Join jaguars.com Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Mark from Jacksonville:
I understand that Gene Smith is building this team with high-character players. Do you think the team may miss out on great talent by not taking chances on some player that has character issues? Brandon Marshall is looking for a trade.
Vic: Yes, I think the team will miss out on great talent by not taking chances on players that have character issues. Smith's position on this is that he'd rather miss out on that great talent than acquire it and suffer the embarrassment and disruption that results from misconduct. Let's be rational about this, OK? The Jaguars aren't drafting their players from the "Who's who of American choir boys." These guys aren't saints, but they aren't thugs, either, and that's where Smith has drawn the line.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Do we have anyone on our team who could kick an extra point should Josh be injured?
Vic: The punters could do it.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Jack Del Rio's face was motionless when David Garrard went down. That's how quick a season can end. Let's hope Gene Smith can work some magic and address the need for a backup QB with upside.
Vic: It's that way for every team. The Patriots lost Tom Brady in their opening game last season and everyone immediately knew they would not be going to the Super Bowl. Look at their results from last year. What if Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger were injured? Season over. Yes, it would be favorable for the Jaguars to acquire a backup quarterback who's young enough to provide upside for the future, but doing that won't lessen the need for Garrard to avoid injury.
Andrew from Hagerstown, MD:
I know this is a place to discuss football issues that affect us all, but I've got a problem. I'm planning on going out for a semi-pro football team in my area, but even my dad, my long-time and only supporter in my gridiron endeavors, laughed right in my face when I mentioned it to him. My whole life, I've fought against naysayers with my speed, agility, technique and desire. Now, my own father is telling me I'm too small. Football is who I am, Vic. I can't let this go without going as far as I can. Can you imagine how hard it is when everyone tells you that you can't do what you know you were born to do? Am I being stubborn?
Vic: You've seen too many double-chinstrap pulls. Instead of envisioning yourself dancing in the end zone to the delight of fans that won't be there, imagine yourself sustaining an injury that requires medical attention and then ask yourself: Is the team going to provide and pay for that medical care? It's football; you will get hurt.
Matson from Jacksonville:
It's preseason and you're down by seven points and score a touchdown as time expires to end regulation. Obviously, you attempt a two-point conversion to avoid overtime. What would you do if you were down by eight points? Would every coach in this league kick to lose in the face of overtime?
Vic: No, they'd go for two because they would be "killed" by fans and media for playing to lose, and his owner and the league wouldn't like it, either. I'd do what Bill Belichick did in that meaningless 2005 regular-season finale. I'd send the two-point team onto the field, I'd call for a pass play and then I'd tell my quarterback that if he scores I'll cut him tomorrow.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Where do you think Garrard ranks in the echelon of quarterbacks in today's game?
Vic: He finished in the middle third of the passer rankings last season, which I consider to be symbolic of the kind of season he had. Based on those rankings, I would consider him to be a middle-of-the-pack quarterback who has the ability to move into the upper third, where he was in the 2007 passer rankings.
Eben from Montclair, NJ:
Watching the game against the Eagles, the differences between Donovan McNabb and David Garrard were very apparent. I consider Garrard to be an equally effective runner, but while Garrard only uses his feet as a last resort, McNabb has incorporated his wheels and elusiveness into his every-downs play. Do you see David developing that into his game as he matures?
Vic: As he matures? That's how we define quarterback maturity these days? Mature quarterbacks run? Isn't it supposed to be the opposite?
Bryan from Jacksonville:
Did the aliens come to Philly?
Vic: If they did, it was to bring people back. At kickoff, "The Linc" was barely half full. As the first quarter progressed, I noticed an endless stream of fans walking up the circular ramps in the corners of the end zone. Early in the third quarter, I noticed the place was nearly full, which was amazing when you consider that it was an early start that barely afforded fans enough time to get home from work, and that half the town was either in Pittsburgh for the Phillies-Pirates series or was at home watching the baseball game on TV. Philadelphia is a great sports town.
Ben from Farmington, CT:
The Jags showed something I liked and it surprised me. It's not so much that I liked a few plays during a preseason game, but something bigger. This is only year one, but please explain to me the short-term and long-term impact of Gene Smith.
Vic: The short-term impact is that we've made it through nearly an entire offseason and the Jaguars have yet to have a player arrested or charged with any kind of misconduct, knock on wood, of course. The long-term impact will be a slow, methodical improvement of the roster and the team's fortunes. If Smith drafts correctly, and I have no doubt he will, you will see the roster get better and get younger. In time, you will notice the Jaguars are losing players in free agency, which is what happens to good teams because other teams want their players. One of the tips that the personnel situation was wrong was that the Jaguars were not losing players in free agency that they wanted to keep.
