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You still have to stop the run

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Tom from Staten Island, NY:
In your opinion, what would you say were the positive impacts and revelations in the Jaguars' season regarding the present and the future of the organization?

Vic: There were two main positives: Blackouts were avoided and the team's performance improved. They both should go to the future of the team.

Bill from Jacksonville:
How would you compare Newton and Tebow?

Vic: They're big guys who can run. The difference is that Cam Newton is a more natural passer of the football than Tim Tebow. Tebow is having to undergo some reconstruction of his throwing motion; Cam Newton has a fluid and natural delivery. I think Newton will have to submit to a long learning process for reading defenses and directing an offense, just as Tebow has, but every scout to whom I've spoken about Newton believes he's capable of making all the throws. Talking to those same scouts a year ago, I sensed strong doubt that Tebow can make all of the throws.

Thomas from Cambridge, MA:
I have read that Andy Dalton has a "three-quarters delivery," which may concern teams. What does this mean?

Vic: It refers to a short-stroke throwing motion. Some guys will call it a from-the-ear motion. Dalton's delivery is a little punchy-looking, and that's fine for the short-passing game because it's a short, quick release that gets the ball to its target in a hurry and discourages defensive backs from reading the quarterback's motion. The concerns are for how that motion pertains to Dalton's ability to throw the deep ball. As I said, I didn't get a good look at Dalton's deep ball in the Rose Bowl because he didn't throw much beyond 15 yards, so, it's my opinion that the scouting combine is going to be very important to his draft stock because that's where the scouts are going to see if Dalton can make all of the throws.

Eddie from Jacksonville:
Vic, I just wanted to let you know that a member of the Jaguars family is going through a tough time. Keane Kirz has been a season-ticket holder since day one. He lives in Brunswick, Ga., and each week he gets a 15-20 passenger bus to drive down to see the game. He loads the bus up and brings all his friends. He has brought many people into the Jaguars season-ticket family, including myself. Keane is a real Jaguars fan. Keane is currently fighting stage four lung cancer. He needs some thoughts and prayers from the Jaguars family.

Vic: The first thing Keane needs is a sincere gesture of appreciation for his loyalty to the Jaguars. Thank you, Keane, for your devotion to professional football in Jacksonville. Fans with Keane's passion make this possible for everyone. Every fan that sat at home and watched Jaguars home games on TV this past season is indebted to Keane. I am indebted to Keane. I have no doubt, Eddie, that Keane is about to be warmed by an avalanche of appreciation for his support of the Jaguars, from fellow fans who'll now want to step forward and support Keane in his time of need. You're a good friend, Eddie.

Shawn from Cape Coral, FL:
Why is it that coaches under contract with a team can interview for a job with another team? Why can't the owner of the team say we want to keep you on our team?

Vic: There are extensive rules governing these matters and they are too many to mention in this column. I will, however, address the specific matter of Jaguars Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter interviewing for the head coach's job in Denver. The Broncos went through the process of notifying the league that they were seeking permission from the Jaguars to interview Koetter, who is under contract to the Jaguars. Rules governing these matters required the Jaguars to grant permission because the position for which Koetter would be interviewing would not represent a lateral move. Had the Jaguars been in the playoffs, a new set of rules would've been added to the mix.

Sebastian from Ridge, NY:
Do the Colts and Titans and Texans have difficult schedules like us? If they do, then all we'd really have to do is win most of our division games, right?

Vic: That didn't work for the Raiders. All of the teams in the AFC South will basically play the same schedule next season, with slight variations. Winning division games is always important, but because schedules are standardized within the divisions, winning common games is extremely important, too. It's about your overall record, not your division record.

Matt from Jacksonville:
Why not Seattle then, since they have already won in Chicago this season?

Vic: That was early in the season and the Bears are a much better team now than they were then. You could argue that the Seahawks are a much better team, too, but you'd be basing that on one game, last week's win over the Saints. The Bears really came on strong late in the season and they'll be playing in Bears weather in front of their loyal fans. I don't think the Seahawks are ready for this. I think last week's upset win was a moment in time.

Dane from Gainesville, FL:
It's always interesting to hear you explain how both offense and defense have changed over the years, but what about special teams? How are they different today than when you first started covering football?

