Join *Jaguars Inside Report *Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Ernie Stuckey from Fernandina Beach, FL:
It seems the NFL is a copy-cat league even down to the way they try to build a winning program. If you have a team winning now, you can rest assured they will have salary-cap problems within the next couple of years, as well as a losing record. If the current coaches throughout the league are supposed to be the best football has to offer, why do they all copy each other? Where is the next innovative offense going to come from? The last real innovative coach was Bill Walsh, and it's been years since he has been in the NFL. My case in point is this: The Rams win the Super Bowl and their supposed key was a good third-down receiver, so Coughlin drafts R. Jay Soward. Then the Ravens win the Super Bowl and all the talk was the big run-stuffing defense, so Coughlin drafts Marcus Stroud. I'm a Georgia Bulldog fan and I would not have drafted Stroud in the first round. If you had to guess, where do you see the next great innovative idea coming from and from whom?
Vic: You're overlooking some very dramatic innovations that have occurred since Bill Walsh used the "west coast offense" to win the Super Bowl in the 1981 season. What about Buddy Ryan's "46 defense" in 1985? How about Dom Capers' "zone-blitz defense" that was all the rage in 1994? The impact of Kordell Stewart's "Slash" role has been most dramatic in the way it has put such a premium on mobile quarterbacks. And don't forget the "five-wide-receivers" innovation of the mid-'90's. Yes, it's a copy-cat league, and if there's anything from this season that might be copied it's the growing dependence on two running backs. The Giants popularized it last season with Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne. Now look at what we have: Jerome Bettis and Amos Zereoue, Ricky Williams and Deuce McAllister, Ahman Green and Dorsey Levens, Ricky Watters and Shaun Alexander, Anthony Thomas and James Allen, Marshall Faulk and Trung Canidate, Curtis Martin and Lamont Jordan, etc. It has become crystal clear this season that a team needs to have two quality running backs. It may not be an innovation, but it is certainly a new and growing awareness of the importance of that position and the need for depth at it.
John Klacsmann from Fruit Cove, FL:
If the Jags finish last in the division this year, is it true that for next year the NFL did away with playing a last-place schedule? Is there any difference in a schedule, depending on where you finish?
Vic: The scheduling process has been standardized. Each team will play six games within its division, four against a designated division from within the same conference, four against a designated division in the other conference, and one game each against teams in the same conference who finished in the same place in their respective division standings the previous season. In 2002, the Jaguars will play six games in the AFC South, four games against the AFC North, four games against the NFC East, and two others against AFC teams, depending on the final standings. Because the AFC Central is the NFL's only six-team division, which means the last part of that scheduling equation wouldn't work for next season, the best guess is the league will seed each team in its new division before it schedules. Houston would automatically be the bottom seed in the AFC South. If the Jaguars were the third seed, they would play the third seeds from the AFC East and AFC West next season.
Jared Shanker from Edison, NJ:
What is the reason for the Jags' downhill run the past five games? Does any of it have to do with the loss of star running back Fred Taylor?
Most of it can be attributed to not having Fred Taylor in the lineup. The Jaguars' single-greatest failing during their five-game losing streak is their inability to run the football. That has resulted in the Jaguars currently ranking last in the league in time of possession, which means their defense has spent more time on the field than any other defense in the league. That's not good, even if you have the Ravens defense. All of the Jaguars' failings on defense can be attributed in some way to the lack of a productive and clock-controlling running game.
David Wielgus from Orlando, FL:
I'd like to see the Jaguars defense play more man-to-man coverage. I know this is what the players and fans want. With the current defensive scheme, the players seem confused, pointing more fingers than making tackles. Wouldn't man-to-man coverage make everyone's responsibility crystal clear? Any chance of this happening?
Vic: The coaches and the players know where responsibility lies. If Tom Coughlin and Gary Moeller thought they had the personnel to play more man-to-man, they'd be playing it. Schemes aren't the answer; players are.
Lou Nussbaum from Jacksonville:
I was very disappointed to see the Jaguars cut Randal Williams and subsequently be picked up by Dallas. Obviously, Coughlin liked Williams or he wouldn't have kept him on the roster. Although he was extremely raw, Williams appeared to have enormous talent. The Jaguars cannot count on Soward or Whitted and Dawkins is a bust. Could you explain this move to me?
Vic: The Jaguars thought Randal Williams would clear waivers and they would be able to re-sign him to the practice squad. I can think of another move I would've rather seen them make.
Tom Rusk from Malabar, FL:
It seems lately the Jags defense does very well on first and second down, but continually fails to stop the opponents on third down. I realize offenses have to be much more aggressive on third down, so is this just a matter of perception or is it a real problem for the Jags defense? If it's real, do you have any idea why the Jags defense has trouble on third down?
The Jaguars are 20th in the league in third-down defense, which qualifies it as a problem. The reasons are obvious: The coverage isn't tight enough and the rush isn't hard enough. But don't forget about third-and-short. The last time the Jaguars stopped a third-and-one play was in Seattle, when they sacked Trent Dilfer.
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