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The symbol of the town

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

Steve from Atlanta, GA:
Do you expect more from Monroe or was that performance acceptable at this stage of camp?

Vic: It was completely unacceptable. That was his second preseason game. How much time does he need?

Chad from Jacksonville:
Why do we have to sit through television time outs in the stadium if the games are blacked out?

Vic: The other team's fans are seeing the game on TV.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
Plaxico Burress' gun goes off in a club and he gets two years in prison. Donte Stallworth kills a man and goes to jail for less than one month. Is our judicial system really that stupid?

Vic: Not in New York. If you're going there, leave your gun in your other pants.

Bryan from Orange Park, FL:
I heard the best (worst) excuse ever for the miserable turnout at Saturday night's game: "It was stupid to have a night game two days before school started."

Vic: I got some beauties on Monday. Half the town must have decided I was the person to whom they would complain that their neighbors didn't go to the game so they could watch it on TV. One guy wrote a painfully long letter to me, in which he said preseason games aren't worth a darn. Then why was he so upset at not having seen it on TV?

Todd from Beaufort, SC:
I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about the rules of football, but you scored a new one for me yesterday, which is why I love this column. I never knew you were credited a first down for a touchdown.

Vic: Actually, I screwed up the answer. Yeah, I knew the Jaguars got credit for a first down on Troy Williamson's 74-yard touchdown reception, but what I didn't know is that the offense is credited for having gained a first down on all touchdowns. A long time ago, when I did my own stats on nights when I was writing running (it's a newspaper term for writing on deadline), I was told the offense was credited for a first down only when it passed the forward stick, which only made sense. When the sticks were down in goal-to-go situations, the offense would not be credited with a first down when it scored because it was goal to go and they couldn't gain a first down, right? Well, it's not that way now. Maybe the league decided that a lot of first downs looked good on the final stats sheet. I don't know what it is, but if an offense is goal to go from the one-yard line and scores, it is credited with a first down. I decided to check it out shortly after posting yesterday's column and I found that my original explanation was wrong, so I quickly changed it. I still don't know what the reasoning is. It's stupid but it is what it is.

Jameson from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
With the integration of the 3-4 look into our defense, how do you think this will affect our opponents and the time they have in a week to prepare a game plan against a multiple-front defense? Is this enough of a wrinkle to make it difficult to scheme against?

Vic: It gives the opposition more work to do and it gives the opposing quarterback more information to process but, in my opinion, whether or not integrating the 3-4 look into the Jaguars defensive scheme will be successful will depend on whether or not the Jaguars have the personnel to make it work.

Derek from Basingstoke, UK:
Do you think it would make sense for the Jags to give up a home game for the international series, considering the current ticket selling situation?

Vic: As I said a couple of years ago, I am in favor of the Jaguars playing a game or two outside Jacksonville each season, for the obvious reason that it would reduce the ticket-selling burden in Jacksonville.

Saud from Marietta, GA:
Is there less commitment to the run game and more emphasis on the passing game recently? I feel we've been placing more emphasis on pass plays and wide receivers.

Vic: I think they have, for the obvious reason that there may be more concern there. As I said, the passing game wasn't great in OTA's, as it should be in the underwear league, and it has struggled in training camp, too. This Thursday, however, I expect more of an emphasis on the running game. The regular season is nearing.

Ben from Jacksonville:
Why do you keep talking about a tough game for tough men, then compare yourself to them? There is nothing tough about you eating nasty hotdogs, sitting in an air-conditioned press box, watching football, hen-pecking at your keyboard. If you were a tough man, you'd be on the field. Stop glorifying your old, broken-down self. There is nothing tough about you.

Vic: Do you have any idea what kind of man you have to be to bat out 20 inches on a broken tray table? Do you have any idea how tough you have to be to write a column and a game story on a short flight back from Tennessee and still have time to get a dinner tray? In 38 years, I have never missed a dinner. How many guys can say that, huh? I've seen the young guys, frozen at their little laptops because there's too much noise for them to concentrate. They can't finish their stories because they can't Google on the plane or there's not enough room to spread out their media guide and "Fact Book." I'm already into the Dove Bar before they've finished the lead to their game story. You young guys crack me up. You probably put ketchup on your hotdog.

Keith from Jacksonville:
I have the perfect solution for Jacksonville: guns for fun. People trade their firearms at a certain location on a Monday or Tuesday. In return, the city gives that person tickets they have purchased from the Jaguars. The quality of their weapon determines what kind of seats they get. This will kill two birds with one stone: get people in the stands and also get some of the guns off the street.

Vic: You stole this from Archie Bunker.

Harrison from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Could you please let us know the roster cut dates and numbers? Also, what bubble players intrigue you the most?

Vic: Cut to 75 on or before Sept. 1, cut to 53 on or before Sept. 5. I really don't think there will be much intrigue.

Ryan from Clyde, OH:
Now that it's the third preseason game, what should we look for since it's going to be more of a physical game than most preseason games?

Vic: As you're watching the game, ask yourself two questions: 1.) Do the Jaguars appear ready to play a regular-season game? 2.) Do they appear capable of competing with the top teams in the league?

Randy from Orange Park, FL:
Could you explain the ruling on the kickoff where the defender carried the ball into the end zone resulting in a touchback? I thought it should have been downed where the initial touch was made.

Vic: Without getting too technical, he had to stop before crossing into the end zone with the ball. He caught it and then coasted with it into the end zone. Clearly, he didn't know the NFL rule. In college, it's the ball. In the NFL, it's the ball and the man.

Steve from North Reading, MA:
What has been holding Troy Williamson back through the years? I know he's had trouble with drops, but is it route-running, too? Is he doing anything differently this year that makes you think he'll have a significant impact for a full season?

Vic: He's getting open and he's catching the ball; that's what he's doing differently. He's doing one more thing differently: He's staying healthy. Why has the light all of a sudden gone on? My guess is it's probably because he feels comfortable with his craft for the first time. You know how it is. The more you do something, the more comfortable you feel doing it. That's why you don't want to quit on players who have real talent, and Williamson does. Please, let's keep this in perspective. It's only been two preseason games. This is not the time to crown him. Yeah, I like what I see, but I don't want to curse him with faint praise.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
I'll be honest with you, I'm sick and tired of all this Little League World Series crap on ESPN. Three weeks of coverage for a bunch of kids who are there only because their parents are willing to pay thousands of dollars is way too much. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for youth league sports, but this pompous coronation of a paper champion makes me want to vomit. Do you have any thoughts on this subject?

Vic: I like it. It's better than watching men with deformed ears fighting bare-fisted in a cage.

Daniel from Tallahassee, FL:
I'm sure you got a massive amount of e-mails regarding your top 10 list of excuses why people will not buy tickets. As I was reading it, I thought to myself that this is Vic at his best and is one of the funniest things to come out of your mouth in the many years I've been reading your column. Sometime later, it occurred to me that it wasn't at all funny, but rather quite accurate and I was a bit embarrassed in its accuracy. Is there any hope this city will come around?

Vic: At some point, and I've seen this happen before, the town wakes up and realizes the team it's rejecting is the symbol of the town they love. It's happening in New Orleans right now and I would like to see it happen in Jacksonville soon because we are beginning to tread on thin ice. If every game is blacked out this year, the Jaguars would join the Raiders and the Cardinals as the only NFL teams to have all its games blacked out in a season since the 1973 act of Congress by which the league continues to abide. It would be cause for grave concern in the league office. Nobody is obligated to buy a ticket to a Jaguars game. You will never hear or read me say otherwise. All any of us can do is hope enough fans fall in love with the Jaguars to reverse the fortunes of ticket sales.

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