Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Rajesh from Jacksonville:
What can the Jaguars learn from the Jets' 41-0 win against the Colts or the Patriots' victory over the Colts in the AFC championship game?
Vic: Forget about the Jets' 41-0 win in the 2002 playoffs. The Jaguars had just played the Colts in Indianapolis in the final regular season game and it was clear at that time the Colts were not playing well. Why? Because they didn't have Edgerrin James. James missed the 2002 season with a knee injury and the Colts never hit their stride. They really went downhill late in the year when defenses figured it out that it's a lot easier to stop Peyton Manning when you don't have to concentrate on stopping the run and you can give your full attention to stopping the pass. Go to the Patriots' win over the Colts in the AFC title game. That game applies because the Colts offense is playing at the same high level. How did the Patriots intercept Manning four times and force him to run out of downs with the game on the line? The plan was simple: Cover the Colts' receivers and rush the quarterback. Yeah, that's a simple plan, but it's easier said than done. The Patriots had the personnel to do it, however, because they had the best cover-corner in the game, Ty Law, and their other defensive backs were playing at a high level at that time, too. By being able to match up man-to-man, the Patriots were able to commit a lot of people to the rush. I wish the Jaguars could take that approach but I don't think it's realistic. They'll have to find another way to stop Manning.
Danny from Fernandina Beach, FL:
What do you think of putting Fred and Greg Jones in the "I" and let Jones block for Fred behind Kyle Brady? That seems like an ultimate power run. Why not use Greg Jones more?
Vic: That's the plan, though not necessarily in the "I formation." Greg Jones was drafted to be a fullback; a fullback who also runs with the ball. It is not an easy transition, however, and Jones has also been struggling with a pulled abdominal muscle.
Jimmie from Niceville FL:
Could you shed some light on the development of Cortez Hankton? What kind of speed does he have and what are our plans for his future with the Jaguars. He's made two clutch TD catches that I can remember.
Vic: Cortez Hankton is a focused and ambitious young receiver who has good hands, decent size, the ability to adjust to the ball and good-enough speed. He's not a burner. Hankton is also an undrafted free agent, which means no one is going to give him anything; he'll have to carve out his own place in the football world. It appears he's doing that.
Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Do you know of any agencies or fan groups that arrange travel/tickets to away games? I'm thinking of going to Houston.
Vic: Well, last spring we had some people who were talking about putting together an "Ask Vic" travel club, but they've obviously not followed through. I wish I could help you, Ed, but I don't know of any such agencies in Jacksonville. In time, they'll emerge. I was watching the Pittsburgh at Dallas game and I saw that the Steelers' rise has their fans traveling again. That's an age-old thing in Pittsburgh. Travel agencies routinely put together Steelers road-trip packages. In many cases, it's the only way a lot of those people are going to see the Steelers play. That seems to be the first criterion for travel packages; an abundance of fans who can't get tickets for home games and who are willing to travel to places where tickets are available.
Cliff from Plano, TX:
You mentioned Wednesday that jersey colors for specific games are announced in the spring. Well, we've seen the Chargers bust out the "Powder Blues" on us and Houston will be sporting "Battle Reds" on Halloween, but for what game are we donning the black jerseys this year?
Vic: For the Pittsburgh game on Dec. 5. Please, everyone, circle that date on your calendar and don't ask this question again. I've answered it at least a half-dozen times and I've become completely worn out by the black jerseys mania. Yes, the Jaguars are going to wear black jerseys against the Steelers. They'll also wear black pants, black helmets, black shoes and on and on. I know everyone loves the all-black look, but I don't and I've reached the limit of my black-uniforms tolerance. Frankly, I like the teal shirt, white pants look the Jaguars have used for home games this season. I think it was a wise decision by Jack Del Rio to re-emphasize the fact that teal is the Jaguars' fundamental color.
Jeremy from Glen St. Mary, FL:
What defense was Baltimore running the day Jimmy Smith caught 15 passes for 291 yards?
Vic: The same defense that dominated their opponents in the second half of the season and through the postseason. When the Jaguars torched the Ravens defense in that week-two loss in Baltimore in 2000, the Ravens were playing with two young cornerbacks, Chris McAlister and Duane Starks. McAlister was a first-round pick in 1999 and Starks was the Ravens' first-round pick in 1998. McAlister and Starks developed quickly that season, but in week two they were no match for Jimmy Smith and company.
Pete from Jacksonville:
In your opinion, how has Fred Taylor fared among the other running backs in the league? Do you believe he will improve dramatically in his yards per carry because of the threat of the passing game?
Vic: The season is only six games old. At this point last season, Fred Taylor had rushed for 457 yards and had only hit the 100-yard mark once. He was averaging 3.9 yards per carry, which is exactly what he's averaging right now. He's only 63 yards off last year's pace, when he rushed for the most yards in his career. Yes, I expect that Byron Leftwich's success will help Taylor and the Jaguars running game, and I expect Taylor to start putting up big numbers again.
Clay from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
My question is about Edgerrin James. Every time the Jags play Edgerrin they seem to shut him down on the ground but not on screen passes. If you were Mike Smith, what strength would you take away from James?
Vic: I don't agree with your assessment. Edgerrin James rushed for 83 yards, a 4.4 yards-per-carry average and one touchdown in the Colts' win over the Jaguars three weeks ago. He caught three passes for 25 yards, with a long of 13 yards. Frankly, I thought James was more damaging as a runner than as a pass-catcher, but he can certainly do both. What do you stop? Start with the run. It always starts with the run. James is the catalyst to everything the Colts do offensively. When he was injured in 2001 and 2002, Peyton Manning had his worst seasons. What James does is put the Colts in third-and-short situations that make it impossible to load up against the pass. He's Manning's best "pass-protector" because he keeps the Colts out of obvious passing situations that would allow defenses to tee off with their pass-rushes.
Eric from Columbus, IN:
I am the only Jaguar fan at my high school in Indiana. I am going to the game Sunday and I want to know the one thing you feel the Jags must do to win?
Vic: It's two things and they go hand in hand: Stop the run and rush the passer. Peyton Manning may be the softest pocket quarterback in the league. He'll go down if you get close enough to say boo. But you have to put him in obvious passing situations so you can commit extra people to the pass-rush. How do you do that? By stopping the run. That's the formula on defense: Stop the run, create obvious passing situations, then go get the quarterback.
Stephen from Kailua, HI:
About the home team choosing their uniform, why is it that the Cowboys always seem to be in their white uniforms even at home?
Vic: Because they elect to wear white at home.
Andrew from Ft Lauderdale, FL:
And the best defensive rookie this year is?
Vic: Dunta Robinson.