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Time to turn away from Colts

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

Jason from Jacksonville:
We let one get away and sometimes that comes back to haunt a team. You're always a voice of reason and moderation, so I'm hoping you can offer some clear thoughts for me on this one.

Vic: The clearest thought I can offer is that what's done is done. Yes, the Jaguars did let one get away, but there's nothing they can do about it now. They have a very stern test coming up this Sunday in Washington. The best way to "beat the Colts" is to beat the Redskins.

Mike from Jacksonville:
As well as we were running the ball in the first half against the Colts, their defense seemed to do a better job against the run as the game went on. What sort of adjustments did the Colts make to counter our run game?

Vic: They made the adjustments you would expect them to make. They became more run-conscious. I saw evidence of the safeties "cheating" up toward the line of scrimmage on running downs; peeking into the backfield. They'd sneak an extra guy into the tackle box. Those are all things you want to happen; hope will happen because they should've made the Colts more vulnerable to the pass. The Jaguars didn't take advantage of what their ability to run the ball provided them. Byron Leftwich was not on his game. They were playing without Matt Jones. George Wrighster dropped a pass on third-and-one. When you put it all together, it added up to 107 yards passing and based on what the running game did to soften up the Colts defense, 107 yards isn't nearly good enough.

Ken from Lake Charles, LA:
Would you agree the Jags have the talent to elevate to elite status, however, the Colts game demonstrated they don't have the maturity at this time?

Vic: I don't think lack of maturity is the problem. I think it's about a lack of scoring. I'm not big on the intangibles. It's not that I don't believe that you have to have the right inner stuff to play this game, it's that I think you have to look at all the obvious stuff before you start doing amateur psychology. When I look at the Jaguars, I see a problem that has persisted: a failure to score points. We all cheered the win over Pittsburgh but, as I said last week, I thought our cheering should've been tempered by the fact the Jaguars didn't score a touchdown in that game. The Jaguars have scored 47 points in three games. That's an average of 15.7 points per game and, frankly, given that stat, they're fortunate to be 2-1. The big question, in my opinion, is: Why do they continue to struggle to score points? Clearly, the running game wasn't to blame in Indianapolis. I don't think a lack of maturity was the issue, either.

Juan from Charleston, SC:
I just read a quote from Mike Doss saying he read Byron's long wind-up for that last interception. Is this a cause for concern?

Vic: I wrote it in my blog. In fact, it's the last item in my blog. Sitting in the press box high above the RCA Dome, it was easy to see that Doss was playing "centerfield" on the play and he began to "break on the ball," so to speak, before the ball was thrown. In other words, it was obvious he was breaking on Byron Leftwich's throwing motion. Yes, that's a problem. I thought Leftwich got long with his delivery more than a few times in that game. Mechanics have been a focus for him and he needs to stick with it. NFL defensive backs are fast and they can close ground very quickly, especially if a quarterback is tipping his throws.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What do you think of Leftwich (making a gesture of silence to) the crowd with his finger on the first touchdown? I personally don't mind a little dancing from receivers but a quarterback should hand the ball to the official and go back to work.

Vic: As I said, I don't need any expression. All I want is to see them play. That's good enough. Of course, I'm old-school. I grew up in the day when a player would never think about doing something like that because, if he did, he would've been a target for physical retaliation. Back then, if you rounded the bases a little too slowly after a home run, you were going down the next time you came up. In fact, your pitcher was probably going to get knocked down. You didn't dare raise your head and even make eye contact with anyone as you rounded the bases, or else. Those were, of course, different days. This is the celebration generation and young fans want expression. They want lots of expression. They want "smack" and "trash-talking." I think today's athletes spend too much time on that garbage. As a result, I think today's athletes are too sensitive to their emotions. I think their emotions get in the way. I think that's one of the reasons we can't win the Ryder Cup any more.

Kenny from McAllen, TX:
What do you think of Jeremy Shockey throwing Coughlin under the bus? What should be done about it? I think it was totally classless.

Vic: Tom Coughlin is in a tough spot because he's not one of them; he's not a former NFL player. I think it's tough for any coach to be a taskmaster these days, given the state of the money the players make and their huge egos, but it's nearly impossible for a guy who isn't a former player to be a taskmaster. You know, "Who are you to criticize me? I played the game." That's three times Coughlin has been thrown under the bus by one of his players; once each by Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress and Shockey. There's not much Tom can do about it right now, as far as punishment is concerned, because if he comes down hard on one of his players he could have a mutiny on his hands. All he can do is move on and hope winning eases the tension. With each occasion of dissent, however, his position weakens. What would I do about it? That's easy: In time, I'd get rid of them and find players like the ones Bill Belichick has.

Ben from Fayetteville, AR:
I think the Jags really showed how much they need Matt Jones. He was the guy to make drive-sustaining plays for the first two games and, without him, the passing game seemed nonexistent. How long is Jones going to be out?

