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They were kicking into the wind

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

Chris from Rochester, MN:
As I've watched college football games this year, it seems that more teams are using gimmick offensive schemes (specifically Florida and Arkansas) that would never work in the NFL. Would you agree that, while these systems may be effective in college, they'd never work in the pros? Which schools do you think have the best pro-style offensive schemes?

Vic: They might work for a play or two in the NFL, but they would be quickly figured out and stopped. They're working in college football because the gap in talent between offense and defense is enormous. College coaches forever have put their best players on offense and, now, with only 20 hours of practice time allowed, college coaches don't have enough time to coach 'em up on defense to the offense's level. That's why offense is dominating as much as it is in college. The tackling in college football and pass-defense technique is horrifying for coaches to see. I watched the LSU-Arkansas game and there were runs up the middle that went on for so long the defense had time to reach in and pull the ball out. They looked like scrums. What's so tricky about Tim Tebow taking a direct snap from center and running forward with it? It doesn't work because the defense doesn't know what's coming. It works because the defense knows what's coming but can't stop it because the offensive linemen are moving the line of scrimmage. There are a lot of good-looking pro-style offenses in college football. Ohio State runs a pro-style offense. Michigan does. Notre Dame certainly does. How about USC? Louisville is pro-style. Those last three teams are all coached by former NFL coaches.

Fred from Jacksonville:
I was surprised that your blog did not include a comment on the ridiculous pooch kickoff by the Jags which put the Bills at their own 40 with 22 seconds remaining. What was the logic behind that strategy?

Vic: I didn't mention it because at that point the action was fast and furious and it took everything I had to keep up with it. I also didn't mention it because the Bills' field position following that kickoff was about what I expected. The Jaguars were kicking off into a strong wind. The flags at the top of the stadium were starched all day. Why did the Jaguars squib the kick? I'm sure it was a decision that was the result of two factors: the wind and Terrence McGee, a Pro-Bowler who has returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in the last two seasons. The squib resulted in the Bills getting the ball at the 40. In my opinion, if Jack Del Rio had been given the option of the 40 or kicking it away to McGee, he would've taken the 40. Believe me when I tell you that kicking into the wind was a major problem. Scobee kicked off into the wind once, early in the fourth quarter, and the kick wobbled and bounced into and out of the end zone near the left-front corner. Trust me, you would've been taking a major risk of a short kickoff had you tried to kick high and long. Let's not forget that Scobee badly missed a 42-yard field goal attempt in that direction in the first quarter. I'm not a fan of squib kicks, but I don't think the Jaguars had many options in that situation. They were just unfortunate to be facing the wind. Let's not forget that it took a 30-yard pass to put the Bills into field goal range. J.P. Losman threw a pass into the tightest of windows. The squib kick is one of those things everybody wants to jump on because it's easily debated, but I think you would've had trouble doing much better than the Bills' 35-yard line with anything you tried. Rian Lindell kicked off into the wind three times and never got it deeper than the Jacksonville 20. What if the Jags had kicked it away and McGee had returned it to the Jags 30-yard line? What would you be saying today?

James from Philadelphia, PA:
I know there are tons of factors that go into a loss, but I think one of the unsung villains in the Bills game was untimely and excessive penalties. Do you think this was a big factor and, if so, what do you think the coaching staff will do to correct the issue?

Vic: Yes, penalties were a major factor. I don't know what you do other than call it to your players' attention and demand improvement. The Jaguars are tied with several teams for the ninth-most penalties in the league. That's not good.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I understand it's about players, not plays. That said, the Jaguars didn't throw the ball downfield against Buffalo. Until the end of the game, Reggie Williams was the only wide receiver to catch a ball, and twice he caught it behind the line of scrimmage. Is this the quarterback being too anxious to check down, the coaching staff keeping the reins on a new starter, or a wide receiving corps that just can't get open downfield?

Vic: The Bills' defensive game plan put eight in the box and three deep. That means an extra man to stop the run – which they couldn't do anyhow – and three deep pass-defenders to guard against the deep throw. In other words, you weren't going to get deep against that coverage scheme. The open spots were underneath. After looking at a portion of the game tape, I decided that David Garrard failed to see a few open receivers, but I could say that of almost any quarterback after every game. He got it done at crunch time and I don't think that should be ignored. So why did the Jaguars lose? Because they fumbled the ball away following an interception and that allowed one touchdown, committed a pass-interference penalty that allowed a field goal, missed a mid-range field goal attempt and allowed an 82-yard punt-return for a touchdown.

James from Jacksonville:
Why do we play down to the teams we play?

Vic: I don't know what the answer is but maybe the "play down to the teams we play" attitude has created a perception problem. Frankly, I think the same Jaguars fans who beg for respect don't give respect to a lot of the teams the Jaguars are playing.

Alex from Valdosta, GA:
Why wasn't Mathis on Evans for the whole game and why did Jack Del Rio wait so long to replace Webb with Mathis?

Vic: He obviously believed Webb could get it done. Waiting until halftime isn't too long. Anything short of a half is knee-jerk.

