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Jaguars were tough to assess

Join *Jaguars Inside Report *Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.


Clayton Roberson, III from Jacksonville:**
I've been a die-hard Jags fan since the opening season. This year's team doesn't seem to deserve the hard criticism that it has been getting in the media. No one is predicting us to go anywhere. ESPN rated us as one of the "long-shot hopefuls." I believe this team is good enough to make it to the playoffs and contend in them. Am I just being blinded by my bias for the team, or are we really as average as the media is making us out to be?

Vic: The Jaguars were anything but average in their win over the Steelers. They had the clear look of a championship contender. Of course, that's just one game. The media has no bias against the Jaguars. You must remember that the Jaguars finished 7-9 last season and underwent massive salary-cap problems this past winter that resulted in the loss of roster depth. The Jaguars' hopes for this season were tough to assess. They had suffered losses, but they had retained their strong core of star players. The media weighed those two facts and chose a middle-ground prediction for this team. Time will tell.

Tim McClellan from Jacksonville:
Jump ahead to the offseason in 2002. You are the general manager of the Jags, facing the task of getting the team under the cap. What players are prime targets to be cut to make room under the cap? Kevin Hardy is one obvious choice. Who else is going to be on the block when the eventual reality sets in that we need to truly begin the rebuilding process?

Vic: Kevin Hardy's contract will be voided the day before the 2002 league calendar begins. He won't have to be cut; he'll be an unrestricted free agent. I think it's too early to target specific players, though Hardy Nickerson's and Renaldo Wynn's contracts are such that they can not be included, as is, on next year's cap. The only way, in my opinion, the Jaguars can repair their cap is to release a small group of players for each of the next three years, and replace them with minimum-wage, non-bonus players. It almost has to be that way because the players the Jaguars will be releasing will have bonus amortization remaining on the Jaguars cap, and in every case their salaries have already been reduced to minimum wage. In my opinion, it's the only sensible way to clean the pipes, which is what has to happen. This team can not afford any more cash-over-cap players. However, the release of big-contract veterans must be kept to a small group of players per year, if the team wants to remain competitive.

Jon-Michael Harris from Starke:
I know the NFL has strict rules about which positions wear certain numbers. Why is this? I know that in football the offense should have

linemen wearing certain numbers. Why does the defense need to have those rules? One more question. How do some players get around these rules; for example, Keyshawn Johnson?

Vic: Keyshawn Johnson is permitted to wear number 19 because he was "grandfathered" under the old rule. Wide receivers must now wear numbers in the 80's only, but the rule didn't change until after Johnson was in the league. Numbers for positions have been standardized for several reasons. For example, it aids officials in determining what players are eligible pass-receivers. It also aids quarterbacks in reading defenses; coaches in watching tape and preparing their players for the next opponent; fans in identifying players, etc.

Walter Ankrom from Springfield, OR:
Do you think now that the Jags have won their first game of the season that everyone who has been counting the Jaguars out and saying they're not Super Bowl contenders will finally eat their words? Or do you think they will keep doubting their capabilities?

Vic: Does it really matter? Teams have to prove themselves on the field. Winning changes people's minds, but what people think doesn't really matter, does it?



Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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