Former Jaguars defensive end and current radio personality Jeff Lageman filled in for the Senior Editor and answered the fans tough questions.
William from Savannah, GA:
Could you tell us what happened to Vic? Some of us missed it and are worried about him, cute nurses or not…
Vic: Vic had a mild heart attack on Christmas night. He was released today after having a few stents put in and is now in the care of his lovely wife Bonnie and will be resting at home in the near term. I went and saw him yesterday and talked with him this morning and he looks and sounds like Vic…if you know what I mean. Rumor has it he will be back to "blog" during the game.
Cole from Jacksonville:
What do you think has changed the most about football since you played? And is it for the better, or for worse?
Vic: Where to begin… as it has changed in so many ways. On the field, without question is how the rules have favored the passing game. Protecting the QBs, "defenseless WRs," and illegal contact rules all are designed to get more points on the scoreboard. It certainly made for an entertaining Thursday night game against the Colts. With all the offensive rule changes the defenses have changed as well. We see less man coverage and are seeing more intricate zone coverages. The players, and their bank accounts, are bigger, faster, and stronger. I like the changes overall but I wouldn't want to deal with hitting the QB in a "proper" way.
Eric from Jacksonville:
I doubt you are going to remember this story, but around 10 years ago me and you had an encounter at the Hess gas station on San Jose Boulevard. I was a shy 11-year-old kid with my Grandfather and Mom. You were my favorite Jaguar player and idol growing up and I worked up the nerve to ask you for an autograph. You of course said yes, but asked me to pump your gas while you signed a simple piece of paper for me. You had no idea but you made a little kid's dream come true, me pumping my favorite player's car full of gas. As simple as it was, it made my day and was one of the happiest days of my life to that point. I still have that piece of paper and it hangs up in my dorm room as a reminder for me to always go after the things that I cherish, such as your autograph. I am a diehard passionate fan. I love this team Jeff, it is my life. This organization is who I want to work for when I get out of law school. But it is scaring me to death that this team is going to move. Please give me some insight, any insight on the situation. It means a lot that you are still active with the Jaguars organization, and listening you over the radio on the internet makes the distance from home a little easier. I hope you have a happy and healthy New Year.
Vic: Eric, I appreciate your question and comments. Your generation and the ones after you are what this team needs going forward. I'm talking about passionate fans that grew up watching THEIR team. The Green Bay Packers didn't just show up one day in 1919 and have a full stadium. Generations were raised on the "Green and Gold." I don't have a crystal ball but time certainly helps and butts in the seats now are needed. By the way, thanks for pumping my gas!
David from Durban, South Africa:
Please let Vic know that his fans in South Africa wish him a very speedy recovery! My question is whether you have seen any improvement in Derrick Harvey's play since the mid point of the season and if so, what is it?
Vic: I will send all the wishes on to Vic. I have seen improvement in Derrick's play. He has become a very effective player against the run, but as a top-10 pick the expectations are as a pass rusher. I believe he can be a capable pass rusher but needs a "creator" somewhere along the front. I'm talking about one player who disrupts the pocket to open opportunities for those around him. I don't believe that he can be the creator, but effective. I'm talking about an 8 sack a year type player.
Ernest from Rockville, MD:
I'm glad to hear that Vic is doing much better. I and along with his many loyal readers miss him and look forward to his return. Even though you're doing this on a temporary basis, it sounds like you're having fun answering the fans' questions which is great. As for my question, can you elaborate as to why finding a capable pass rusher through the draft is so difficult? How steep is the learning curve when transitioning from college to the NFL when it comes to pressuring the quarterback? You sort of touched on this when you gave your "addition and subtraction" vs. "quantum physics" analogy yesterday.
Vic: I am having fun and thank goodness for computers to check spelling and grammar. But I will also tell you that I am no Vic. Big keyboard to fill. The draft has no guarantees and I trust in Gene Smith as he had a wonderful draft class in April. The Jaguars' future is in good hands and he will find pass rushers. When you get a chance go back and look at past first round picks and see how many turned out to be disappointments, you will be amazed. Very rarely you will find a player that has some type of physical tool that allows them to be a special pass rusher. For all of the others, like me and Reggie Hayward, it is a trade to be learned. On Monday night's Jaguars All-Access TV show, Reggie and I had a conversation about our developments as pass rusher. Here are our sack numbers in years 1-2-3: Reggie: 1-3-8.5; Jeff: 4-4-10. 2010 will a revealing year for Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves, in my opinion.
