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Was that a red flag?

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

Andy from Royal Oak, MI:
Have you ever hallucinated that your syrup bottle comes alive and talks to you in front of your breakfast?

Vic: Not since college.

Tirth from Jacksonville:
I am just reading that Steve McNair has a $50 million option bonus in 2006. Obviously, the team isn't going to pay this. Why would they put that in the contract?

Vic: It served two purposes: 1. It allowed the Titans to add a lot of dummy years to the contract, which allowed the Titans to spread McNair's bonus money out over more years. 2. It protected McNair by effectively establishing 2005 as the last year of the contract. In other words, it's one of the gimmicks the Titans used to buy more time and mortgage more of their future, for which the team is now paying a heavy price. A lot of people ask me, how did you know the Titans were headed for collapse? It was easy. When you see a team pushing money out, you know they're a dead man walking. The next time you think you wanna spend a lot of money and take your shot at the Super Bowl now, remember the Titans.

Tucker from Gallatin, TN:
The Jaguars' record doesn't mean anything if they don't win Saturday. I want the Jags to go to New England and take the respect they deserve. This game is definitely the defining moment of the Jags season.

Vic: I agree. Saturday night's game will define the 2005 season for the Jaguars.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Do you think Vince Young's marketability as a running quarterback is affected by Michael Vick's underperformance this season?

Vic: Not at all. Running quarterbacks are all the rage right now, in college football for sure and their ranks are growing in the NFL, too. A lot of NFL scouts are jumping on Vince Young's bandwagon. His performance on Wednesday night was mouth-watering. Any NFL team interested in him, however, understands that he must be allowed to use his feet. He is not going to be as successful in the pro level as a pocket passer as he was in college as a runner. If you accept that, then you must also accept, in my opinion, that he's going to experience the same physical battering Michael Vick has experienced. There's no secret to why Vick's performance is in decline: The hits are starting to take their toll on his body. Just five years into his career, his skills may be declining. I'm not against mobile quarterbacks. In fact, I'm beginning to believe quarterbacks have to have some degree of mobility to defend themselves in today's game, but if I'm drafting a guy to be my franchise quarterback, my main regard is for his ability as a passer.

Clay from Jacksonville:
Since the CBA is a big issue for small-market teams, when would be a good time for us to start talking about it?

Vic: The CBA is a big deal for all teams. Revenue-sharing is a big deal for small-market teams. If the CBA does not get extended before March 2, there will be some very serious effects on the salary cap system that will severely limit team spending in 2006. When the CBA was established back in 1993, the players association and the league put provisions in the salary cap system that would encourage both parties to want to keep it going. These provisions come into effect in '06 because it would be the last "capped" year. For example, if there's no CBA extension, there will be no June 1 rule next year, and that will severely hamper teams such as the Redskins from cutting guys and pushing money into '07. This is big, big stuff and it will become the main focus of attention in February, immediately following the Super Bowl.

Alan from Jacksonville:
Next year's schedule is definitely going to be harder but do you think we'll be seeing the Jags play more nationally-televised games during the season?

Vic: Yes, a lot more. That'll be one of the byproducts of a tougher schedule.

Dan from Columbus, NE:
We all know about your love of college football, so what team is the best ever? I'd have to go with the 1995 Huskers.

Vic: Notre Dame, 1966. The second-best team of all-time is Michigan State, 1966.

Henry from Jacksonville:
Greetings again from Vanderbilt. Thanks, by the way, for the respect you gave us after I hounded you two months ago. I was wondering what you thought about our quarterback, Jay Cutler? Some people say he's a first-rounder, but I honestly can't see any team right now spending that on him.

Vic: A scout with whom I was recently speaking said a lot of nice things about Cutler. I've only seen him a few times but on each occasion I was extremely impressed. He's a big kid, he has a better arm than Matt Leinart, he's more mobile and he's a better athlete. Cutler has also played on a team that hasn't surrounded him with the kind of talent USC provided Leinart. I'm gonna go out on a limb and tell you I think Cutler could be a better prospect than Leinart. As the postseason, combine and personal workout process plays out, I think you're going to see Cutler's stock rise sharply.

