Managing cap requires crystal ball

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

Debbie from Jacksonville:
I was so pleased to see that you would save yourself for the ladies on Friday. Uh, could you explain "in the grass" again?

Vic: It wasn't in the grass, it was in the grasp. One of the readers corrected me on that a couple of days ago. I feel so stupid. I called my old high school coach, who's an NFL official, and I asked him if it was "in the grass" or "in the grasp" and he laughed at me. During our conversation, however, he did confirm that the yellow line is invisible paint.

Jondra from Jacksonville:
What's the status on LaBrandon Toefield? Can we expect to see him in coming weeks?

Vic: LaBrandon Toefield has been inactive for the last four games. Maurice Jones-Drew is a very versatile player and the Jaguars have been using a lot of two-tight end stuff that eliminates the need for a fullback. Fred Taylor and Jones-Drew, of course, are the two main running backs. Alvin Pearman is a running back who returns punts and Derrick Wimbush is a fullback who can play running back and return kickoffs. Montell Owens is strictly a special teams player but he also offers versatility as a running back. Toefield has been inactive because the Jaguars haven't needed a third running back. If something were to happen to Taylor or Jones-Drew, Toefield would likely be activated and would play.

Ashley from Baltimore, MD:
You say girls pull hair, but doesn't it take a girl to have long hair? I was told the reason people on offense don't have long hair is so they can't be tackled by it. What makes the Steelers safety so special that he shouldn't be tackled by the hair?

Vic: He didn't complain. In fact, he was quoted as saying he didn't mind at all being tackled by his hair. I think you're being culturally insensitive.

Carol from Toledo, OH:
I was just curious if it is possible to have a defense with three linemen, five linebackers and three defensive backs? Has anyone ever tried this?

Vic: A 3-5-3? You can use it but it's not something you see often. You might see a 3-4 team use it in short yardage if they're short on defensive line personnel. You better have a specific function and design in mind for that defensive alignment because, frankly, it doesn't address run or pass.

Abby from Williamsport, PA:
Were you aware that (Wednesday's) "Ask Vic" was story number 5555? That is quite impressive. How do you feel?

Vic: I don't know what that means but it sounds like a good thing.

Sabrina from Fontana, CA:
Are the Jaguars allowed to wear their black jerseys on the road?

Vic: The home team makes the first choice of what jersey color it will wear. The black jersey is the Jaguars' "third jersey" and teams may wear their "third jersey" on the road. For the Jaguars to wear their "third jersey" on the road, the home team would have to wear white.

Cindy from Jacksonville:
Do you still think we took the right guy with Matt Jones? Mark Clayton has played pretty well for the Ravens and I remember a lot of people thought we should have taken him instead.

Vic: I've developed new respect this season for the term "it's too early to know." We say that a lot about draft picks and it's never been truer than this season, what with the emergence of Reggie Williams as the Jaguars' leading receiver. Through all of his rookie season and most of last year I said it was too early to know about Williams. Then, late last season, I gave up on him. I was sure I knew he was a bust, but I was right on the first count and wrong on the second. It was still too early to know. We have become very impatient about teams, coaches and players. We want success and we want it now but, often times, success comes to those who wait. Was Matt Jones the right choice? It's too early to know. I'm not trying to dodge the question. That's the honest answer.

Kristi from St. Augustine Beach, FL:
Do you think coach Smith can reacquire the clairvoyance he used in 2003, as you said in a recent "Ask Vic?"

Vic: I can remember where we were when I said it to him. We were getting on an elevator outside the press box in Baltimore in 2003. The Jaguars defense was stopping people, which they did that day against Jamal Lewis, who rushed for 2,066 yards that season but for a season-low 68 against the Jaguars. Yeah, the Jaguars had two big, young defensive tackles but, frankly, I didn't think their defensive personnel overall was very good and their success intrigued me. Mike Smith and I were waiting for the elevator when I turned to him and said, "I got you guys figured out now." He smiled and waited for me to finish. "You're guessing," I said. Smitty burst into laughter so I knew I had him. We talked about it and he explained that he and Jack Del Rio and the defensive staff were diligent about reading tendencies of opposing offenses. That's the kind of thing all coaches have to do, but it's especially true of coaches who have to disguise or hide weaknesses. The Jaguars lost two big-time every-downs players in Reggie Hayward and Mike Peterson, and Marcus Stroud remains hobbled by his ankle injury. The replacements are not going to offer the same every-downs skills those three players possess, therefore, Smith will have to know the opposition's run-pass tendencies. I have no doubt he will.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
When you inquire about Marcedes Lewis and Jack Del Rio says: "He's healthy and he's talented. We'll look for ways to use the weapons we have and he's certainly one of them." Isn't that coachspeak for absolutely nothing?

