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Amortization makes it difficult to clear books

Join *Jaguars Inside Report *Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

David Gregory from Orange Park, FL:
Though the hope was to have this year's team make another run at the Super Bowl, it's obviously the last shot. They are seemingly too thin to endure a full season and the stars aren't getting any younger. With the Jaguars' inevitable salary cap dilemma next year, rebuilding seems the only logical decision. How long will it take to clear the debts to the current players and rebuild?
Vic: It would take a minimum of two years to clear the books, if the Jaguars take the aggressive route. However, the biggest obstacle in clearing the books quickly is that, because so much salary has been converted to bonus amortization, cutting players will accelerate that amortization and eat up more cap room. For example, when the Steelers cut Levon Kirkland last March, the team's salary cap immediately realized a gain of $4.7 million, which was the salary Kirkland was due to be paid this season. However, if that money had already been paid in the form of bonus that was being amortized over several years, the Steelers would've immediately realized $4.7 million in dead money on this year's salary cap. Amortization buys you time and allows you to load your roster, but eventually it catches up to you. That's what happened to the Jaguars. To the Jaguars' advantage, this winter's expansion draft may allow them to dump some considerable amortization money, since it's thought the Texans will be required to assume the amortizations of the players they draft from the expansion pool. That would be a start for the Jaguars.

Eric Chan from Jacksonville:
I just wanted to ask you if you see something about the last four games involving the Jaguars. It seems to me that the winner of each of the last four games had an attitude that they were the underdogs. The week-one win against the Steelers was a bit of a surprise to many. The win over the Titans was a shock because of the Super Bowl intentions they had. Then came Cleveland and Seattle. Well, you can see what happened in those games. I know you could say the injuries to the Jaguars are the reasons for the losses, but Cleveland and Seattle had some injuries as well. Is it lack of depth? Lack of emotion? Or lack of optimism?
Vic: Forget about the emotion thing and all of the other psychological mumbo jumbo. That's been overplayed. Did Denver lack emotion in Seattle this past Sunday? Why didn't Philadelphia lack emotion in Seattle in week two? Is there any chance the switch from Matt Hasselbeck to Trent Dilfer is the difference? Is there any chance the Jaguars lost in Seattle because they were missing four starters on defense and Fred Taylor on offense? Is there any chance Mark Brunell wasn't totally recovered from the concussion he suffered against Cleveland? Wins and losses are much more easily explained by tangible facts than by psychological guesswork. We all said at the beginning of the year that this team could contend for the playoffs, provided they stayed healthy. Then everyone got hurt. There's your answer. Yes, it is a lack of depth.

Mike Weidner from Atlanta:
I know Todd Fordham played right tackle with the Jaguars last year. Now he's being asked to play left tackle. How difficult is it to make the transition from one side to the other? Also, I've read reports that Stroud played miserably against Seattle. One local reporter went so far as to suggest Stroud might be a bust. Living in Atlanta, I didn't see the game, but I have to disagree with the assessment on Stroud. What's your opinion?
Vic: There is a major difference between right tackle and left tackle. First of all, you're usually facing a better pass-rusher when you're at left tackle. Todd Fordham has a big job on his hands. As far as Marcus Stroud is concerned, I was very discouraged by his performance in Seattle and I have yet to see an example of the physically-dominant play the Jaguars thought he would provide. In my opinion, hard assessment of a player shouldn't begin until his second season, but, at this point in time, there has to be a degree of concern.

Jim Trice from Sharpsburg, GA:
My brother and I were having a discussion on what was better to have, an outstanding defense and an average offense, or just the opposite. While we both have reasons to back both, we were wondering what your thoughts are on this issue Which would you recommend?
Vic: I will decidedly cast my vote for an emphasis on defense. Offense is the expensive side of the ball. Your money isn't going to buy nearly as many good players on offense as it will on defense, which means that spending your money on defense will give you a stronger overall roster, and that certainly goes to special teams. If you spend your money on offense, you better score a lot of points, but that'll drive the play-count up and increase the chance of injury. If you spend your money on defense, you'll control the tempo of the game and you'll also improve your special teams. It's a personal preference, but I believe physical beats finesse and defense wins championships.

Tom Crumpton from Jacksonville:
If it's best to build your team through the draft, the future of the Jaguars is looking bleak. Don't you think it's time coach Coughlin admits he needs better advice on draft day. Is it the scouting department, the coaches?
Vic: In my opinion, the Jaguars have focused too hard on drafting for need. I don't like drafting for need because I believe it shrinks the talent pool from which a team is selecting. We all knew the Jaguars were going to draft offensive and defensive linemen in the first two rounds this past spring. That means all of the players at all of the other positions didn't even exist. I don't like that.

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