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Time for reflection, perspective

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

Henry from Jacksonville:
Maybe you've written it already and I missed it, but who are the five prominent players on this team with expiring contracts?

Vic: They are: Khalif Barnes, Reggie Williams, Brad Meester, Mike Peterson and Gerald Sensabaugh.

Mack from Jacksonville:
Why are the NFL games so lopsided? Ten out of the 15 NFL games this past weekend had teams score over 30 points. In 13 of the 15 games the winner won by seven points or more. Are we now seeing the protection of the QB and the five-yard rule on wide receivers take over the scoring of the game, or is it something else?

Vic: You're seeing what happens late in the season. Everyone wants to say they quit and the coach lost his team, but that's not it. Football is an edge game and, in my opinion, when teams fall out of playoff contention, they lose their edge. It's not that way for all teams. It's not that way, say, for young teams playing for their futures. The Jaguars were that kind of team in 2003. Most teams, however, aren't in that position. Most teams had set the playoffs as the goal and when your goal falls out of reach, you lose your sense of desperation. Coaches will tell you it's pro football and nothing less than a total effort is acceptable but, in my opinion, it's human nature to lose some of your smoke when you lose your motivation.

Ian from Belleville, IL:
Do you see any positives for the Jaguars this season?

Vic: Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves got a year under their belts. I know that doesn't sound like much but defensive linemen, especially ends, require development time and seldom make a big splash as rookies. In other words, the reconstruction of the defensive line is underway. That's the good news.

Steve from Jacksonville:
Can you please explain why an offensive false start is whistled dead, but a defensive offsides allows the offense to complete a play, then decline the penalty if they choose?

Vic: I imagine it's because the league does everything possible to protect the quarterback. They don't want the defense to get a "free" run at the quarterback. If I'm not mistaken, there was no such thing as a false start penalty when I was a kid. If an offensive lineman moved just ahead of the snap and the play wasn't blown dead before the ball was snapped, the play was allowed to continue and the defense did get a "free" run at the quarterback. When the play was over, the call was "illegal procedure" and the defense could take the play or the penalty.

Derek from Griffith, IN:
Which players do you think has most improved this season and which have showed the most potential to help this team in the future?

Vic: Gerald Sensabaugh and Matt Jones made significant gains. Sensabaugh, however, will be an unrestricted free agent and may not return to the team. Jones became a trusted possession receiver and offers hope to continue his growth in that role next season. Marcedes Lewis is another player who made gains, especially as a blocker. Josh Scobee was going great guns until this past Sunday.

Rameses from Norfolk, VA:
Aside from offensive and defensive linemen, who in college football stands out as a player that can really help us next year?

Vic: Help is welcome anywhere. Give me a top cornerback, a pounding running back, a big-play wide receiver, a run-and-hit linebacker, a hard-hitting safety; all of those would be just fine with me, but if a left tackle is at the top of the board when it's the Jaguars' turn to pick, he's the guy. They must address left tackle somehow, some way.

T.D. from Jacksonville:
If you think about it, the Jaguars defense wasn't that great last year, they just always won time of possession and kept the other team's offense off the field.

Vic: You're right. The defense went hard into decline last season. We all saw it and we acknowledged it and the Jaguars were desperate to address it in the offseason. The problem is that it was too late to avoid a fall. You can't count on two rookies to turn your team around.

Andrew from Jacksonville:
Garrard seems somewhat limited in his freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage; same with Leftwich when he was here. Do they not allow them to audible out of a play?

Vic: As I said last week, Garrard audibles and he's free to audible, but you don't have to believe that. You can keep looking at it and believing that he doesn't audible; whatever makes you feel good.

Chris from Crestview, FL:
After 11 games, Matt Cassel is 7-4. After Brady's first 11 games, he was 8-3. Cassel has thrown more yards than Brady, but Brady has more TDs. Brady's passer rating was 91.6 to Cassel's 90.5. The question based on this info is did the Pats find another quarterback that good?

Vic: You're omitting some statistical information. When Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe, the Patriots were a 5-13 team. When Cassel took over for Brady, the Patriots were a 100-27 team that had won three Super Bowl titles. That doesn't mean the Patriots didn't find another good quarterback. Cassel is playing at a very high level.

Sebastian from Boston, MA:
I doubt you'll post this, but as a diehard Sooner fan, I'm curious on your take between Oklahoma and Texas, if it does in fact come down to a three-way tie in the Big 12.