Vic: There were no special teams coaches when I started covering the NFL. Chuck Noll was head coach, offensive coordinator and special teams coach. Teams didn't draft for special teams players back then, either. Last year, the Jaguars signed a special teams star, Kassim Osgood, in free agency, and then spent two sixth-round picks on return men, Deji Karim and Scotty McGee.

B.J. from Chicago, IL:
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a 4-3 vs. a 3-4 defense and what do you prefer?

Vic: The charm of the 4-3 is that when you have the personnel that fits it, you just line up and play. It doesn't involve a lot of scheming up front, therefore, 4-3 defenses tend to make fewer mistakes; it just wins the one-on-one battles. The 3-4 involves a lot of blitzing and that can leave a defense vulnerable to the big play. The disadvantage of the 4-3 is that it's difficult to find those every-downs ends that can play the run and rush the passer. The advantage of the 3-4 is that you don't have to find defensive ends that can rush the passer because the three down linemen are more run-stuffer than pass-rusher; you rush the passer with your linebackers. I prefer the 3-4 because it allows you to draft your pass-rushers from a larger pool of run-and-hit guys who are considered to be tweeners. It also allows you to draft from a pool of run-stuffing defensive linemen that are ignored by 4-3 teams because those linemen aren't good enough pass-rushers.

Michael from Tallahassee, FL:
Why does it seem that so many Heisman Trophy winners had or have such disappointing careers?

Vic: It's because those players won the Heisman Trophy based on their accomplishments in college, not on their talent for playing the game at the NFL level. The college game is very different from the pro game, as evidenced by Monday's national title game. You can manufacture a Heisman Trophy winner in college football by putting him in a hot system and surrounding him with a lot of talent. Just about everybody plays the game the same way in the NFL. It's difficult to manufacture success in the NFL; you have to be talented to be successful at this level.

Dennis from Lynchburg, VA:
I can't wait to see this weekend's games. What are your picks?

Vic: Atlanta was my preseason choice to win the NFC, so I'll stick the Falcons, but that's the only reason I'm sticking with the Falcons. The Packers are hot; they can win that game. I'll also go with Chicago, Baltimore and New England.

Lisa from Jacksonville:
Do the players get paid the same for preseason and regular-season games? If so, why are they complaining about an 18-game schedule if they are getting paid to play 20 games either way?

Vic: Players don't begin drawing their salaries until the regular season begins. They are paid a preseason stipend. I don't have to explain the rest, right?

Tim from Edmond, OK:
Just a quick question, Vic. Are you ready to admit that Bradford wasn't a bust coming out of the Big 12? I know you were pretty hard on the Big 12 and their quarterbacks, and kind of Bradford, too, so I was wondering if you can admit that one?

Vic: My concern for Sam Bradford was for his shoulder injury and his inability to stay healthy. He didn't impress me as a durable player. We'll see; maybe he is. He did OK for a rookie, but I don't think a 76.5 passer rating is proof of future greatness. He was the seventh-lowest rated passer in the league. Is that supposed to make me get on the Boomer Sooner wagon and start riding around in circles?

Manuel from Jacksonville:
It doesn't seem fair that the top-seeded Falcons play a 10-6 Packers and the second-seeded Bears play a 7-9 Seahawks. Your thoughts?

Vic: Eventually, you have to play the hot team, right? I mean, if the Packers played at Chicago and won, you'd have to play the Packers the following week, right? If the Bears beat the Packers, then you'd be playing a team that beat the Packers. Just win, baby.

James from Tucson, AZ:
Do you think the Patriots might benefit from how hard-hitting and physically draining Steelers-Ravens games tend to be?

Vic: Yes, I think they will benefit, which is the reward of having won the top seed in the AFC. The Patriots are likely to face a banged up team in the AFC title game. The table is set for the Patriots to go all the way.

Walter from Orange Park, FL:
All but two of the teams left in the playoffs are tops in the league in stopping the run. Is this just coincidence or a formula for success in the NFL? It would seem making teams one-dimensional is a good thing.

Vic: This may be the worst collection of run-the-ball teams I've ever seen in the playoffs, but most of them are pretty good and some of them are just flat-out fantastic at stopping the run. What does it mean? I think it means that you don't have to run the ball to be good, but you do have to stop the run.

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