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Special teams taken for granted

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

Elias from Orlando, FL:
Yeah, Vic, stop the run, run the ball, win time of possession and keep Peyton on the sidelines are great ways to beat the Colts, unless you allow a punt return for a TD, huh?

Vic: We're all guilty – especially me – of taking special teams for granted. We never consider the possibility of having a punt returned 82 yards for a touchdown and of missing a field goal attempt that was the equivalent of an extra point. When those things happen, however, especially when they both happen in the same game, you're usually going to lose. Special teams play is critical to a team's success. When I do my "10 things," I think it should be understood that the 11th and 12th things are "don't allow a punt return for a touchdown" and "don't miss a chip-shot field goal."

Dan from Levittown, PA:
I know you like Scobee and you have faith in him but this is now his third year and he isn't getting any better. Yeah, he has a strong leg but he is very inaccurate and he is hurting us right now.

Vic: Making field goal attempts is good and missing them is bad. If he doesn't start making them on a consistent basis, he knows what will happen. What Josh Scobee has going for him is a kickoff leg coaches love. If you cut him, he'd be picked up immediately. I guarantee it. That doesn't change the fact that he has to make his field goal attempts more regularly. The Jaguars desperately need for Scobee to start making his kicks for two reasons: They no more can afford to lose the field position he gives them on kickoffs any more than they can continue to give away the points he's costing them on missed field goal attempts. Before you act in anger, take a look at the big picture.

Tony from Daytona Beach, FL:
In your blog you reported on the first possession: "The drive was 78 yards, 11 plays. The Jaguars gained 68 yards running. Why throw it?" On the next possession: "It's anything they want in the run game. The Colts can't stop anything." The very next play resulted in an interception. Why did we take that risk and throw it downfield when everything up to that play was working so, so perfectly?

Vic: George Wrighster was wide open. If Byron Leftwich drops the ball in Wrighster's hands, it would've either been goal to go or Wrighster would've scored and everybody would've said, "What a great play-call." Yeah, I can get very stubborn about the run. I'll run it all day and I'm sensitive to what you're saying, but I was talking to Lenny Pasquarelli of in the press box at halftime and he made a good point about that play. He said you don't pay a quarterback all that money to be a hand-off machine. He has to make plays for you. That was a play Leftwich should've made.

Andrew from Indianapolis, IN:
Two times throughout your in-game blog for the Jags-Colts game, you mentioned the pumped-in noise controversy that started last year for the Colts. My question is if you actually still believe in this story or if you were just putting in some light sarcasm in about the Colts crowd?

Vic: I talked to reporters who cover the Steelers and they said the noise in the RCA Dome for the playoff game last year was significantly less intense than it was for that Monday night game that produced the piped-in noise accusations and controversy. I decided I'd judge for myself and the noise on Sunday was clearly below what it was for the week two game against the Jaguars last year. Noise was no factor on Sunday. In fact, I've been in outdoor stadiums in which the noise was greater than it was in the RCA Dome on Sunday. You people are very sensitive about your crowd noise. That's good. I like that.

David from Northridge, CA:
What made Maurice Jones-Drew so effective at running the ball?

Vic: He hit the holes with gusto. That's why he averaged 7.9 yards per carry. The Colts are light up front. They got pushed around and the holes were gaping. Jones-Drew was through them like a shot; no huckin' and buckin', just go, baby.

Jeremiah from Jacksonville:
What were your thoughts on the two personal fouls on the Jaguars? Cato June seemed to tackle Reggie Williams long after the whistle. Why was the penalty on Williams? And the television replay seemed to show June tripping and Manuwai not even touching him. Any insight?

Vic: The feeling was the Colts benefited from two great acting jobs by June and Jack Del Rio referred to them as the "Laimbeer flop." That doesn't change the fact that the penalties cost the Jaguars big-time and they could've been avoided. Football does not require expression. Just play the game and spare us your inner self.

