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The last excuse

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

Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
Consider the new overtime rules. Whether they are good or bad, what would you opt to do at the start of OT from a strategic point of view? I suppose that would depend greatly on your confidence in your QB, right?

Vic: It would also depend on my confidence in my defense, which I would have because there's no way I would be the head coach of a football team that didn't have a strong defense. My decision, therefore, would be to kick off to start the overtime period, provided I won the coin toss, because I have confidence in my defense and because I want to know exactly what the circumstances are when my offense gets the ball. In many ways, it's similar to the college format, inasmuch as college coaches elect to play defense first so they know what their offense has to do when it gets the ball.

Richard from Starke, FL:
If the reasoning behind the overtime change was that field goal kickers are too accurate now, why not narrow the uprights instead of changing overtime rules?

Vic: That's a great idea.

Greg from Carlsbad, CA:
What, in your opinion, constitutes the core of a football team, and what do the Jags still need to do to develop it long term?

Vic: The core of a football team is its quarterback and its two lines. Clearly, the Jaguars addressed the two lines last year and I would expect them to further address them in this year's draft because the talent pool up front, especially on defense, is deep.

Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
Round nine? Wow, that's pretty unbelievable that Johnny Unitas was such a late pick. I knew his story but I had no clue he was selected that late in the draft. Any thoughts on why he was such a late selection?

Vic: Scouting was hit and miss in those days. A lot of teams drafted right out of "Street and Smith." If this was then, Tim Tebow would probably be the first pick of the draft. Players were selected almost solely on what they did in college. There wasn't a lot of concern for how a player's skill set would translate to the pro game. Unitas played at Louisville, which wasn't part of the big-time college football scene in those days. Had Unitas played at Notre Dame, he would've been a first-round pick. It's possible the only reason he was drafted was because his hometown team picked him.

Thomas from Jacksonville:
I hate to say it but, at this rate, I don't think we can sell out the stadium. Drafting Tebow would give us a huge media push and likely sell us out. I think we should draft him at 10, just for the team's sake. The longevity of the team is more important than losing one draft spot, which, as history teaches us, could be a bust anyway. The intangibles are too huge to pass up.

Vic: You're right on two counts: The future of the team is more important than any draft pick and, yes, it could turn out to be a bust anyway. I, too, am concerned about the ticket sales numbers. I'm not saying they're bad, but they are daunting. Let's not forget that we're only talking about 50,957 tickets, which is the general bowl capacity. By focusing solely on the general bowl, we've effectively reduced the capacity of the stadium by 17,000, which happen to be the 17,000 seats in the stadium that generate the most revenue for the Jaguars. Even at that, it's going to be a struggle to fill the place, therefore, I have re-thought my position on Tebow. Should the Jaguars draft him, even if he isn't the best available player, which he almost certainly wouldn't be at pick 10? Get me a guarantee from enough Tebow fans to fill the stadium that they'll commit to a three-year season-ticket purchase and I'll say yes. The problem is that I've asked several people if they believe Tebow would, in fact, fill the building, and in every case I was told he wouldn't. The "Fan Forum" survey question we did supported that opinion, and so did the poll "The Florida Times-Union" conducted the following day. I gotta tell you, though, if I was Wayne Weaver, I might say, "Hold on, Gene. This one's on me." If I was Weaver, I might pick the kid and call my fans' bluff. Tebow is, without a doubt, the last excuse.

Bryan from Jacksonville:
It seems like year after year there's a player who moves up the draft boards based on buzz and talk. Last year it was Sanchez. Who do you think will turn into the over-hyped player this year?

Vic: There was nothing overhyped about Mark Sanchez. Based on his performance as a rookie, he probably should've been the first player picked. I'll tell you this: He certainly should've been the second player picked. How could St. Louis pass on Sanchez and pick Jason Smith? Don't they feel foolish now that they're trying to trade for Donovan McNabb?

Conor from Missoula, MT:
What do you think about the proposal to make the last two weeks of the season include only divisional matchups?

