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Defense will require new personnel

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

Josh David from Gainesville, FL:
The Jags problems on offense were due to numerous injuries throughout the season, and that doesn't worry me. What worries me is the other side of the ball. Jacksonville played a couple of close games they lost because they were unable to stop their opponents; one stop might have been the game-winner. With the losses to the defensive line in the expansion draft, what are the necessary steps to improve our defense?
Improvements on defense must be personnel-based, since the Jaguars have already lost five starters from last season. The Jaguars must make major personnel acquisitions on defense in the draft and in bargain free agency, for the defense to be improved over last season. Statistically, the Jaguars were sound on defense last season, but their late-game collapses painted a picture of dismal failure. New defensive coordinator John Pease said he is dedicated to correcting that problem, but, in my opinion, the result will rest with the Jaguars' ability to replace the personnel they lost.

Steve Ducharme from Jacksonville:
I completely agree with your point of view about building a team through the draft, but considering how far the Jags have come in salary cap relief, can they consider picking up a journeyman player or two in free agency; maybe a reasonably-priced offensive lineman or fullback to help keep Mark Brunell off the turf this season? Is this a valid possibility for the Jags at this point? Is there an intelligent way for the Jags to do this without getting in over their heads financially?
As stated by owner Wayne Weaver on last Thursday, the Jaguars plan to be a player in inexpensive free agency. New England did it and was successful, and the Jaguars have studied the Patriots' model. Salary cap repair has begun, but let's not get carried away. We won't begin seeing the dramatic effects of those repair efforts until 2003.

Brian Burkett from Jacksonville:
What is the Jaguars' process to sign a free agent? I mean, someone must feel there is a need for a position, then player selection, then contracts. Who does what?
Tom Coughlin is the coach and general manager. He works closely with Wayne Weaver. They draw their information from Director of Player Personnel Rick Reiprish and his scouting staff. When player-acquisition reaches the point of negotiating a contract, Director of Football Operations Paul Vance enters the picture.

Michael Diaz from Burbank, CA:
We have lost Brunell's best defender in Tony Boselli, so Mark will be spending more time on his butt with a defensive lineman on top of him. We lost Aaron Beasley, our all-time interception leader, so we will be seeing more completions from opposing teams. And we have lost our all-time tackler in Kevin Hardy, so we will be seeing more yards gained against us. But Wayne Weaver feels "this team can win more games in 2002 than we did last year." Is he putting on a game face and trying to keep seats full or does someone have a problem with reality? Or am I being too negative? Please, Vic, how about giving us a more realistic view on what's going to happen.
The Jaguars have suffered major losses in personnel. Those losses will be felt hardest on the defensive line, where Gary Walker, Seth Payne and Renaldo Wynn each had career years last season. Don't forget, Tony Boselli and Kevin Hardy missed a major chunk of last season, and the Jaguars didn't seem to suffer in the secondary after Aaron Beasley was lost to an injury. Yes, I think Wayne Weaver is being overly optimistic, but I don't consider his comments about next season to be irresponsible. I found them to be refreshing and intriguing. I like to hear people say what they believe, and Weaver was speaking from the heart when he made those comments to me last Thursday.

Lane Baker from Orlando, FL:
One more salary cap question. Every team in the NFL had to be under the cap by Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. My question is this: At what point do teams suddenly go over the cap? Can you get under the cap on Feb. 28 and then go out on March 1 and sign a bunch of free agents? I guess I don't understand how all teams are under the cap at a certain date, and then most end up way over.
The salary cap is in force 365 days a year. A team is never permitted to be over the cap. The NFL's 2002 calendar year began on March 1. When it was reported that certain teams were over the cap, it was meant they were over the cap for '02. Compliance began on the morning of March 1, and '02 compliance must be maintained until the first day of the '03 league calendar year.

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