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The more you know the better

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

Joe from Jacksonville:
I moved here a few years ago and immediately felt the need to become a Jaguars season ticket holder and do my part to support this team and the city. This was hard considering I was a die-hard Titans fan and season ticket holder. I would like to know why I should continue to invest in this team when it appears it is hiring coaches nobody wanted and seemingly refusing to attempt to make a splash in free agency. I ask why, Vic, why?

Vic: Back in the mid-1980's, I was covering a game in Chicago between the Bears and Steelers. On a third-and-one play in the first half, the Steelers had their right tackle report as being an eligible receiver. He got into a three-point stance and then stood abruptly and took one step back, which drew the Bears offside. The penalty, however, was assessed to the Steelers for simulating a play to intentionally draw the Bears offside. In the second half, the same thing occurred and, again, the Steelers were penalized. The next day, I asked Chuck Noll why he tried the same thing in the second half and Chuck said: "Why do people remarry?" At that point, I understood the meaning of life. Why do we do anything? Because we enjoy it; because hope springs eternal. I have never shot even par for a round of golf, but I keep trying. My 401(k) keeps losing money, but I keep contributing to it. Why do I do it? For the same reason people remarry. We cling to the hope of a better result, and that's why a season ticket holder should renew, because he or she clings to the hope of a better result. I can't guarantee a better result, but I am absolutely certain this team has set a strong course of direction and correction, and I absolutely believe it is the right choice.

Matt from New Jersey:
If the Jags go to a 3-4, do you see Harvey and Groves switching to outside linebacker to rush the passer?

Vic: I apologize to Mario from Jacksonville Beach. I just couldn't help myself. I felt the little horns starting to poke through the top of my head and I couldn't stop. It was just too easy. Sorry, Mario, I hope this explanation will satisfy you. Here goes: The Jaguars have hired a defensive coordinator with a 3-4 background. Almost certainly, we will see principles of the 3-4 defense creep into the Jaguars defensive scheme. We may see John Henderson move over the center, which would effectively make him a nose tackle except you might see him in a shading posture. In that case, you would have a blend of 3-4 and 4-3 principles. You might see Derrick Harvey or Quentin Groves playing considerably outside the offensive tackle, as a linebacker would be positioned, except Harvey or Groves might be on the line of scrimmage, which would be another example of blending 3-4 and 4-3 principles. You might see a lineman in a 4-3 scheme move off the line of scrimmage and give the Jaguars a 3-4 look, or you might see a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme move up on the line of scrimmage and present a 4-3 look. Yes, I think you're going to see the Jaguars play some 3-4 or at least incorporate some 3-4 principles, but will the Jags morph into a true two-gapping, man-on-the-nose, zone-blitz, 3-4 defense? No, that's not going to happen. That would represent too radical of a change. You see, a true 3-4 is all about two-gapping linemen and you don't just snap your fingers and turn quick-twitch defensive ends into hold-the-point two-gappers, or heavy-in-the-pants two-gappers into edge pass-rushers. When you watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, watch Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. They are true two-gap defensive linemen. They are, in effect, three tackles and their intent is to occupy blockers so the Steelers linebackers can make the plays. The true ends are the two outside linebackers, LeMarr Woodley and James Harrison. Truth be known, the 3-4 is the old college 53, except the stand-up ends have moved off the line of scrimmage and are more capable of dropping into coverage. To make that kind of scheme work, you have to have star linebackers who are worth the sacrifices that are being made up front.

Haran from Edmonton, Canada:
You stated that Dom Capers would have to change the Packers' corners into zone-coverage players. Could you explain why a switch to a 3-4 would require such a change?

Vic: It's not the switch to a 3-4 that requires zone coverage, though most 3-4 teams play zone behind it. I'm assuming Dom will want to use a lot of zone blitz stuff and that usually involves zone coverage. The 3-4 is a scheme-intense defense. In other words, it employs a lot of deception and disguise, which requires having players who are capable of playing different coverages and using different techniques. The 3-4 moves a lot of people in and out of the passing lanes and you never know who exactly is where. That's the idea of a 3-4; create confusion. There's nothing confusing about press man-to-man coverage.

Anthony from Jacksonville:
It seems to me that too much is made about the combine and pro days. Shouldn't the scouts already know about the physical abilities and limits of the players by now?

Vic: The more you know the better. The combine is going to provide critical medical and psychological information about these guys, as they will submit themselves to intense examinations. If a guy is developing arthritis in his knee or neck, you're going to see it in the test results. If he has an edge to his personality, you might detect it in the interview. At the combine, these guys are going to strip down to their gym trunks and spread their arms. The scouts will know the width of their shoulders and their wingspan. They're going to know who has growth left in them. A quarterback prospect, for example, who is broad in the shoulders is likely to have a naturally stronger arm than a narrow-shouldered guy because the wider the arc the greater the hand and ball speed. Sometimes, of course, these little things turn out to be meaningless. Dan Marino, for example, was found to have small hands, but it didn't seem to hurt him, did it? Either way, it's better to know than to not know.

John from Kingsland, GA:
Generally speaking, it seems to me the fans in Jacksonville won't be happy until we're a legacy team with six or seven rings, perennially in the playoffs with a QB and wide receiver on the cover of every magazine on the planet. It sometimes seems like you get tired of it. I know I do. Given your experience, how does Jacksonville's fan base rate in regards to other NFL cities? Are we more ardent in our demand for big, flashy things and change, like the constant 3-4/4-3 questions, or are we about normal?

Vic: Jaguars fans want an identity for the team. That's all it is. They want something on which they can hang their hat and say this is what we are. I understand and appreciate the interest in every new fad that comes along. Last year, it was the every-downs pass-rushers the Giants made famous. This year it's the 3-4 and its frenzied scheme. What Jaguars fans want is an identity they can call their own. Winning usually achieves that.

Jake from Jacksonville:
Why would you want to be heavy on linemen and light on linebackers in a 3-4? Wouldn't you need more linebackers since you're giving them an extra position on the field?

Vic: It was a joke, Jake. Joke, Jake. Get it?

Logan from Saskatoon, SK:
If you were the Jaguars and this year you were offered the exact trade the Jags made with the Ravens last year on draft day, would you pull the trigger?

Vic: Even if it was tucked in my sweat pants? Absolutely. That numeric table is another meaningless creation.

Brad from Jacksonville:
I'm a 16-year-old, aspiring writer that really enjoys reading your column. My writing resume is somewhat limited, however, my high school teachers and a college professor have given me positive feedback and I'm passionate about both writing and football, the Jaguars in particular. As a successful writer, what advice would you give someone like me? Also, are there any steps I can take to start getting writing opportunities now while I'm still in school?

Vic: Consider becoming a doctor or teacher and doing something meaningful with your life. If you still wanna be a sportswriter, then go to a local newspaper and volunteer your services, find a college with a J school and then begin preparing yourself for a life of ridicule, working late nights, weekends and during everybody else's leisure time, writing stories on airplane tray tables, bad hot dogs and no cheering in the press box. The good part is you don't have to do any heavy lifting. Maybe you'll get lucky in J school and meet a girl who wants to be a doctor.

Frank from Jacksonville:
I've asked a lot of questions that I hoped were thought-provoking, but they never seem to get answered and some really inane ones do. How many questions do you read to find the 15 or so that you respond to, and what makes a good one in your eyes?

Vic: I read hundreds a day and I honestly can't tell you what makes a question good or bad. You know it when you see it. Congratulations on having been selected.

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