Rob from Anchorage, AK:
Vic, why is the bump or shove style of tackling so popular with certain defensive backs on our team, such as Reggie Nelson and Rashean Mathis?
Vic: It's popular with defensive players throughout the league and the reason, in my opinion, is that coaches have developed an obsession for players staying off the ground. You hear it all the time in practice: "Stay off the ground," they yell. So, how can you really get into a guy with your shoulders without going to the ground? The bottom line is you can't, so players have started using their hands instead of their shoulders. It is, in my opinion, the saddest fact of the evolution of the game. The art of tackling has been lost because the old-fashioned shoulder tackle is being discouraged.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
It appeared Asante Samuel dropped his head and ran right through Hughes. It looked pretty dirty to me. He didn't try to stand him up at the line to save a touchdown, or play the ball, or even tackle him, he just ran right through his head.
Vic: Whatever the league decides is OK with me. If they fine him, OK. If they don't fine him, that's OK, too. I'll accept the league's judgment on this one. The thing that's really bothering me is that fans have become so hypersensitive to every bump between helmets. I think what a lot of fans might be forgetting is that once the receiver gets two feet on the ground and has been judged to have made the catch, he is no longer considered to be defenseless and bumping heads is OK. Every year, a group of officials meets with members of the media who cover the Jaguars and the officials explain changes in rules, interpretations and points of emphasis. At this year's meeting, it was explained in great detail that the league will flag anything that hints of a head shot on a defenseless receiver. Did you watch the Chargers-Falcons game on Saturday night? A flag for a head shot on a defenseless receiver was picked up after a confab among the officials because it was decided the receiver had two feet on the ground and had become a runner. Replay appeared to support the decision, though TV analyst Dan Fouts disagreed; frankly, I don't think he knows the rule about a defenseless receiver becoming a runner. Simply put, it's why the Willis McGahee play wasn't penalized or fined in last year's AFC title game. McGahee had become a runner. Was Nate Hughes a defenseless receiver or a runner when he was hit by Samuel? I don't know. I'll leave it up to the league to decide.
Bob from Somerset, PA:
Over the years, I have come to dislike watching the Eagles. Their games appear to be choppy, while the team scrapes and claws. In my opinion, there is nothing fluid in their overall game. I attribute this to their head coach, which leads to a comment you made Thursday night, in which you wrote that Reid drives you "nuts." What is it about Reid that does this to you?
Vic: You've hit the nail right on the head with an expert analysis of the Eagles. They're choppy-looking. There's nothing fluid or purposeful-looking about their offense. They just run plays. The perfect example of that was the 92-yard fumble return for a touchdown by the Jaguars. Why would you throw the ball 20 yards sideways to go one yard forward, on first and goal, no less? That's the kind of stuff that would drive me nuts if I had to cover them. Reid is from that school of coaches who get too cute. Just run the ball. Give your team a sense of strength. As far as I'm concerned, this is it; this has to be the year. The Eagles are loaded at every position. There can be no excuses.
J.T. from Auburn, AL:
Hinting that Vick is the distraction, which, by all accounts, he is not, is inaccurate and makes matters worse. Vick is not the distraction. People liking Vick for his potential explosiveness is not the distraction. The media talking about Vick being a distraction is the distraction. Lay off, please.
Vic: J.T., you can't coach the media. Michael Vick is a newsmaker for all the wrong reasons and the media is not going to lay off. He is a person of true notoriety, as a result of the hideous crimes he committed. When you sign Vick, you invite the national media into your locker room and into the eyes and ears of your fans. That's the way it is and that's the way it will continue to be. By the way, it wasn't the media chanting, "We want Vick." By signing him, the Eagles accepted a huge risk that Vick's presence will ruin the psyche of the team's starting quarterback, and that's a distraction no coach should want.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
How can you say the "Eagles keep Jags winless?" I missed breakfast this morning so I guess "The Jags keep man hungry" would be an appropriate headline? These are not games and please stop talking like they are. They are really expensive dress rehearsals, not football games. How can you lose a rehearsal?
Vic: Life's tough, isn't it? Sometimes I get mad at my socks.
Rajesh from Jacksonville:
It's pretty amazing that you did the Eagles game the previous night, traveled back to Jax and posted "Ask Vic" on Friday morning. Thanks for your dedication and sharing personal stories with your readers.
Vic: Thank you for noticing.