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Call it what you want

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

Ben from West Haven, CT:
If the only knock on Ernest Wilford is his speed, I don't understand what is stopping him from getting faster. Can't speed be worked on and improved just as strength and catching ability can?

Vic: If you're a quick-twitch muscle cells guy, you can improve your quickness a little, but I don't think anyone has dramatically altered their overall speed through training. Beyond that, I've never known a player who's gotten faster as he's gotten older. Speed is, by and large, an inherent ability. Ernest is never going to be a burner. Agility is his game. He adjusts to the ball beautifully and, frankly, I consider that to be the top prerequisite for a wide receiver. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "You can't teach speed."

Tommy from Naknek, AL:
Aside from quarterback, what is the Jaguars' position of most depth and what positions need the most work?

Vic: Most people would probably say defensive tackle is the Jaguars' position of greatest depth. Wide receiver is the position that most concerns me, for the obvious reason that the team has just lost the guy who has led them in receiving yardage for the last 10 years. Replacing that kind of a player will not be easy.

Fred from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I hate to correct you but Phil Mickelson didn't choke. Phil was just plain stupid. There's a major difference between standing over the ball and being overcome with nerves, such as Monty's gag with a seven iron. (Mickelson's) caddy never should have let him tee off with a driver on 18.

Vic: He didn't choke? His drive bounced off the roof of a tent. His next shot hit a tree. His next shot went into a sand trap. His next shot went through the green and into the deep rough. It wasn't until his sixth shot that he hit a putt. Call it whatever you want, but when the pressure was the greatest, he played his worst. Blame the caddy? You sound like the fans of somebody else. As far as Monty is concerned, that was too easy to predict. The guy had been licking his lips all weekend. The seven iron was bad but he was still only a few feet off the green and needing only to make five to get into a playoff, and he swung like a farmer chopping high grass with a sickle and hit the ball 30 feet above the hole. Any public golf course hack could've done that. Monty and Mickelson – and a couple of others, too – combined for the worst golf I have ever seen in a major. At least Van de Velde made the putt and got into a playoff.

Steve from Jacksonville:
Gil Brandt quoted an interesting stat on NFL radio. He said the two teams in the last five Super Bowls have been the teams with the least "dead" money on the books. Where do the Jags stand this year?

Vic: Am I supposed to be surprised by that statement? What have I been saying for all these years? Take care of your cap and your cap will take care of you. A lot of people don't want to believe that. They want to believe that you build your team and then, when you're a Super Bowl contender, you spend like crazy and take your swing at the big game. It can work, but more often than not it's the teams that have managed their caps conservatively and wisely that are in the big game. Then, the following season, they're back in the hunt instead of having to gut their roster because they took the big swing. I can't predict what the Jaguars' "dead" money will be this year, but it was low last year and it'll be low again this year and it's no coincidence that the Jaguars' recent upswing parallels a commitment to sound salary cap management. They go hand in hand. The people who scream, "spend, baby, spend," don't get it.

Alec from York PA:
If memory serves me, you had another event last year for us non-golfers that coincided with the "Ask Vic" golf outing before the game. Will there be a similar get-together this year?

Vic: We've discontinued the cabana pregame party due to a lack of participation.

Bruce from Jacksonville:
I'm not sure but I think you are required by law to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle and can get a citation for not wearing one, but maybe that's just kids.

Vic: Florida requires those under 16 to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. That means I have ties that wouldn't even have to wear a helmet.

Jeremy from St. Augustine, FL:
How do the Jags' receivers stack up as blockers?

Vic: Reggie Williams is outstanding; one of the most physical wide receivers in the league.

Scott from Melbourne, FL:
I would like to know your opinion on which Jaguars draft class had the least impact on the team. Would it be the class of 1999, which only produced Fernando Bryant as a starter?

Vic: The '99 class was bad. It was all corners and defensive linemen. Those were the two positions Tom Coughlin needed to fortify and the Jaguars, of course, were taking their big swing at the Super Bowl. Nobody is left on the team from the class of '99 and I agree with you that it's the Jaguars' least productive draft class, but Coughlin got what he needed when he needed it. Fernando Bryant had an excellent rookie year and did exactly what he was drafted to do. I don't think the Jaguars would've gone 14-2 without him.

Vivek from Jacksonville:
I couldn't agree more with your comment that Weaver made the right decision in avoiding Spurrier. It got me thinking, how has Weaver been as an owner for the first decade-plus of the franchise?

Vic: He hired a coach who made the Jaguars the most successful expansion franchise in history. Then he hired a coach who has taken the team from 5-11 to 12-4 in three years. The facts speak well of those two hires. Wayne Weaver's best action, in my opinion, was his decision to take control of the team's salary cap after the 2001 season. He identified the panic state of his team's salary cap and he responded with the kind of forceful decision-making that is the hallmark of strong leaders. Cutting Keenan McCardell and allowing Tony Boselli, Gary Walker and Seth Payne to escape in the Houston expansion draft were very unpopular decisions, but they were absolutely the right calls. He impressed me with his toughness in the winter of 2002, a year after worrying me when he allowed the re-structuring of contracts so the team could take another swing at the Super Bowl, even though it was clearly out of cuts. In my opinion, what Weaver ordered in the winter of '02 is the most positive and impressive action in this franchise's history. He rescued the future from several years of salary cap abuse. What other feathers are in his cap? Well, the decision to cover seats was clearly the right thing to do. I wasn't sure about it at the time, but there's no question now that covering seats was a bold and effective decision. The handling of last summer's flap with the city was masterful. Weaver held his ground but avoided the PR disaster it bordered on becoming. Weaver's CFO, Bill Prescott, was the real hero of the deal with the city. I admire Prescott's handling of that situation. He saved the future of professional football in Jacksonville and Wayne has always talked about the value of hiring good people. Mistakes? One jumps out at me. The deal a few years ago that distributed free tickets, in my opinion, was a mistake. It was born of Wayne's burning desire to get his home games on local TV. I think the free tickets deal devalued the product temporarily. Covering seats has restored that value. He's a good owner who I truly believe is committed to this town.

Moshe from Mexico City, Mexico:
The Jaguars are about to score. Byron passes the ball, Williams catches it at the 10-yard line and he's running for a touchdown when he fumbles at the two-yard line. The ball crosses the goal line and then goes out the back of the end zone. What's the ruling?

Vic: Touchback.

Kelvin from Warwick, UK:
Your readers seem to be a worldwide audience, which got me thinking. Do you have a favorite destination abroad or have you traveled outside of the States much? I would have thought Scotland's golf courses would have appealed to you.

Vic: I've only been to Europe once. I covered a football game in Barcelona in 1993. You got me pegged on the Scotland thing. It's something I really want to do.

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