Vic: I have no take. I've been a college football fan all of my life but it's becoming more difficult every year to take the sport seriously. This constant end-of-the-season bickering about which one-loss team is better than the other one-loss teams, coupled with the childish conference and regional chest-thumping, is a turn-off for people who believe in fair play and The Citadel should not be playing against Florida on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. For me, it all started in 1993 when Notre Dame and Florida State each finished with the same record and Florida State was awarded the national title, even though Notre Dame beat Florida State late in the season. From that point on, college football has been tainted for me. Until they institute a playoff system, I'm not going to take college football seriously.

Alex from New York, NY:
Can you explain the mechanics of the "if the offense substitutes players the defense must be given the opportunity as well" rule that came in to play during the Monday night game?

Vic: It's a product of the no-huddle offense craze that the Bengals and Bills used in the late-1980's and early-'90's. At least, that's the first time I can remember defensive substitution becoming an issue. The rule was instituted to provide a level playing field. It's about fairness.

Geoff from Sydney, Australia:
If the Pats were to win the Super Bowl with Cassel, absurd as it sounds, could Brady be a free agent?

Vic: If they cut him, yeah.

Ryan from Mary Esther, FL:
What are your thoughts on S. Greene out of Iowa?

Vic: I love him. He's a true pounder with open-field running ability. The first time I saw him, he immediately reminded me of Barry Foster.

Paul from Arlington, VA:
I was eagerly awaiting your editorial about the Jags window of opportunity that you mentioned would be coming later in the day. Then I checked back and it said "later in the season." Did I misread it or did you have to adjust your plan?

Vic: I'm going to hold off until late in the season. Why not wait until all of the information is in? What's the rush, right? I've got it ready to go for when the right time arrives.

Nick from Wakefield, RI:
Have you talked to John Clayton recently?

Vic: Yeah, he called on Monday night after I got home from the radio show. He asked me what happened on Sunday. As if he didn't know. Why do I think he was gloating?

Ryan from Nanticoke, PA:
After the Jaguars traded Stroud in the offseason, you said you loved the trade because they were trading him while he still had value. Now he's a beast in Buffalo and our defense stinks. Care to reconsider your statement?

Vic: I guess this is one that won't go away, either. All right, let's look at the facts. The Jaguars have the league's 14th-ranked overall defense and the 19th-ranked run-defense. The Bills are 16th overall and 20th against the run. To answer your question, I do not wish to reconsider my statement.

Dave from Orange Park, FL:
Are we hearing the wrong message from Jack? This "it's gonna get better, it's not all bad" stuff just sounds wrong to me. Why aren't we hearing: "This team should be mad. Mad at how they've played, mad at how they've lost. Four of the last five teams we face are playoff contenders and we should make it our goal to hang a loss on every one of them. Play angry, show some fire." It's football. I can't take this kinder, gentler stuff. What do you think?

Vic: I think you need to calm down before you hurt yourself.

Jay Dee from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
In my opinion, even though some of the Jaguars fans lack complete understanding of the ins and outs of professional football, and our grace and humility and overall attitude as fans leave a lot to be desired, our passion for this team's success can not be questioned.

Vic: Yes, our greatness is great but, please, questions only, OK? Please, folks, I really need your help on this one.

James from Jacksonville:
Do the Jaguars have any restricted free agents this year? Happy Thanksgiving to all of the "Ask Vic" family.

Vic: James Wyche, Charles Spencer, Montell Owens and Brian Iwuh are scheduled to become restricted free agents. Now, please allow me to wish you, your family and all of our "Ask Vic" family a wonderfully warm Thanksgiving Day and holidays season. This Sunday will mark the 15th anniversary of the birth of the Jaguars franchise and I've authored an editorial – "The Best of Vic Ketchman's Years Covering the Jaguars" – that will be posted on the site tomorrow to help celebrate the occasion. I hope it adds a little spice to your Thanksgiving feast. I love this time of year and Thanksgiving is a day I use for reflection and perspective. Tomorrow I will give thanks for a readership that allows me to share my thoughts with them on a daily basis, and for a job that has allowed me to spend my whole life doing one thing: being a kid. My 401(k) is an elevator going down, my car has 110,000 miles on it and the team I cover is 4-7, but life has never been better because it's one year richer than it was on the same day a year ago. I thank everyone for reading "Ask Vic" and adding spice to my life.

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