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Trap pass needs trap

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

Benjamin from Jacksonville:
While Becky from Jameel should know better than to ask Vic, a sportswriter, for relationship advice, you should have the decency to either not post the e-mail or respond without being a jerk. You're no marriage counselor. I'll regret this later, but for the love of Pete, Mary, Moses and everything that is holy, sacred and good, stick to journalism.

Vic: I want you to unscrew your face for a moment and think on the lighter side. Do you honestly think any woman would seek marriage counseling from a sportswriter? Do you think there's any chance that this was just a couple of people having fun? Come on, Ben, you gotta wake up and smell the jock straps.

Ricky from Middleburg, FL:
You say Lawrence Taylor changed the way defense is played in the NFL. Who would you say changed the way offense is played and how?

Vic: The 1978 competition committee changed the way offense was played because the competition committee recommended rules changes that caused an explosion of points. Those rules changes allowed offensive linemen to use their hands in blocking, and outlawed the head slap and the bump and run. Those rules changes are still affecting the game. Go back to the way the rules were in 1977 and you'd see a lot of 7-6 final scores.

John from (name of town withheld), PA:
How do you think Tony Kornheiser will do as a color analyst for Monday Night Football this season?

Vic: He could hit a home run. Let's start with this: Tony is bright, well-informed, entertaining and, most importantly, capable of communicating with the viewer. He's not going to kill everyone with that "cover two" crap. He's going to talk the language of the fan. If he uses the same personality on MNF that he uses on PTI, he's going to be very popular.

David from Chatham, NJ:
Who is the greatest special teams player in NFL history?

Vic: Alex Hawkins was the first true special teams lifer. He's sort of the father of special teams players. Steve Tasker and Bill Bates are two other guys who come to mind. Tasker was an extraordinary punt blocker. Bates busted more wedges on a football field than I have on a golf course. In my opinion, those are the three top candidates.

Bill from Jacksonville:
Where do you rank Buddy Ryan and the "46 defense" as far as changing the sport of football?

Vic: It didn't change anything. It was just a reaction to the pass-rush mania Lawrence Taylor created.

Gamble from Jacksonville:
I watched "Good Night and Good Luck" and it occurred to me, what would Vic have to say about such an outstanding journalist as Edward R. Murrow? Any thoughts on Murrow's work and have you seen the film?

Vic: I saw the movie and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I knew right away it would be a box-office bust because it's just not the kind of movie America likes. You almost have to have an interest in journalism to enjoy the movie and appreciate the portrayal of the difficult decisions Murrow and the CBS news team faced. I think you also had to have grown up with Murrow to have an appreciation for the black and white genre and the TV culture of that time in history. We're talking about one of the pioneers of American journalism. Murrow was a great man who brought down a sick and twisted culture of angry accusation.

Cody from Southaven, MS:
Please explain to me how system quarterbacks can have all the stats, yet, still not have developed the skills to be an elite QB. Isn't that QB still making reads and all the throws that are required of that system? By the way, I used to not like you (I am originally from Arkansas) but I get you now and find you pretty funny. Let me know about all of us Arkies coming to have an "Ask Vic" day.

Vic: "System quarterbacks" in college often don't have the physical skills to be successful in the NFL. They put up big numbers in college because their skills were good enough, but when they make the move to the NFL they find that their arm strength isn't good enough or they're not athletic enough or big enough, etc. A lot of "system offenses" allow quarterbacks to throw to stationary targets out in the flat and add all of that run-after-the-catch yardage to their passing stats. Yardage doesn't come that easily in the NFL. If it's detected that a quarterback lacks arm strength, that weakness is going to be exposed because the NFL has the players and the coaches to do it. If it's detected there are throws he can't make, then he's going to be forced to make those throws. College football has always – more so now than ever before – put their best athletes on offense, which has tilted the field in that direction. In the NFL, the players are the elite at every position and the athletes on defense are every bit the equal of the athletes on offense.

Allen from Columbus, OH:
Your comment about play action made me think of this: The Colts have always had success when they use play action because they had a credible running game with Edgerrin James. With James gone, do you think Peyton Manning will not have quite so much extra time when he uses play action?

