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TE has been a problem

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

John from Alexandria, VA:
Shouldn't we have seen this performance coming? The Jaguars seemed satisfied with a home loss last week; unable to make critical yards against one of the worst defenses in the league. The supposed strengths of the team, Fred Taylor, the offensive line and the defense, are all playing poorly. Is this team capable of going 8-8?

Vic: I'll agree that we should have seen this coming, and you make good points, but I first became alarmed about the Jaguars defense in the Denver game, when the Jaguars allowed a lot of passing yardage. At that time, Jeff Lageman and I agreed – and that was an upset in itself – that the defense had a major problem that would rear its ugly head at some point in the season. What was that problem? Well, they weren't rushing and they weren't covering and that's a bad combination. All of a sudden, a conservative coach such as Marty Schottenheimer throws the ball on nine of his team's first 11 plays. What should that tell us? The Jaguars suffered from that same bad combination a year ago, but they softened the effects of it by stopping the run and forcing teams to be one-dimensional, which allowed the Jaguars to accurately forecast passing downs and, thus, load up against them. The Jaguars also accounted for their rush and coverage deficiencies by dominating time of possession with a strong running game. In my opinion, that's what they have to get back to doing. They need to take a look at what they were a year ago and embrace that same style of play: Run the ball, stop the run and force teams into obvious passing situations. And if you're going to play that way, you must convert short-yardage downs.

Robert from Sicklerville, NJ:
After yesterday's game, do you think the Jags have seen enough to be convinced they need help at defensive end?

Vic: They didn't need convincing. They know and they've known they need help at defensive end, but where are you going to find it? This is going to take time. Jack Del Rio and James Harris took over a football team in need of roster reconstruction. They've accomplished much of that repair but they'll need at least one more offseason before we can say it's fixed. Defensive end will be an obvious target.

Mike from Jacksonville:
With the Jags having given the Chargers so much yardage on the ground, where will Marcus Stroud be next week vs. The Chiefs, defensive end or defensive tackle?

Vic: That's a question we'll ask in press conferences this week. I'm not going to presume what the answer will be. I'll record Jack Del Rio's response when he is asked the question, and I'll provide his answer on

Dalibor from Jacksonville:
At one point, LaDainian Tomlinson was the quarterback and he took a snap and ran out of bounds and the commentators said it was recorded as a sack. Who got credit for the sack?

Vic: Yes, it is a sack but it has yet to be credited to a player. After the coaches review video of the play, they will determine who ran LaDainian Tomlinson out of bounds and that player or players will be credited with the sack, per the league's approval, of course.

Jon from Ocala, FL:
What's up with the defense?

Vic: I like your style. Here's what's up with the defense: It lost the one player it couldn't afford to lose, Paul Spicer. That turned a worrisome defensive end position into a state of desperation. Now, the Jaguars are dealing with a domino effect from Spicer's injury. A lack of talent at the position caused Marcus Stroud to be moved to end, which weakened the Jaguars at defensive tackle, which put a greater burden on Mike Peterson, etc. I give Jack Del Rio credit for being aggressive in dealing with the situation. It's what coaches do. These guys can coach. They'll figure it out. Give them time.

Chris from Jacksonville:
I've seen in many football games all the players would hold up four fingers. What is the reasoning behind this gesture?

Vic: I saw it for the first time in the early 1970's. It's a coaches' gimmick for drawing attention to the importance of winning the fourth quarter.

Jonathan from Jasper, IN:
Why didn't we give Fred Taylor the ball more?

Vic: When you're down 21-0, you gotta throw.

Alan from Buford, GA:
Let me just preface this by saying I never want to wind up in the "Ask Vic" Hall of Fame, but here's my question: Why couldn't we cover the San Diego tight end Antonio Gates?

Vic: Tight ends have hurt the Jaguars this season. Through five games, opponents' tight ends have caught 18 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns. It's a problem. Somebody's losing coverage.

Iggy from Jacksonville:
What mood do you think Marcus Stroud is in because of the position move? Honestly? After reading certain articles, I believe he is not in a happy mood, right? I hope the move is not permanent.

Vic: We're all creatures of habit. The laptop on which I'm writing this column is a piece of garbage, but I resist asking for a new one because I'm afraid I'll have to learn new stuff. Marcus Stroud is a Pro-Bowl defensive tackle. Of course, he wants to stay there, and I think he'll be moving back, but he did what was asked of him and he didn't complain about it. Nobody was in a happy mood after Sunday's game.

Adrian from Reading, United Kingdom:
Tony Brackens wasn't the answer. Paul Spicer isn't the answer any more. Marcus Stroud certainly isn't the answer. So what is the answer at defensive end?

Vic: In the short term, the answer is make do with what you have. In the long term, the answer is find new talent in the draft.

Mark from Rochester, NY:
What do you think the Jaguars record will end up being this year? What do you predict will happen next year?

Vic: This is on ongoing project. The Jaguars will have a better record this year than they had last year, and they will have a better record next year than they'll have this year. My expectation going into the year was for the Jaguars to be a division title contender, which probably meant they would have to win 10 games. Nothing has changed my mind.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
Based on the defensive end play of late, should the Jaguars look into bringing back Tony Brackens? In your opinion, should they?

Vic: I believe teams have to cut the cord with older players and move on. In the case of Tony Brackens, who is one of the esteemed players in Jaguars history, it's most important that he be treated with respect. I don't like the idea of cutting and re-signing a player of Brackens' esteem three times in one year. He's not a chess piece to be moved around a board.

Fred from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
AFC South Division title contender? Vic, have you changed your mind on this one?

Vic: I have not.

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