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'All-Vic' ascent team

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

Malosi from Valencia, CA:
Do you know of any incentives that have been met this year?

Vic: Fred Taylor made just under a million dollars in incentives; Jimmy Smith earned about $400,000. Those are the two big ones. The $1.4 million Taylor and Smith represent in incentive money will be reconciled on the 2004 and '05 salary caps. That means their $1.4 will be subtracted from the $6 million credit the Jaguars were to receive in credit on the '05 cap from the Quinn Gray deal, leaving $4.6 million to be credited to '05.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL:
What teams have cap problems so that I can look at who their potential free agents are?

Vic: Washington, Tennessee and Miami have serious salary cap problems. Atlanta, Tampa, Kansas City and Oakland are tight against the cap. Those teams are major candidates to lose players in free agency.

Wade from Jacksonville:
Now that the Jaguars season is over, what are some of the significant dates and events for diehard fans to look forward to in the offseason?

Vic: The first important date is Feb. 8, which is the first day teams may designate "franchise" and "transition" players. Feb. 22 is the first day teams may cut players. March 2 is the day free agency begins. The draft is set for April 23-24. Let's stick to those dates, for openers.

William from Jacksonville:
I'm tired of the All-Madden and All-Joe type teams that we will be inundated with in the coming weeks. What I think we would all be interested in, however, is an "All-Vic" team. The catch is that the players named are only those you deem to be in ascent. Any chance you could fit this in between searching for your errant drives on the many golf courses you will inhabit in the coming months?

Vic: I like that idea: A team of ascending players, but rookies aren't permitted because we don't have enough information on them to know what's up or down. OK, let's do it.

WR—Chad Johnson (Bengals) and Javon Walker (Packers); TE—Antonio Gates (Chargers); OT—Marvel Smith (Steelers) and Jordan Gross (Panthers); OG—Brian Waters (Chiefs) and Toniu Fonoti (Chargers); C—LeCharles Bentley (Saints); QB—Drew Brees (Chargers); FB—Dan Kreider (Steelers); RB—Larry Johnson (Chiefs).

DE—Dwight Freeney (Colts) and Julius Peppers (Panthers); DT—Marcus Stroud (Jaguars) and John Henderson (Jaguars); LB—Terrell Suggs (Ravens), Keith Bulluck (Titans) and John Abraham (Jets); CB—Andre Dyson (Titans) and Nate Clements (Bills); S—Ed Reed (Ravens) and Troy Polamalu (Steelers).

Special teams
K—Shayne Graham (Bengals); P—Shane Lechler (Raiders); KR—Eddie Drummond (Lions); G—Gerald Hayes (Cardinals).

Ben from Rolla, MO:
Do you think Stroud and Henderson could be one of the best DT duos ever? Are they better than Rice and Sapp at TB?

Vic: Simeon Rice is a defensive end. Yeah, Marcus Stroud and John Henderson have a chance to be recognized as one of the best defensive tackle combinations in recent history, but the truth of the matter is that defensive tackle combinations aren't nearly as celebrated as are pass-catching combinations, such as Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, Moss and Carter, Swann and Stallworth, etc. As far as tackles are concerned, Baltimore's 2000 defense was built around tackles Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams, and they seem to be the standard by which today's defensive tackle combinations are judged. William Perry and Steve McMichael anchored the 1985 Bears, and Joe Greene and Ernie Holmes were the tackles on the 1976 Steelers. Those three teams are considered to have had the best defenses of all-time. What they did statistically is almost unbelievable. I don't think I'm ready to put Stroud and Henderson into the same class with those guys yet.

Vijay from Montreal, Quebec:
Do you agree that without Wilford we are not even a team at .500?

Vic: You might be right. It's hard to imagine the Jaguars would've won the Buffalo and Oakland games without Ernest Wilford's big catches.

Dick from Fernandina Beach, FL:
How mobile do you think Bryon can become or should the coaches keep him only in the pocket?

Vic: In my opinion, Byron Leftwich is a pocket-passer and a pocket-passer only. He should be discouraged from running because he often gets caught in awkward positions that leave him vulnerable to punishing blows.

Bill from Jacksonville:
We've heard so much about how bad the red-zone offense was, how about some credit for the great job the red-zone defense did this year?

Vic: You're right, the Jaguars' red-zone defense was sensational this season. It was number one in the league with a 38.3 percentage in touchdowns allowed. It was never better, by the way, than it was in Oakland this past Sunday. As I said yesterday, when you look at the Jaguars' overall statistics from the 2004 season, they are right in line with the team's record. While the Jaguars were number one in red-zone defense, they were number 31 in red-zone offense. The average of the two is about what you would expect of a 9-7 team; some good, some bad.

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