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Tickets sold is what's important

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

Kevin from Orlando, FL:
"He needs to beat a top team to go to the next level." What about the Philadelphia Eagles? What more do you need?

Vic: David Garrard threw for 87 yards against the Eagles. He didn't win that game. The defense and the running game won that game. You know that. What David needs to do to go to the next level is be the driving force in a game against a top team and a top quarterback. Byron Leftwich did that, for example, against Indianapolis and Peyton Manning, Green Bay and Brett Favre, Kansas City and Trent Green, Tennessee and Steve McNair. When David does that, there will be no holding him back.

Howard from Homestead, FL:
I don't understand our fans. This is the Titans. You don't leave during the second quarter. How many times do they have to rip out our hearts before we see them as rivals?

Vic: As Yogi Berra said, "If people don't want to come out to the ballpark, nobody's gonna stop 'em."

Charley from Paducah, KY:
I couldn't see the game because it wasn't televised here, but I followed your blog. You mentioned several dropped passes by the Jags and at least one other that you thought should have been caught. How bad was it, really?

Vic: I was just teasing. They were really caught.

Darian from Jacksonville:
Which of our free agents should we re-sign in the offseason?

Vic: These players are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents: Deon Grant, Vince Manuwai, Kyle Brady, Cortez Hankton, Marcellus Wiley, LaBrandon Toefield, Tony Gilbert and Tony Williams. Of that group, Manuwai is the guy I want to keep. These players are scheduled to be restricted free agents: Quinn Gray, Josh Scobee, Ernest Wilford, Jorge Cordova, Ahmad Carroll, Bobby McCray, Brian Jones and Elton Patterson. Gray, Scobee, Wilford, Cordova and McCray are the important keepers, but I think you want to use the "tender" process to keep all of your RFA players because they're your "jars on the shelf."

Glenn from Halifax, VA:
I prefer Byron Leftwich, but I respect your opinion on football more than anyone. I'm not going to pretend I know a lot about the current situation. I've had to work the Sundays that Garrard played this year. Is there a legitimate reason I should prefer either quarterback over the other, or does it just come down to which style of quarterback I prefer to watch?

Vic: It doesn't matter what any of us prefer. It all depends on what Jack Del Rio prefers. He makes the decision and we have no say in the matter. All we can do is watch and that's fine with me because I like to watch.

Chris from Crestview, FL:
It looked like the Titans had eight in the box early and Garrard beat them with the pass. Is that an accurate assessment and did he look sharp overall?

Vic: That is an accurate assessment and he looked very sharp overall. As I wrote, the Titans' strategy was the same one they used to beat David Garrard in 2004. Obviously, they didn't respect his ability to pass the ball back then. They tried the same strategy on Sunday and it backfired. Garrard is a better quarterback now and I think that's the result of having played so much at the end of last season. Also, the Titans' defensive backs couldn't cover a toilet seat on Sunday, so, putting them in single coverage was suicide.

Joseph from Statesboro, GA:
Is it simply a matter of misperception or do the Colts get to play under a different set of rules than the rest of the league?

Vic: You don't dare breathe on their receivers, do you? As soon as I saw that Ron Winter was the referee, I knew the Colts would win. Winter flags everything. Bill Belichick took some shots at Bill Polian, but Polian got the last laugh in this go-round. Those were Polian's rules changes Winter was enforcing on Sunday night.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
I can't wait for the injury report on Wednesday. Were there any costly injuries on Sunday that you know of?

Vic: The one that concerns me the most is John Henderson's hamstring, which he injured in practice last week. That can be a nagging injury.

Mickey from Jacksonville:
I'm confused by one of your entries from your blog: "I can't believe what I'm seeing. It's as though his fingers have grown out of his shoulder." I'm confused. What does that mean?

Vic: I was referring to Vince Young. I knew he had a flipper delivery, but seeing his motion in person for the first time was shocking. It's as though he has no arm. It's as though his hand is attached to his shoulder. I'm lost on this one. Third pick of the draft? How does that happen? I'm not even sure how good of a runner he is. Jeff Fisher's gotta get out of there, for his sake.

Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
Could you tell us the actual attendance for Sunday versus the tickets sold? Back to your old slogan, Vic: "No more excuses."

Vic: I don't know what the actual attendance was because that figure is no longer provided. To my knowledge, the Steelers are the only team in the league that provides actual attendance. All of the other teams announce tickets sold. Once upon a time, three figures were provided: tickets sold (distributed), tickets used, no-shows. That was, of course, a long time ago. The no-show thing doesn't bother me. Tickets not sold are what bother me because if this team doesn't sellout, it'll become vulnerable to relocation. If you buy a ticket and choose not to use it, that's your prerogative and I won't criticize you for exercising it. Weather can keep fans away and losing teams traditionally have no-shows late in the season, even in the most supportive and die-hard markets. I won't lie and say it wasn't disappointing to see empty seats all over the place at kickoff, before it even started to rain, but the building was sold and that's the most important thing.

Stuart from St Louis, MO:
The Colts didn't really seem to be able to stop runs up the middle, but the Patriots ran trick plays instead. What's the deal?

Vic: I agree with John Madden. The Patriots' game plan was too cutesy. I wouldn't want to be the Patriots' offensive coordinator today. I think he tried to shine the light on himself. He should've just pounded the ball at the Colts' middle. Everyone knows the formula for beating the Colts: Run the ball and dominate time of possession. The Patriots didn't do that and with one of the league's upper-crust running games they should've been able to do it. It's something to which you must commit early in the game and stick with it because its effects are cumulative.

Daniel from Atlanta, GA:
Why is Fred Taylor getting around 15 carries a game? I know Maurice Jones-Drew is taking some carries away but I still feel like Taylor should be getting around 20 carries a game.

Vic: Why is that important? This fantasy stuff is stupid. It has nothing to do with what's best for the players and the team. Taylor is not a pounder. He's not a high-endurance guy. He's someone whose playing time must be managed. The Jaguars are using him just right. They're using him to get the full bang for their buck, but not a penny more. Taylor has fresh legs. They need to keep it that way.

Kelvin from Warwick, UK:
What is your rating of Garrard as an interview? We know how accommodating Byron is and how he answers every question, so, I wondered how Garrard compared?

Vic: Garrard is a great interview. He's always been great with me and I've always loved interviewing him. He answers the questions. He works at it. I respect that in a big way.

James from Jacksonville:
If the Jaguars had won at Houston, do you still think they would have won the division?

Vic: You're right, I was wrong. My statement was that if the Jaguars won at Houston and at Philadelphia they would win the division. That theory was based on the Colts losing at least once and maybe twice in games at Denver and at New England.

Greg from New Orleans, LA:
Which NFL team has the most shutouts in a season?

Vic: I don't know, but I covered one, the 1976 Steelers, that had five in eight games. That team allowed just 28 points in the final nine games of the season. It was, by far, the most powerful defense I have ever covered. Four of its members are in the Hall of Fame and a fifth has narrowly missed election on several occasions.

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