John from Arlington, VA:
As a former player, what is your view on the Pro Bowl? I know Vic isn't a big fan of it anymore since they let any Joe Noname vote now. Do you think it is still an honor as it used to be, or is it more of a popularity contest?
Vic: Vic's opinion on the Pro Bowl is a little different than mine. Personally I like Joe Noname. Joe is the one buying tickets, driving TV ratings and making the game's popularity what it is. The NFL players vote is sometimes a popularity contest as well. Have the Jaguars players really seen the players from teams that they did not face? Could they give you an honest opinion of the AFC North, AFC West (barring K.C.), or AFC East players? I've been in that room to vote for the Pro Bowl as a player and there were many players that we just hadn't seen that year. Some positions you can evaluate with their numbers somewhat and how they stack up with the rest. But what about those where the numbers are not there, such as offensive linemen? It is still a tremendous honor and also can get players a little extra pay for reaching a contract incentive.
Zoltan from Budapest, Hungary:
Hello Jeff! We are almost in the postseason; so which teams are your picks for the Super Bowl this year? And which team surprised you positively and which team disappointed you the most this season?
Vic: I like the way Philadelphia and San Diego are playing right now. Their quarterbacks are playing very well and their teams will be going into the playoffs hot. Cincinnati has surprised me the most as they were calling for their coach's head after the 2008 season and Carson Palmer hasn't been exactly stellar. The Washington Redskins continue to disappoint. Just ask John Riggins.
John from Jacksonville:
Even as a Hokie, I've always had tremendous respect for you, your career, and your football analysis. Vic talks a lot about "jars on the shelf." If there is one "jar on the shelf" the Jaguars currently have that catches your eye – a guy you would tell fans to "watch out!" for - who would that guy be? In case folks didn't know, you nailed it with James Harrison several years ago when he was a backup. As always, thanks for sharing your valuable insight with Jaguars fans.
Vic: I'm getting tired of the Hokies wearing out my Wahoos. Hopefully Mike London can help. I have always had great respect for Frank Beamer; he is a great guy and coach. James Harrison was a fairly easy one because I was able to evaluate him on film during real games. For the Jaguars, I would say Zach Miller is certainly a jar on the shelf. The question is how long that jar will need to sit on the shelf before you open it up. What I mean by that is how long before we see tangible results? He has the ultimate tools… speed, athleticism, and hands. But how long will it take before he learns his craft as a tight end after spending a college career as a quarterback? I envision him as a Dallas Clark type player.
John from Dale City, VA:
Which DE do you feel the Jaguars should draft this year and why? Are you for the BAP, or do you feel that they should go after a certain player in the 1st round? Do you feel this team could be ready for the playoffs next season?
Vic: BAP or Best Available Player is always the way to go. You could also go with LLTF – Least Likely To Fail. Same thing, right? I expect the Jaguars to compete again for the playoffs in 2010, but find a way in next year.
Charles from Jacksonville:
Jeff, would you explain the fundamentals of legal offensive line formations? How many must be on the line? What is meant by "covering up" another lineman? How far can the tackles cheat backward and still be considered legally on the line of scrimmage? One other question about rules - shouldn't something be done about tactics where tacklers try to hold up a ball carrier (rather than tackle him), and gang up on him trying to strip the ball? I saw a lot of that this year and don't remember seeing it before.
Vic: Here are a few basics of legal formations. Teams must have seven men on the line of scrimmage. The two on the ends of those seven must have eligible numbers or have reported as eligible. The remaining four players must be off the line of scrimmage. The offensive linemen must have their helmets at least at the center's belt or they are considered off the line of scrimmage. Tackles are always trying to cheat in pass protection to combat speed. Holding up ball carriers and trying to strip the ball has been around for a long time but utilized more in today's game. Turnovers or takeaways change the game. The officials will blow the play dead if the forward progress of the ballcarrier is stopped. The tactic can be stopped if the ball carrier will just go down. What do you expect… I'm a defensive guy!
Tommy from Fruit Cove, FL:
What is the one thing you miss most about your playing days?
Vic: The competition and the checks. I just want to wish everyone a very happy and safe New Year's!