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First big opportunity

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

Bill from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What can the real Jags fans do to thank Wayne Weaver? Shouldn't he get the keys to the city or some sort of parade? Clearly there is no way the NFL would be here if it weren't for Mr. Weaver. For everyone who remembers Jacksonville before the Jaguars, I offer a heartfelt thanks to the Weaver family.

Vic: What can you do? Buy a ticket.

Carole from Jacksonville:
I've been going to all kinds of football games since I was two years old (thanks to my dad), but I still don't know what the "nickel defense" is. And now, after reading the question from Bruce from St. Simon's, GA, I see there is a "nickel defense" with an extra linebacker. Could you explain to a female, diehard football fan just what all that is? It would really be appreciated.

Vic: "Nickel defense" is so named because it employs five defensive backs. It was the first of the substitution packages to be created for specific situations, such as third-and-long obvious passing downs. It is a 1960's creation, I believe. Normally, the fifth defensive back replaces a linebacker. In the 3-3-5 the Jaguars used against the Seahawks, the fifth defensive back replaced a defensive lineman. It's not a big deal. Don't ever feel inadequate because you don't know all of the game's terminologies and strategies. It's not about plays, it's about players. Football is a game of human confrontation. Find out who's winning those battles and you know all you need to know about the game you're watching.

Brandon from Palatka, FL:
Do you think the Jaguars still have to prove themselves by winning the Colts game?

Vic: The Jaguars will have several opportunities to prove themselves this season. Sunday's game in Indianapolis is the first of those opportunities.

Brian from Chicago, IL:
On the last defensive play of the opener, Reggie Hayward hit Matt Hasselbeck and forced a fumble. Will that hit be officially counted as a sack and will he be credited with a forced fumble?

Vic: The play was originally designated an interception and not a fumble; Paul Spicer was credited with the interception. Because it was ruled an interception, Reggie Hayward was not credited with a sack. The ruling, however, was changed on Wednesday to a fumble, which took the interception away from Spicer and gave him a fumble recovery, and credited Hayward with a sack and a forced fumble. The league reviews such plays at the request of coaching staffs.

Maggie from Honolulu, HI:
This is going to sound really dumb (my husband is rolling his eyes at me), but why is there an "inactive" list? I figured, coach Del Rio did all his cutting a couple of weeks ago and that should be it. As you can see, where I am from, I was so sad to see that Chad Owens was "deactivated."

Vic: Roster size has always been a major issue in collective bargaining negotiations between owners and the players union. The players, obviously, want larger rosters because it increases the union's membership and dues collections. The owners, obviously, want to limit roster size because that limits salaries they have to pay. The current strategy of a 45-man active roster and eight deactivated players is a compromise of the two factions' interests. Competitive balance is another issue. The reservoir of inactives makes sure each team can field the same number of healthy players. If all 53 players were active and one team had five injuries and the other team had none, then the one team would have a five-player advantage.

Dave from Jacksonville:
Vic, great article and quote by Mike Peterson about how the Colts purposely ducked the Jags by pulling their starters in week 18. It shows you are a very smart journalist to squeeze that in quietly.

Vic: I've never met a good quote I didn't use. Had I been writing a story on nuclear fission, I would've somehow fit that quote into the story.

Angela from Jacksonville:
I noticed people are complaining again about the lack of Jaguars prime-time games when they really should just be concerned with buying tickets. I was curious on how the addition of the Bud Zone impacted the Jaguars bottom dollar. How many seats did the Bud Zone add?

Vic: The Bud Zone isn't a seating area, it's a bar. I'm sure it has significantly added to the Jaguars bottom line.

James from Hernando, MS:
How do you think Fred Taylor and his knee will hold up against the Colts defense and their artificial turf?

Vic: Fred Taylor reports that his knee is fine. It's to his advantage that the RCA Dome converted to Field Turf this year. It's a softer, more forgiving artificial surface, which the players like. Taylor practices on it at Alltel Stadium.

William from Jacksonville:
We are always told by the national media who the best head coaches are in the NFL, which tends to be the hot coaches with strong rosters. In keeping with your "players in ascent" motto, who do you think are the ascending head coaches and coordinators?

Vic: All you really have to do is look at the standings to answer this question. From the young ranks, however, I would say that Jack Del Rio, Nick Saban, Mike Mularkey, Marvin Lewis, Jim Mora Jr. and John Fox are all ascending guys, and you might put Mike Nolan in that category soon, too. In the coordinator ranks, the young up-and-comers include Mike Smith, Ken Whisenhunt, Tom Clements, Jerry Gray, Mike McCarthy, Eric Mangini, Scott Linehan, Cam Cameron, Brad Childress, Ron Rivera and Sean Payton. By the way, what happened to Norm Chow in Pittsburgh on Sunday? If Carl Smith was a young guy, he'd be on the watch list, too, after the Jaguars' performance against the Seahawks. Tom Moore, in my opinion, remains the dean of all NFL coordinators. There are a lot of great coaches in this league. In fact, they're all great coaches.

Howard from Homestead, FL:
If Vic was king, would NFL games be televised when the stadium is sold out? You've said a few things that make me think the answer would be no.

Vic: I hear people talk all of the time about how government shouldn't interfere with business, and even though I'm someone who believes in a degree of controls, I agree that for the free enterprise system to succeed it has to be able to operate freely. Then along comes Congress with a decision that forces the NFL to give away its product. I'm talking about the 1973 act of Congress that created the blackout rules by which the game continues to abide. In my opinion, it was unconscionable for Congress to do what it did. After all, it's not as though the NFL is a public utility. That '73 act of Congress, in my opinion, was the height of unnecessary government interference. And why did Congress do it? Because they wanted to see the Redskins games. Talk about a gross misuse and abuse of government. I think you know what the answer to your question is. I don't agree with Wayne Weaver that televising games provides a three-hour infomercial. I find it difficult to imagine that anything about the NFL is underexposed.

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