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Is Detroit really important?

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

Charles from Jacksonville:
Looks like 16 players or 30 percent of the 53-man roster are new to the Jaguars. Does that figure tend to be higher for teams with a healthy salary cap?

Vic: I would think that figure would be highest for a team such as the 2002 Jaguars, which is to say a team that's been forced to gut its roster because of a bad salary cap situation. The number of "new" Jaguars is actually 14, and I consider that to be below average for a team with a healthy salary cap. The reason for the low turnover is simple: The Jaguars only lost one player in free agency, Bob Whitfield.

Tri from Jacksonville:
How about a history lesson? Who else did the Jags consider for their first head coach? Tom Coughlin was obviously the correct choice but what about him attracted the Jags and how long had he been the head coach at Boston College?

Vic: Tony Dungy was Tom Coughlin's top competition. The decision came down to Coughlin or Dungy and Wayne Weaver chose Coughlin based on the strength of his personality, organizational skills and reputation for running a tight ship. Weaver told me some years ago that in hiring his first coach he wanted to select a man who possessed the skills Weaver would seek in a CEO. Coughlin is a micro-manager and I believe he was very good for this team in the way of establishing a sound foundation of operation. As I've said before, Coughlin's only mistake was having lost control of the salary cap, and that may have been a result of the franchise's eyes being too big for its stomach. A more patient approach would've probably been better for the long haul; but, maybe not. Coughlin was the head coach at Boston College for three years before coming to the Jaguars. He rose to prominence with his 1993 win over Notre Dame, which cost Notre Dame the national championship.

Roger from Jacksonville:
I recall several occasions last season, and in the off-season, when you spoke highly of the Texans, equating them with the Jaguars as teams "on the rise" and predicting a change of order in the AFC South. However, your power rankings have the Texans in the lowest third and most other prognosticators seem to agree. Is their emergence just a couple of years away or have Houston's offseason personnel moves and draft changed your opinion?

Vic: I'll jump back on the Texans' bandwagon very quickly, as soon as they do something to cause it. They have talent. I like their coaches. Their salary cap is sound and they have strong ownership. Now, all of that has to translate into wins. David Carr would seem to be the man responsible for winning. He had the league's 12th-ranked run game last year and he has one of the league's hot, new deep threats in Andre Johnson. The Texans have gone out of their way to fix their defense this offseason, drafting defensive tackle Travis Johnson in the first round, signing linebacker Morlon Greenwood in free agency and trading for cornerback Phillip Buchanon. I think the rest is up to Carr, the first pick of the draft in 2002, who didn't turn the corner quite as dramatically in 2004 as I expected he would. Maybe this will be the year Carr breaks through. If it is, this could be the Texans' year to break through, too. My ranking of them is a wait-and-see approach. I need some proof now.

Alan from Orange Park, FL:
You commented that the color of the uniform wouldn't make a difference and challenged us to stand out in the sun with a black shirt on and then with a white shirt. I have sat in section 244 since the beginning of the franchise and I can tell you that I have totally fried in a black shirt while a white shirt gave me a little respite from the heat. Have you actually done what you suggested while at an entire game?

Vic: I have stood out on the practice field at training camp in white shirts and in black shirts, and I have played golf in the middle of the day in July in white shirts and black shirts, and I can't tell the difference except for one thing: White tends to attract bugs. I'm not going to argue with the experts. If they say dark colors make you hotter, then so be it. I'm just saying I'm really tired of hearing about it. It sounds cheesy.

Igor from Jacksonville:
Why does the NFL have Pro-Bowl players and All-Pro players? What's the difference and why have an All-Pro announcement when we already have Pro-Bowlers?

Vic: All-Pro is best in the league, Pro-Bowl is best in the conference. The NFL doesn't announce an All-Pro team. Individual services provide All-Pro awards. The Associated Press does an All-Pro team.

John from Newport News, VA:
You say we can see the cap issue coming for a team like the Colts in the near future. Is it a cycle in the life of an NFL team to at some point have cap problems?

Vic: A lot of people will tell you that, yes, salary cap problems are cyclical; that they are the product of winning and a roster with a lot of celebrated veterans. I kind of agree but I won't entirely accept that explanation. I think it would be defeatist to do so. New England and Philadelphia have done a lot of winning in recent years but their caps are in good shape because they have stayed ahead of trouble by signing players such as Tom Brady long before they've reached the ends of their contracts, and they haven't been afraid to make bold decisions, such as trading Drew Bledsoe, cutting Lawyer Milloy, letting Jeremiah Trotter go in free agency and taking the franchise tag off Corey Simon. What's the key to defeating cap inevitability? Draft well, keep your star players locked up long-term, don't push money out and stay away from expensive free agents. I refuse to accept the inevitability of cap problems, just as I refuse to accept the inevitability of the draft order.

