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The guy was a lunatic

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

Stephen from Jacksonville:
Joe Paterno is old but he doesn't seem to be slowing down at all. How is JoePa different from Bobby Bowden? How are they alike? How much longer can Paterno keep this up?

Vic: I don't think they're different at all. They're both great coaches and age is catching up to Paterno just as it did to Bowden. It catches up in recruiting. When a coach gets old, his competition has a recruiting advantage because there's a concern that the coach that recruited them will retire and they'll be playing for someone who didn't recruit them and for whom they don't want to play in a system that doesn't fit them. Paterno had a great recruiting year in 2009, largely because he seemed to be getting his third wind. This spring, however, he experienced a significant illness that cast doubt on his future, and that caused recruiting to go dead. I'm getting the feeling that this could be Paterno's last year.

Howard from Homestead, FL:
I'm probably going to reveal my ignorance on this one, but if the coach-to-player communicator isn't cut off until there are 15 seconds left on the clock, why wouldn't the offense want their quarterback at the line quickly so they could coach up to the snap?

Vic: Go ahead and talk to him. You can do it right up to 15 seconds left on the play clock. I think you're risking overload, but if you have a quarterback who can listen to you, read the defense and communicate his instructions to his offense all at the same time, then go ahead and talk to him. Fans don't realize how frenzied it is on the sideline and on the field in trying to get the next play and the right personnel into the game. The fans who criticize the play-calling have hours to consider what should've been called; the coaching staff has seconds to get the play called and into the game.

Jimmy from Jacksonville:
How do "Pot Roast" and Alualu compare size-wise to Stroud and Henderson? How about speed, for that matter?

Vic: Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu are lower to the ground than Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. I've never heard anyone talk about pad level for Knighton and Alualu, as they did for Stroud and Henderson. Don't be fooled by his width; Knighton is cat-quick. Alualu's game, of course, is movement. Stroud could move, too. Henderson's game was about not being moved.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
If you could change one rule before the start of the regular season, what would it be?

Vic: I don't wanna change any rules; we've already had enough changes. I'd like to soften the application of personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct, because I think we're trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by asking men who were selected for their aggressiveness to be passive, but that isn't gonna happen, either, so I'd like the coaches to find some way to get their players to stop with the stupid taunting and post-play shenanigans that result in game-changing 15-yard penalties. I'm so tired of the bravado that, when I see it, I sometimes turn off the TV.

William from Jacksonville:
What is with the use of the word "leverage" this year? I don't remember it being used much, if at all, in past years. Is this just coachspeak for an old-fashioned angle of pursuit?

Vic: In its pure form, coaches spoke of leverage to mean getting under the man you're tackling or blocking. Play with leverage meant to strike the rising blow. Coaches used to say they want a knee-bender, not a waist-bender, which was another way of saying play with leverage. Then one day, I heard Bill Cowher talk about having lost leverage in allowing a punt to be returned for a touchdown. What he meant was that the coverage got creased. It was the first time I had heard the word leverage used with a broad application but since then I've heard it used that way more and more. In coachspeak, leverage is another way of saying advantage.

Jason from Jacksonville:
David had a play he would like to have back on the interception, but those plays will happen. The result was not good, but I don't claim to know enough to have an opinion on if he made a bad read, etc. The bigger concern for me is his penchant for stepping out of bounds and taking a loss instead of throwing the ball away. He showed this again on the play when the snap went over his head. He made a great play to scoop the ball and elude the rush only to step out of bounds and take a 12-yard loss, when he could have thrown the ball away without much effort and saved the loss. You don't need to have a strong arm or be able to read defenses to get that one right.

Vic: You're absolutely correct. All I can tell you is that some quarterbacks have a make-a-play mentality that is very difficult to re-program. Terry Bradshaw was that way. I can't remember ever having seen Brad throw a ball away. I'm sure he did it, but I can't remember it. It wasn't until late in his career that he stopped forcing passes into coverage, and I can't help but wonder how many game-winning touchdown passes he threw that were forced into coverage. In the final year of his career, as he was nursing a sore elbow, I said to him in casual conversation one day that his critics always claimed he never looked-off the safety. He somehow misunderstood what I was saying and shot back, with a finger in my face, "I never, ever looked-off the safety." What he was saying is that he never had to look-off the safety, because he always had the arm strength to fit it into the tightest of coverages. That's the way some guys think. David Garrard has some of that in him. He doesn't see danger, only success. For him, surrender is objectionable. Something I've noticed about Garrard is that when he throws it away, he really throws it away. I think he wants everyone to know what he was doing. I think he sees an incomplete pass as a defeat, instead of as a means of avoiding defeat. It's head stuff for sure.

