Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Chad from Jacksonville:
Who do you got for the big showdown this weekend, Florida or Alabama?
Vic: I think Florida will win. Florida's line talent is underrated. They have real players up front, on both sides of the ball. They'll match up well against Alabama which, in my opinion, might be a little overrated. Who have they beaten? Clemson got Tommy Bowden fired. Georgia sure didn't turn out to be the team everyone thought they'd be. Tennessee lost to Wyoming. LSU was blown out by Florida, Georgia and Ole Miss and nearly lost to Auburn and Troy, yet, Alabama struggled to beat LSU. Auburn was blown out by West Virginia.
Tom from Melbourne, FL:
How much do the decisions of one draft affect the decisions made in the next draft?
Vic: If you're need-picking, the decisions made in one draft will have a huge impact on the next year's picks. How much did the selection of Byron Leftwich in 2003 impact what the Jaguars did in the following three years' drafts? They selected two wide receivers and a tight end in those years. My favorite example of how need-picking can turn one mistake into two mistakes is what the Steelers did in 1989 and '90. They picked running back Tim Worley in the first round of the '89 draft. The following year, they were in love with Emmitt Smith but, of course, they had picked a running back the previous year so they traded the pick to Dallas and the Cowboys picked Smith. I think you know the rest. BAP-drafting isn't fool-proof, but I like the fact that it treats each draft independently and, therefore, eliminates the domino effect.
Gabe from Jacksonville:
My dad was furious when Matt Jones ran out of bounds after making close to a 10-yard catch instead of lowering his shoulder and taking on the defender. He was not already headed out of bounds. He changed his direction to avoid the hit. Do you criticize his action?
Vic: I don't expect wide receivers to drop their shoulder and knock people back. Hines Ward is the exception. Generally speaking, I expect a wide receiver to get all the yardage he can before he steps out of bounds, but I don't expect him to subject himself to unnecessary punishment.
Kevin from Dunkirk, MD:
What are your thoughts on Jim Zorn throwing his play sheet and cursing after a failed fourth-and-one play vs. the Giants last week?
Vic: What good did it do? Is that supposed to make the fans feel good because the coach is as out of control as they are? I don't want the show, I want the win.
Rob from St. Augustine, FL:
Would you say this upcoming offseason for the Jags will be the most active one in recent years?
Vic: No, I wouldn't. In fact, I think we just came out of one of the most active offseasons in Jaguars history. I don't think the Jaguars will be nearly as active in free agency as they were last offseason, and I don't think they'll trade away half of their draft class to target a guy or two.
Mike from Stratford, CT:
Would an uncapped NFL hurt or help the Jags?
Vic: I think it would help them. I may be wrong on that, but I believe the salary cap system has outlived its usefulness because it hasn't succeeded in its original intent, which was to control spending, which has risen sharply in recent years, leaving low-revenue teams with minimum-cap requirements that all but guarantee losing money. Allowing small-revenue teams to establish their own player-cost limits would safeguard those franchise's futures, in my opinion, and I also believe there's enough football talent in America for teams to be able to compete without having to compete for the high-priced players. In many cases, those guys are on the injured reserve list.
Kamal from Novi, MI:
All coaches endure losing seasons but most of them are resigned and seem apologetic in interviews and with the media. Have you ever seen a coach that takes so much responsibility and remains committed to the "get back to work and turn this thing around" attitude as much as Jack Del Rio does when his team struggles?
Vic: Chuck Noll was the same way. "Help is not on the way," Chuck would say.
Oliver from Germany:
Who are the players the Jags already have that you would like to build the team's future around?
Vic: You're talking about core players; the players who represent the nucleus of your team. I think we all know who they are. David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew are two of them. Rashean Mathis is another. John Henderson was one of the original building blocks when Jack Del Rio became the Jaguars' head coach and Henderson can still be that player but he needs to re-launch his career in 2009. Vince Manuwai is a dominant run-blocker. Every young, high draft pick is a core player: Reggie Nelson, Daryl Smith, Justin Durant, Derrick Harvey, Quentin Groves, Matt Jones, Greg Jones, Marcedes Lewis, etc.
Tim from Springdale, AR:
I'm hoping you will elaborate on what needs to be done in the offseason. I know a draft pick or two is not going to change the 2009 season, but what specifically should be done about the line, the receiving corps, defensive secondary and backup RB and QB?
Vic: Draft and develop; nothing's changed. What holes remain you patch in free agency. That's always been my formula and it still is: Draft, develop and patch. The expensive free agents? I don't want 'em; never have, never will.
George from Jacksonville:
What is your opinion of the way the Jaguars organization is run? Do you think it would be better if the Jaguars only had one person calling the shots or should it continue to be by committee?
