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'Target' is a big thing

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

Jessica from Melbourne, FL:
You want to know the difference between T.O. and Jimmy Smith? TDs! You want to know the difference between the Jags and the Patriots? Depth! You want to know the difference between you and me? (Besides the obvious) Intellegence!

Vic: There's one more difference: I get paid to do this.

William from Jacksonville:
Why do the oddsmakers have the Steelers favored? Don't they know the Jags will be wearing the special all-black uniform? By the way, what is going on in Buffalo? Do they have perennial power potential?

Vic: What's going on in Buffalo is Mike Mularkey is beginning to do for Drew Bledsoe what he did for Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox. Tom Donahoe was harshly criticized for the Willis McGahee pick but now it appears to be absolute genius. I don't know if the Bills will become a perennial power but I wouldn't want to play them right now. They may have something cooking for next year.

Chase from Huntington, WV:
Why is the Hall of Fame located in Canton?

Vic: Latrobe, Pa., was originally offered the opportunity to be the site of the Hall of Fame, since Latrobe was the site of the first-ever pro football game. But Latrobe didn't make much of a bid for the Hall of Fame and Canton did. Canton was the home of the Canton Bulldogs and one of the most prominent locations for professional football in the game's formation days. Canton is a mid-size city with a nearby airport (Akron) and a major interstate right outside the Hall of Fame's front door.

Dan from White Bear Lake, MN:
I went to the Metrodome this past Sunday and there were more Jaguars fans in Minnesota than I expected. But I was wondering, at the end of the game when the Jaguars were down by 11 and it was fourth down on Minnesota's 15, why did the Jaguars elect to go for it instead of kicking the field goal to make it a one possession game?

Vic: There were only 51 seconds remaining. If they had kicked a field goal and then recovered an onside kick, I don't know if there would've been enough time remaining to score a touchdown. The 15-yard line may have been as close as the Jaguars were going to get. It offered them their best chance to score a touchdown. Had they scored a touchdown and recovered an onside kick, there would've probably been enough time to move into field goal range.

Kim from Jacksonville:
This is my first time ever being on this site. So here is my first official question: Looking ahead to the 2005 draft, would we be crazy to draft another wide receiver to accommodate Smith? He's our only deep threat.

Vic: If you were a regular to "Ask Vic," you'd know my answer to your question would be: Draft the best available player, regardless of position. Welcome to

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
If my memory serves me correctly, haven't the Jaguars dominated the Steelers at home? What is their home record vs. Pittsburgh?

Vic: 6-2.

Brian from Pittsburgh, PA:
Ever since the Steelers beat New England and Philadelphia they seem to be falling a little each game. Do you think it's because they have the target on them now, and not that they are playing any worse?

Vic: The "target" is a big thing. I know a guy who was on the New England staff last season and he remarked to me several times last year how difficult it was to keep that winning streak alive, because every team they played had something special for the Patriots in the way of effort and scheme. Yeah, Pittsburgh is going through some of that right now. From what I've been told, however, the decline in offense you're sensing is attributable to two things: getting the lead and playing conservatively the rest of the game, and a rookie quarterback who is all of a sudden playing like a rookie.

Tony from Jacksonville:
Other than impressive home wins over Philadelphia and New England, who have the Steelers beaten on the road that has impressed you?

Vic: You have to understand the intensity of the Steelers-Browns rivalry to appreciate the quality of a road win in that series. Whatever Tennessee means to Jacksonville, multiply it by 10. A win in Cleveland in any season is big, just as a Jaguars win in Tennessee is. The Steelers' win in Dallas was impressive from the standpoint that they pushed the ball down the Cowboys' throats when the game was on the line. Do the Steelers have a road win the quality of the Jaguars' win in Indianapolis? No. This Sunday's game will be a test for the Steelers and will tell us something about how good they really are.

Jeff from Staten Island, NY:
What free agents should the Jaguars go after during the offseason?

Vic: Affordable ones.

George from Landover, MD:
At this point in the season, who would be your picks for Jaguars MVP and unsung heroes for offense and defense?

Vic: will select players of the year for offense, defense and special teams, and a rookie of the year, too, at the end of the season. You'll have to wait until then.

David from Oviedo, FL:
I notice they lead the league in sacks, with 36. Are these still the "Blitzburgh" Steelers? It doesn't seem they have the necessary personnel on defense to blitz so often. How do they get away with it?

Vic: When you only have three down linemen, you're going to blitz your linebackers. "Blitzburgh" was 10 years ago and I don't think anyone in Pittsburgh wants to strip the 1994 team of that distinction, but make no mistake about it, the Steelers have the linebackers to compete with Greg Lloyd, Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland and Kevin Greene. Joey Porter, Kendrell Bell, James Farrior and Clark Haggans are very aggressive. I think you might be underrating their linebackers. If there is an area of concern on the Steelers defense, it is at cornerback, where Chad Scott is injured and has been replaced by 12-year veteran Willie Williams. One more thing, Dick LeBeau is the Steelers' defensive coordinator, and he was a major contributor to the "Blitzburgh" scheme as the team's defensive backs coach in '94.

John from Jacksonville:
You are a defense guy. In your many years of following football teams, what team had the best defense, the 2000 Ravens, the 1985 Bears, or the "Steel Curtain?"

Vic: You can throw all three of those defenses into a hat and pick one, and it wouldn't matter which one; they were all great and they all had one thing in common: star players. I covered the 1976 Steelers and I can't imagine any defense being better. After Terry Bradshaw suffered a neck injury in the fifth game of that season, the Steelers defense allowed just 28 points the rest of the year. They shutout five teams in the final eight games of that season. They dominated to the point of being frightening.

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