Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Dennis from Jacksonville:
Can you explain the specifics of the intentional grounding rule?
Vic: The passing pocket is defined by the two offensive tackles. When the quarterback gets outside one of his tackles, the pocket no longer exists and he can dump the ball near or at the line of scrimmage without a receiver in the area and not be flagged for intentional grounding. It's up to the referee's discretion as to what constitutes near the line of scrimmage. The quarterback's safety is the referee's number one concern. When the quarterback is in the pocket, any pass he attempts must be directed toward an eligible receiver. One of the two linesmen will determine if there was a receiver in the area of the pass. The line of scrimmage rule for passes out of the pocket does not apply to passes from within the pocket. All passes from within the pocket must be directed toward a receiver or the quarterback will be penalized for intentional grounding.
Wade from Winston-Salem, NC:
Went to the Panthers-Bucs MNF game and three things struck me: 1. Charlotte's downtown is fantastic. 2. They've got two levels of luxury boxes in a ring around the entire stadium and it only looked like one wasn't sold. 3. Their fans have a large wine and cheese contingent and were about as loud as a bottle of Pinot Grigio chilling on ice. We're lucky to have the Jags and especially the Weavers, who are leaving a lot of extra money out there by being committed to Jacksonville.
Vic: The gap between the haves (large-market teams) and the have-nots (small-market teams) is widening. The Eagles have been doing some contract maneuvering recently that hasn't been mentioned, but it says it all about the problem this league is facing in terms of maintaining competitive balance. The Eagles have signed Trent Cole, Mike Patterson, Reggie Brown and Shawn Andrews to contracts through 2013 and beyond. Each of those guys had multiple years remaining on his contract, so, there was no need to do the extensions. Why did the Eagles do the extensions? For two reasons. Number one, they had the salary cap room to take the hit now; bonus money can't be amortized beyond 2010, so, the Eagles really pre-paid on their cap in doing these deals and that means they are going to be in great cap shape in the years after those players' amortizations expire. Number two, and this is the big one, they have the money available to spend $41 million in bonuses to lock up young players for the future. What that tells us is the Eagles are making huge profits. The Eagles may be the king of the large-market teams. They really rake it in. The contract/salary cap maneuver I just described is something small-market teams such as the Jaguars can't do. They just don't have that kind of cash flow. Therefore, teams such as the Jaguars will continue to risk losing young talent they've developed to large-market teams who have the revenue to "steal" them. By the way, the Eagles are the masters of the salary cap. They are awesome managers of it.
Mark from Atlanta, GA:
Tom Coughlin returning to Jacksonville on Monday night: cheers or jeers from the fans? I still appreciate what he did getting the franchise off the ground.
Vic: Why would there be anything but cheers?
Bryan from Kernersville, NC:
You mentioned that the "Z" crew was sent and there were fewer cameras, but shouldn't all of the games have the same angles to use for replay? I don't mean same amount of cameras, but the same amount of angles?
Vic: High-profile games have more TV cameras than low-profile games, and more cameras mean more angles. Dean Blandino in the league office told me they always try to have at least six cameras at every game. Blandino is in the league's officiating department and he has been an outstanding source of rules information for "Ask Vic" readers. He told me the reason the review guy in the booth on Sunday didn't order a review of the fourth-and-one spot is because he saw the camera angles that were available to him and they didn't provide a view of the ball or the runner's knee, so he knew the play would stand. For PR purposes, however, Blandino said the booth guy should've stopped the game for a review, to let the fans know it was done and the spot could not be overturned. On another note, the ruling of "incomplete pass" late in the game, involving the Texans' Owen Daniels, should've been overturned and ruled a catch and a fumble.
Patrick from Marinette, WI:
Enjoy your power rankings. Going into week 11, eight AFC clubs have winning records and eight NFC teams have winning records. Eight AFC teams have losing records and eight NFC teams have losing records. There are no .500 teams. What happened to parity?
