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Those dirty Patriots

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

James from Hernando, MS:
How did Josh Scobee's stats compare to those of the other rookie kickers?

Vic: Josh Scobee converted 77 percent of his field-goal attempts. Nate Kaeding of San Diego converted 80 percent. Kaeding is the only other rookie kicker in the league to have a significant number of field-goal attempts. On kickoffs, Scobee was considerably better than Kaeding. Eleven of Scobee's kickoffs resulted in touchbacks, while Kaeding scored only two touchbacks.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
Will the money that is spent on hiring the new coaches count toward the salary cap?

Vic: Money spent on coaches does not count on the salary cap. The cap pertains only to players.

Emma from Columbo, Sri Lanka:
First, I would thank all Americans helping my devastated country directly or indirectly by paying your taxes. Do you think the Jags will go after John Abraham after the season if he passes a physical? He will be costly but has tremendous upside at only 27 years old. I would hate to mortgage cap space for another Hugh Douglas-like bust. Your analysis would be appreciated.

Vic: You humble me. I have so many questions for you. I feel guilty answering a question about as insignificant a subject as John Abraham's prospects in free agency. Forgive me: Most expect the Jets to use the "franchise" tag on Abraham, which would effectively, not technically, take him off the market. Feb. 8 is the first day teams may tag players. If he is not tagged, I would expect the Jaguars to express interest in Abraham. Now, more importantly, I extend best wishes from everyone at "Ask Vic."

Steve from Jacksonville:
With Musgrave gone and a new coordinator coming in, won't that mean a whole new set of offensive plays, formations and players to fit the new schemes? Are we taking a step forward or backward?

Vic: I don't know about new players – there will be some, of course – but a new offensive coordinator will undoubtedly mean change. Forward or backward will depend on the results.

Malosi from Valencia, CA:
With the chuck rule likely to be heavily enforced again next year, do the draft ratings for defensive backs change dramatically, since there would be less demand for corners who can match-up one-on-one with receivers now?

Vic: The big difference in scouting cornerbacks for the way pass-defense is played now is that teams will be looking for corners who can play zone. You're right, you can't leave cornerbacks alone in man-to-man coverage the way the pass-defense rules are being enforced these days. Denver thought it could do that with Champ Bailey. Wrong! Baltimore signed Chris McAlister to a big deal because they thought they could do that with him. Wrong! In today's game, corners better be accomplished at playing zone coverage, which requires awareness and instinct over speed. They better also be good tacklers because they're going to be doing a lot of that, too. A big, fast, athletic guy who can play zone is always better than a small, slow, unathletic guy who can play zone, but zone coverage is much less demanding and will allow teams to get by with lesser-talented guys.

Shaun from Jacksonville:
When we're lost and in the dark we come to you to guide us through. When it comes to the new offensive coordinator job, I'm lost and in the dark. Who are we rooting for to fill the open position? Can you give us some information on the leading candidates?

Vic: Jack Del Rio has spent the past two weeks focusing on filling the linebackers coach job, which he did with Brian VanGorder, and the position made vacant by Steve Shafer's departure. Shafer's official title was assistant head coach but his main function was in assisting defensive backs coach Alvin Reynolds. Del Rio brought in candidates this week who might perform that same function, though I expect titles and job descriptions will change. As far as I can tell, Del Rio hasn't dug in real deep yet on the offensive coordinator job. Minnesota's Scott Linehan is thought to be a strong candidate so, obviously, his candidacy can't begin until the Vikings are out of the playoffs. Who are we rooting for? That's up to each fan's individual tastes. If you want a more wide-open offense that puts an emphasis on the passing game, Linehan would be your guy. News on the offensive coordinator job will probably start popping next week.

Nick from Jacksonville:
Now that Drew Brees has evolved into a Pro-Bowl player and LaDanian Tomlinson has shown he's a star, would you still not make the trade of Michael Vick for Brees and Tomlinson?

Vic: I think what you're saying is that trading down and drafting Brees and Tomlinson was a better move than trading up and drafting Vick. I'm not ready to concede that, yet, because Vick is such a mega talent. Let's not forget that Atlanta led the league in rushing this season, and that was purely the result of Vick's 902 yards rushing. Your point, however, is well taken. Now that Brees has emerged as a top quarterback, San Diego's decision to trade down looks pretty good. You sure can't criticize them now for having done that, can you? So why did they draft Phillip Rivers? It would seem they didn't think much of their own decision to draft Brees originally, did they?

Carl from Jacksonville:
I'm a little disturbed about the big deal we're making over the "major emphasis" on the chuck rule. What exactly were these so-called "shut-down corners" doing two years ago that they can't do now? I mean they can still harass the receiver within five yards, so why has the enforcement made such a drastic difference?

Vic: You're right, the rules are the same; it's the enforcement that's changed. The league literally ordered a "hit" on defensive backs in 2004. The league told its officials to call more penalties against defensive backs by strictly enforcing the rules. Meanwhile, officials are looking the other way at screens and rub-offs by the offense. It's all being done to promote more yardage and points, which had dipped in 2003. As I explained above, you can't play "man" with the way the rules are being applied now; at least not without safety help over the top and, frankly, that's not true "man." True shut-down corners are left alone in single coverage. If you play single coverage nowadays, you're inviting trouble. We got our first taste of that early in the season when Cincinnati went after Champ Bailey in a Monday night game. The Broncos put Bailey on an "island," which is what they paid him to be able to do, and the Bengals tattooed him. Don't minimize the impact of the chuck-rule enforcement. It's a very big deal. It's changed the way defense is played.

Brian from Orlando, FL:
Just wondered what your thoughts are on New England deciding not to cover up the field this week. Obviously, the field will be the same for both teams, but do you feel a team is under any obligation to keep the field in the best shape possible?

Vic: My thoughts are that the Patriots are trying to score a little payback to Colts president Bill Polian. Do you remember last year's game? The Patriots' defensive backs, Ty Law in particular, muscled the Colts' receivers and Peyton Manning threw four interceptions. During the offseason, Polian led a movement on the competition committee to more closely enforce the chuck rule and all other forms of pass-defense. All of a sudden, the field was tilted in the Colts' favor. What the Patriots are doing this week by not covering their field is tilting it back a little. Hey, that's dirty.

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