Schottenheimer faced tough call

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

George from Pocatello, ID:
Peyton Manning returns to New Orleans? Why would he return to New Orleans, Vic? The Super Bowl is in Miami.

Vic: You're right. My bad.

Damien from Jacksonville:
Man, Luke from Indy really is a mad person. By the way, who is more the idiot, the idiot or the man who continues to read the idiot's work?

Vic: I agree, I think.

Joe from Pontypridd, Wales:
What's the difference between the balls used for kicking and those used during the rest of the game?

Vic: The balls used by the quarterbacks are pre-used. The kicking balls are brand new.

Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Would the Jags prefer to sell all of their group-ticket allotment as season tickets, or will there always be group tickets available and, if so, how many?

Vic: The Jaguars always want to maintain an allotment of group tickets because there are corporations that want to reward their people and there are military people and civic organizations the Jaguars want to reward. The group-ticket allotment has been about 4,500 per game for the past two seasons and will remain at that level for the 2007 season.

Rob from Milwaukee, WI:
Does it count as an incomplete pass in the boxscore when a quarterback spikes the ball in order to stop the clock?

Vic: Yes.

Gil from Atlantic Beach, FL:
While I understand that football is a young man's game, what is your opinion on acquiring Jeff Garcia on a short-term contract while the Jaguars try to figure out their QB situation? Do you think Garcia would be a good fit here?

Vic: Jeff Garcia turned in a sensational late-season performance. I am in awe of what he did, but I think it was a phenomenon. I wouldn't count on Garcia replicating the same kind of magic next season.

Paul from Jacksonville:
In all seriousness, which overpaid, underperforming distraction of a player appears to be the front-runner in the we-should-go-after voting so far this early offseason?

Vic: Randy Moss is currently the runaway leader. He's making Terrell Owens yesterday's news.

Tom from Orange Park, FL:
We played the Chiefs in Kansas City this year, so why are we scheduled to play them again in Kansas City in 2007?

Vic: It just happens that way according to the scheduling rotation. In 2006, the Jaguars played at Kansas City because the Chiefs and Jaguars each finished in second place in their respective divisions in 2005. In 2007, the Jaguars will play at Kansas City because the rotation calls for the AFC South and AFC West to go head-to-head, and the rotation designates that game to be played in Kansas City. It's a quirk in the scheduling format that can't be helped. We've always had them. Look at it this way: The Jaguars are going to play Pittsburgh and Buffalo again next season, and those two games could've just as easily have been in Buffalo and at home against Pittsburgh, which they were this past season. In those cases, the scheduling format worked.

Andrew from Jacksonville:
Could you please explain to me what exactly "Martyball" is?

Vic: "Martyball" is the ultra-conservative style of play for which Marty Schottenheimer has long been criticized. Popular opinion is that "Martyball" is the reason Schottenheimer has had trouble winning in the playoffs. Well, this year he got rid of "Martyball." Didn't work, did it?

Jon from Jacksonville:
Of the final four teams this weekend, three of the four – Chicago, New England and New Orleans – were fifth, sixth and 11th respectively in total defense this season. On the other side of the coin, this weekend features the first, third and ninth-ranked passers in the league. It truly is about the quarterback and the defense, isn't it?

Vic: There are always exceptions, but rule of thumb nowadays is that you better have a good defense and a good quarterback. The Colts defense wasn't very good this season, but it's playing at the highest level of any defense in the playoffs.

Tommy from Huntington, WV:
The play by Marlon McCree was beyond stupid, when he intercepted and then got stripped by Troy Brown. It was fourth down. Knock the ball down and forget it. Even on the sandlot we know that when a team goes for it on fourth down you get better field position and you don't get stripped. I do blame Marty. He should teach his guys to play smart. That was not smart and they paid for it, don't you agree?

Vic: The coach is ultimately responsible for everything. The guy can't catch a break. It's a shame.

Tim from Jacksonville:
If Thursday is a Colts-fan-only day on "Ask Vic," then I will no longer return to this website. This is a Jaguars site. If Debbie wants to talk with Colts fans all day, then go to soft.com, I mean Colts.com, and talk with Colts fans there.

