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Buy, don't bring your own

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

David from Jacksonville:
The site looks fantastic! Why are the Jaguars scheduled to play everyone in the NFC North? Is that on purpose? What do you think of the overall schedule?

Vic: The NFL's scheduling format provides for a rotation of divisions. This year, the AFC South plays the NFC North and the AFC West. Next year, the AFC South will play the NFC West and AFC North. My opinion of the Jaguars' 2004 schedule is that it is, by and large, favorable. At Minnesota and at Green Bay are tough dates, but they're balanced by home games against Denver and Kansas City.

Jay from State College, PA:
Kicking was one of the many reasons we didn't win as many games as we could have. Will it get any better this year?

Vic: Your question reminds me of something Buffalo Bills president Tom Donahoe used to say: "Get 'em good or get 'em gone." I think that'll be the Jaguars philosophy regarding their kickers this year.

Kevin from Atlanta, GA:
Is there a reason all teams don't report to training camp on the same day?

Vic: Veterans can not be required to report to training camp more than 15 days prior to their team's first preseason game, so, teams use that 15-day rule in determining the starting date of their training camps. All teams don't start their preseason schedule on the same day, and that's the reason all teams don't start their training camps on the same day.

John from Snellville, GA:
As to the whole cover-the-seats question, why does the NFL insist they remain covered? It's got to be something with televising home games, but it seems self-defeating, in the sense that you limit revenues.

Vic: The NFL rule that stadium seating capacity must remain the same from the beginning of the season to the end of the season is meant to guard against teams manipulating their seating capacity for TV blackout purposes. You wouldn't want your team to adjust the seating capacity so that every game is blacked out, would you?

Mark from Jacksonville:
With the night practices approaching, the anticipation rising and the depressing, somewhat torturous, languid offseason wrapping up, there is one important question swelling in the minds of rabid, blue-collar Jaguar fans. Will beer be sold at these night practices or can we bring our own?

Vic: Beer will be sold at all practices. You may tailgate in the parking lot with your own refreshments, but you may not bring your own beer into the practice fields.

Dave from Providence, RI:
For us out-of-towners, is there a link you can post so we have directions to get to the golf course? Can't wait; counting down the days.

Vic: We'll be e-mailing in August directions and pertinent information about the "Ask Vic" convention to conventioneers. If you'd like to visit the South Hampton Golf Club on the web, you may do so at Directions to the course are provided on that web site.

James from Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada:
Love the Williams extension. Is the Jags front office taking a page out of the Eagles book, identifying good, young talent and signing them to long-term, affordable deals that keep us out of cap trouble.

Vic: To a degree, that's exactly what the Jaguars are doing. One of the salary cap maneuvers the Eagles made popular is substituting "roster bonus" for a portion of "signing bonus." It's a way of moving money forward and making room on future caps, because roster bonus must be declared in full in the year it's paid, while signing bonus must be divided evenly over the life of the contract. So, when your team is young and you have room on your cap, that's a good time to move money forward, which is what the Eagles did a few years ago, and that's allowed them the room to make some rather daring moves this year. The Jaguars have used that same roster bonus maneuver the last two years. Mike Peterson's contract featured a prominent portion of roster bonus money.

Mike from Middleburg, FL:
Do you see the possibility of a team passing on a player in the draft or overlooking him in free agency because of who his agent is?

Vic: I have to believe that consciously or subconsciously a team may adjust its grade downward on a player or find ways to maneuver around him, if he's represented by an agent with whom the team has a contentious relationship. In contrast, I think teams are more likely to favor players who are represented by agents with whom the team has solid relationships. I just think it's human nature to gravitate toward people with whom you believe you can be successful. The great equalizer in all of this, of course, is the player's talent level. When you're talking about a player of undeniable greatness, it doesn't matter who his agent is.

Jermaine from Jacksonville:
Junior from Jacksonville asked you what song was played when the defense took the field. You didn't answer. It was "Might Getcha" by David Banner. Didn't you know that?

Vic: Yeah, I knew that. I have all of his albums.

Brian from Jacksonville:
I believe the Jags should end up this year somewhere around 7-9 to 9-7. Looking at the schedule, it's very realistic the Jags could start off 0-4 or 1-3. What affect would this have on a young team, a young QB and to the Jags as a franchise?

Vic: Fast starts are great, but December is the critical month of the season. If you're not playing your best football in December, don't even bother with the postseason. When I look at the Jaguars' early-season schedule, I see a season-opener in Buffalo that'll be much more difficult than most people think, a favorable hot and humid home-opener against a thin-air Denver team, and statement games in week three at Tennessee and week four at home against Indianapolis. Anything worse than 2-2 would be a disappointment, but the first month of the season doesn't move me much either way. Remember 3-1 in 2002?

Jason from Houston, TX:
On the "Jack Del Rio Show," coach Del Rio said, when talking about defensive end, "We will get after the quarterback." How does this measure up to his statement last year of, "We will stop the run?"

Vic: He's obviously a man of his word, but "get after" isn't the same as "stop." Now, if he had said, "We will sack the quarterback," well, that would be a lot different. I have no doubt the Jaguars will get after the quarterback. Coach Del Rio and defensive coordinator Mike Smith are going to draw up some sexy pass-rush schemes this year, and I think those schemes and the addition of speed at linebacker will result in more pressure on the quarterback. I think coach Del Rio's statement will prove to be accurate, but "get after" isn't the same as "sack."

Patrick from Elida, OH:
Does the team get to decide what seats to cover when they cover seats? If so, couldn't they cover the very upper seats and sell advertisement space on the covers so they make some kind of money off that space?

Vic: It's the team's decision as to which seats to cover, and they absolutely can put advertising on the covers. Advertising is restricted at field level and end zone locations, where TV cameras are typically directed. Higher locations are acceptable for advertising, which means the Jaguars' upper decks would be prime advertising locations.

Brad from Jacksonville:
The Miami fans have to be in major distress after losing Ricky. Thank God we have depth here in Jacksonville. My only concern is our defensive line. How is our depth looking there?

Vic: Depth at defensive tackle is a major concern for the Jaguars. Fourth-round pick Anthony Maddox is an important man in this training camp because the Jaguars are counting on him to provide the depth at tackle this team didn't have last season. At defensive end, the Jaguars have depth-type players. We know Paul Spicer is a capable reserve defensive end. We know Rob Meier and Lionel Barnes can hold their own at end. What we don't know is whether or not Spicer can elevate his game to the level of a starting defensive end, or if Hugh Douglas can bounce back after a down year, or if Tony Brackens' knee will allow him to play more than situationally, or if Jorge Cordova can be a big-time pass-rusher. Numbers are a major issue at defensive tackle; quality is the issue at defensive end.

Steven from Jacksonville:
When the word "depth" is mentioned about a football team, do you consider this meaning more than one solid player at one position, or just a roster full of players that play the same position? Would you say the Jags have depth?

Vic: There are two kinds of depth: position depth and roster depth. The Jaguars are clearly building overall roster depth. They have added speed and that will show itself most prominently on special teams this year. They've also built impressive depth at positions such as running back and linebacker, but I need to see what happens in training camp before I begin making pronouncements about positions such as defensive tackle, wide receiver and cornerback.

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