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Throw deep, block long

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

Lorenzo from Jacksonville:
You said in an earlier article that players couldn't sign six-year contracts because of the existing CBA, but I've read a few players have signed six-year deals. Can you explain the loophole or did I miss something?

Vic: I didn't say players couldn't sign six-year deals. I said the bonus money of players signing new contracts couldn't be amortized beyond 2009. The 2006 season is the last capped year of the current CBA, and amortization is governed by a "last capped year plus three" rule. What that means is that if you sign a player to a $10 million signing bonus today, all of that signing bonus has to be amortized over the next five years.

Jim from San Diego, CA:
I think Wayne Weaver is being too generous in regards to not letting the first preseason game be blacked out. He had an opportunity to send a message to Jaguars fans that they needed to get out to the games or they won't get to see them. Don't you think Wayne is being too good to the fans? We're already spoiled enough. We could use a little tough love.

Vic: I hope the past few years have conditioned people to the idea that the Jaguars must abide by the TV blackout rules. The grace years are over. It was the main intention of the column I wrote last week to make it clear to fans that Saturday night's game was a gift, and not to count on it happening again this season. I must also say this: I was impressed by the turnout on Saturday night. I'm not going to tell you that all of the people who bought tickets actually attended the game, but no-shows were minimal and that was impressive on a really hot and uncomfortable evening. People could've chosen the comfort of their living rooms, but they didn't. I applaud those fans who used the tickets they purchased.

Wade from Winston-Salem, NC:
I understand that in the preseason the offense is going to be pretty vanilla from a gameplan standpoint, but what concerns me is the execution. Jimmy Smith dropping a nice ball, Leftwich holding the ball too long, the offensive line missing their assignments; are these first-game flaws to work out or should we be concerned?

Vic: Your evaluation is right on. Those were the three flaws I saw in the Jaguars offense on Saturday night. The most major of those flaws was poor pass-protection. Byron Leftwich was hurried on almost every throw. On at least one occasion, maybe two, he was guilty of holding the ball too long, but that may have also been the product of the Jaguars' new throw-it-down-the-field philosophy. On one play in which he was sacked, his receivers were all running deep routes. Throwing the ball deep is great, but it has to be understood that more time must be provided to the quarterback. Deep passing often results in more sacks; that's the trade-off. For every action there is a consequence. The "West Coast offense" is great at getting rid of the ball quickly and avoiding sacks, but it usually produces yardage in small denominations. If you want big chunks, your quarterback needs more time to throw. That's the expectation the Jaguars offensive line faces in this new plan of attack. The third flaw, dropped passes, is something that's plagued Byron Leftwich and the Jaguars' quarterbacks throughout training camp. Yes, we should be concerned, especially with the dropped passes. It's become a persistent problem. We've seen it in practice, in the scrimmage and now in a preseason game. It's got to end, but the Jaguars also have three more preseason games to make it end. Don't get in a knot about a preseason game, especially a preseason opener.

Robert from Las Vegas, NV:
What do you think of Alvin Pearman's performance Saturday?

Vic: Pearman played in the game just as he has in practice. He has a lot of wiggle and a little bit of pop. A scout whose opinion I respect greatly told me he thought Pearman reminded him a little bit of Priest Holmes. Pearman isn't as powerful a runner as Holmes, but he has Holmes' elusiveness and, most importantly, his all-around abilities. That's what's going to serve Pearman best in the pro game; he can run and catch. I think he has a chance to be an outstanding third-down back and a solid change of pace runner. At this point, I'm not prepared to put him in the starting lineup.

Matt from Jacksonville:
I just don't see Leftwich being the quarterback that leads the Jags to any chance at the postseason. I hate the way he carries himself on the field. Do you think Leftwich has what it takes and can improve before the season opener? I think the quarterback position is the problem for the Jags.

Vic: I see Byron Leftwich as a quarterback who can lead the Jaguars to the postseason, I like the way he carries himself on the field, I'm absolutely sure he will improve before the season opener and I think the quarterback position is one of the Jaguars' strengths. Did I see all of that in Saturday's game? Of course not. My opinion of Leftwich is not based on my observations of his performance Saturday night. My understanding of the film review is that he was a victim of double jeopardy: His receivers didn't get open and his offensive line didn't give him time to throw. My opinion of Leftwich was formed in his first two regular seasons. I never form lasting opinions based on preseason games. Leftwich has won two of the last three games he's played against Peyton Manning. He beat Brett Favre last year; Steve McNair and Trent Green, too. That's what I see. Through two seasons, I think he's right on track. This is a big year for him. He has to continue his improvement and prove he can lead the Jaguars into the playoffs. I'll update my opinion when this season is over. I'm sure not going to pass judgment now, based on a meaningless, four-series performance in the first preseason game.

Jack from Oakville, Ontario:
I was wondering if Reggie Hayward played in the opening game because I cannot find his name on the stat sheet. If he did play, what happened with him? Was he a ghost out there or what?

Vic: He was the Jaguars' starting right defensive end on Saturday, but was not credited with a tackle or an assist.

Scott from Jacksonville:
Any excuse or reason for our starting offense's performance Saturday night?

Vic: You don't have to accept any excuses. They had two weeks of training camp to prepare. It's up to you what tolerance levels you want to afford the offense. It's in the midst of installing a new offense. I think that should be considered. I think if you look at other preseason games you'll also see a lot of other unimpressive offensive performances. It's standard operating procedure for offenses to struggle early in the preseason and if you look around the league at games played this past weekend you'll see that offense struggled league-wide. You don't have to allow, however, for those considerations. You can be as harsh as you'd like to be. When you put your hard-earned money down to see a game, you deserve to get your money's worth. My tolerances, however, extend beyond the preseason. I accept the preseason for what it is, which is to say a necessary evil that evaporates into the forgotten as soon as the regular season begins. Pro football teams, in my opinion, should be judged by what they do in the regular season. Then, in my opinion, the time has run out for excuses. Everyone has their own tolerances. I'm not going to tell you what to accept, but I'm not going to get into a knot about a preseason game.

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