AuBrey from Montgomery, AL:
I hear all of the so-called experts saying Reggie Bush is too small to receive a full load in the NFL. When is a running back big enough and who or what determines it?

Vic: His performance determines it. James Brooks was a little guy but he was plenty big enough to play in the NFL. Emmitt Smith is 5-9 and Tony Dorsett played at 190 pounds but they were both tough inside runners. Reggie Bush is plenty big enough and his skills are out of this world. He has a chance to be one of the special players in NFL history, but I'd sure like to see more of him as an inside runner. USC tried to get him into space and I understand why, but he'll have to be able to run inside to be successful in the NFL. That's what makes Larry Johnson so good; he can run with power inside, catch the ball in the flats and do something with it in the open field. We know Bush can catch the ball and do something with it in the open field, but can he pound it inside? I saw a major red flag in Wednesday night's game. On the critical fourth-down play, why didn't USC give the ball to Bush? Why didn't they give it to their Heisman Trophy winner, the best player in the land?

Keith from DeLeon Springs, FL:
Why did the Cotton Bowl not get chosen as one of the BCS bowls? I remember it as one of the majors not to be missed when I was growing up; now it's below the Citrus and the Peach. So much history went along with that bowl game; it's a shame.

Vic: The Cotton Bowl's decline can be directly traced to two things: 1. The emergence of the Fiesta Bowl. 2. The collapse of the Southwest Conference. You're right, the Cotton Bowl was one of the biggies. The Jim Brown, Ernie Davis Cotton Bowls are major moments in college football history. I remember Texas and Navy, which was quarterbacked by Roger Staubach, playing for the 1963 national title in the Cotton Bowl. How about Texas and Notre Dame in the 1970 and '71 games? I hate to see the decline of such institutions as the Cotton Bowl and the SWC but, frankly, I'd like to see the collapse of the whole bowl system. I want playoffs.

Tim from Savannah, GA:
If you had your pick of all the coaching vacancies, which one would you take?

Vic: Houston; that can be turned around quickly.

Clyde from Mandarin, FL:
I will be out of town this weekend. Could you keep the Jags/Pats in-game blog on until Tuesday so I can read what I didn't get to see on TV?

Vic: All blogs are archived now. Click on "News" then click on "Vic's blogs."

Brock from Jacksonville:
Would you consider our division strong, balanced or just a prime example of the league's have and have nots?

Vic: There was a distinct division between the top two and the bottom two teams in the division this year. The Colts and the Jaguars each swept the Titans and the Texans. It'll be interesting to see if the Titans and the Texans can close that gap in 2006, after having the first and third picks of the draft.

Anthony from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Did everybody forget about the 13-3 Broncos? They are playing amazing football yet they are a cliff note to the season. What's up with that?

Vic: In the pregame radio show last Sunday, Brian, Jeff and I were asked to give our Super Bowl picks. I picked Denver and Seattle. You know why I picked Denver? Because they played hard in San Diego the night before. The Broncos didn't tank it. I like that. I like teams that play hard.

Matt from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars have been susceptible to the deep ball of late. What do you think their approach will be on defense, and specifically in pass-defense?

Vic: I think the Jaguars will play a lot of "cover two," which means they'll have to stop the run with their front seven only. "Cover two" keeps two safeties back and it's intent is to prevent the deep ball. I think that's the right strategy, but the Jaguars will have to be able to stop the run with seven men to be able to stay in "cover two."

Chris from Jacksonville:
Could you give us an estimated team itinerary for this weekend?

Vic: The Jaguars fly to Providence on Friday afternoon. They'll go to their hotel, eat dinner, have meetings, watch tape, have more meetings, etc. A priest and a minister are brought in for religious services the night before the game. There'll be a curfew, then team breakfast, more meetings, etc. Buses will begin leaving for Foxboro about four hours before kickoff.

Ken from Jacksonville:
How far do you think the Bears will go in the playoffs with that defense?

Vic: "Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory; Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly." Ever since the question about fight songs, I can't get the Bears' song out of my head. By the way, I don't they'll go very far.

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