Merging was logical

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

Aaron from Amarillo, TX:
Will the radio broadcast of the scrimmage be available here at jaguars.com for the fans that live outside the area?

Vic: Plans are to stream the broadcast live on jaguars.com.

Al from Amelia Island, FL:
I'm in the middle of "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens, but I can't stand the "Dead Zone." Please tell us something about what's happening with the Jags.

Vic: Nothing is happening with the Jags. They are on vacation. Why is this such a difficult concept to understand? People who work get vacation time. This is it. Stick to "Hard Times." The classics are always timely reading. You might have enough time to sneak in "A Tale of Two Cities."

Nick from Las Vegas, NV:
So if Shaun Alexander is one of the most productive backs of your lifetime, then why wouldn't the Jags have tried to go after him about a year or two ago when all the rumors were swirling? At that time, weren't you saying you wouldn't want to have to pay him the big contract he was going to ask for? I think the Jags should've made the deal when they had the chance. He has proven to be an all-everything back. Those backs are worth the money.

Vic: Shaun Alexander was taking a very hard stance in contract negotiations and that was a red flag to every team in the league that might've been interested in him. The kind of money it was going to take to sign Alexander involves a frightening risk. When you combined the contract with the draft pick you would've had to trade away, the feeling, obviously, was that the total price was too much. This is not a "trade" league. This is a "draft" league. Draft choices have always been more valuable than players. I know that sounds contradictory because draft choices are players, but drafted players come at a much more affordable price than established stars. In the case of Alexander, teams looked at the measurables, the size and speed, for example, and said, "I can find that in the draft."

Greg from New Orleans, LA:
What game are you looking most forward to this season?

Vic: I'm most looking forward to the opener, and I don't say that to dodge your question. The opener is going to set the table for everything. Most people would probably say they're most looking forward to the Pittsburgh game, and I can certainly understand that thinking, but I can't get past the opener because it's such an important game for a team that'll face the Steelers in week two, then travel to Indianapolis and Washington.

Keith from Jacksonville:
What caused the AFL-NFL merger? Was it bound to happen?

Vic: An all-out war over players was about to begin. The NFL had signed Pete Gogolak from the Buffalo Bills and the AFL had made counter plans to raid NFL rosters and it became clear to the clear thinkers in the two leagues that this player war was going to threaten the financial stability of both leagues. In other words, the high price of competing to sign players made merging the smart option. Was it bound to happen? It was. When the AFL got a new TV deal, it became obvious to the NFL that the AFL wasn't going away; that the NFL would have to deal with the AFL long-term and that meant heightened competition for players. The AFL had some deep-pocket teams but not enough of them to grow the league. The NFL had the big markets and, ultimately, would've won the war, but at what cost? Merging was the thing to do.

David from Marietta, GA:
When you say that every sport needs an offseason, does that mean you don't like tennis' philosophy of playing year-round? If you were to change one thing about tennis, would it be for it to have an offseason?

Vic: I don't know because I've only ever watched one tennis match, the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs match. Men's bodies couldn't withstand the punishment of year-round football. I mean no offense to tennis, but let's please not equate strawberries and cream at Wimbledon to beer and brats at Lambeau. Football is a violent game. The collisions between these powerful men are the equivalent of car wrecks. I think we've lost an appreciation for the physical aspect of the game. I think video-game football and the casual fans' love of the passing game has caused the physical aspect of football to be ignored. That's unfortunate because the true charm of football is the physical contact between its players.

Matt from Neptune Beach, FL:
Are there any other details you can give me about the Jags vs. Dolphins Dec. 3 trip with the boosters, other than what is listed on their website?

Vic: Call the Jaguars Booster Club and ask them your questions. They're handling all of the details.

Adrian from Jacksonville:
The thing that frustrates me the most with the Jags is our play-calling. It seems to me with our dominating defense we should be more aggressive in calling plays. Last year, with the new coordinator, I thought I was going to see something. Do you think it will be better this year?

