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Teams don't come with guarantees

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

Kelly from Charlotte, NC:
Do you think the Jags will have to open it up some to keep up with Philly?

Vic: That's not the formula the Bucs used to beat the Eagles. Do you really want to "open it up" against the NFL's top-rated passer? A lot of people think "open it up" is a synonym for winning. In this case, I think it would be a synonym for losing. The Jaguars' strengths are its defense (ninth overall) and its running game (12th). The Jaguars passing attack is 24th and somewhat unsettled at quarterback. What the Jaguars need to do is run the ball and not fumble it.

Robert from Lexington, KY:
And to think this whole time I thought you had something against people from Kentucky.

Vic: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Jim from Airmont, NY:
OK, so injuries have taken a heavy toll on the Jags this year. Most of the injuries that occur are realistically unavoidable, but are there teams that consistently do a better than average job in working pro-actively to minimize injuries? Also, do you think there is anything more that the Jags could do to keep injuries down?

Vic: Last season, the Seahawks had, I think, the worst offseason conditioning program attendance in the league, and then they won the NFC title and went to the Super Bowl. The Jaguars, under Tom Coughlin, were one of the most aggressive and diligent offseason conditioning teams in the league, and they always seemed to be fighting the injury bug. So what does that mean? The harder you train your body the more injuries you sustain? I'm not ready to buy into that theory. What I do like is the current Jaguars offseason conditioning philosophy: "Do the least amount of work necessary to get into shape." You have to be in shape to play well but you don't dare wear yourself down in the offseason because the offseason is for healing. In my opinion, injuries are bad luck. Eventually, every team is going to have a rash of them.

James from Jacksonville:
I think being surrounded by college football teams that typically lose only once or twice a year translates into a poor attitude about Jaguars losses.

Vic: Florida State and Miami are doing their best to correct that situation.

Scott from Jacksonville:
I understand the frustration of our fans. We bought into salary cap management, bought into the NFL is a young man's game and patience in free agency. Then we get all these injuries and you see the Colts, for example, abuse the cap and sign people when someone goes down, which is very rare, and they keep winning. Like you said, these guys are human and injuries happen but when you do it by the book and still have all this bad luck, it is demoralizing. Is it wrong for us to want the Colts and teams like that to pay the price now and not 5-6 years down the road?

Vic: Scott, you're acting as though being awarded an NFL franchise comes with a guarantee that every so many years you'll make it to the Super Bowl. It does not. Ask the people in Cleveland and Detroit if it comes with a guarantee. I could give you example after example of teams that have experienced long stretches of losing. Jacksonville was only out of the playoffs six times in its first 11 years in the league. For the second time this week, I am going to say that football is an emotional buy. Being a fan is a leap of faith. It's up to you whether you want to make that leap. There are no guarantees.

Stuart from St. Louis, MO:
Trent Green? He's 36 years old this year. What about a young man's game? And why not throw Marc Bulger on your list?

Vic: You're right. Green is too old to be considered a long-term future guy. I gave that a brief thought but I included him anyway because he's such a good quarterback and he's likely to remain the Chiefs' number one guy for another year or two before age catches up to him. Bulger is a quarterback I love. He's another one of those Pittsburgh quarterbacks and I admit to having a hometown prejudice toward them. I don't know what it is about that place and quarterbacks but they just keep turning them out. Bruce Gradkowski is the latest one. The reason I didn't include Bulger in the futures list is because I remember the Rams wanting to draft a quarterback last spring. New coaches usually like to stamp their team with their own quarterback and Bulger, of course, is a Mike Martz product. If he's not the Rams' long-term future at the position, somebody else should make him theirs because I think Bulger is the most underrated quarterback in the league.

Nathan from Golden, CO:
What type of situations do you think brings out the true nature of a football team? Cold weather or hot weather? Playing with or playing without injuries? Playing with criticism or playing with fame? To me I think that cold weather, criticism and playing with injuries brings out a better team, because players that love the game want to do whatever they can to show they can play in any situation.

Vic: In my opinion, you find out about your team at crunch time. A lot of situations qualify as crunch time, but nothing qualifies more than the postseason. That's when you find out what your team has under the hood.

