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Slow starts are a problem

Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Todd from Jacksonville:
What did you think of the Raiders' 18-play touchdown drive that featured no fewer than 18 running plays by at least three different backs?

Vic: I think the Jets must have a really bad run-defense – they're dead-last in the league -- and the Jaguars should take note when the teams play at Giants Stadium on Nov. 23. Unfortunately, for the Raiders, running the ball wasn't enough because they own the second-worst run-defense in the league. Here's an interesting comparison for you: The Jets are 24th in rushing and 32nd against the run; the Raiders are 23rd in rushing and 31st against the run. Is it any wonder their game went into overtime? Every year we go through this great "run-the-ball, stop-the-run" awareness. It's happening with the Jaguars, who upset the 7-1 Colts because the Jaguars ran the ball and stopped the run. But the majority of fans want to fire the offensive coordinator the first time he calls a running play that's stopped for no gain. At this stage of its time in office, so to speak, the "new era's" greatest accomplishment is its fourth-place ranking in run-defense. If this team does nothing more this season than stop the run, that'll be enough. Of course, if it can improve its rush-offense from its current 17th-place ranking, that would be even better.

Mike from Jacksonville:
In the last two games and counting, the Jaguars have given up a touchdown on the opposing teams' opening drives. What do the Jags need to do about that?

Vic: You're right, that's a problem. The Jaguars allowed Indianapolis and Baltimore to score touchdowns on their opening drives, and Tennessee scored a field goal and a touchdown in its first two possessions. Houston and Buffalo also scored touchdowns on their first possessions, and generally speaking the Jaguars have been slow-starters. They have been outscored 55-17 in the first quarters of games this season. I don't know why that's happened, but it's a problem and the standard way of fixing problems in the NFL is by emphasizing the need for improvement. In other words, the Jaguars need to make it a goal of theirs to be especially sharp in the first quarter.

Robert from Chicago, IL:
By any chance, did someone on the Titans defense hold Fred Taylor's head to the ground? We could use another game like that one from him. Also, in regards to the opposing TEs getting big plays early, any idea who is responsible for the coverage. Is it LBs getting beat, or perhaps the rookie safety, Mathis? I have not seen much of the Jags on TV, so it's hard for me to see for myself.

Vic: You can't assign blame for blown coverage without knowing exactly what the coverage plan was, but it's standard for the tight end to be the responsibility of the strong safety, strongside linebacker or both. By the way, don't feel bad, Jaguars fans in Jacksonville haven't seen much of their team on TV this year either.

Andy from Jacksonville:
With the results we've seen from Hugh Douglas and, in the past, Bryce Paup, do you think the Jags will stay away from premier free agents?

Vic: I certainly hope so.

John from Orange Park, FL:
I was wondering, are the Jags unhappy about the play of Brackens? I have been very happy with his play, considering his injury.

Vic: I don't think the Jaguars are disappointed at all with Tony Brackens' performance this season, largely because I don't think they believed he could give them as much playing time as he has. But I think you also have to look into Jack Del Rio's comment the other day – "He's as far (back) as he's going to get" – and understand the severity of Brackens' knee surgery and the need to adjust our expectations for him. He's not going to be the Brackens we knew from earlier in his career. If you expect him to play up to 1999 standards, you're not going to be satisfied.

Wilbur from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Which game do you expect to be the third win of the 2003 season, and the last?

Vic: Oh, Wilbur.

Sonny from Rochester, NY:
In regards to your answer about the 1996 playoffs: You mentioned that the Jags would not have made the playoffs in '96 if only two wild cards were taken. That is false. The Jags were the second wild-card team in the playoffs that year. The Colts were the number three wild card. So, if two wild cards were taken back then, the Jags would have still been in. I just thought you'd appreciate the clarification.

Vic: Way to go, Sonny. You are absolutely right. The Colts also finished 9-7 but lost the seeding tie-breaker to the Jaguars.

Dave from Fukuoka, Japan:
Is the arrow pointing up?

Vic: Following the win over the Colts, the arrow is definitely pointing up. Where the arrow is pointing at the end of the season will be determined by what the Jaguars do in the second half of the season. They are 1-0, so far.

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