Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Jens from Mexico City, Mexico:
Will Maurice Drew be able to carry the ball 20-25 times a game?
Vic: The answer to that question may define Maurice Drew's career. One look at the kid and you believe the answer to that question is yes. The kid is built like a brick tool shed. He's nearly 210 pounds and it's all muscle. So why wasn't he used as a carry-the-load running back at UCLA? He had a great yards-per-carry average. UCLA would probably tell you his role as a runner was restricted because of his role as a pass-catcher and return man, but I'm not sure I'm buying that excuse. Maybe Drew was the victim of size bias or maybe UCLA knows you just can't use him as a feature back and expect him to perform at the same high level as a pass-catcher and return man. UCLA also had another running back, Chris Markey, with whom Drew split time. Markey gained 5.1 yards per carry; Drew averaged 4.9, so, splitting time was certainly justified. I don't understand what 5-7 has to do with durability. If he was 5-7, 180, yeah, that would make sense, but he's as thickly and as powerfully built as any player you will ever see. He's intriguing. I'm looking forward to seeing him play in the preseason. In fact, I think he's going to be one of the feature players of training camp at one of the feature positions of training camp. Who's going to be "The Man" at running back? Is Fred Taylor fully recovered from his knee surgery of 2005 and ready to be the full-time guy at running back? Is Greg Jones going to push for the job? What's Drew's role going to be? At this point in time, I don't think 20-25 carries a game is an important issue for Drew. He's not going to be asked to carry the ball that much; not at least this year. What about the future? If he's a successful runner for the Jaguars, can he be a feature back? There's no way to know just by looking at his size. There's a lot more to it than just size. Emmitt Smith proved that to us.
Vincent from Jacksonville:
They say athletes have become bigger and faster. Do you believe this because I suspect you've been doing this for a long time and could elaborate on the evolution of the professional football player.
Vic: Pro football players are definitely bigger than they were 30 years ago. They are amazingly bigger and stronger. I think you could make that claim about players in any sport. Faster? I think they're probably a little faster because their training for the 40-yard time trials is more specific and intense than it was for the players of 30 years ago. There are actually camps that prepare players for the scouting combine workout regime. All of the training mechanisms are better and more intense than they were 30 years ago. That's the main reason players are bigger, stronger and, maybe, faster. I say maybe because there were a lot of fast players in the league three decades ago. Where do you find a back today any bigger, stronger and faster than Earl Campbell was? O.J. Simpson was a world-class sprinter. At wide receiver, you had Cliff Branch, Lynn Swann, Isaac Curtis, Roger Carr, Johnny "Lam" Jones, Wesley Walker, Stanley Morgan, Paul Warfield, etc. Those are guys who could run. Their speed would translate very competitively to today's game. The big thing is that the style and pace of play today is so much faster. That's the big difference. Thirty years ago, the passing game was all seven-yard drops and long-developing routes. It was a power game built on big backs and strong-armed quarterbacks. That's one thing nobody talks about; the arm strength of quarterbacks. A lot of the starting quarterbacks of today would've been backups or not even in the league 30 years ago because their arms just aren't strong enough to have played that game. We're talking about bump-and-run coverage and the ball had to travel a long distance and very quickly to fit it into extremely tight coverage. Trent Green is the perfect example. I wonder if he could've played in that game. He would've had to play, for example, for Miami, which had a power running game with Csonka, Kiick and Morris. Bob Griese didn't have the strongest arm, but, of course, he only threw seven passes in Super Bowl VIII. I discourage comparing players of then to players of now. What you should compare is the game of then to the game of now. There were only 26 teams in the league until 1976, and some would say there were still only 26 teams in the league for a few more years after that. The draft was 17 rounds until 1977 when it was shortened to 12. Training camp rosters were unlimited, regular season rosters had dipped as low as 38 at one point in the '70's and there was no salary cap. What do you think the competition was like? That's the big difference. The job competition was so much more intense back then. Ask any of the veteran players who went on strike during the training camp of 1974. The supply of players was far greater than the demand and that situation always benefits the game.
Nathan from Richardson, TX:
Barry Sanders, great player, awful team.
Vic: And that's why Barry Sanders never fully got the attention or the credit he deserved.
Bill from Ware, MA:
So which do you prefer, a "mauler" or a "technician?"
