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The autumn wind is a raider

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Clay from Jacksonville:
In regards to Maurice Jones-Drew, I think it's a very telling reality about the current Pro-Bowl situation that a player can be mentioned in conversation about being an MVP candidate but likely won't make it into the Pro Bowl. Has a player ever been league MVP and not made the Pro Bowl?

Vic: I doubt it and I doubt it will happen with Maurice Jones-Drew for two reasons: 1.) I don't think he'll win MVP; 2.) I feel very strongly that he'll be selected to the Pro Bowl, once the vote goes to the players and coaches.

Marty from Jacksonville:
Vic, for a playoff game, does the home team get to keep the usual percentage of the gate receipts?

Vic: No, the league keeps the ticket revenue, minus 15 percent that goes to the host team to cover expenses. The home team keeps all revenue from concessions and parking.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
HBO is running a special this Saturday night at eight p.m. about Vince Lombardi. I am keenly planning on watching it due to the interest you've piqued in me over the years with all you've said about the man in your columns. Will you be able to watch it?

Vic: I will now.

Jarret from Phoenix, AZ:
"I don't think it helped him. He had a team that had need in every phase except the passing game and he spent his first-round picks on a quarterback most draftniks thought was grossly overdrafted and a wide receiver." So now you're a needs drafter, Mr. Vic?

Vic: Do we have to start this stuff already? How many times do I have to explain it? A good drafter, if at all possible, fits himself to the pick. He identifies his needs and he moves to where he can select the player that addresses his needs and at the place at which that player fits. Clearly, quarterback and wide receiver were not needs for the Broncos. Do I have to go into detail on this every time I make a comment about drafting? No, I do not belief in needs-drafting. Yes, I am an advocate of selecting the best available player and I will remain that way until after the season is over and I am badgered into submission by the umpteenth ridiculous request asking me to explain the concept of drafting the best available player, at which point I will surrender and proclaim that the Jaguars should draft solely for need. All of you who don't understand this explanation, please, go read another column, OK? My head is already starting to hurt.

Erica from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
You know, Vic, I'm a pretty patient person, but I'm really getting frustrated with all this talk about playoff ticket prices. I pay $58 a game to sit 31 rows up in the southeast corner at EverBank Field. This season I was lucky enough to go to two away games and paid $120 to sit 15 rows up in the end zone at The Q and $85 to sit three rows from the top at The New Meadowlands. I think we are incredibly lucky to have such great ticket prices. If a fan wants to be there, they will figure it out.

Vic: It's all about "Being There." I like to watch.

Matt from Gainesville, FL:
The more I watch ESPN or NFL Total Access, the more I see people like Trent Green say "the Colts will bounce back and make the playoffs." Do they not realize that the Colts' remaining schedule is against teams that can run the ball?

Vic: Mystiques die hard. The Colts have been a dominant football team. They have built a strong belief in fans that they will find a way to recover, and maybe they will. In a few weeks, we'll know for sure.

Adam from Jacksonville:
I remember a while back you mentioning that you don't just judge a GM on the players they pick, but also the ones they had targeted but didn't get. I think it's safe to say Gene Smith was dead on with Sean Lee, wouldn't you?

Vic: GM Gene wasn't the only guy that liked Lee. Linebackers coach Mark Duffner told me he thought Lee was the best linebacker in the draft.

J.P. from Inland Empire, CA:
Vic, correction on your "Quick Hits." The count is seven from 2005: Meester, Garrard, Manuwai, Mathis, G. Jones, Scobee and D. Smith. Just sayin'.

Vic: Meester was on injured reserve in the postseason. Just sayin'. IJPMPLAY.

Dexter from Jacksonville:
Urban Meyer stepped down?

Vic: He'll take some time off to reconstitute himself while he waits for Jim Tressel to retire, then Meyer will take the job he really wants.

Kyle from Pensacola, FL:
I just read on that Peyton Manning is number two in fan voting overall for the Pro Bowl. I was unaware he was having a Pro-Bowl caliber year.

Vic: I could say this is why the fans shouldn't vote and then go into a long sermon on the injustice of the Pro Bowl selection system, but I prefer to ignore the whole thing because it's a meaningless game that's only value is the marketing that results from the controversy that's created by the injustice of the system and the fans' incompetence at selecting the applicable players. How's that for a sermon?

Mark from Green Bay, WI:
Coach Del Rio said the Raiders have five miscellaneous touchdowns and we have none. What is a miscellaneous touchdown?