Vic: Whatever way works is the way it should be run. Some teams have made it work by committee. Some teams have made it work by the one-voice method. Some teams can't make either one work. The most important thing is that you have scouts who can evaluate and coaches who can teach. If you have those two ingredients, you can probably make any system work. Having said all of that, I think a team needs a dominant voice. He doesn't have to have the title but he has to have the respect that would afford him dominant-voice status. That's usually a guy who knows how to work with people, listen to what they say and respect those opinions, and have the courage to make the call and accept whatever blame might later come with it. If that type of personality doesn't rise naturally within the organization, then one man needs to be so appointed. Every team needs a man who is clearly understood to be that team's leader.
Nishant from Palm Beach Gardens, FL:
What is meant by a "quick kick?"
Vic: It's an old-time strategy for catching an opponent off-guard and gaining field position by punting on, say, third down. In a quick-kick formation, the ball might be snapped or lateraled to a running back who boots it downfield. You want to do it when the defense is pressing the line of scrimmage and doesn't have anyone back to field the punt. It's a strategy that was used when an offense was deep in its own territory and facing third and long. It got to the point that it was used so much in that circumstance that it became predictable. It certainly wouldn't be predictable today. If you had a running back who had punting ability, such as Paul Hornung, you could sure set up a situation to use the quick kick to great advantage. Spread the field with receivers that would force the safeties to come up and cover, then kick something low, hard and end over end that would get some roll on it. So why don't we see it in today's game? Because the punters are so good at their craft that the fall-off from a professional punter to a running back who can punt would be so great that the element of surprise wouldn't make up the difference. Today's game is all about specialization.
Rich from Jacksonville:
What do you or the scouts think about three-time NCAA champion QB Armanti Edwards from Appalachian State? Will he be able to play QB or will he have to switch positions?
Vic: I absolutely love to watch him play. He is an incredibly dominant athlete. I'd love to think a pro team would give him a shot at quarterback, but he's not a classic pocket passer and my guess is that he'll have to play slot receiver. I see Freddie Solomon. I see a Hines Ward or an Antwaan Randle El. I'd love to have him on my team. Think of all the things you could do with him. I remind you, however, that Edwards is only a junior. He's likely to inquire as to what his worth would be in the NFL draft, but my guess is that he'll find out he projects as a late-round pick and that'll cause him to stay in school and play another year. I hope he does stay in school and give App State another year of the glory days.
Michael from Jacksonville:
Knowing Jack Del Rio has never been shy about firing coaches when he thinks it's necessary, what shake-ups do you anticipate on the staff? Do you see stalwarts like Mike Tice and Kennedy Pola possibly being on the chopping block?
Vic: Why would you want to fire two coaches of the quality of Tice and Pola? How would that make your team better? Is this what fans do for entertainment now? They talk about firing coaches? This overreaction to winning and losing is nuts. After the Jaguars won a playoff game last season, everybody wanted to extend everybody and lock 'em up so nobody could get them. Now they wanna fire 'em all. Hey, that kind of emotional overreaction to winning and losing costs a lot of money. Del Rio has an outstanding staff. The staff isn't the problem.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
What's your take on all of the top offensive tackles in this year's upcoming draft? Is this a nice crop?
Vic: Yes, it's another good year for tackles. You never know when the draft is going to go dry at that position so I think it's imperative that the Jaguars position themselves to address their tackle position in next spring's draft. They haven't drafted one since they picked Khalif Barnes in 2005 and that's way too long to go without pickin' a big guy.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
Not many people would have predicted the Giants to win the Super Bowl at this point last season. Give us a team from each conference that you think could be a darkhorse headed into the regular season's fourth quarter.
Vic: The NFC has a nice crop of darkhorse teams. Minnesota, Atlanta and Arizona would all fit into that category. The AFC doesn't have a true darkhorse because it doesn't have a truly dominant team, in my opinion, but if there's one team in the AFC that I think could be a big postseason surprise it's Baltimore. They have what it takes to win in the postseason, which is to say brute strength, and Joe Flacco is growing up real fast. The only question I have with Flacco is will he hit the rookie wall as Ben Roethlisberger did late in his rookie season?
Pete from Port Orange, FL:
If Kurt Warner somehow wins a third MVP this year (it's possible), would you still think he has no shot at the Hall of Fame?
Vic: No, I've changed my mind. I think they should waive the retire-and-wait-five-years rule and induct him immediately. In fact, I'm going to lead a campaign for Warner's immediate induction. Never mind that every team – Packers, Rams, Giants, Cardinals – for which he has played has either replaced him or attempted to replace him; clearly, didn't want him to be their quarterback. That's normal with great players, right? The important thing is the MVP awards. It doesn't matter that Warner's record as a starting quarterback over the last seven years is 20-34. The important thing is that somehow we have to find a way to get this guy into the Hall of Fame because Matt Cassel had a bad game last week and he's probably not going to make it in now. So, I surrender. Induct Warner immediately and put his bust right between Unitas' and Montana's because Warner is, without a doubt, one of the all-time greats.