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It's called tough love

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

Mandy from Tallahassee, FL:
Could our first game of the season against the Broncos be one of the most, if not the most important game in our 16-year history? We have been season-ticket holders for over five years and my husband and I will be at every game, win or lose, but I can't help get the feeling that all of this great vibe will be crushed if the Jags should fall during the first game because the fair-weather fan is impatient.

Vic: You're attaching too much importance to one game. I'll concede that it would be very difficult to get off to a fast start without winning the opener against Denver, but if the fans are so impatient that a loss in the opener would cause them to lose their energy for the rest of the season, well, then this isn't gonna work. I'm not big on expectations. As I'm fond of saying, I like to watch. What that means is that I'll be there every Sunday to observe what I believe is the reconstruction and redevelopment of a roster. If I have an expectation it's that young, long-term fixtures in the lineup will continue to emerge and, if that happens, it's just a matter of time before the Jaguars will become a championship team. The Jaguars have taken a very aggressive line with their expectations and I think part of the intent is to send a message to their fans that a championship is the goal. It's just not part of my naturally-cynical sportswriter's personality to think like that. I deal in reality and the reality, in my opinion, is that the Jaguars are a team on the rise that has miles to go before the mountaintop comes into view. I would encourage fans to take that approach. It keeps you balanced and, more importantly, more able to observe and appreciate the ride to the top.

Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
Is the "Pot Roast" Knighton weight issue going to be a big deal or just an early training camp story?

Vic: It appears it's going to be a big deal in Terrance Knighton's career. It was one of the questions about him coming out of Temple: Can he control his weight? Knighton is a sensational football player. I am knocked out by his ability to move his mass as quickly and as gracefully as he does. He is the perfect blend of power and quickness but he has to understand that he will have a short career if he doesn't control his weight. For him, food is money. Every bite of bad food will cost him money. A true pro wouldn't let that happen because a true pro plays for the money. It's my hope that Knighton will come to understand his value and appreciate the dedication required to maximize that value. It's about the money.

John from Brooklyn, NY:
How has Aaron Kampman looked in camp so far?

Vic: They don't come any more hard-working. Kampman is everything I'd like Knighton to become. Kampman's physique for a guy who's been in the league nine years is extraordinary. He eats right, he trains right, he thinks right. If that's what's meant by leadership, then I'm all for it because it's easily visible for his teammates to see and it sets the perfect example of what a professional football player is. It's the kind of silent leadership I respect. As far as recovery from his knee reconstruction of last December, I can tell you that Kampman shows no effect of having had even minor surgery. He truly is a physical marvel. He glides through drills. He has the bounce in his step that you would expect of a rookie. His body language is perfect. One question remains: Has he regained his explosion in that knee? A pass-rusher has to have it to have a quick first step. We probably won't know until we're well into the season.

Ricky from Altavista, VA:
Please post a video of Manuwai and Alualu in the Oklahoma drill, if possible.

Vic: I've made the request to the IT boys that shoot that stuff.

Margy from Jacksonville:
"I've got a crush on you." Sometimes you just crack me up.

Vic: Oh, Margy.

Carter from Fernandina Beach, FL:
In your video on the Oklahoma drill, you had a short snippet of Ko Quaye and his matchup with Cecil Newton. From what I could see, Quaye looked impressive with pads into Newton's chest, a good leg drive to push Newton back. What did you see from Quaye?

Vic: In the first fall, I saw a guy who tried to get cute, and that's not Quaye's game. He tried to duck Newton and go around Newton's right side. In so doing, Quaye took himself out of the play. It just won't work in this league. The backs are too fast. They'll be through the hole before you can get around the block. Quaye must be a quick learner because on the next play he came off the ball hard and low. He put his mask into Newton's chest, raised him, shed him and slid into the ball-carrier to make the stop. It was textbook. I am becoming a huge Ko Quaye fan. When you first look at him, you assume he's not very athletic, but watch him in the bags drill. Whoa! He turns the corner like a sports car.

Shan from Jacksonville:
Reading your article about the Roger Goodell visit bothers me. I'm sorry but I had to write in and ask this question: Your question that you asked Goodell, that if the Jacksonville community would sell out the stadium each year could he guarantee the Jaguars would stay in Jacksonville. His response to your question tells me it's not just about selling tickets here in Jacksonville. The NFL just doesn't want a team in a small market. His answer to your question should have prompted him to say that a sellout represents a town that loves their team and the NFL wouldn't move a team that supports the franchise. He didn't say that. He stated that this team would be successful. Am I over analyzing this too much?

Vic: I, too, found his answer to be curious and I think it deserves analysis. After sitting a few feet from the commissioner and Wayne Weaver and observing both during that press conference, this is my analysis of the answer to my question and of the tenor that accompanied all of the answers to all of the questions: It's called tough love. Goodell was supportive of Jacksonville but he wasn't going to baby it. He reaffirmed his belief in Jacksonville but he challenged the fan base to be worthy of that belief. I asked my question shortly after another question was asked. A TV reporter spoke of Jacksonville having suffered a perfect storm of a bad economy and a rebuilding team last year, and that the rash of blackouts was a one-year blip, yet, Jacksonville's ticket-selling problem has been singled out by the media, despite the fact that other markets have also struggled. I think the TV reporter was expecting Goodell to reply with some kind of warm and fuzzy remark, but he sure didn't do that. "If it's a one-year blip due to a perfect storm, then this is a great opportunity to demonstrate that," Goodell countered. Zing! They could've turned off the air-conditioning in the room because suddenly there was a chill in the air. Again, it's called tough love and it doesn't allow for excuses. I've been trying to get that message across for years: no more excuses. Yesterday, I think the commissioner made that point most dramatically.

Paul from Jacksonville:
Since Mike Smith left, we have not had a coach that has one of those voices you can hear from 50 yards away and immediately recognize, until we got Joe Cullen.

Vic: Mike Smith isn't a holler guy. I can't remember ever having heard him raise his voice. Mike would stand behind his secondary and observe. Occasionally, he would come forward and comment. Mike is a teacher. All coaches are teachers and they have different techniques. Joe Cullen is gaining a lot of acclaim for his vocal intensity, but he's not a successful coach because he hollers a lot. Look at his drills. They're cutting-edge stuff. They're inventive. I've never seen most of them before. You're not going to holler players into playing well. Chuck Noll didn't permit whistles or horns at his practices. He thought they demeaned men. Players respect coaches who teach. Whether a guy is loud or soft is just part of his personality. Teaching technique is what it's all about and Cullen is a master of technique.

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