Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

Brunell carried '96 Jags

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

Chuck from Cincinnati, OH:
As an out-of-state Jaguar fan, your column is one of the greatest sources of Jaguar news for me. I try to read it every day but some days I seem to miss it. At what time during the day is your column posted?

Vic: Late morning to early afternoon would be a normal time frame.

John from Jacksonville:
How do the coaches' salaries factor into the cap? I know they are not part of the salary cap, but if the cap keeps escalating the small-market teams will have to use more and more of their revenue on player salaries. Could that lead to small-market teams not being able to retain quality coaches? Would the large markets be allowed to staff up with the very best coaches? Or could we eventually see a coaches salary cap?

Vic: You're very perceptive. Yes, the more small-market teams are overwhelmed by the financial advantage their big-market counterparts enjoy, the farther behind the small-market teams will fall in the competition to attract the best coaches. That will be especially true in the coordinator ranks. I don't think we'll ever see a salary cap for coaches, which means the big-market teams will be able to pay any amount for any and all coaches. To know what an unbridled NFL would become, all you have to do is look at baseball. Compare the Yankees and the Red Sox to the Brewers and Royals, for example. Given America's obsession with the NFL, the disparity between the haves and the have-nots could become even greater in the NFL than it is in baseball.

John from Palatka, FL:
Why is it when people talk about the all-time great quarterbacks, Fran Tarkenton is never brought up?

Vic: I agree with you that Tarkenton was a great quarterback. The problem is that he lost three Super Bowls. Not winning the big game hurts a quarterback's reputation. It hurts Dan Marino's and Jim Kelly's reputations, and it'll become the thing for which Peyton Manning is remembered if he doesn't win a Super Bowl.

Randy from Daytona Beach, FL:
I seem to remember both Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell blossoming during the year Andre Rison was on the Jags. I always thought Rison made those guys believe in themselves and gave them some swagger. That – and his atrocious behavior – cost Rison a job, but it made the Jags what they were in that era. Agree or disagree?

Vic: Disagree. Mark Brunell, Tony Boselli, Smith and McCardell made the Jaguars what they were in 1996. Truth be known, the Jaguars were 4-7 when they cut Rison. Then they went on a seven-game winning streak that took them to the AFC title game. You want me to believe Rison's contribution is he taught them how to be arrogant? I'm sorry, I don't buy into that swagger crap. The Jaguars won because Tom Coughlin had the courage to get rid of one of the reasons his team was losing. I'll never forget the sight of the locker room on that Monday after the Jaguars lost in Pittsburgh, a game in which Brunell chewed out Rison for having run a wrong route that resulted in an interception. The Jaguars' clubhouse had a terrible polarized look to it. You could clearly see two distinct factions; the Rison guys and the anti-Rison guys. I wondered if the Jaguars would win another game that season, and they were in big trouble the following Sunday in Baltimore, where they trailed 22-10 early in the third quarter when Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda made a big mistake; he went for two. The run failed and it allowed the Jaguars to rally for a tie that sent the game into overtime, which resulted in an Earnest Byner fumble and a Mike Hollis game-winning field goal. Rison gets credit for all of that? No way! Brunell put that team on his shoulders and carried it to New England.

Vini from Knoxville, TN:
Who would you consider the best number one overall pick in NFL history? Would it be Bruce Smith (1985); 18 seasons and 11 Pro Bowls?

Vic: Smith would be a definite candidate. You could also make arguments for Peyton Manning, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Earl Campbell, Terry Bradshaw, O.J. Simpson and Chuck Bednarik.

Alan from Gainesville, FL:
I think you overrate Super Bowls and quarterbacks and tie them together more than necessary. Do I sound boring or am I right?

Vic: Twenty-four of the 39 Super Bowls played have been won by nine quarterbacks. Do I sound boring or am I right?

Kevin from Cleveland, OH:
I was wondering why is it the draft is the third weekend in April and teams wait until just after July 4 to sign their rookies. To keep from all the holdouts, wouldn't it help them to start this process earlier so they could minimize holdouts? I know this is a last-minute league, but some rookies always start behind because of contract negotiations. Why do they always wait so late to begin negotiations?

Vic: Contract negotiations are serious business. The contract a rookie signs will affect his earning power over his entire career. In the case of the team, the contracts they negotiate with their rookie class will affect the status of the team's salary cap for the next 10 years. Each side is representing its interests and, in the case of high picks, big money is at stake. The player's agent usually begins by throwing out a big number. Then the team counters with a low ball. Negotiations have begun and usually the winner is the one who has the greatest staying power. It's professional football. It's about the money. I'm sure you're tired of hearing me say that, but when you accept it, everything begins to make sense.

Andrew from New York, NY:
Has the situation at defensive end last year turned out to be a plus for us this year? We were able to give McCray extensive playing time that he probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. So, on that note, how influential is extensive playing time for a "jar on the shelf" player?

Vic: Jack Del Rio made two critical decisions last summer – releasing Tony Brackens and Hugh Douglas – that are the reason McCray has the potential to be a major contributor for the Jaguars this season. This is a "move on" game; if you're not staying young, you're getting old. The Jaguars did not move on at right cornerback last year and now they find themselves having to do that this year. All they did was delay the inevitable. What was gained? Del Rio showed me a lot of courage with his decisions at defensive end last year. He bit the bullet because he knew it was the right thing to do for the team. That's the kind of thing I respect.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content