Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Could you please explain a five-yard penalty called on the Jaguars in the third quarter, regarding number 74 "not reporting?" Your column is the only thing keeping me a Jag fan!
Vic: Any player wearing an ineligible receiver number who has positioned himself at the end of the line must have reported to the referee his intent to be an eligible receiver before the play began. Maurice Williams, the Jaguars' right offensive tackle, was positioned at the end of the line and had not reported himself to be an eligible receiver to the referee. That constitutes an illegal formation which warrants an illegal procedure penalty. But, in this case, Williams isn't the guilty party. One of the Jaguars' wide receivers went to the wrong side of the field, which left Williams "uncovered."
Mike from Jacksonville:
Why does our field turf always look so anemic? After seeing other fields on TV and comparing them with ours, we always appear to have inferior turf. We're in Florida, for cripes sake!
Vic: I'm assuming you're referring to the Alltel Stadium turf, which is natural grass, so, I'll tell you this funny story. Before the game in Baltimore Sunday, I was sitting with Jeff Lageman in the radio booth. I'm looking down at this beautifully lush and green turf and I turned to Lageman and asked him the same question you just asked me. He looked at me like I was crazy, which he does every Wednesday night on "Jaguars This Week," and gleefully responded that it was artificial turf; the stuff the Jaguars have on their practice field. The Ravens had the real grass ripped out. So, Mike, are we sharing the dunce cap on this one?
David from Kingsville, MD:
Do you think the Jags will ever draft a great linebacker corps?
Joey from Jacksonville:
I notice Marc Edwards lining up as a receiver more than I see him in the backfield. I'm not sure I understand why you put a slow fullback out there when you could have another wide receiver in that spot. Any observations?
Vic: It's called "doing things by formation." Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is attempting to stress and stretch the defense by putting Edwards in an unconventional position. By putting Edwards in that position, Musgrave effectively keeps the defensive personnel he wants on the field. Let me tell you something about NFL coordinators: They are not dumb. These are bright guys who know exactly what they're doing.
Steve from Jacksonville:
I have two questions. First, when a "pitch" play is executed to a running back, does the yardage go to rushing or receiving? Second, how does the NFL determine the "home" team in the case where the Giants and Jets play? Since they both use the same stadium as a home field, is there some sort of rotation to determine the home team and visitor?
Vic: If the ball is pitched forward, the yardage goes to passing and the running back gets a catch and the receiving yardage that goes with it. If the ball is pitched laterally, the yardage goes to rushing. In the case of the Jets and the Giants playing at Giants Stadium, the home field for both teams, the NFL scheduling format determines who the home team is. In this case, the scheduling format declared the Jets the home team.
Keith from Orange Park, FL:
I would like to know if you could recommend a book where I could find the history of the NFL, its teams past and present? I read your column daily.
Vic: Begin with a book entitled, "The League." It is the "War and Peace" of the National Football League and it will require an investment of time to read and comprehend, but it will give you the foundation to understand the modern game, and that will allow for an even deeper appreciation for the roots of this game. After you're done with "The League," get back to me and I'll refer you to some great ancient history books. The history of professional football is fascinating and I urge you to read a weekly history column in "Jaguars Inside Report" written by NFL historian Chuck Day.
William from Jacksonville:
When the Jaguars started playing "grown up football" and ran it down the Ravens' throats during that first-quarter drive, were you and Vito high-fiving or engaged in some mutant form of celebratory rhythmic gymnastics?
Vic: Vito's not a rhythmic kind of guy, but I detected a couple of "Ooos" during the Jaguars' 14-play, 83-yard field-goal drive late in the first quarter, when the Jaguars "punched" Ray Lewis "in the mouth" with nine running plays. At one point in that drive, I put down my binoculars, turned to Vito and said, "Ray Lewis isn't Ray Lewis anymore."
Zach from Green Bay, WI:
I have some ideas I think the Jags might do during the offseason. I think the Jags will have a top-five pick and will probably draft Texas WR Roy Williams. It is very easy to see that we need help at CB; first off, re-sign Bryant, then pursue a good CB like Woodson, or if they can't get him then go after Springs. Then, finally, re-sign Brackens and Darius to keep our defense, which looks good. Could you please respond to this one?
Vic: Zach, I don't agree with your moves. I am really, really down on free agency. I wouldn't sign anyone but a bargain-basement guy. The league is littered with free-agency mistakes who are killing their teams' salary caps. As far as Fernando Bryant, Tony Brackens and Donovin Darius are concerned: Bryant is having a good year and is worthy of re-signing; Brackens doesn't need to be re-signed but his contract must be re-structured, and before the Jaguars decide to do that they must have more information on Brackens' recovery from knee surgery; Darius wouldn't agree to a contract last winter and will probably want more money this time around, and I don't think a strong safety is worth the kind of money he wants.
Billy from Orange Park, FL:
The issue with Byron holding the ball so low was not an issue until a member of the media pointed it out. With the brightest minds in coaching on the sidelines, why was this not addressed in training camp?
Vic: It's been addressed from the time he reported to mini-camp last spring. Jaguars quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson is in the process of reconstructing Byron Leftwich's mechanics, and Anderson says he's seen several examples of progress, but every so often Leftwich falls back into one of his old habits. Billy, players don't come into the NFL ready to go; especially not at the quarterback position. Leftwich is in the learning process. He's just five games into it and it's not going to end any time soon. When a team makes a quarterback the seventh pick of the draft, it commits to years of development and patience. And there are no guarantees. But, when it's all said and done, if that quarterback turns out to be a "winner," you have a guy who will carry your franchise for a long, long time. Was Steve McNair worth the investment? Early in his career they said he'd never be able to read defenses. Was Brett Favre worth the patience? He was an interception machine early in his career.
Steve from Kensington, MD:
We're halfway through this season and the team is 1-7. What have you liked and disliked about what you have seen this season?
Vic: I consider the Jaguars' new-found ability to stop the run their number one achievement this season. It is the foundation on which all great defenses are built. On the negative side, I am very dismayed that the Jaguars haven't gotten their money's worth from their big-money players.
Sam from Sacramento, CA:
If Larry Fitzgerald from Pitt follows Maurice Clarett and goes pro, would he be a better pick than Roy Williams from Texas?
Vic: They're both great players and I don't know how you could go wrong with either guy. The only rap on Roy Williams is that he has had a tendency to not "show up" in the big games, though he's played better in the big games this year. Meanwhile, Larry Fitzgerald has played his best games in the big games. He was sensational in Pitt's win over Virginia Tech last season, was just as good in a narrow loss at Miami, and stole the show in Pitt's bowl win over Oregon State. This year, he played his best game when Pitt was on TV at Texas A&M. You have to like that about a guy; comes up big in big games. Let's see if he does it again this Saturday against Virginia Tech. If he does, I might say he's the man.