Vic: What I think you're really asking is will play action work if you don't have a successful running game? The answer is no. Tony Dungy knows that. He told me at the owners meetings in Orlando that the number one issue his team was facing was finding a capable replacement for Edgerrin James. The Colts confirmed that need when they drafted Joseph Addai in the first round. The Colts love to run two plays on the goal line: trap and trap pass. Trap pass won't work if you can't run trap.

Chris from Jacksonville:
I was reading an article about the "Run and Shoot" offense. What exactly is a "Run and Shoot" offense and why didn't it last in the NFL?

Vic: It's a pass-happy offense that routinely utilizes three and four wide receivers in a strategy that employs a lot of "picks" and short passes. Warren Moon was very successful with it in Houston. It will gain a lot of yards. The problem with it is the lack of proper personnel for short-yardage and goal-line situations. "Run and Shoot" teams don't even have a tight end on their roster. In short yardage or goal-line they would bring in another tackle and, in theory, that should work but it didn't. "Run and Shoot" teams are notorious for being bad in short yardage and goal-line. It's a wimpy offense; too much shoot and not enough run. "Run and Shoot" teams tend to get beat up physically in the NFL. It's a great high school and college offense but lacks the muscle needed to win in the NFL.

G.W. from Hurricane, WV:
I really love your stories from days gone by. There are very few places to find such stories, so I eat them up when you tell them. That being said, how does getting into the sportswriting business differ now from when you got into it?

Vic: There just aren't as many newspapers now as there were back then. That's the difference. Newspapers all across America are dying on the vine and circulation is in decline for the successful ones. The internet is a great forum for information but it's not a good business because it doesn't generate the revenue newspapers generate. That's the difference. We're losing newspapers but they can't dedicate their staffs to their websites because they don't generate the same kind of revenue.

Tyrone from Jacksonville:
I recently changed careers. Now I don't have access to a computer throughout the day so I find myself staying up after hours to read your column. I just want to say keep up the good work and I'm ready for the season to begin. Let's win, baby, win.

Vic: Normally at this time of the year, I'm looking at the calendar and lamenting the fact that the offseason is nearing an end and that means the long hours are soon to begin again. For whatever reason, this year I'm anxious for the start of the season. I'm ready for the season to begin, too.

Todd from Las Vegas, NV:
You said David Garrard was one of the stories of spring. What are some of the other stories of spring?

Vic: Quarterbacks can be stories of the spring because spring practices are "passing camps" and passers, catchers and pass-defenders are about the only players you can get a read on at this time of the year, and you can't even get a full read on pass-catchers because everything changes when the hitting begins. Most of the stories of this spring are going to have to wait until training camp before we can really start writing them. The big story will be the quest to replace Jimmy Smith. Also, is Fred Taylor still on top of his game? Will Greg Jones challenge Taylor? Who will win the starting left guard spot? How will the situation at tight end shake out? Who will win the starting outside linebacker job? Is Donovin Darius all the way back? What will Maurice Drew's role be? Those are some other storylines.

Bryan from Paterson, NJ:
I understand this is your column and this is all about your opinion, and I love that about this column, however, in my opinion, John Madden is one of the worst commentators in football. What's your take on Madden the commentator?

Vic: He's one of the most popular and celebrated analysts in TV football history. I like him. I liked him when he was a coach because he was always an entertaining interview. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, however, and the fact that you are so strong in your dislike of one of the most liked personalities in the game is evidence of how varied public opinion is. People love to disagree. If you're going to coach this game, play this game, officiate this game, broadcast this game or write about this game, you better be prepared for criticism; even if you're John Madden.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
I have found the rebirth of the Jaguars since the arrival of Jack Del Rio absolutely fascinating. I really want to know how you feel about the entire process that has taken place with this business and team in the past three-plus years.

Vic: I've said so many times that "it's a scoreboard business" and "it is what it is," etc. So, look at the record: 5-11, 9-7, 12-4. If the record is everything, and it is, then what's not to like? As far as the business side of the Jaguars, the scoreboard doesn't tell the whole story. They've done a fabulous job repairing and maintaining their salary cap. That's what started their whole recovery. Now they're doing a great job of selling tickets. The next challenge for the Jaguars is two-fold: 1. maintain what they've established; 2. find new revenue sources.

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