Marcus from Vancouver, BC:
Great job on your power rankings. How much weight does Jacksonville's schedule hold on their number 10 ranking? Ten seems like a safe ranking for Jacksonville because I really anticipate this being a rough schedule for us.

Vic: I'm amazed by people's reactions to polls. All I did was throw some thoughts out there. I had to put the Jaguars in my top six of AFC teams because my expectation is for the Jaguars to make the playoffs. In my opinion, it's most important that your power rankings reflect your expectations, and it's very easy to make mistakes of contradiction. For me, it's most important to get the Jaguars right. Bear in mind, please, that this week's power rankings are just a starting point. They'll be adjusted every week for the next 17 weeks. I think they're fun but I'm stunned by the number of strong e-mails I get from people who are genuinely angered by what I've done. Last year, I had Atlanta very high in my initial power rankings and I was bombarded by e-mails that said Michael Vick was a lousy quarterback and that the Falcons stink. Yeah, all the way to the NFC title game. I also had New Orleans high in my rankings and I sure missed on that one, just as I missed on Pittsburgh and San Diego, who I had very low. The big complaint I'm getting about this year's initial power ranking is that I have Detroit at 31, and I'm amazed that people would be so outraged by a low ranking for such a non-factor team as the Lions. If they beat the Packers, I'll switch those two teams' places next week. As you can tell, I don't have a high opinion of the Packers, either. In fact, at some point this season I may combine the bottom three spots into one ranking at 30 and give it to the bottom three teams in the NFC North.

David from Jacksonville:
I thought your take on people showing up this week is off-base. I am really disappointed in your journalism with this article. No one knows what the severity is going to be on Sunday. If it's a really rainy day, then the fans will be there. If it is more than just a rainstorm and something that could jeopardize someone' safety, then good luck to you, buddy, because you will be the only nut there. I'm tired of you bashing the Jag fans about the (Texans) game. The fans were there, buddy. So who are you talking to? I was there and I wasn't in a press box where I can't cheer for my home team, either.

Vic: I'm sorry you didn't like the column.

Bryan from Jacksonville:
I liked your article, "Yellow's a good color." That's destined to be a classic. You really make the city proud. Keep up the good work.

Vic: I'm glad you liked the column.

Howard from Homestead, FL:
I just wanted you to know that I can't be a season ticket holder because I'm a pastor and my Sundays are booked, but I can plan one vacation a year around a Jaguars game and this Sunday, I'll be there. No storm could keep me away. I'll sit through a hurricane if need be. If the house isn't packed, I'll never understand. No more excuses.

Vic: Put down your Bible and put on your poncho, Howard.

Heikki from Brussels, Belgium:
To keep it short and sweet, is it entirely impossible the New York Jets won't move to Los Angeles? Your column is an absolute religion for me. That is maybe because I have no life.

Vic: You're talking about moving a team that sells every seat for every game for every season and moving it to a city that arrives late and leaves early. In fact, what I see is the Jets actually moving back to New York City. The Jets have been in New Jersey long enough. New York needs a team within its boundaries.

Pete from Jacksonville:
Vic, good news, I am successfully engrafted with new marrow and finally home. There's still more to do to fully recuperate but I feel I have a new lease on life. Again, I thank all "Ask Vic" readers for their prayers and e-mails and pray that those affected from the aftermath of Katrina find hope knowing that New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast will rise again like a phoenix from the ashes. Vic, you talk of how there is a fraternity among those in pro football. Well, I see that there's a common kinship among cancer survivors and, beyond that, Americans helping each other in times of disaster. Anyways, football season is finally here and blackout, sellout or not, I know I'll be tuning in to listen to Jaguars football. Hey, Vic, are you ready for some football?

Vic: Whatever they gave you in that hospital, I want some.

Don from Richmond, KY:
I'm a climatologist originally from Mayport, Fla., who is now a professor in Kentucky. With regard to Ophelia … expect heavy rain and gusty winds during the game. This storm is not expected to become another Katrina or anything close to it. There is no worry about an impending disaster. Fans should be happy they're not going to be roasting in the hot Florida sun and remember it is their duty to show their support by filling the stadium on Sunday.

Vic: Every year at this time my body goes into a knot and stays that way until November. I'd rather have snow.

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