Eric from Jacksonville:
I disagree. I think in several years it might be possible to build a winning team that is run-first. Defenses will get smaller and quicker to defend the pass, thus allowing a power-running team to succeed.

Vic: Then they'd change the rules again. Look, nobody wants to run the ball more than I do. I've just given up hope that the league will allow it. It's a quarterback-drive league. The quarterback rings the cash register. He's "The Man." He's "The Meal Ticket." He's the player the casual fan, the fan that doesn't know poop about football other than it's entertainment, wants to see play, and there are a lot more casual fans than old-school types. The league is marketed to attract the casual fan.

Eric from St. Augustine, FL:
After hearing about Tampa's attendance woes from a friend, I reminded him that on that night 10 miles away there was a pennant-chasing, playoff-like baseball game. There were 40,000 fans there, which is how many the Jags had at several games last year. The entertainment dollar is split several ways in Tampa. What's our excuse?

Vic: You've said it beautifully. One of the things that made Jacksonville attractive to the NFL was that football would be the only game in town. That's one of the reasons it was thought Jacksonville could be the Green Bay of the South. What kind of drain on the sports economy are 81 baseball games a year? How about 50 or so NHL and/or NBA games? In my mind, filling a stadium 10 times for NFL games should be a layup.

Nate from Tampa, FL:
I caught the Jaguars episode of "NFL Yearbook 2009" on "ESPN 2," and if any fans have bad feelings about last year's team or the future of this squad, they should check it out. I had a smile on my face the entire 30 minutes. They showed the team, and especially David, in such a positive, yet, realistic light. Have you seen it? And what do you think of those kinds of programs? Are they meant to sound overly optimistic and joyful?

Vic: It sounds to me as though you saw NFL Films' 2009 Jaguars season video production, "The Young and Relentless." Yeah, they're promotional, but they don't lie. They're cool. NFL Films is a 1960's invention. They started crankin' out those videos when I was a kid. They didn't show them on TV back then; they were mainly meant to be used at functions. I remember the first one I ever saw. It was at an altar boys banquet and it was a video of one of the Steelers' horrible seasons, which were the rule, not the exception in those days. NFL Films decided to feature in this video a lunatic middle linebacker who Jerry Kramer said everyone in the league feared because it was felt that the guy was truly nuts. Kramer said the guy would yell out before the first play of the game that he was peeing his pants, then he would jump on the pile and rub himself on everyone. Hey, that would scare me. Well, NFL Films miked this guy for a game and they caught him targeting players to injure them – at one point the guy is in the huddle and he tells his teammates that he thinks he got him – and chasing away kids who wanted an autograph after the game. Nearly the whole video was of this guy and every other word had to be beeped. All the altar boys were laughing because it didn't take much imagination to know what was being beeped out. I remember looking at the priest during some of the beeps. It was great stuff.

Chad from Vero Beach, FL:
I know there's a lot of talk about the umpire not being safe in the old position. Now they must be behind the offensive line of scrimmage. They say it is a safety issue, so why don't they just keep it how it was and give the umpire a white helmet with shoulder pads and padded pants. Wouldn't this solve everything or just be too easy of a solution? He doesn't even have to have a facemask, just a helmet.

Vic: This is the most wonderfully innocent and comical "Ask Vic" question I have ever received. I like the way you think. You would've enjoyed that video of the lunatic linebacker.

Pete from Jacksonville:
If the season started today, how many games would be blacked out?

Vic: If the Jaguars' eight home games were played today, seven of them would be blacked out.

Tom from Starke, FL:
How are the young receivers progressing? Are they to the point where you don't even consider picking up Laveranues Coles to add consistency and leadership for the league's minimum salary?

Vic: That's correct.

Bill from Jacksonville:
I suspect Vince Lombardi could motivate and coach a team regardless of the environment. How do you think he'd be accepted in today's era, given the changes in the media and a needier, more knowledgeable fan base?

Vic: He'd be even more popular today than he was then. The era that wouldn't have fit him was the era he was about to enter when he died. The '70's would not have been good for him and his style of coaching. The '70's was a free-expression decade and he would not have been able to adapt to it, in my opinion, nor would his players have embraced his ways over the culture that was developing. You weren't gonna make those guys do grass drills. No way, baby; not Jack Tatum, Jack Lambert or any other Jack. You didn't have to baby them, but you weren't gonna whip 'em, either.

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