Vic: That's coachspeak for it's up to him now.

Alice from Middleburg, FL:
With McDougle hurting, do you think Richard Collier will get to dress this Sunday?

Vic: Stockar McDougle is "doubtful" with an ankle injury. If McDougle is unable to play, it would make sense that Collier would be active.

Nicole from Jacksonville:
I wish you'd put a ban on Colts fans. For a team that says they don't worry about us, a lot of their fans are on our website a lot.

Vic: I enjoy bantering with Colts fans. They're good fans and students of the game. Don't be afraid of opposing viewpoints. Learn to acknowledge them without having your viewpoint weakened. That's what this kind of forum promotes; an exchange of opinions and ideas.

Debbie from Indianapolis, IN:
The Colts have been a good football team for seven straight years now. I do not understand why you think they sacrifice the future with all of their signings. They have obviously been good for a long time and I do not see a decline any time soon. Please let me know when exactly you see the big decline coming.

Vic: The Colts have been a good team for five straight years, counting this year. They were 6-10 in 2001. I understand your point, however, because the Colts have been a good team for a long time. Let's start by acknowledging how they achieved that long run of success. They did it by building for the future. They didn't do it by signing old, worn-out and expensive defensive tackles. They did it by drafting future stars, such as Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison. That's what made the Colts a good team. Now they've reached the point that those players are so good that they have enormous contracts that are pinching not only the Colts' salary cap but the Colts' purse strings. The salary cap may be about monopoly money, but the check Jim Irsay gives his players is the real thing and the Colts are not a high-revenue franchise. Look at the players they've had to let go: James, Marcus Washington, David Thornton, Mike Vanderjagt. These aren't guys you wanna lose. They had to let 'em go because the cap is beginning to close on the Colts and it's going to close even tighter on them in the future. It's inevitable. Manning's cap hit next year is $16.5 million. That means they'll probably re-structure him and push more of his money into the future. Harrison will be $8.4 million, Tarik Glenn will be $8.2 million and Robert Mathis and Corey Simon will each be $7.1 million. Dwight Freeney would be a free agent so they'll probably have to "franchise" him and that's going to mean a real big bite that will require re-structuring roster-wide to make room for Freeney. Where is all of this money going? Onto future caps. The Colts are going to be able to keep it together and complete this run, but when the cards fall, the house is going to collapse. That's exactly what happened to the Jaguars and Titans.

Sheila from Jacksonville:
I'm very intrigued by your opinion that if the Jaguars win the next two games they will win the division and if they lose the next two games they won't make the playoffs. What are the possibilities if they win one and lose one of the next two games?

Vic: It's my way of saying I think this two-game road stretch of the schedule is critical to the Jaguars' outlook. They are in a stretch of schedule that should allow them to close ground on the Colts. If they win the next two, they would come home for three in a row at Alltel and, given the Colts' rugged schedule during that stretch, I think the Jaguars could pull even with the Colts and, of course, the Jaguars have a game at home against the Colts on Dec. 10. If the Jaguars were to lose their next two, however, they couldn't do any better than 4-4 at the halfway point and I can't consider a 4-4 team a legitimate playoff contender. What happens if they split the next two games? Well, they'd be 4-3 and right on course to play for their 10th win of the season and a playoff berth on the final Sunday of the season. All of that is "barber shop talk," of course.

Anne from Orange Park, FL:
How are the Jaguars doing on the salary cap? Do you think Jack Del Rio and James Harris have done a good job at keeping ours within reason?

Vic: Paul Vance is the Jaguars' salary cap manager and he has done an exceptional job of negotiating contracts and restoring the Jaguars' salary cap to full health. The two go hand in hand and Vance has been magnificent at seeing the big picture. In my opinion, salary cap guys have to have "crystal balls" and Vance clearly has one. You don't do your 2008 salary cap in '08, you do it now.

Stephanie from Fleetwood, NC:
My boyfriend and I are going to Nashville for the Titans-Jaguars game. We want to know how the crowd is there. Should we wear our teal or go without to keep from getting harassed?

Vic: Nashville is a good town. I like going to Nashville. It's a good stadium with good fans. I don't think you'll have a problem.

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