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Means made it happen

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

Harold from Orlando, FL:
What are the differences between front-loaded, back-loaded and balanced contracts?

Vic: A front-loaded contract would result in the salary cap hit being higher in the early years than the average over all of the years of the contract. A back-loaded contract would be the opposite; the salary cap hit would be higher in the final years than the average. A balanced contract is usually referred to as "flat," meaning the yearly salary cap hit is about the same as the average, which is achieved when the salary doesn't spike from one year to the next.

Joel from Orange Park, FL:
I remember (and still have) a book called the numbers game. It did some interesting extrapolations (take a typical Jim Brown season and expand it to 16 games, etc.) One of the points it made is about talent dilution. You can tell Andrew from Boston that there are over 300 more players starting today than there were in the league in 1964. We all better have a lot of respect for a lot of the old-timers.

Vic: When I read an e-mail of this quality, I feel better about everything. This is why "fan interactivity" is so important. Thank you for your information and sensitivity. The men who represent the foundation of professional football played this game for very little gain and great physical pain. Johnny Unitas spent his post-football years in financial despair and barely able to hold a golf club. They had no union to protect them. They played the game because they were football players, and this column will always defend them.

Jonathan from Jacksonville:
Since you are at liberty to discuss the potential of the NFL moving the Jags, what are the chances?

Vic: The Jaguars aren't going anywhere.

Joe from Jefferson City, MO:
Do you have any pleasant memories of Natrone Means and, if so, what are they?

Vic: Everybody remembers Mark Brunell's great performance in the Jaguars' upset win in Denver in the 1996 playoffs. They remember Brunell's thrilling 29-yard scramble in the fourth quarter and his 16-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Smith that followed. What people don't remember is that Natrone Means rushed for 140 yards in that game, and it wasn't until he broke loose on an 18-yard run early in the second quarter that the Jaguars were able to do anything offensively in that game. At the time, the Broncos held a 12-0 lead and Brunell was three for seven for 21 yards and one sack. Brunell was the star of that game, but Means was the guy who started it all. It wasn't until the Jags started to run the ball that Brunell began finding holes in the Broncos' defense.

Dave from Saint Marys, GA:
Leftwich's comment regarding length of drives concerns me. I like 12 and 15-play drives that end up in a touchdown. I remember one particular drive two years ago by the Titans that killed the Jaguars in the third quarter. What do you think about his comment?

Vic: I like long, time-consuming drives, too, but you better have some quick-strike potential in your passing game or defenses are going to crowd the line of scrimmage. I think that was what Byron Leftwich was trying to get across. In my opinion, the Jaguars passing attack last year didn't match up well with its intention of having a strong running game. You don't wanna nibble with the passing game if you wanna feature the running game; all you're doing is compressing the field. If you wanna feature the running game, you wanna get those safeties away from the line of scrimmage, and the way to do that is to take your shots downfield and make them respect the deep pass. From what I understand of Carl Smith's offense, that's a better description of what he wants to do: run the ball, throw it deep.

Paul from Jacksonville:
Can you tell me what a "route tree" is?

Vic: Picture the branches of a tree. Now picture a drawing of the various pass routes designated in a particular pass play. They should be similar. By the way, "out" routes are odd-numbered and "in" routes are even-numbered. For example, corner routes are "7" and posts are "8."

Jon from Spokane, WA:
What is the exact amount of salary cap space the Jags have?

Vic: The Jaguars are a little less than $10 million under the cap, with about $4 million of that needed for the rookie pool.

Shane from Jacksonville:
How about the Jags pick a running back in the first round?

Vic: Based on what I've seen, it doesn't appear a running back fits at 21.

Ben from Rolla, MO:
Is Marcus Stroud holding out and what are the chances of him missing some of the regular season holding out for a better contract?

Vic: The offseason conditioning program is voluntary. He is not holding out. Beyond that, I think he and the Jaguars are closer to a contract agreement than it appears.

Anthony from Los Angeles, CA:
Did the Jags really need to sign Tony Williams?

Vic: You gotta get the big guys when you have a chance. They are at a premium.

Blaize from Massapequa, NY:
What is the current size of Alltel and what is it being reduced to?

Vic: Alltel Stadium's seating capacity last season was 76,877. It's capacity will be reduced to 67,164.

Beau from Burlington, NJ:
I never thought I would see a thing that has people from so many different races, genders, states, countries, etc. participating in it. It seems some of your readers are just regular football fans and not just Jaguars fans. Honestly, when you first started this, did you ever think it would get this big?

Vic: No, in fact, it wasn't even my idea.

Robert from Las Vegas, NV:
In my opinion, Emmitt Smith was the best running back ever. What do you think of his career?

Vic: He was one of the toughest and most consistent running backs who ever played the game. Everybody loves the long run, but give me the guy who just keeps pounding out four-yard runs. That was Emmitt Smith, every game, every week. And he did it when he was hurt, too. The lead draw with Emmitt: Everybody knew it was coming, but nobody could stop it. That's when you know you're a power football team.

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