Vic: I thought the Jaguars' play-calling was overly aggressive at times last season. How about those long passes in Pittsburgh and St. Louis? You certainly wouldn't call those by-the-book play-calls. I don't know what your point of reference is, but I only have one complaint about the Jaguars' play-calling last season, and it's that they didn't run the ball enough in New England. You probably don't agree with that, huh? What I can tell you for sure is that what you're suggesting, aggressive play-calling on offense, flies in the face of logic on a team that is built around its defense. Teams with strong defenses don't get wild and crazy with their play-calling on offense. Teams with strong defenses play to that strength, which means committing to a game of field position. Teams with strong defenses usually have strong running games because teams with strong defenses are conservative play-callers on offense, which means a lot of running plays. Pittsburgh is the time-honored example of that. The Steelers were number four in total defense last season, and number five in rushing. Chicago was number two in defense and number eight in rushing. Washington was number nine in defense and number seven in rushing. The Jaguars were number six in defense and number 10 in rushing. In contrast, Arizona was number eight in defense and number 32 in rushing, which is a real bad combination. So what did Arizona do in the offseason? Sign Edgerrin James.

John from Jacksonville:
What rookies do you think will have the greatest impact for their teams this season? I'm not saying the most talented players, but the players who will help their teams the most.

Vic: I think what you're asking is, what rookies address immediate need? I think Marcedes Lewis does. I think Lewis could have a major impact this season. I think he could lead the Jaguars in receptions. The Jaguars desperately need a possession receiver and Lewis looks like a perfect fit. Reggie Bush should have an immediate impact for the Saints. A.J. Hawk, Matt Leinart, Brodrick Bunkley, Laurence Maroney, DeAngelo Williams and Chris Gocong are players I think could have major impacts as rookies.

Jim from Bondi Beach, Australia:
In regard to your comment on safeties being better than corners at themoment, have corners been somewhat rule-changed out of the game?

Vic: Their effectiveness was certainly diminished a couple of years ago when the league made the five-yard chuck rule a major point of emphasis. Yes, corners have been rule-changed into a lesser role.

Josh from Lake Elsinore, CA:
I'm about to turn 24 shortly, been a Jags fan their entire existence, and I've noticed one thing we need to fix. Our defense and offense need to develop that punch-you-in-the-face, baby-eating, foaming-at-the-mouth, we're-gonna-kick-you-while-you're-down attitude. We've been lacking this. I only saw that look against the Colts in both games last season. I want it to happen in every game of the season, plus the playoff games. The Patriots, Steelers, Redskins, and Panthers have that toughness, the look. I felt we looked worn down in the Patriots game last season. Is our team a little soft, missing the attitude, or am I being too nostalgic of the Jack Tatum Raiders/Ronnie Lott 49ers days? Is the attitude overrated?

Vic: Yes, it is. Please seek help.

James from Jacksonville:
If you had a choice, which would you go to, the scrimmage or the mock game? Why do the Jaguars not scrimmage with other teams like they did for a short period?

Vic: Go to the scrimmage over the mock game. It's genuine training camp football. The mock game is for people who like touch football. The concept of combined practices against other teams has fizzled out in recent years. It's too bulky; the travel, the logistics of hosting a scrimmage, etc. It just doesn't fit well into the training camp schedule. With players practicing all spring, training camp and the preseason offers enough activity to prepare a team for the regular season, without adding another event to the schedule.

Tim from Princeton, NJ:
I completely agree with you about having thick skin as an NFL fan. Sure, we're getting made fun of, but we wanted attention and now we're getting it. So what if it's mostly negative? Isn't that going to just make it that much sweeter when the Jags have success? I think it's great.

Vic: The NFL was built on the PR credo, "Say or write anything you want, just spell the name right," and I heartily ascribe to that mantra because if it sells tickets, that's good for the game. Professional football struggled to gain the nation's interest. Don Weiss was the NFL's esteemed PR director and Pete Rozelle's right-hand man, and in his book, "The Making of the Super Bowl," Weiss wrote: "Until the late '50's, pro football hadn't been much more than an afterthought, relatively speaking. Baseball was entrenched as the national pastime and once the dust settled from the World Series in early October, college football dominated the sports pages the rest of the year. NFL games were assigned to the least-experienced and least-talented writers." Through the '60's, PR directors were begging local sports editors for more coverage. The NFL wanted headlines; positive or negative. When that coverage happened, the game began its rise to the top of America's sports popularity. I had a high school coach who said, "Don't get worried when I criticize you. When I ignore you, that's when you should worry." I think the same advice would apply to football; to players, coaches, owners and fans. As long as you're in the headlines, don't worry. When the media ignores you, that's when you should worry.

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