Vic: It's a touchdown that's scored in an unconventional manner, such as by interception return, fumble recovery, kick return, punt return; I think that covers it.

Bryan from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Which team do you think will win tonight's AFC South matchup?

Vic: Temperatures are expected to be in the low-30's in Nashville. That's run-the-ball weather and it favors the Titans, so I'll pick the Titans, but I can't help but wonder if the Titans' heart is still in it. It didn't appear to be this past Sunday.

Sharon from Jacksonville:
I love the game of football and I'm concerned about all the belly-aching from a couple of male friends that play in a fantasy football league. They did not get excited about the win; they were more upset that Chris Johnson did not get more yards for their teams' points. Should I get new friends or is this fantasy football phase going to fade away before it ruins the game?

Vic: Don't hang around sissies like that. Find some real men who like real football.

Marek from Storrs, CT:
What's with people in Jacksonville obsessing over media acceptance of the Jaguars? MVP this, coach of the year that, comeback player of the year, Pro Bowl, this journalist said so and so. Just give me the wins, baby; that's all I want.

Vic: We're desperate for love.

George from Jacksonville:
What are the adjustments that teams make at halftime? Are the coaches from up in the booth involved?

Vic: This halftime adjustment stuff is way overrated. Fans have a tendency to think there's a massive reconstruction of the game plan at halftime. Hey, NFL halftimes only last 12 minutes; there's not much you can do in 12 minutes. The head coach and his coordinators meet and adjustments are made. If he's winning by three touchdowns, the head coach may tell his offensive coordinator to run the ball more. If he's losing by a couple of touchdowns, he may tell his coordinators to be more aggressive. That information will then be conveyed to the team in a galvanizing message that will clear the team's collective head and focus it on the task ahead. Maybe a decision will be made to run more out of an unbalanced line, or to run more traps or widen the splits a bit or send the wide receivers in motion more often so it'll help them defeat the jams they're facing, or maybe the fullback will be moved a little closer to the line of scrimmage so he can get to his block a little more quickly or the tight end will be split a little more to drag a linebacker wider. All of this is minor stuff that can be done on the fly and the potential for doing it is built into the original game plan. That's when the real work is done.

Ben from Columbus, OH:
What effect do you think the time change will have on the Raiders for the one o'clock game in Jacksonville?

Vic: Flying across the country is a challenge for teams from the West Coast, just as it is for teams from the East Coast. The Raiders lost 38-13 at Tennessee (Central Time Zone) and 35-3 in Pittsburgh earlier this season in one o'clock starts. I heard they're flying to Jacksonville on Friday. What does that mean? It means they're acknowledging that it's an issue.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
Can you explain why Greg Jones, an all-star tailback when he started for two years for FSU, is rarely used to carry or catch the ball, especially in short-yardage situations, when his 250 pounds could easily make a difference?

Vic: Yeah, I can tell you exactly why he's rarely used: 1.) Other players are better at running and catching; 2.) Nobody is better at blocking. What's it going to take to get football fans around here to understand that just because it happened at Florida or Florida State doesn't mean it has to be that way in the NFL?

Gino from Miami, FL:
The autumn wind is a raider.

Vic: There are those times in your life that you experience something that stays with you forever. When I was just starting in this business, I covered a series of games that stirred something in me that still gives me chills when I am reminded of it. I'm talking about those Steelers-Raiders games of the 1970's that were so vicious and so real that at one point Pete Rozelle sent each team a letter warning them of the dangers of the level of violence the rivalry had reached. Anyhow, there was an orchestra in the Alameda County Coliseum that played the music that accompanied "The Autumn Wind." As Raiders players emerged in pregame, the PA guy would announce them by saying something like, "Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the defensive backs," and then the band would play "The Autumn Wind" song. I can still hear the music as though it was playing right now. I had never seen football played with the intensity those games were played and I never will again. I got the greatest quote of my life after the 1976 AFC title game. "Give me a six-pack and 20 minutes and I'll go play them again," Jack Lambert said. Inscribed on the Raiders' Super Bowl XI ring is the score from that AFC title game.

Luis from Jacksonville:
I tune into Jaguars This Week and what do I get? Urban Meyer's press conference. I couldn't care less about the stupid Gators. No wonder people say this is a college town. Even the Jags radio network puts the Gators before the first-place Jags.

Vic: I never did get to hear what the weather meter was.

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