Vic: I'm against that idea. It lacks balance in the schedule. A team such as Miami would have to play in the cold without enjoying the early-season heat advantage against its division rivals. What if a team lost its quarterback for a few weeks late in the season? It would ruin the team's season. What we need is a proposal to stop making proposals. There's been too much change. We're changing for the sake of change. Two years ago, when they put in the coin toss deferral rule, Tom Coughlin said to me, "Why don't we just adopt the college rule book?" I couldn't agree with him more. There are too many proposals. Everybody wants to put their little stamp on the game. I liked it the way it was.

Richard from Atlantic Beach, FL:
OK, I guess I'm really getting old. Please explain how the team getting the ball second can get 25 percent more plays than the team getting the ball first.

Vic: If you're losing by three points when you get the ball, there isn't gonna be any punting on fourth down. That's an extra play the team that got the ball first effectively didn't have. All of a sudden, you only have to gain 2.5 yards per play instead of 3.3.

Tim from St. Petersburg, FL:
What type of grass is used on most NFL fields and which stadium is considered to have the best field?

Vic: It's Bermuda grass in the warm climates and rye grass in the cold climates. Tampa and Green Bay have always drawn rave reviews for their turf.

Zhane from Jacksonville:
Torry Holt revealed his mock draft on "Total Access" yesterday. Suprisingly, he had no quarterbacks being drafted in the top 10. I know mock drafts rarely concur with draft day, but do you think no quarterbacks going 1-10 is within the realm of possibility?

Vic: No, I don't, but I applaud Torry's originality and I like the work he does on TV. He's one of those players that doesn't mind being media. Those are the ones that are successful. You have to stop being a player and start being media if you're going to succeed at your new career.

Bob from Amelia Island, FL:
Where do the players live after college but before the draft? How do they get money?

Vic: They're on their own until they're picked. A lot of the potential high picks get an advance from their agent. After the draft, the team houses their rookies at a local hotel while they're participating in conditioning, mini-camp, OTA's, etc. They also get per diem expenses.

Ruben from Oxnard, CA:
Which quarterback, using BAP, could possibly come to Jacksonville in round three or four? What are your opinions of Snead?

Vic: Tony Pike and Dan LeFevour could become third-round candidates. I still like Pike. Jevan Snead built his reputation on his win over Tebow and Florida. Snead was horrible last year. I keep waiting for him to resurface but he hasn't. I made a point of watching him against South Carolina and it was painful to watch.

Jeremy from Birmingham, AL:
Maybe you can help me solve this. When I was young, my father took me to the "Old Gray Lady," aka Legion Field here in Birmingham. We saw the Washington Redskins play, and I believe they played the Falcons, but I'm not sure. This would have been in the early 1980's. My question is what was this I was watching?

Vic: It was 1988 and you were watching a preseason game in which the Redskins beat the Falcons, 34-17. There were 51,400 fans in attendance for that game. Playing preseason games at neutral sites was common prior to the mid-'70's. That's kind of when it changed, when teams were able to fill their stadiums with season-ticket holders. Prior to that, playing in non-NFL cities was a way of exposing the product in those places and not over-exposing it at home. I've covered preseason games in Knoxville, Barcelona, Montreal, Princeton, Canton and Champaign, Ill. Jacksonville used to be a popular preseason destination.

Jason from Jacksonville:
I'm so tired of hearing about overtime rules and Tebow. Have you read any good books lately you can suggest to me?

Vic: I'm reading "Undaunted Courage." It's a fascinating book about the Lewis and Clark exploration of the Louisiana Territory as they attempted to find a northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean. It's a book I would've never bought for myself, so I'm glad somebody bought it for me because I knew absolutely nothing about Lewis and Clark. I also didn't know that Thomas Jefferson paid nearly $10 million to Napoleon to purchase New Orleans. Huh? What was Napoleon going to do, keep us from taking it for free? Ten million dollars was an enormous sum of money back then. Jefferson had to fight to get Lewis and Clark $696 to give to the Indians so they wouldn't kill them.

Rad from Boynton Beach, FL:
Whatever happened to Colt Brennan? Do you think that he will ever amount to more than a backup in the NFL? What is he lacking that has kept him from excelling in the pros?

Vic: He's a backup with the Redskins. I would imagine he'll have a chance to compete for the starting job. He has yet to play in a regular-season game. What happens to guys like Brennan, which is to say record-setting college quarterbacks? Well, they go to a league where they have to be able to make all of the throws. If they can't, they fade away.

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