Joe from Corning, NY:
At the beginning of the preseason I asked you if you thought Maurice Jones-Drew could be a full-time back. I think you said we would have to wait and see. Now that we are three games into the season, what do you think?

Vic: Yeah, I think he could be a full-time back. I don't think he's the perfect guy for short-yardage pounding, but a lot of full-time backs come out of the game at pounder time. You might remember when Jones-Drew was drafted I said you don't take guys in the second round to be kick-returners.

Greg from Matthews, NC:
Which of your "10 things the Jags must do" do you most consider to be the one the Jaguars didn't do and cost them the game?

Vic: They did just about everything I asked of them. The one they didn't do was "Reward the fans," and the reason they failed in that attempt is because they let 13 points get away in special teams. It's that simple. I didn't include special teams in my formula. I could do that every week – win special teams – but that would start to get boring, wouldn't it? My "10 things" is a story on paper. Football is a game – in Indianapolis – played on artificial turf under a plastic roof and really big speakers. My "10 things" is fiction. The game we watch is real. Don't ever confuse the two.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
Scobee did not miss that first field goal from 24 yards out. One of the Colts players got a hand on it. I clearly saw it on the instant replay in slow motion.

Vic: I just watched it on tape with Jeff Lageman. The kick was not touched by a Colts player. I saw a Colts defender use a lineman as a springboard, which should've been a penalty, and I saw a Colts wingman from Scobee's right side come very close to blocking the kick, but Scobee got the kick away without it being touched. In golf, you'd say "he came over the top." He yanked it.

Weaver from Bentonville, AR:
The other day you mentioned how much you liked Paul Maguire in the booth. Who was your favorite play-by-play guy and color guy? Personally, I liked Curt Gowdy and Al DiRogatis. What about you?

Vic: Gowdy and DiRo was NBC's number one team in the '70's. They were left-overs from NBC's AFL days and a lot of people felt Gowdy and DiRo favored the old AFL teams when they did games in the post-merger era that involved old NFL teams. They did a good job but I can't say I was crazy about them. For me, Cosell and Meredith are still the best. I need two things in a broadcast. I need it to be hard-hitting when it's necessary to be hard-hitting, and I need it to be light or humorous at all other times. I don't need someone to tell me what's happening because I know what's happening. We're missing, in my opinion, broadcasters who have the courage to be hard-hitting and the talent to be humorous and entertaining. I like Maguire. He made me laugh and now he's making me laugh in his broadcasts of college football. The two sports broadcasters whose work I enjoy the most are Johnny Miller in golf and Bob Uecker in baseball. The NFL should study those two guys.

George from Harrisburg, PA:
Vic, enjoy your work. Have you ever written or plan to write a book on any aspect of the NFL?

Vic: I have a friend who retired and then wrote his memoirs and it's a sensational piece of writing. I'd like to do the same some day. I have great memories of this game and I'd like to share them. As for now, I do enough writing every day and I share my experiences in "Ask Vic."

David from St. Marys, GA:
It may have been professionalism for the Jaguars to take a knee at the end of the Steelers game, but I think it was situational. The Steelers had no times out left. If they had times outs left and could have stopped the clock after each play, I think Del Rio would have tried to punch it home.

Vic: What is it about the Jaguars having taken a knee in that situation that has people so stirred up? What was to be gained by scoring? Do you think it would've bothered Bill Cowher to have lost 16-0 instead of 9-0? Jack Del Rio would've been doing Cowher a favor if Del Rio had decided to score again because the next time the two teams played Cowher would've used it big-time. This is professional football. Stop thinking like a college fan who wants the band to play the fight song one more time and for the mascot to do his silly little push-ups. This is professional football. These players are precious commodities and you don't treat their careers recklessly. Just win the game.

Jeff from Mobile, AL:
When a team signs a former player so that he can retire with the team he's most known for, how does that count against the salary cap?

Vic: The player usually signs a contract that provides for a minimum-wage salary. The player then retires and the salary isn't paid, therefore, it doesn't count against the team's salary cap.

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