Paul from Tallahassee, FL:
It seemed like the coaching staff kept Garrard on a very tight leash in Buffalo. Is this an indication the coaching staff doesn't have complete confidence in him or was something else going on?

Vic: First of all, I think that's the way Jack Del Rio wants to play football. I think he wants to run the ball, play defense and win the battle of special teams. Unfortunately, the Jaguars didn't win the battle of special teams and they made a couple of costly errors on defense – including Dee Webb getting caught inside on Willis McGahee's touchdown run – that were the result of having to plug in another young guy. Secondly, Garrard is still in the formative stages of his career as a starter and limiting his role is as expected.

Jo from Jacksonville:
Well, Vic are you going to admit you were wrong about Vince Young?

Vic: OK, I'll admit it. I was wrong. He's a great quarterback.

Josh from Jacksonville:
Well, of your "10 things," the Jags didn't really do any of them.

Vic: That's not true. They dominated time of possession by four and a half minutes, they held Lee Evans to 58 yards receiving and no touchdowns, and they stuck with what was working, which is to say they didn't quit on the run. What they didn't do was the number one "thing" on my list, "Win the battle of special teams." Roscoe Parrish was no surprise. They also didn't rush the passer as well as I would've liked and they did turn it over on the fumbled interception, but it was the 82-yard punt-return for a touchdown that changed the game. Jack Del Rio said it. He made a point of singling out the Bills' return game. It wasn't ignored. It just wasn't stopped.

Mac from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Just have to vent. Saw this trap game a mile away. Sad to say, this Jag team will never win with current leadership. Next week looks very much the same, but Miami is a much improved team. The playoffs will be gone after the Miami loss.

Vic: I'm not a therapist. If you need help dealing with your emotions, then you probably need to schedule something. I deal in reality and the reality is there are no "trap games" or "sandwich games" in the NFL. Everybody should understand by now the ups and downs in this league. Why do we continue to be stunned by Washington beating Carolina and Tennessee beating the Giants? It happens every week. In the case of the Jags-Bills game, I think the two teams were evenly matched. In fact, I think if you put either Marcus Stroud or John Henderson on the Bills, they might make the playoffs. This wasn't a "trap game." The Jaguars weren't trapped. They were beaten by a team that found a way to score more points. Deal with it.

Scott from Jacksonville:
When I heard an AP writer that has a vote say the Gators didn't give him enough style points, I immediately thought about your take on college football. What would you do to change college football? Go to a limited playoff or what? How in your opinion could a fair national champion be decided?

Vic: Scott, it's so easy to do it's not worth describing. I'm not going to bore you with a lot of I'd do this and I'd do that. Take the conference champions and play 'em off. That's all you have to do. And when you do that, you seed them according to a seeding criterion, and the higher-seeded teams host the games. That means you play games at Ohio State and at Michigan in December. No more of this everybody goes south to play. The playing field has to be level.

Kevin from Navesink, NJ:
Tom just can never beat those pesky Titans, can he?

Vic: What do you think Tom Coughlin's Monday is like? His team had a 21-0 lead going into the fourth quarter. If that's not quit, I don't know what is. If Tiki Barber retires at the end of the season, Tom's going to lose a good running back, but he's also going to lose a major distraction. Barber has been a divisive force and it's showing.

Brock from Springfield, MO:
In your blog during the game you said the pass to Wrighster was too high, which it wasn't. You also said Matt Jones' touchdown catch was bobbled, which it wasn't. Do you have a problem with your eyesight?

Vic: I made a point of examining those two plays on Monday when I viewed a portion of the game tape. After watching the tape, I agree with you that the pass to George Wrighster wasn't too high. It was catchable. On the Matt Jones three-yard touchdown catch, I never questioned it until I saw a replay. I thought the replay showed the ball moved in his hands after one of his feet came off the ground and immediately I thought to myself, hurry up, kick. I looked at it again very closely this morning. The game tape doesn't give you that up-close look at the ball, but I still see a wobble. I looked at the TV tape, again, and it's my opinion that review would not have overturned the touchdown, but I wouldn't have wanted to risk it. The right hand does not come onto the ball completely until deep into the catch. It's my opinion. That's all. Vic from Tucson, AZ:
After watching another frustrating road game, I'm curious on your thoughts regarding the Jags' poor road performances this year (1-4). Seems to me they've been a pretty good road team under Del Rio the past few years, but don't seem to have the same intensity this year.

Vic: It's all subjective. Some people say intensity. I'm not one of those people. I don't know why a team would be less intense or focused on the road. It has been my opinion that teams struggle on the road because they lack confidence. It's tough to win on the road no matter how good you are, and if you get on a losing roll on the road, your confidence will erode. Is that the problem? I don't know. It's just a guess.

Josh from Jacksonville:
Why did Dee Webb get the start over Scott Starks?

Vic: Webb is a guy the Jaguars like. They thought he would be up to the challenge. Also, they probably didn't want to take Starks out of his "nickel" role because he's been successful in it and no coach likes to tinker with success. I'll bet size had something to do with it, too. Starks is a smallish player and they may not have wanted to play him a whole game. They may have worried that he'd have trouble holding up in a 50 or 60-snap game.

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