Vic: Tim, I do about 240 of these columns a year. Frankly, I'm surprised they don't get boring; maybe they do. Let's do something different. Let's find out what their perspective is by listening to the questions they ask.

David from Jacksonville:
Come on, Vic, you may love Schottenheimer but if you're looking for what he did wrong in that game, how about going for it on fourth-and-11? That created a six-point swing with field position. Don't you think it just keeps happening to him for a reason?

Vic: It was fourth-and-11 at the New England 30. I didn't like Schottenheimer's decision not to attempt a field goal. Nate Kaeding was the leading scorer among AFC kickers this season and he was within his range. Had Schottenheimer ordered a punt, everyone would've said he's still playing "Martyball" and they would've blamed the loss on that. If the Chargers had converted on the play, the media would've hailed the new Schottenheimer. Had a field goal attempt failed, the Patriots would've gotten great field position. As it turned out, Phillip Rivers was sacked and the Pats did get great field position. The bottom line is the Chargers had an eight-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and they folded like a lawn chair. I don't know who gets the blame. What I do know is that two senseless late-game personal fouls and McCree's fumble were the difference.

Soren from Odense, Denmark:
Have you ever missed a Jaguars game?

Vic: Yeah, I missed consecutive games at Houston and at Dallas in 2002.

Joe from Orange Park, FL:
Your article the other day about having a guy at crunch time was perfectly illustrated by Tom Brady's performance. I looked at the stats for the game and the Chargers led just about everything from time of possession to turnover ratio, but it didn't matter. They are at home and the Patriots are going to Indianapolis. Thanks for being on the money with your articles.

Vic: You gotta have "money" players if you're going to win a championship. You need "money" players at a lot of positions but, most importantly, you gotta have that guy at the quarterback position. Make plays. I don't care how you make them or what they are, just make them. When Ben Roethlisberger tripped up Nick Harper in last year's playoffs, was that a crunch-time play? How about that block on Randle El's touchdown pass in the Super Bowl? Neither play showed in his passer rating, but the first one was the play of the game and the second one allowed the game-clinching touchdown. Forget about statistics. It's all about crunch time. Tom Brady was on his way to one of the worst days of his career on Sunday. Then, crunch time arrived and Brady became unstoppable. That's my kind of quarterback. That's everybody's kind of quarterback.

Chris from Gainesville, FL:
Do you think Jack Del Rio's job is in jeopardy next year? I think Jack is an excellent coach and should be the Jaguars coach, but coaches are getting fired for not winning in the playoffs. I think it is sad. I'm still upset that Tampa Bay fired Tony Dungy. Your thoughts?

Vic: Every coach's job is in jeopardy. Coaches are being fired as a result of temper tantrums by owners who lack the same kind of self-control that caused San Diego to lose to New England on Sunday. Patience is a virtue. When you become known as a patient organization, the pressure on your coach is eased and he is allowed to function unencumbered by concerns for his job security. Given a patient atmosphere, coaches are more likely to make decisions solely in the best interests of the long-term future of the franchise, and not in the short-term interests of the coach. In my opinion, Baltimore's trade for Steve McNair is one of those short-term mistakes. Did it have anything to do with an embattled coach? The franchises I respect are the ones that are strong enough to be patient. They have the strength to maintain their convictions and commitments in the face of criticism. The franchises that do that make it very clear who's running the show.

Roger from Jacksonville:
Would you fire Marty Schottenheimer?

Vic: Absolutely not. If the Chargers fire Schottenheimer, they will send a message to their football team that could ruin it. The message is that there is no loyalty or appreciation here.

Jon from Tallahassee, FL:
Who are your favorite and least favorite NFL commentators?

Vic: I like Mike Tirico's play by play and John Madden's analysis.

Bob from Jacksonville:
If there's a Colts-fan-only day on this website I, and I assure you other true Jaguars fans, will formally boycott this site for the remainder of its existence.

Vic: Bob, I will not be censored. I treasure the right to free speech and I will not be bullied into betraying it.

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