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Expectations are for the future

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Jared from Callahan, FL:
I don't know about you, Vic, but I have always been able to sense what kind of season the Jags were going to have before it starts. I had the uncomfortable sense last year that we may be in for a downer and we were. I don't force these thoughts, they just come to me. I just can't shake the feeling that this year is going to be a special one; maybe not deep playoffs, but still a special year. I just really think we drafted well and I think our offensive line, if healthy, will be top five in the league this year and you know that will allow for some huge offense. If certain young players step up on our defense and make an impact, we could see this team really over-achieve.

Vic: You've set some very high expectations. My expectations are more conservative and not nearly as specific. In my opinion, it's most important for the Jaguars to have used this season to establish their future. My expectation is for this team's arrow to be pointing decidedly upward when this season ends. I want to feel as though the Jaguars are only a draft or two away from being able to compete, again, on the elite level of the league. It's possible for that kind of feeling to be achieved this year, provided the Jaguars' young players show the promise most of us believe they possess. Playoffs? That's not my expectation. I want to be able to sit back in January and watch the playoffs knowing the Jaguars have been identified as a team with a nucleus of young players that will make the Jaguars playoff contenders for the next several years. Imagine how good that would feel. If the Jaguars surprised me by accelerating that timetable, I'd feel even better, but that's not my expectation.

Alex from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
While I understand that the population of Jacksonville is inferior to most other cities with NFL teams, there is no denying that tickets to games are much cheaper here than they are in almost every one of those other cities. Is the ratio of Jacksonville's population to season ticket holders really a valid excuse for the lack of local support and all the blackouts we experience here in Jacksonville?

Vic: You don't need to come to me for absolution, and excuses aren't necessary, nor will they solve anything. I think we've all reached the point of acceptance and I think that's a good thing. We've gone through the denial stage, using attendance and population figures to distort the truth. We've gone through the anger stage, lashing out at the media and anyone who dares express a negative thought on Jaguars attendance problems. We've expressed fear and worry and avoidance and any other mechanism that would allow us to avoid acceptance that a problem exists. Blaming others, of course, has been the primary mechanism of avoidance, but I sense that has run its course, too. I know this is going to be a hot topic all year, but I won't be offended if "Ask Vic" readers elect to ignore it. Folks, there's not much more that can be said. Here's my suggestion: Let's all give this young football team a chance to grow on us. This is a critical season in Jaguars history because the Jaguars need their fan base to fall in love with the team. That's what sells.

Zack from Jacksonville:
You said, "Donovan McNabb has been an elite quarterback for a long time, but he needs to win it all to get his due," yet, you included Philip Rivers in the top five. Why is that?

Vic: Because Rivers is a young quarterback on the way up; McNabb is a veteran beyond his prime. The careers of quarterbacks are defined by championships. What do they always say about Dan Marino? "But he didn't win a Super Bowl." John Elway was in the same situation McNabb is in, and then Elway won two Super Bowls that capped his career. You might be a fantasy football guy, but I'm not. It's not about stats for me; it's about championships. McNabb has been an outstanding quarterback. A Super Bowl title would take him to a higher level.

Mike from Middleburg, FL:
This is the first year I have been able to buy season tickets. I just got the tickets in the mail. How come, as part of the advertising for season tickets, they don't tell you about the six free rounds of golf for four, minus the cart fees? I was very pleased with that surprise. Anyway, if you want to play sometime, I got these passes. My friends who have season tickets with the Steelers and Tampa say they don't get golf passes so maybe we are onto something. I plan to keep buying season tickets. I love this Jags family.

Vic: I get those rounds of golf, too, since I'm a season ticket holder, but thanks for the invite. Remember when everyone used to blame the Jaguars' marketing department? I think those days are over.

Matt from Greenville, NC:
Can you break down how the supplemental draft works? Have the Jaguars ever drafted a player in this draft?

Vic: You designate a player selection and the round in which you wish to select him. The league then awards that player to the team that picks him highest in the order. Whatever pick you use in the supplemental draft, you must have a pick in that round in next spring's regular draft because you're going to forfeit that pick as a result of using it in the supplemental draft. The Jaguars have never acquired a player in the supplemental draft. That doesn't mean the Jaguars have never attempted to pick a player in the supplemental draft. It just means they weren't successful at it. The league doesn't announce attempted picks, only picks that resulted in player award.

Steve from New Haven, CT:
Just wanted to say I love the column and I missed it last week. I'm having withdrawals in this "dead zone" time and I wanted to warn everyone: I was searching the web for every bit of news on the Jags I could find. A couple of rumor articles showed up with titles such as, "Jones-Drew number two" and "Jags hit home run with rookie WR," so I signed up and unfortunately paid to sign up just so I could read it; Mike Thomas the next Jones-Drew (undersized but shows flashes) and a quote from you saying Tiquan Underwood may be a home run with his speed and height. What a waste.

Vic: is all free all the time. How's that for marketing?

Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
If the Jags are trying to save money, I hope it's not in your department. No column for four days? As I've mentioned before, I think you are at least as responsible for creating Jag fans outside Duval as any other marketing initiative they've ever implemented. I hope you're not sick or anything, but I would truly rather hear that than anything about "Ask Vic" being at the heart of budget cuts.

Vic: Better sick than fired, huh?

Jonathan from Olympia, WA:
Looking at the 2009 schedule, which opponent with a losing record last season do you think could be a surprise this year?

Vic: I don't see one that jumps out at me. I'm not saying it won't happen, I'm just saying that I don't see an obvious candidate, as Arizona would've been last year. There were so many people picking Arizona to be a surprise team that I don't think they qualified as a surprise. If Matt Cassel turns out to be the real thing, then maybe the Chiefs will be a surprise team this year, but that's not my expectation. I like the Jaguars' schedule. Yeah, it's tough at the top, but then it gets favorable.

R.J. from Jacksonville:
I'm a little confused as to why they are calling the preseason games blacked-out already. Don't we still have plenty of time to sell those tickets? Or are there just way too many seats to sell and the hope is dismal?

Vic: The Jaguars' two home preseason games will not be network telecasts, therefore, the Jaguars would have to produce their own broadcasts and that, of course, requires considerable advance planning. As you said, the outlook for selling out the two home preseason games is dismal, therefore, the Jaguars have abandoned plans to televise them. Preseason games are a different "animal" from regular-season games. Aside from those preseason games that are nationally televised, the initiative to televise the other games must be taken by the respective teams and they are not required to do so.

Josh from Lake Elsinore, CA:
I had a lot of fun in last year's "Ask Vic" golf tournament. I sadly will not be able to make it this year because of the stupid economy and cutting back spending. I hope it is just as much fun, goes just as smoothly and as many Ospreys are out as last year.

Vic: Your absence is certainly understandable and I look forward to better times for everyone and seeing you at Osprey Cove in 2010.

Robert from Reseda, CA:
You should have ended your top quarterbacks comparison with Drew Brees. I can't be the only one out there who thinks Philip Rivers doesn't fit in that group. Can you fill me in on why he deserves such an honor?

Vic: I had Brees at four and Rivers at five. How have I insulted Brees with that ranking? The guy has only ever won one playoff game. Rivers has scored a couple of impressive playoff wins over the Colts. He has crunch-time grit and that counts a lot in my book. Brees is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. I just think a guy who has scored wins over Peyton Manning in consecutive playoff seasons deserves respect.

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