Vic: I think you've just been inducted into the "Ask Vic" Hall of Fame, Pat. It's tough to be .500 after nine games. Twelve teams are within one win and one loss of each other. That's amazing parity.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Looking back now, do you think we should have gotten a veteran wide receiver?
Vic: It's easy to say that now. Javon Walker and Donte Stallworth were acquired for second-round picks. You could certainly make a point that they would've been worthy acquisitions. Deion Branch, in my opinion, is not worth a first-round pick. I don't know that there's a wide receiver for which I would trade a first-round pick. You can get what you need in the later rounds. What we must remember is that the Jaguars made a commitment to the development of their young wide receivers, and that's what good teams do. They commit to the development of their young players. That kind of commitment has a time limit, of course, and if the situation doesn't improve dramatically in what's left of this season, change is likely to occur in the offseason. I support what they did. It's what I would've done.
Mike from Albany, NY:
Tell me what happens if David tanks in the first half. Do you think Jack is gonna switch QBs like he was gonna do in Houston or let David battle it out? I don't care who the QB is as long as they win.
Vic: You have a clash of one bad thought and one good thought. Don't think about a change at quarterback. David Garrard is the man. You're right, however, it doesn't matter who the quarterback is, as long as the team wins. Winning is the only thing that matters.
Mickey from Jacksonville:
This past Sunday, I took my son to the game. It was his first Jaguars game, and although the Jaguars lost the game, I saw my son become a true Jaguars fan. He never lost hope the Jaguars would win the game. He cheered his heart out. He even started following the game and players pretty well for his age, nine. Even after the game, he was already asking when we could go again, and he now has a favorite Jaguars player, "Big John" Henderson. I definitely believe we are beginning to see a whole new home-grown fan base developing, that is consisted of young Jaguar fans that grow up watching the Jaguars instead of other teams. It's exciting to see.
Vic: People think I'm grumpy and cynical, and they're right, but your story went right to my heart. I like to see kids get sports fever. I like it when kids learn to read a boxscore. I like it when kids grab the sports section of the newspaper before their dad does. I like it when kids make sports the centerpiece of their young lives, instead of the other stuff that can be so bad for them. One of the great things about kids playing sports for their school teams is that they have to get good grades to be eligible to play. You don't have to get good grades to hang out. I'm counting on you to take your kid back to see the Jaguars real soon. I wish it didn't cost as much, but you'll never regret the money you spent to make him a football fan.
Brad from Vancouver, BC:
What's your take on the officiating this season?
Vic: I think the officials do a great job. They have been handed a rule book that is brutally difficult to understand, interpret and administer. They are under an intense microscope. Theirs is one of the few professions on earth that involves immediate review, critique and correction. Then, their performance is reviewed and critiqued again and they are handed grades that will determine the future of their employment. Yes, I see calls that cause me to wince. I saw a call this past Sunday in which a defensive lineman was flagged for roughing the passer because he grabbed the quarterback's foot with two hands. He didn't pull his foot or anything else, but the guy was flagged for roughing the passer. I knew exactly why the official was calling a penalty; because he was applying a strict interpretation of the don't-go-low-on-the-quarterback rule, but it was such a ridiculous example. That's the biggest problem these guys face right now. They are being asked to know the rules and all of their applicable exceptions and additions. What I try to do is put the burden on myself to accept the calls that I think were mistakes. I tell myself that it's only a game and we all make mistakes. I think we need to be more accepting of the mistakes they make. When they're not making mistakes, however, they are doing a fantastic job.
Ted from Oakland, CA:
"How do you expect them to perform when they are being dogged and pressured?" I choked on my muffin this morning while reading this. Are you kidding me? Can we apologize even more for the players? Everyone in my personal life who has a job faces pressure in some way.
Vic: That was my reaction, too. Being able to deal with pressure is the biggest part of being a professional athlete.