lot faster. I don't know what it was about Sunday's game, but there seemed to be an inordinate number of breaks in the action. The game lacked flow in the worst way. Run a play, take a break. Run four plays, take a break. It was like climbing a mountain.

Rob from Raleigh, NC:
What a dreadful game. I didn't think it was possible for a team to run the ball like that against us. What happened?

Vic: The Redskins had an interesting game plan on offense. You'll see it again. You can count on that. They stretched the Jaguars sideline to sideline with wide runs and screens. That allowed the Redskins to set up some passes in the middle of the field, such as Santana Moss' first two touchdowns. When an offense runs wide and screens a lot, it is attacking the defense's linebackers. The Redskins saw something.

Al from Amelia Island, FL:
It hurts, but we've still got a shot at being 3-2 after five games, which most of us would have been happy with before the season started. Do you still think 3-2 will keep us in the division race?

Vic: The Colts have a consecutive games at Denver, at New England stretch of schedule coming up at midseason. The Jaguars need to win through that point in the schedule. It's that simple. If the Jaguars want to get back into the AFC South title race, they have to get on a roll.

Steve from Jacksonville:
What did you see in Mark Brunell, before the Armstead incident, that makes you say he was going to be better than Steve Young, perhaps the best quarterback in the game? Was it his scrambling ability alone?

Vic: Brunell was coming into his prime at a time when the game was going into a temporary drought at the position. The old guys, Young, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, John Elway, etc., were on the way out and Brunell was at the top of a rather thin crop of new stars at the position. In my opinion, his ability to pass and run would've typified the next generation of quarterbacks and he would've become the symbol of that group. He would've been the link between Marino, Montana and the quarterbacks going out, and Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and the current crop of star quarterbacks. The knee injury Brunell sustained in the 1997 preseason took a significant portion of his game from him.

Matt from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Your mention that Jones-Drew was the seventh Jaguar to rush for 100 yards in a game made me wonder who the others are. Taylor, Mack, Means, Stewart, Drew for sure. Maybe Toefield and?

Vic: Greg Jones.

Terry from McKinney, TX:
Has anyone ever made you replace the ball and take a penalty for removing your mark?

Vic: Sir, I only play with gentlemen and gentlemen allow cheating.

Trevor from Washington, DC:
Yes, Jennings' team won, and I agree that's a trump card, but he won rookie of the week voting because he's a Green Bay Packer. It's a popularity contest. Most of the objective people probably voted for Jones-Drew, but the large number of cheeseheads put Jennings over the top.

Vic: You're right. There are three "national" teams: Dallas, Pittsburgh and Green Bay. Their huge national followings give them an advantage in any kind of fan voting. That's the reason I don't like fans voting for the Pro Bowl. A lot of fans don't vote responsibly. Fan voting represents 33 percent of the selection process. It can definitely sway selections. I believe it cost Mike Peterson election to the Pro Bowl last year and I have no doubt it did the same to Jones-Drew in the rookie of the week balloting.

Todd from Fruit Cove, FL:
I read that Commissioner Roger Goodell is considering implementing changes to limit crowd noise. Is he for real?

Vic: I hope he does. I'd like to see the league return to the old ways of dealing with crowd noise: The ball doesn't get snapped until the crowd gets quiet. Why should visiting teams be denied the ability to communicate?

Dennis from Chesapeake, VA:
I'm leaving on deployment on Tuesday and I hoped to get one question in before I left. Mathis is a shutdown guy against any other receiver, but it seems like Harrison has his number. Is he in his head or what?

Vic: I don't know, but here's what I do know. "Ask Vic" and its readers are with you every step of the way. We say thanks and, please, be safe.

J.J. from Barstow, CA:
I read your column and see: "Just win, baby. Stats are for losers." So you're saying you'd prefer to have your running backs get 20 yards on the ground per game and still win, then get blown out in the playoffs, or what?

Vic: I'm saying winners rest on their victories. Losers rest on their stats. That's all. Don't confuse the message. Championships are for winners. Stats are for losers.

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