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Jags following script

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

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I'm glad the Jaguars have refused to sell tickets to brokers but, as a season ticket holder who is loyal, I am also disheartened by the local fan apathy. I will admit that while I hated seeing all of those Steelers fans in our stadium for that Sunday night game in 2004, I couldn't help but be envious of their passion for their team. Do you think we will ever be in a position where tickets are hard to get?

Vic: Yes, I believe it will happen. It's going to take time but it'll happen. One day, Jacksonville is going to have the last laugh on all of this.

Drew from Jacksonville:
I was wondering what your take is on end zone celebrations? If you were making the rule, what would it be?

Vic: I don't like any of that stuff but I know a lot of fans want the dances and celebrations so I'm OK with whatever the league decides. If I don't wanna see something, I don't look.

Marilyn from Jacksonville:
Please explain compensatory draft picks and how they are allotted to teams.

Vic: Draft picks are awarded as compensation to teams that were judged to have sustained a net loss in free agency the previous year. For example, this year the Jaguars have signed Brian Williams to a contract that included a $10 million signing bonus and lost Akin Ayodele when he signed a contract with the Cowboys that included a $5 million signing bonus. The performance of the players teams added or lost in free agency is also factored into the compensatory picks equation. Weighing the Jaguars' gains and losses in free agency this year, it would appear the Jaguars are headed for a net gain, which means the Jaguars probably won't be awarded any compensatory draft picks next year, just as they weren't awarded any for this year. In other words, the Jaguars are clearly in the accumulation stage. Now use Pittsburgh as the opposite example, since the Steelers were judged to have sustained the greatest losses in free agency last year and, as a result, received three of the top eight compensatory picks awarded in this year's draft. The Steelers got two fourth-round picks and a fifth after their losses were weighed against their gains. They lost Plaxico Burress, Kendrell Bell, Oliver Ross and Keydrick Vincent and signed Cedrick Wilson.

Dennis from Orlando, FL:
I recently moved back to Orlando after living in Jacksonville for three years and became a Jags fan, in large part due to your coverage of the team. Would you be open to meeting up with some Jag fans before you skip town?

Vic: You got to me too late. I would've done it for sure. By the way, I like Orlando. I enjoyed my stay.

Josh from Jacksonville:
Do you think at pick number 28 we can find a linebacker who can start immediately?

Vic: Yes, I do. This is a great year for linebackers. Unless there's some kind of ungodly run on linebackers in the first round, I would expect the Jaguars to get what they need to fill the void at weakside linebacker. You know, weakside linebacker isn't a premium position. The skills required of a weakside linebacker aren't that special. You'd like him to have the speed to chase down plays and the grit to take on and defeat blocks, but he doesn't have to be especially good in pass-coverage, as you would expect of a strongside linebacker. You should be able to find a weakside guy in any draft, let alone in one as strong at linebacker as this one is.

J.D. from St. Augustine, FL:
While I'm excited about this year's draft and free agency, I'd love to see an analysis of last year's offseason acquisitions. Could you rate the Jags' free-agent pickups from last year?

Vic: The Jaguars signed three unrestricted free agents: Reggie Hayward, Kenny Wright and Tony Williams. Hayward got big money and was a top performer for the Jags last season. He's exactly what they needed at defensive end. He's also a good guy in the locker room and there's no regretting the money the Jaguars spent to sign him. Wright was a stop-gap acquisition and he did just what he was signed to do. He bought the Jaguars time until they could address the position long-term. Williams didn't make the team but the Jags didn't spend much on him. Terry Cousin, Martin Chase, Marcellus Wiley and Nate Wayne were also signed, but they had been cut prior to the start of free agency so they didn't apply to compensatory pick consideration. Cousin was clearly a home-run acquisition. All indications in free agency so far this year are that the Jaguars are following last year's script. The Jaguars spent big on Brian Williams to address a critical need at the start of free agency, but since then the team has settled into a more measured shopping mode.

Desmond from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What do you think it will take for Jacksonville fans to embrace their quarterback? Does he have to win a Super Bowl before he gets any respect from the bashers?

Vic: That wouldn't do it. His critics are life-long. Fortunately, Byron Leftwich has a powerfully positive personality. He refuses to be dragged down by criticism. He has the ability to block out boos and focus entirely on his job. He gets it. He knows he has to win. He knows nothing else matters.

Michelle from Jacksonville:
What do you think were the most interesting topics at the owners meetings?

Vic: The most interesting topics are the search for a new commissioner and the status of preparing Los Angeles to receive a team. Those topics, however, will be more fully addressed at the May meeting in Denver. On Monday, I asked Commissioner Paul Tagliabue when it's expected Los Angeles will be ready for play and Tagliabue said he would answer that question at the May meeting. The Los Angeles situation becomes more intriguing with each meeting.

Matt from Gainesville, FL:
Jim Rome just called Jacksonville a yahoo town with an NFL team on his show. Something must be done.

Vic: As I said, if I don't wanna see something, I don't look. As I was writing this column, I was sitting with my friend Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. We were each writing our final stories from the owners meetings before we packed up and left Orlando. When I read your e-mail, I turned to Ed and asked him what he thought of Jacksonville. He said he considered it a booming area with great beaches. I asked him if he liked Jacksonville and he said, "I love it." Ed is one of the most esteemed beat reporters in the NFL. His endorsement of Jacksonville should make you proud.

Roger from Jacksonville:
I see the owners have implemented a rule to protect quarterbacks' legs. Under the new rule, would a penalty have been called on the play last season when Leftwich broke his ankle?

Vic: My visual account of that play isn't good enough for me to answer your question. Here's what I can tell you about "2006 playing rule proposal number three." Effect: prohibits low hits on the quarterback when a rushing defender has an opportunity to avoid such contact. Reason: quarterback safety. The amended rule now reads: "A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting a passer who has one or both feet on the ground in the knee area or below, even if the initial contact is above the knee. It is not a foul if the defender is blocked into the passer and has no opportunity to avoid him." The amendment passed, 25-7. The rule will be remembered as the "Carson Palmer rule," but, ironically, Kimo von Oelhoffen would not have been flagged on the play because he was judged to have been blocked into Palmer. I don't like the amendment. All they did was lengthen the quarterback's skirt.

Larry from St. Marys, GA:
What more do we want? Jaguars ticket prices are at the bottom of the league, we had a terrific 12-4 team last year, you couldn't dream up a better schedule this year, Mr. Weaver and the Jaguars have expressed and proven their commitment to the city time and again, and the team has improved in the offseason. But season ticket renewals are only at 60 percent. What else can we ask for?

Vic: I don't view the renewal situation as a snub or rejection. I view it as people dragging their feet. We'll have our answer on April 7, which is the next renewal deadline.

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