Vic: I'd like a combination of the two. A "mauler" isn't accomplished enough and a "technician" can tend to be too soft, though not always. What I want in an offensive lineman is a guy who can get out ahead of the ball-carrier, run and drop his pads. That's my idea of a true in-line blocker. If he can do that, he can pass-block. I like Will Shields and Alan Faneca. If Jon Ogden was a more intense guy he might've become the best run-blocking tackle of all-time. Tony Boselli played in a stretch-blocking scheme that didn't fully utilize his athletic abilities as a run-blocker. Tony could've been much more than a road-grader. Leon Searcy, because he was squat and powerful, was sensational at pulling across the line and blowing open a hole. I loved to watch Leon play. John Hannah was the best pulling and trapping lineman I have ever seen and there have been a ton of great ones. No center has ever gotten out ahead of the ball-carrier better than Mike Webster. Webbie would be 25 yards downfield still blocking.
Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
You had us sweating bullets during the CBA ordeal as to if it didn't get signed it would be the end. Then it got signed but the small markets will still be in the red. So where exactly did the Jags benefit from the deal?
Vic: The Jaguars will benefit from an incremental revenue-sharing strategy. It's a plan that will limit all teams' player costs (salary cap spending) to 65 percent of each team's total gross revenue. Any team that spends above the 65 percent level will receive a rebate from the league for what that team spent over that level. It's a good program but it won't nearly make up for what teams such as the Jaguars lost when the league failed to adopt a revenue-sharing program that includes "local revenue." That's a killer because the league is going from a DGR (designated gross revenue) model to a TFR (total football revenue) model. That means all teams will have to include items such as premium-seat revenue in the share category with players, who will take 60 percent of that money (in the Jaguars' case, the players' cut will represent about 65 percent of the Jaguars' gross revenue). Just look at it this way: For every million dollars of premium-seat money the Jaguars wouldn't have had to share with the players in the past, the Jaguars will now surrender $600,000 to the players. What that means, in my opinion, is that $600,000 immediately becomes red ink, unless, of course, the teams finds new revenue streams to make up for that loss. Where are you going to find new revenue streams in a small market to make up for that kind of loss?
Jeff from Westminster, CO:
Since the Jags are well under the cap, not likely to spend a lot of money on free agents and will spend all their cap eventually, do you see them re-structuring any contracts or re-signing any key players to long-term deals?
Vic: This becomes the year that a new contract for Byron Leftwich starts to become an issue. He's got two years left on his contract. It's not a panic situation, but you'd rather he not go into the final year of his contract when the 2007 season begins. Saving some of their cap money might be a smart thing for the Jaguars. It might be needed if Byron hits a "home run" this year.
Dave from St Augustine, FL:
In response to Armando, what was Joe Montana's 40 time?
Vic: I don't know but understand this, Joe Montana was a sensational athlete. He's perceived as some little guy with no arm and a magic wand, but nothing could be further from the truth. He was recruited as a high school player in 1974 by Notre Dame in football and North Carolina State – in their national title year – in basketball. When you're recruited by Notre Dame in football and the soon-to-be national champions in basketball, I think it can be said that you are a premium athlete. Nobody could do more things athletically than Montana. On top of that, he was one of the toughest players the game has ever known. Johnny Unitas is famous for sticking mud up his broken nose to stop the bleeding, but Montana's recovery from back surgery was every bit as dramatic. He played with a back that would keep most guys off the golf course. Forty time? I'll bet you it was real good, but does it matter? I'll give you a more important test: the toughness test. For quarterbacks, it's more about toughness than it is about speed.
Charles from Jacksonville:
Where can I find out what days and times the Jags' mini-camp will be open to the public?
Vic: The Jaguars will hold their 2006 mini-camp on May 12-14 on the practice fields at Alltel Stadium. The Friday afternoon practice will be open to the public for the first time, and both practices on Saturday will be open to fans for the third straight year. Practices are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. all three days and at 4:15 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Free parking will be available in Lot P on the west side of Alltel Stadium.
Steve from Jacksonville:
People probably don't ask about Peyton Manning's 40 time because he has averaged 30.5 TD passes a season and 4,148 yards passing a season, compared to 14.6 TD passes a season and 2,628 yards passing for Leftwich. An unbiased reporter would have recognized the difference there.
Vic: Are you an unbiased reporter?
Nick from Las Vegas, NV:
What's going to take place during this three-day mini-camp starting May 12?
Vic: Rookies are going to be introduced – and veterans are going to be re-introduced – to the Jaguars' practice and meetings regimen. The young guys are going to find out real fast how things are done at Alltel Stadium. They're going to learn how to practice and how to pay attention and they'll get a dose of how hot and humid it gets in north Florida in the summer.
Lee from Neptune Beach, FL:
How large is the press box and who decides who gets in?
Vic: It's large enough to host a Super Bowl. It was built with that in mind. The Jaguars communications department decides who to credential. The press box is restricted to accredited media, advance scouts and NFL game personnel. Free hot dogs are available to all those who receive press box credentials.