Tim from St. Louis, MO:
You seem to speak out of both sides of your mouth. One day you say we can't get into shootouts, but yet you want to keep the shootout QB in the lineup. Perhaps the Jags need to average 40 passes per game like Byron did in college?

Vic: I'm so glad it's Friday. I am completely worn out. I may be the only person in the history of the world who has looked forward to going to Philadelphia so he could get some peace.

Artie from Westbrook, ME:
How come whenever a team wins the coin toss at the beginning of the game, they always elect to receive? Is there some reasoning behind it or is it just what everyone else does?

Vic: Teams that win the coin toss almost always elect to receive because if they don't elect to receive, it's likely they'll kick off to start both halves. This isn't college football. The NFL doesn't do that defer crap.

Nicholas from Hanover, NH:
What is the reason you say tackle statistics are generally inaccurate?

Vic: Because they are not an official stat. Tackles are compiled by each individual team and usually by each player's position coach, who have been known to really pad the tackles totals. It makes the player look good and that makes the position coach look good. Hardy Nickerson is one of the best professional football players I have ever covered, and I covered him on two different teams, but his tackle totals in Tampa Bay are laughable. If Hardy looked at a guy, he got a tackle. The real problem I have is with "assists." Coaches give them out like candy and then add them into the "total tackles."

Eric from Chattanooga, TN:
If Jack Del Rio benches Leftwich this Sunday, will that send a message to Leftwich and the rest of the team that you better make sure you can play at a high level when you tell the coach you can play through an injury, or you will get benched?

Vic: Hmmm, could be.

Kyle from Charleston, IL:
Thanks a lot, Vic, I got in trouble for reading your column during class.

Vic: You should be punished severely. Tell your teacher I said you should be made to spend a week being Byron Leftwich.

Nick from Jacksonville:
You're right, the threat is lame. Actions speak louder than words and I am one who didn't renew my seats this year. Last year's record was great but the product wasn't. This year's Jaguars product through six games is lame, and for 10 days per year that cost me $300 each, I have chosen other entertainment options. My guess is the Jaguars product better improve or the fans will have all the input on every facet of the team, including its relocation.

Vic: Obviously, you've chosen not to make the leap.

Donny from Jacksonville:
You said the press box, which you sit in every game, is for writers. Obviously you are a sportswriter, but what are you writing and who are you writing it for? Are you there for the sole purpose of writing the blog on this website?

Vic: I do other things, too, Donny. I write a game story and a column for on the day of the game. During the week I write five "Ask Vic" columns, daily news stories, Wednesday and Friday columns, a game preview story that appears on Saturday, an "Inside A Minute" commentary for Jaguars TV, "Reporters' Corner" and "Game Preview" videos for multimedia, "Jaguars Reporters" and "Jaguars This Week" radio shows on Monday and Wednesday respectively and, of course, the infamous and extremely important "Vic Ketchman's Power Rankings," which have been known to start wars and topple governments. I know it's not much and I'm not worthy of sitting in a place of such high esteem as the press box, but they let me go there for free and watch the games and even give me free hot dogs.

Kam from Jacksonville:
Byron has not had a fair shake since he came to Jacksonville. How does Byron deal with this constantly?

Vic: He says he blocks it out and I believe he does force himself not to read too much that's written about himself and the team. That's smart. If stuff gets to you, then it's smart to try to avoid it because it can become a distraction. Unfortunately, he can't live in a news vacuum. He can't completely tune out what's being written and said about him, and he can't tune out fan opinion of him. What I admire most about him is that he has never lashed out. He has never retaliated to his critics. Byron has always taken the high road. He has always spoken fondly of Jacksonville and Jaguars fans. That's why this eats at me. I want to see the guy succeed.

Darko from Orlando, FL:
I think our whole team is falling apart because of this QB controversy. What do you think?

Vic: I don't think the team is falling apart. I think it's in a tough spot right now and quarterback would seem to be an unsettled situation and that's not good. As I have continually said, quarterback is the most fragile of positions. Every team must have an established quarterback who the team identifies as its offensive leader, and there can be only one of them, period. Jack Del Rio knows what a team needs to be successful. He will not allow this team to fall apart.

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