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Third down depends on pass-rush

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

Dave from Los Angeles, CA:
"The running game is not gaining enough yards. In my opinion, the line push is there." Are you saying the running backs are the problem?

Vic: The translation is literal. I thought the Jaguars were getting some push up front. I thought the line was coming off the ball together and with force and I thought it moved the line of scrimmage on most running plays. I could be wrong. Blame? I'm not assigning blame. I know that Shaun Rogers was responsible for single-handedly blowing up some plays. Maybe the Browns were two-gapping and even though the Jags' line surge was there, the running lanes may not have been. On a Monday morning, it's too early to know. I'll take a look at some tape. I'll talk to some people and try to give you a better answer tomorrow or the next day. All I was saying is that I thought the Jags got some surge and moved the line of scrimmage. As far as pass-protection was concerned, I didn't think it was good enough at all. David Garrard was sacked three times and was flattened after having thrown the ball seven or eight times.

Joe from Jacksonville:
"1.) The Jags aren't running the ball well enough. 2.) The Jags are getting no pressure on Anderson." Isn't that the same thing for almost all the games so far?

Vic: Yes, both have been a consistent failure. If you can't run the ball, you have to throw and that's not how you control the line of scrimmage or the tempo of the game; at least not the tempo with which the Jaguars want to play. As far as rushing the passer, it's even simpler: You can't win without a pass-rush. The Jags are 30th in the league in sacks and 30th in the league in allowing third-down conversions. You think that's just a coincidence? No way. Your ability to get off the field on third down is directly related to your ability to rush the passer. Any capable quarterback, and Derek Anderson can throw the football, will eat you alive if he can sit in the pocket confidently and survey the field.

Will from Orlando, FL:
Your personal thoughts on the Jags and their future?

Vic: The future is for when the season is over. This is all about the present right now. This is all about getting a win this Sunday in Cincinnati, and then doing it again and again and again. Thoughts on the future are for when a team has no present. The Jaguars haven't reached that point. They are a playoff contender and all thoughts should be on winning the next game.

Adam from Ocala, FL:
All I want to know is when Jerry Porter is going to get on the field.

Vic: He was on the field a lot on Sunday. On a critical third-and-one play at the Cleveland 10-yard line early in the quarter, trailing 17-7, David Garrard threw for Porter along the left sideline and Porter dropped the pass.

Alton from Orlando, FL:
Are there any adjustments the Jags can make defensively to make up for their lack of a pass-rush?

Vic: They have to find ways to rush the passer. It's just that simple. I don't know what they can do other than keep working at it and improving individually. I hold out hope for the rookies because it's obvious the team targeted them to fix this problem. You don't trade away half your draft class to draft two pass-rushers because you don't need pass-rushers. Blitz? Hey, they tried that. Once in a while it'll work, but this team doesn't have the personnel to live on the blitz. The young guys have to develop. I think whatever hope the Jags have of improving their pass-rush depends on Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves.

Keith from Orlando, FL:
How bad was this loss for the Jags, as far as the team emotionally?

Vic: I sense that it could have a purging effect. In my opinion, Jack Del Rio drew a line in the sand yesterday in his postgame press conference. Clearly, he has reached the limit of his patience and tolerance. Things are going to improve or else. Or else what? I don't know. Don't ask me. I just get the sense that we've reached that point.

Angel from Jacksonville:
Forty-seven pass attempts by Garrard? Since when is Garrard a gunslinger?

Vic: Since the playoff game in Pittsburgh last season. Where have you been? We've been talking about that all season. Only twice in the last nine games, including the two playoff games last season, have Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew combined to rush for more than 100 yards. Since that game in Pittsburgh, David Garrard's role has increased in scope dramatically. Game manager? That's almost laughable now. He is "The Man." He is this team's greatest weapon and hope of victory.

Tron from Jacksonville:
After this loss, what would you say our chances are of clinching a wild card?

Vic: In my opinion, the Jaguars will have to stay away from a tiebreaker because their AFC record and their head-to-heads with Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Cleveland are bad. In my opinion, the Jags need Buffalo and Pittsburgh to win their divisions and for Cleveland to collapse, which it could against a very tough road schedule. Ten wins may not get the Jags in because there could be a logjam at 10-6 and the Jags aren't likely to win a tiebreaker. Ten wins didn't get the Browns in last season because they lost a head-to-head tiebreaker with Pittsburgh. It may take 11 wins to get the Jags into the playoffs and we all know what that means. It means they need to start winning now and continue winning. It means they may have to win eight of their last nine games.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
On the first drive against the Browns, Northcutt caught a ball for a first down and it seemed like he juggled it. The team impressively sprinted to the line to run a play to keep Cleveland from challenging the call. I was wondering who initiates the rush-to-the-line play.

Vic: That's something teams practice. I call it special circumstances football. It's not like you have to spend a lot of time on it, but you have to have a call for it and your offense has to know that when it hears the no-huddle call, it has to hustle up to the line and go. I mentioned in my blog that the Jags immediately went no-huddle after the Dennis Northcutt catch.

William from Manahawkin, NJ:
What exactly does "We'll do it internally" mean?

Vic: It means changes are likely to be made and people are likely to spend time in the head coach's office, but information about those changes will not be made available to the media. What kinds of changes? I don't know. Coach Del Rio didn't say. They could be personnel changes, scheme changes, practice schedule changes, changes in demands, expectations, etc. The point of Del Rio's comment, in my opinion, is that he was sending a message that he was not happy and he will consider changes.

Bharat from Jacksonville:
We're now a passing team, huh?

Vic: The Jaguars are a team that wants to run the ball but finds itself having to pass more often than it would prefer.

Jeff from Boonsboro, MD:
How do you feel now about the defensive line on this Jaguars team?

Vic: My feelings are as they were a year or two ago when I said there's some age on the defensive line and the Jags need to draft some young lions. Clearly, the team felt the same way because it targeted two defensive linemen in this year's draft.

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