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This is not the time

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

Scott from Boise, ID:
What are the rules regarding the injured reserve list? I know a player can't return to play until next season, but if he gets better during the season is he allowed to practice with the team?

Vic: No.

Vincent from Jacksonville:
You said that if you were the head coach you sometimes would use the injured reserve list, "if you know what I mean," to keep good players. I'm sorry, but I don't know what you mean. Whisper it in my ear.

Vic: I remember a coach once announcing that he was placing on the team's injured reserve list a promising young player who was making the move from offensive lineman to defensive lineman. The coach said the young lineman had injured his left knee. In talking to the player, he made reference to his right knee. I told him the coach said it was the left knee. The player then said it was his left knee. You know what I mean?

Greg from Jacksonville:
Thank God you guys ("Jaguars This Week") finally addressed the hatchet job that was done on Byron by two idiots with a microphone and a forum. Awhile back, the Jag nation was in an uproar over the negative media slant and you defended the media.

Vic: I will always defend the media's right to express its opinion or anyone else's right to do the same. The point I tried to make on Wednesday evening's radio show is that the preseason is not the time to rip a guy for a bad performance. We should all be veteran enough by now to know what the circumstances are in the preseason. Teams do not game-plan for these games. They show as little as possible in the way of schemes. In the Jaguars' case, they are trying to get comfortable with a brand new offensive style and playbook, and this was the team's first game. You know the rest. This is Jacksonville's 11th season in the NFL. This is no longer a novice pro football town. We are now veterans of the pro game and we should know how very little the preseason means. If the offense sputters in the regular season, as it did on too many occasions last season, then it'll be time to start calling people out. If Byron Leftwich is one of those players, then so be it. But now is not the time.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
Every time I see an interview with coach Del Rio, he always acts as though everything is OK or developing fine. I would like for once to see him take a do-your-job or a you're-out-of-here approach to the players. There have been too many excuses for all of the team's bad plays and inconsistencies. It's time for the coach to either get this team working as it's supposed to or step down and let Mr. Weaver get a better coach that will not take all of the poor performances and excuses from the players. Somebody has to step up and get these players motivated and working as a team.

Vic: Yeah, and when Tom Coughlin was the coach everybody said the Jaguars needed a player's coach. What I don't understand is your impatience. The Jaguars went from 5-11 and a 1-7 start in 2003 to 9-7 and one win from making the playoffs last year. The roster Jack Del Rio and James Harris inherited when they took the job here may have been weaker than the 1995 roster. In two years, they turned that roster upside down and had the team in playoff contention. Now, after one preseason game this year, you're ready to junk it all and, frankly, that's not a responsible opinion. Coaches who call-out their players lose the dedication of their players. What you're asking the coach to do is to destroy his credibility with his players for the sake of satisfying your anger. That's not the coach's job. His job is to win. He'll be judged at the end of the season according to how often he won.

Andy from Jacksonville:
Who do you think will win the battle between Tony Williams and Anthony Maddox? Who's got the advantage and the most upside?

Vic: Tony Williams is a veteran defensive lineman who is strong against the run. He's a dependable guy and I thought he was an important acquisition when the Jaguars signed him. Anthony Maddox, however, is really coming on and could make Williams expendable. Williams is in his ninth season; Maddox is in his second. Maddox clearly has more upside and you know how I am about young, ascending players.

Andy from Jacksonville:
You said you wanted to see speed from the offense. Does this mean Jimmy Smith has finally lost a step?

Vic: I've never known a player who at 36 years of age and in his 13th pro season hasn't lost a step. Jimmy Smith is the most esteemed player in Jaguars history. He has carried this team's passing game on his shoulders since the second half of the 1996 season. Always, he has been the receiver to whom this team has looked when it needed somebody to make a big play. He has been this team's enduring deep receiver. Isn't it about time somebody else emerges?

Charles from Orange Park, FL:
I've heard all the rave reviews about Reggie Williams in practice. Then, in the game against Miami, he drops a very catchable pass near the end zone and Ernest Wilford bails him out by making a spectacular catch off the deflection. This was very disappointing. I mean, Reggie just has to start making these catches or make room for some of the other players that will. Your thoughts, Vic?

Vic: I agree. Let's wait to see what happens in the regular season, OK?

Lawrence from Jacksonville:
Do you think the Jaguars went 14-2 in 1999 despite Mark Brunell? I ask because people here seem to think Leftwich is the reason this team isn't winning, however, if you compared Brunell's 1999 numbers to Leftwich's from last year, they are virtually identical. They threw the same number of passes. Leftwich completed eight more for 118 yards less than Brunell. Leftwich's TD/INT ratio was 15-10 vs. Brunell's 14-9. The 1999 Jaguars scored 396 points to last year's 261. If the stats are so identical, isn't it obvious Brunell was carried by the rest of the team like Leftwich was last year?

Vic: I'll tell you how close the stats are: Brunell's passer rating in 1999 was 82.0; Leftwich's was 82.2 last year. The difference was that Brunell got the Jaguars into the end zone in '99. Leftwich didn't do that last year. I don't know whose fault it was – the receivers', the running backs', the line's, the coordinator's or Leftwich's – but you gotta score touchdowns and, ultimately, that responsibility falls on the quarterback. I hear complaints all of the time about Leftwich's mechanics, his body language, his lack of mobility, yada, yada, yada, but there's only one legitimate complaint: He didn't score enough touchdowns. That's what he and the offense must improve on this season.

Daniel from Orlando, FL:
Do the players ever "ask Vic" or comment to you on the views of the many fans they have here?

Vic: Marcus Stroud has complained to me on a couple of occasions that I never use his questions.

Jonathan from Troy, NY:
Since we have all of these questions about winning percentage, what is the Jags' winning percentage over their first 10 seasons?

Vic: The Jaguars are 86-82, a 51.19 winning percentage.

Seth from Jacksonville:
Fairly often football experts differ in opinion. You think Jones may become a tight end, Lageman does not. You think Wilford may be too slow to be a wide receiver, Lageman thinks he will find a spot. Leftwich may have everyone confused the most. This is a fast game and, unlike the Marinos and Mannings of the world, his delivery is way too slow. What do other experts that you speak with think of Byron?

Vic: There's a strong divergence of opinion on Leftwich. Some guys think he will be a star. Some guys think he'll be a bust. That's the way it is with public opinion. We love to debate the merits and flaws of quarterbacks. How about the people who don't think Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the game? Who removed their brains while they were asleep? Look at poor Ben Roethlisberger. He was 13-0 in his rookie season and took the Steelers to the AFC title game, but I haven't heard one "expert" or fan not predict doom and gloom for Roethlisberger this year. I would love for some psychologist to tell us why we are so passionate in our opinions about quarterbacks.

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