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You can't play scared

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

Dennis from Lynchburg, VA:
Can you shed a little light on any reasons/matchups Gage exploited when he torched our secondary for the long catches and the two touchdowns? It seemed that neither Florence nor Williams could keep up with him, but Gage isn't known for being a burner.

Vic: It's inexplicable. It's not as though they didn't have safety help. Reggie Nelson certainly has the speed to cover half the field and on the second such deep attempt to Justin Gage, Kerry Collins overthrew Gage and Nelson was there to make the interception. The Titans saw something and they kept hammering away at it. At least four times they went deep down the left side for Gage and three of those tries resulted in deep completions, two for touchdowns. I'm sorry, but I have no explanation.

Patrick from Jacksonville:
Can you tell me that it was the players, not the plays this time? We were playing well, not good, in the first half. Then we decided not to make adjustments during halftime, adjustments that the Titans clearly made.

Vic: Paint it any way you want. If you want it to be plays, not players, then you make it plays, not players. Sit down with your little video game and wear your fingers out, but I ain't playin'. I know what I know and when my team gets beat by the same play in each half of the game, it's not about adjustments, it's about the players physically not getting it done. Why? I don't know, but the deep passes to Gage started on the first play of the game and just kept coming. When two can't cover one, you got a problem you can't fix with plays.

Slim from St. Augustine, FL:
Give Jack back the Kool-Aid you drank. Thank God the Titans were uninspired in the first half.

Vic: Your reference to Kool-Aid is grossly insensitive. Those people died. I really worry about us when I read this kind of commentary.

Mike from Jacksonville:
Well, the Jags' season is over. Do you think it's time to give the young players more game time, which would start the improvement process for next season?

Vic: Where are these young players? This isn't a college roster of 90 players. The Jaguars don't have any redshirt freshmen. You can plug in a guy here or there, but what you're suggesting just doesn't happen in this league. You play your best guys and then you make changes in the offseason.

Bill from Hamden, CT:
In your blog you challenged the Titans to throw the ball. I think they were reading it during the game.

Vic: Down 14-3, everybody knew they had to come out throwing in the second half. The question was did they have the ability to play catch-up? The answer was, yes, they did. Kerry Collins provided the same answer in Baltimore early in the season, when he passed his team down the field to the winning touchdown with time running out. Collins gets it done. That's the difference between him and Vince Young. With Young, it's hit and miss. Collins, however, is a true passer of the football. My criticism of the Titans isn't of Collins, it's of what I consider to be a wide receiving corps that lacks big-play guys. Sunday, Gage came out of nowhere to be that big-play guy. Maybe he's the guy. I don't know. I still have my doubts.

James from Gainesville, FL:
I believe Reggie Nelson being dragged down the sideline is a product of a soft training camp. Our players are not tough right now and I blame the coaching staff for lowering the standard of toughness.

Vic: It has nothing to do with the coaching staff. If the players were tough enough in the first half to hold a 14-3 halftime lead, then they certainly should've been tough enough not to get crushed 21-0 in the second half. Back when Nelson was drafted, I wrote that he's a very athletic guy who should make a lot of interceptions, but the rap on him is that he's not a physical player. Right away, I got a sharp e-mail from one of the Gator lovers that I had Reggie all wrong, and that I should know that his nickname at Florida was "The Eraser." Go Gators.

Andrew from Washington, DC:
Did you actually see Brandon Jones' celebration? He put his hands on his head, waiting to be arrested. I liked the message he was sending to the refs. They apparently got it.

Vic: You like that? You like a guy celebrating criminal behavior? What's happening to us? I'll betcha the league doesn't like it. I'll betcha Jones will have played a portion of Sunday's game for free.

Mike from St. Augustine, FL:
Would Byron still be alive playing behind this offensive line?

Vic: He better hope Big Ben stays upright, separated shoulder and all, because that's not exactly the five blocks of sandstone Roethlisberger has in front of him.

Richard from Atlantic Beach, FL:
In our present situation with deficiencies on the offensive line, defensive line and defensive secondary, how long do you think it will take to return to the postseason?

Vic: I don't know the answer to that; nobody does. Yes, the Jaguars will have some offseason work to do on personnel. They're going to lose guys and at least one position, the critical left tackle spot, there is no imminent replacement. That doesn't mean they can't be a playoff contender next year. You find a guy here and you find a guy there, you get people who had down seasons to dedicate themselves to improvement and recovery can occur. Relax, please. Let the season play out before we begin making evaluations.

Bryan from Jacksonville:
Are the Vikings the only team left that has not come to Jacksonville?

Vic: Yes.

Tim from Tucson, AZ:
How nasty and negative was the inbox Monday morning? Does it frustrate you when it turns ugly?

Vic: It wasn't as bad as it was, say, after the loss to Cleveland. The fans are starting to accept that this is not going to be the Jaguars' year. Does it frustrate me when it turns ugly? Yeah, I guess so. I understand the disappointment and despair but I'd like to think people are mature enough to handle it. Nobody is above losing. It happens to us all and I think we should be able to brush it off with a minimum of vitriol.

Hunter from Jacksonville:
The Jags may be headed for a top 10 draft pick. If they can't trade back, what will they do?

Vic: Keep passing until they get to pick 11?

Brad from Huntington, WV:
Donovan McNabb sounded serious when he stated that he did not know a game could end in a tie. I've known this since I was a kid; you see tie games, rarely, but they occur often enough that I assumed a veteran Pro-Bowl quarterback would have known this.

Vic: It didn't surprise me. A lot of football players aren't football fans. They don't watch every game on TV and they don't read the sports pages, etc. That's why they don't know stuff like games being able to end in a tie.

Charlie from Nashville, TN:
So would the Titans have held their number one spot had they attempted to pour it on in the fourth quarter against the Jags instead of going back into their conservative shell? You are onto something when you said (somewhat snarkily, I might add) in your blog that they were afraid to pass. I don't think the team is afraid, though. I just think Jeff Fisher is unwilling to (pass) with a lead in the second half. It's a nasty trend I've seen in almost every game this year, and it will come back to bite the Titans one of these weeks.

Vic: I think you answered your own question. Nobody likes a strong running game more than I do, but you're not going to win the big one in this league today if you're afraid to pass. Once upon a time you could, but not in today's game. What happened in the 2000 season playoff game against Baltimore, when the Titans ran the ball on third and goal at the three-yard line? Did Jeff Fisher really expect to jam it down Ray Lewis' throat? Of course not; he was playing it safe. He might as well have kicked the field goal on third down. You can't play scared on offense and I think the Titans do, that's why I've dropped them from the number one spot in my all-important power rankings. Also, I don't think their running game is unstoppable and I think opponents are going to sit on it more and more as the season wears on.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
I am genuinely curious of how a defender would simulate a snap count. Can you perhaps provide a written example of this?

Vic: Hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, hut and more huts.

Ashley from Orlando, FL:
Our pass-rush stinks, but are people expecting too much from our rookie ends, especially Harvey? I mean, Mario Williams was lousy his rookie season before dropping the QB 14-plus times last year. Have you seen improvement in Harvey or Groves throughout this season?

Vic: I'm not the one to answer that question because I don't look at every tape of every game. Even if I did, I wouldn't know the schematic expectations for Derrick Harvey or Quentin Groves on each play. What I do know is that it's too early to pass judgment. What I've seen of Harvey is that he wants to bull-rush everybody and that's not going to work in this league. He needs to learn technique. He needs to learn moves. In other words, he needs to become a craftsman. He needs a training camp, which he didn't have this year. Harvey not being in training camp this year was a big setback for this team.

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