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Tomorrow is 'Nice Day'

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

Steve from Jacksonville:
What is Garrard saying under center? It sounds like every play he yells something ninety eight. Why does he yell ninety eight every play? I know our offense can lack imagination but it can't be the name of the play every time.

Vic: He's saying 398. He always says 398. On every play in every OTA's practice he says 398. All through training camp he says 398. I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard 398. I hear 398 in my sleep. I don't know what it means and I don't wanna know what it means because I don't think it means anything. I think the Jaguars just like to say 398. Why not 681? I wanna hear 681 for awhile.

Chris from Ormond Beach, FL:
Are extra points and two-point conversion attempts timed downs?

Vic: No.

Nick from Wakefield, RI:
Fans of teams playing in the college bowl games should not buy tickets to those games. FOX should opt out of its contract with the BCS and no other television network should sign on in place of them. No television networks and no fans in attendance will no doubt bring up the need for a playoff system in a more serious manner.

Vic: It ain't gonna happen. The haves ain't gonna change the way it is and the have-nots are sheep.

Brewer from Atlantic Beach, FL:
About the Santonio Holmes catch. Say a receiver caught the ball in the back of the end zone and managed to get two feet in bounds. It is a touchdown even though he caught it outside the plane. My guess is the same rules were applied in this situation.

Vic: They were not. The rules are completely different. The back line of the end zone is an out of bounds boundary. The end zone is inside the field of play and the rules governing a sideline or back line catch are different from the rules governing a touchdown reception. On a sideline or back line catch, the feet and control of the ball are the issues, not the position of the ball. On a touchdown catch, the position of the ball when control has been demonstrated is the issue. Following control, the receiver must get two feet down in bounds and maintain control of the ball through the catch.

Jean from Jacksonville:
Would you agree that whether or not you complete the pass, simply attempting some deep throws early in a game has the effect of stretching the defense? Eventually the threat needs to be credible, but it seems that until the Green Bay game, the Jaguars often didn't even attempt deep passes.

Vic: You answered your own question. The attempt has to be credible. If you throw deep without presenting a reasonable threat to complete the pass, all you've done is expose yourself for lacking the ability to complete a deep pass. Dennis Northcutt gave the Jaguars a credible threat.

Ryan from Syracuse, NY:
I'm one of your younger readers, at 20. Not all of us new generation fans are obsessed with big offense, dancing after every play and the Hollywood element. I think the Ravens/Steelers game was quite possibly the best game I've seen in a long, long time. The only other game I can think of that I've seen live that was that good was the Jags' 9-3 win over the Steelers a few years ago. But maybe that's just me; maybe I'm an old-timer at heart.

Vic: Maybe you just have heart.

Keith from Jacksonville:
I watched the "Greatest Game Ever Played" the other night and I took your advice and watched the offensive linemen during the game. They pretty much had to throw their whole bodies into the block. They would dive and cut-block the whole game. I grew up in the mid to late 1970's and had forgotten all about that. It increased my respect for the game.

Vic: Try it. Try blocking someone without using your hands. It requires an element of mobility and athleticism. When the NFL allowed offensive linemen to use their hands to block, they effectively removed smaller, more mobile linemen from the game. The league created a land of the giants, which caused a supply and demand imbalance that shot salaries of offensive linemen through the roof. Personally, I think it was a mistake. I think it would've been more effective to lobby against defensive linemen more vigorously, instead of lobbying for offensive linemen.

Blake from Jacksonville:
I was at the game on Sunday and I thought Northcutt had a great game. I still see him as a slot guy but his touchdown reception was one of the best routes I have seen all year. I have seen Marvin Harrison burn the Jaguars with almost that exact move for years. What are your thoughts on Northcutt as well as his route-running?

Vic: Dennis Northcutt's impact on this season is profound because, with his performance against the Packers, he showed us what this team is lacking and needs to acquire in the offseason. The Jaguars need speed at wide receiver. They need receivers who can create separation and do something with the ball after they catch it. They need guys who allow for easy throws, instead of constantly having to fit the ball into tight windows. Northcutt's big-play ability on Sunday changed everything about that game. He made the quarterback better, the pass-protection better and the running game better. A team that had been averaging 4.1 yards per carry averaged 4.9. A team that had been averaging 10.8 yards per catch averaged 11.3. A team that had been averaging three sacks per game allowed two. Coincidence? No way.

Zoey from Apopka, FL:
If I don't have the NFL Network, like over half of this country, how can I watch the game?

Vic: Those who live in Jacksonville who don't subscribe to NFL Network may watch the game on FOX 30. Those who live outside Jacksonville and don't have NFL Network are out of luck.

Rick from Jacksonville:
Is it possible for the Jags to sign a contract with Tim Tebow without going through the draft? Do college players have to submit to the draft first?

Vic: Everybody must submit to the draft. Everybody is draft-eligible in one year of their life and can not enter the NFL before they go through that year's draft. Once their draft has expired and they haven't been selected, they are free to sign with any team in the league as an undrafted free agent.

Kenney from Jacksonville:
I noticed from "The Greatest Game" that a lot of players had second jobs. When was the point when players could just live off their football earnings?

Vic: The 1970's was the first decade when salaries could sustain a player and his family year-long. It was also the decade when the concept of offseason conditioning began. There were still a lot of players in the '70's who had offseason jobs, but their ranks were declining.

Kenney from Jacksonville:
I noticed from "The Greatest Game" that receivers got into a three point stance. When did this end?

Vic: When receivers started shifting and going in motion. That became prevalent in the 1960's. Tom Landry kind of pioneered the use of shifting and motion with the Cowboys.

Norman from Nampa, ID:
Can you list the top 10 plays this year in the league using the wildcat offense?

Vic: I can't remember the last time I saw it do anything significant. It is one of the most over-hyped things I have ever seen. There's nothing to it. It's backyard football; hike it and run. There was no question in my mind that NFL defensive coordinators would quickly defuse it, and they have.

Reese from Corrian, MD:
You did it again, Vic. You took the story of the Steelers comeback drive and made it out as if Roethlisberger stood alone against a field of 11 men and did it by himself. Why do you always do this? Every time an offensive unit as a whole steps up at the end of a game, you glorify one man and don't even mention the other 10. I bet you it was a lot harder to block Terrell Suggs with the game on the line than it was to throw a 15-yard pass. You claim to be a football purist, yet, you consistently succumb to the media-driven underestimation and overestimation of quarterbacks based on team success. When a 48-year-old Kurt Warner puts together that kind of drive, you shrug it off and mock his place in history. If a young, handsome, high-profile franchise face like Brady or Roethlisberger does it, you bid for their jock on e-bay so you can mount it on your wall. I guess it's a lot cooler when fairy tales only have one hero rather than 11.

Vic: You didn't like the popular kids, did you? By the way, Warner is 37.

David from Jacksonville:
Does doing this column get to be taxing on you towards the end of a season like this? You seem to be somewhat of a curmudgeon and condescending in a lot of the questions you post. If they irritate you so much, why not answer relevant, well-formed questions? I am sure you get enough of both.

Vic: You're absolutely right, David, and how observant of you it is to notice that a cloud of un-niceness had descended on "Ask Vic." So we'll make tomorrow "Nice Day" in "Ask Vic," in honor of nice people like you. Only nice questions from nice people will be accepted, and I promise that I'll be nice, too. Isn't that nice?

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