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Dressing for the money

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

Kyle from Jacksonville:
I think it's hilarious that all these people in Jacksonville think they can evaluate talent better than Jack Del Rio. Shouldn't it be obvious to everyone that Jack is going to play the best players, period. If it was all about draft position, Reggie Williams would be the hands-down number one receiver. Anyone who thinks Jack would play an inferior quarterback, for any reason, is ignorant of the facts.

Vic: : I agree with you. I think your theory applies to all coaches, but I think it especially applies in Jack Del Rio's case because he is such a good evaluator of talent and he prides himself in that role. After covering Del Rio for three years, I believe his greatest strength as a coach is his ability to evaluate talent and apply his evaluations to the big picture. In my opinion, the best coaches are big-picture guys. Bill Belichick and Bill Cowher are very definitely big-picture coaches and so is Del Rio. What I mean by big picture is the ability to see beyond just this season. Good coaches have the ability to provide for their teams' futures by the decisions they make in the present. Belichick, Cowher and Del Rio are all very good at providing for their teams' futures. They favor young players and they firmly believe in player development. I completely trust Del Rio's lineup and roster decisions.

Andy from Bloomington, IN:
Come on, Vic, give the RCA Dome piped-in noise crap a rest. It's a dome, it's full and it's loud; no artificial noise required. We could talk about cooling equipment issues on the sidelines at Jacksonville games and last-minute visiting team uniform changes instead.

Vic: I can remember sitting in the RCA Dome press box a few years ago and dropping my head into my hands so that they covered my ears because the noise was so deafening. My eyes began surveying the crowd and what I saw was a crowd that wasn't making any noise, unless the people in Indianapolis have the unique ability to talk out of their ear holes. I can remember thinking to myself, how can it be so noisy in here if all of the people are asleep? The answer was obvious.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
I was wondering when the change in what coaches are allowed to wear on the sidelines changed? At one time, I used to see most of them in suits and ties. Can coaches wear what they want at games?

Vic: I don't know what year it officially changed, but it was no doubt the result of a contract the league had with an apparel supplier. Coaches now have a dress code, too. They must wear NFL-approved gear. I can understand it. I like civil liberties as much as the next guy, but it's common for employers to have dress codes and when your employer is paying you millions of dollars to walk his sideline, I don't think it's too much to ask for a coach to dress in a way that'll help support the marketing deal that helps pay his salary.

Clyde from Jacksonville:
Do you think Jack will play the first team offense into the second quarter like he did in Miami, but emphasize the run more?

Vic: I expect the first team offense to play most of the first half on Saturday and I would expect to see a greater reliance on the running game. The second and third preseason games are usually the best of the four and teams usually play closer to their true personalities.

Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico:
I'm relatively new to football so I don't know much about the old days, but I saw a piece in TV about Jack Tatum and the play in which he paralyzed a receiver from the chest down. I know you love tough guys and football is a tough game, but where do you draw the line? Was this play a vicious hit? Can you tell us more about this play?

Vic: The play to which you are referring was a 1978 hit by Jack Tatum on Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley that left Stingley paralyzed for life. I read a story about a meeting between Stingley and Tatum a year ago. Both men were in wheelchairs, as Tatum has lost a leg to diabetes. In a decade infamous for brutally physical play, the Stingley incident was the 1970's darkest hour. The injury occurred in a preseason game, which, in my opinion, makes it even more tragic. I'm not going to judge intent. I'll leave that for someone else, but the hit that caused Stingley to be paralyzed had become a common practice in the middle of the field by defensive backs attempting to intimidate receivers. Was it over the line? I don't know. Was it vicious? Absolutely. I like tough guys and I like hard-nosed football, but there is a line and I know where it is but I'm going to keep that to myself because I know a coach who didn't and he ended up in court.

Steven from Orlando, FL:
I'm a huge Clint Ingram supporter. I pictured him being a Mike Peterson player, a real ruthless linebacker, then I saw him get injured. Can you give an update and how you feel about him?

Vic: Clint Ingram got kicked in the calf in the Miami game. Jack Del Rio described it as "a few days kind of injury." I'm big on track records and Ingram's track record at Oklahoma was that he was a late-bloomer who blossomed into a very good football player; an impact defender. Applying that to his pro career, I expect Ingram to develop into the same kind of player, but I also expect it will take some time for that to happen.

Mike from Lancaster, OH:
I was wondering if you could give some perspective on how the quarterback situation relates to the Jags' first year with Steve Beuerlein and Mark Brunell and also with Terry Bradshaw and Terry Hanratty in Pittsburgh. I'm not saying that Leftwich is Bradshaw but I think the situations are similar and wondered what your thoughts were.

Vic: Leftwich-Garrard bears no resemblance, in my opinion, to Brunell-Beuerlein. Switching from Beuerlein to Brunell was inevitable; everybody knew it would happen and there was no controversy. Leftwich-Garrard is comparable to Bradshaw-Hanratty. Leftwich and Bradshaw were both high draft picks; Leftwich number seven and Bradshaw number one. Just as Garrard was drafted a year before Leftwich was drafted, Hanratty was drafted a year before Bradshaw. The big difference is that Bradshaw and Hanratty exchanged starts quite often until Bradshaw took the job for good late in the 1974 season. Leftwich, of course, took the starting job in the fourth game of his rookie season and has held it ever since. Here's a major similarity: I can remember Bradshaw telling me back then that he couldn't play quarterback looking over his shoulder. Leftwich used those same words to me just prior to the start of this training camp. I was immediately taken back 30-some years. I guess some things just don't change, do they?

Atul from Jacksonville:
So given that the Colts and Patriots are the AFC contenders for the Super Bowl, who are the NFC contenders?

Vic: Carolina is the consensus favorite in the NFC, unless, of course, you talk to the Brett Favre fans, who think the Packers could make one more run.

DeShawn from Camden, NJ:
What is your favorite football movie?

Vic: I like "Radio" and "All the Right Moves."

Chris from Williamsburg, VA:
I apologize for infecting this space with the very mention of this, but isn't this T.O. theater getting ridiculous? What hurts most is that some Jags fans wanted to pick this guy up. Your thoughts?

Vic: A lot of Jaguars fans wanted LeCharles Bentley and Lavar Arrington, too, and Bentley's now on injured reserve and there are rumors that Arrington's knees are shot. Terrell Owens is a marvelous football player. The problem is that he's a monumental pain in the hip pads. Do you think Bill Parcells is losing some sleep? Do you think Parcells wishes he didn't have to deal with the T.O. insanity?

Jack from Dundas, Ontario:
What's the difference between a Pro-Bowler and an All-Pro?

Vic: A Pro-Bowler is the best in his conference. An All-Pro is the best in the league.

Charles from Port St. Lucie, FL:
How has Dee Webb looked so far this preseason? I know he's fast, but has he shown any coverage skills?

Vic: Dee Webb has distinct coverage skills. He's going to stick in this league for a long time because there is always a need for coverage guys in substitution packages. To become a full-time player, however, he'll have to improve his tackling.

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