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Time to stop the run

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

J.D. from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Colts president Bill Polian said in his weekly column that Paul Spicer deserves a fine from the league office for a late hit on Manning's legs (he didn't comment about the shot on Byron's), that the Jags were "feigning injuries" to make substitutions and twice said "the league office doesn't care" to change rules about feigning injuries because leaguewide that tactic "only affects" the Colts. What's your take on those comments?

Vic: One of the things that struck me in the RCA Dome last Sunday was that the Colts kept putting the New England-Carolina score on the video screen. New England lost to Carolina, of course, and every time the score was shown New England was losing and the crowd would give a loud cheer. Yuk! Isn't that a little childish, not to mention obsessive? Just beat them.

Shaun from Jacksonville:
Last year you said you expected the offense to become the strength of this team. Do you still see this as likely to happen or will we continue to rely on our defense to win and our offense not to lose?

Vic: Early last season, I said the offense had the greater upside and that I expected it to become the strength of the team. When the Jaguars won in Indianapolis, I felt it was happening. Then Byron Leftwich injured his knee and the offense slumped. Late in the season it started to come on again, but quickly fell back. I'm not sure what to think. The Jaguars have spent a lot of high draft picks and effort on the offensive side of the ball. Yes, I believe better days are ahead, but they won't arrive until Leftwich gets better pass-protection and a young wide receiver emerges as a touchdown-maker. When those two things happen, you'll see this offense take off, but not until then.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
In answering one of your questions, you said San Diego lost the 1982 playoff game with Miami. They won that game, 41-38, in perhaps the best NFL game ever played and certainly one of the best playoff games ever played. Shame on you, you should have known this.

Vic: Playoff games are not identified according to the date they are played. They are identified by the season in which they are played. For example, the 1996 playoff game in which the Jaguars upset the Broncos was played on Jan. 4, 1997. The playoff game to which you are referring was part of the 1981 season, though it was played on Jan. 2, 1982. The game to which I was referring, a 34-13 win by Miami, was part of the 1982 season, though it was played on Jan. 16, 1983.

Nathan from Rogers, AR:
Do you think Matt Jones has done as well as you had hoped or expected?

Vic: I'm not from Arkansas so I didn't have any special interest or expectations for Matt Jones. I saw him as another young player who would be attempting to establish a career in professional football, just as Reggie Williams is attempting to do. Jones' career is only two games old. This is hardly a time to begin judging him. The bye week falls in week seven. The Jaguars will have six games behind them at that point and it'll be a good time for some evaluations and opinions. Let's take a look at him then.

Lynn from Jacksonville:
You pointed out that the best quarterbacks are those who played their best in the big games. You went on to say that "Dan Fouts, on the other hand, is an example of a guy who always seemed to play his worst in the biggest games." Couldn't the same be said (to date) of Peyton Manning (college and NFL)?

Vic: That's long been the criticism of Manning; it's the only criticism of him. He's never beaten Florida or Tom Brady.

David from Jacksonville:
If Leftwich vows to play the game against the Jets, why is he listed as questionable on the injury report?

Vic: His injury is significant enough that it has to be assigned a worthy status on the injury report. You can be four things: out (will not play), doubtful (25 percent chance will play), questionable (50 percent chance will play) or probable (75 percent chance will play). If the Jaguars listed him as out or doubtful, they would not be characterizing Leftwich's status correctly because they expect him to play. If they listed him as probable and the injury worsened and he couldn't play, however, they would run the risk of causing people to believe they were trying to mislead the Jets. There is only one category, questionable, that fits this situation.

Brady from Richmond, VA:
It's Friday, Sept. 23, and I'm on my way to New York to hopefully watch the Jags blowout the Jets. Do you think if the Jags blow this one like last week they will lose their chance for a wild card in the AFC this year?

Vic: I don't think that's the storyline for this game. I'll agree that losing AFC games isn't good for your wild-card chances, but my big concern this Sunday is that the Jaguars keep pace with the Colts by beating the Jets. The Colts are in a real soft spot in their schedule. The Jaguars' challenge is to keep pace.

Jeff from Erie, PA:
In response to Dave from Kitchener and the Jags run-defense, did he forget that it was Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James we were trying to stop? We aren't going to see running backs of this caliber every week and I think we did fine against the run in both games. Our toughest remaining games for containing the run are going to be the Jets, Steelers and Ravens, who are all above average but hardly unstoppable. I feel like our two toughest games for stopping the run are behind us and we passed the test. Your thoughts?

Vic: I'm with Dave. I have too high a regard for stopping the run to ignore the fact that the Jaguars have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of their last four games. I also disagree with you on the caliber of running backs the Jaguars are going to face week in and week out. This week it's Curtis Martin, then Mike Anderson, Rudy Johnson, Willie Parker, Marshall Faulk and Stephen Jackson, Dominick Davis, Jamaal Lewis, Chris Brown and Travis Henry, etc. You may not have a high regard for some of those guys, but Davis and Brown each rushed for 100 yards against the Jaguars last year, Martin led the league in rushing, Johnson is currently tied for second in the AFC in rushing, Parker leads the AFC in rushing, Faulk and Jackson are a formidable combination, Lewis broke the 2,000-yard mark a couple of years ago, and Jaguars fans were beside themselves when the Jaguars weren't able to trade for Henry. I think it's time to stop downplaying the importance of stopping the run and start stopping the run.

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