Vic: You guys never stop campaigning, do you? Even when the guy doesn't play, you find a way to trumpet him. Matt Jones had a groin injury last week and didn't practice. He was used sparingly against the Colts. I don't know what his status will be for this Sunday's game in Washington. Jack Del Rio will release his injury report on Wednesday afternoon.

Tim from Jacksonville:
No excuses, Vic. The Jaguars didn't offer any excuses and we shouldn't either. We were beaten by a superior team on Sunday. Now it's our job to improve and be the better team come December.

Vic: I think you're being a little too dramatic. I don't think the Jaguars were beaten by a superior team and I don't think the focus should be on avenging that loss in December. I think the Jaguars should accept the fact they let one get away they should've won, and turn their attention fully away from Indianapolis and completely toward Washington and every other team on their schedule between now and the next game against the Colts. If the Jaguars don't do that, their next game against the Colts will be meaningless.

Cory from Gainesville, FL:
At this point in this season, so far, do you believe Jacksonville is a better, stronger team than they were last year at this point?

Vic: Yes, I believe the Jaguars are a better team than they were at this time last year, but the passing game continues to be this team's irritant. It's what's holding this team back. Through the first three games, the Jaguars are averaging 15.7 points per game and that's not enough. They're fortunate to have two wins scoring at that average. In his press conference with the writers on Monday, Jack Del Rio was emphatic in his belief that this is a "good football team." I agree with him. This is a good football team. This is a team with a fabulous defense, a powerful running game and special teams that are going to make us forget their meltdown on Sunday in Indianapolis. Everything hinges on the passing game. I felt that way going into training camp and I haven't changed my mind.

Steve from Maitland, FL:
Every "Ask Vic" you preach defense and ball-control. The Jags are ranked third in defense and second in plays run from scrimmage. Am I looking too much into this?

Vic: They're important. I don't think you can minimize their importance, but they don't win for you alone. I think it goes without saying that not turning the ball over is more important than strong defense and ball-control. I think it goes without saying that you can't miss chip-shot field goals and allow teams to return punts for touchdowns and expect to win because you played good defense and controlled the ball. What happened in Indianapolis on Sunday is rare. The Jaguars canceled the effects of an extreme running game with an extremely poor performance on special teams and in the passing game. Had the Jaguars just been average in those two categories, their running game and defense would've carried them to the win. I trust that's not difficult to understand.

Stephen from Belfast, Northern Ireland:
To get away from the Colts game for a minute: How did you enjoy the Ryder Cup? My fellow countryman Darren Clarke was awesome. He did his team, his country and his family proud being able to perform so well after such a hard time. Your thoughts?

Vic: His bomb from off the green on Sunday was the highlight of the weekend. I cheered his joy. The European team made all the plays. I also cheered the sportsmanship, which is something, in my opinion, that has been lacking in recent Ryder Cups. There were no disgraces, only distinguished moments. I think we needed that most of all.

Chris from Malvern, AR:
Just ask Alabama about special teams.

Vic: That's a great point. I think even Arkansas fans would admit the better team lost, because it couldn't kick the ball.

Mark from Jacksonville:
Special teams imploded on Sunday, but so did Leftwich. Two interceptions with guys wide open. Your thoughts?

Vic: There was only one interception with a guy wide open; the interception that was the result of overthrowing George Wrighster. There's a popular belief that Reggie Williams was open deep on the ball Mike Doss intercepted at the end of the game. That was not the case. Doss was five yards beyond Williams when the ball was released. If you had been able to see the whole field, you would've seen that Doss was playing "centerfield" on the play. His eyes were on Leftwich the whole time.

Mike from New Orleans, LA:
I've been a long-time reader of your column but have never written. I just wanted to write and let you know Monday night's game meant the world to New Orleans. I've never seen such a spectacle in this town and that certainly says a lot. This town has gone through so much that the general public probably couldn't even comprehend. To sell out the rest of the season without about 20 percent of our population should make your Jaguars put things in perspective. You have a winning team that was 12-4 last year and you have to cover seats to avoid blackouts. We're missing a lot of our population. You should rejoice in what you have.

Vic: I'm very happy for you and your beloved city, but I think you've taken an unnecessary and misguided shot at Jaguars fans. The seats were covered before last season began and reduced the seating capacity of Alltel Stadium to 67,164, which is still a couple of thousand seats more than the Superdome has. I hope you win them all, Mike.

Dan from Tempe, AZ:
I just wanted to let you know your column has made me a more knowledgeable football fan and it was evident on Sunday. The Cardinals were going to use a free kick at the end of regulation and none of my friends knew what was going on but it had been discussed here in the column so I let 'em know.

Vic: It's technically called a "fair-catch kick." I did a search for "fair catch" and saw that we've talked about a "fair-catch kick" and the rules that govern it on multiple occasions.

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