Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Charles from Jacksonville:
Thanks to you, Jaguar fans must be the best educated ones in the league. Dumb questions must be getting harder for you to find. This one is on statistics. An incomplete pass and a run for no gain have the same result except the latter increases time of possession and is used by teams leading in the fourth quarter. Is the number of offensive plays of any use?
Vic: Time of possession is more important than total offensive plays. The losing team will often have more offensive plays because it found itself in a pass-every-down, catch-up mode. Meanwhile, the winning team was attempting to shorten the game with its running game. The bottom line is the running game wins time of possession and the passing game wins total offensive plays, and usually the team that runs the ball better wins the game. For example, the Jaguars had the ball for three minutes and 18 seconds more than the Colts, but the Colts ran 66 plays to the Jaguars' 62. Of course, the Jaguars ran the ball 38 times to the Colts' 21, while the Colts passed the ball 45 times to the Jaguars' 24. One of the hot stats this year is rushing attempts. Teams with 35 or more rushing attempts seldom lose.
Robert from Chicago, IL:
You always have been very clear in your dislike for spending large amounts on big-name free agents, but isn't it somewhat necessary in this system? Certainly, there are plenty of busts, but aren't there some examples where that one acquisition played a major role for the team. Guys like Priest Holmes with KC, Ted Washington with the Bears, Jerome Bettis with Pittsburgh, all were acquired through free agency or trades, weren't they? Or is a trade a whole different animal?
Vic: High-priced free agency is often a trap. Teams throughout the league have had their salary caps devastated by high-priced free agents. At the very best, you get what you pay for; there are no bargains. The real genius in free agency is identifying who the bargain players are. Priest Holmes is one of those bargain guys. He was a very inexpensive acquisition. Jerome Bettis was acquired by the Steelers for a second-round draft choice, which would also represent a bargain. Keenan McCardell came to the Jaguars in 1996 at a bargain price. Yes, you must use free agency to supplement your roster, but you don't have to kill your salary cap in doing so.
Christopher from Columbus, GA:
Since we claimed Kevin Johnson off waivers, we picked up his current contract which runs through 2006. The article I read said that since it's past the trade deadline, he would have to report. If it wasn't past the trade deadline could he hold out or something? Also, it said that since he is a vested vet, he can claim free agency at the end of the 2003 season. Could you explain how this whole process works and why if his contract runs through 2006 he is able to nullify it after this year? I ask because I think he is a great pickup and don't want to see him leave after the end of the season.
Vic: Kevin Johnson is a five-year veteran. He became a vested veteran after his fourth season. Vested veterans aren't subject to the waiver-claim process, unless they are waived after the trade deadline. Normally, when a vested veteran is cut he becomes a free agent, free to negotiate with any team in the league. But that changes after the trade deadline, to protect the integrity of the system. The league doesn't want a team out of contention late in the season cutting a player who might then join a team in playoff contention and upset the season's competitive integrity. One of the concerns there would be secret deals. That's where you have to take your hat off to the league. Its first concern has always been its competitive integrity. The contract the Jaguars inherited from Cleveland runs through the 2006 season, but Johnson can opt to become a free agent following the 2004 season. That's the rule with being waived after the trade deadline; a player may declare himself a free agent following the subsequent season.
Rob from St. Augustine, FL:
Can you give us a quick injury update? On the depth chart, I see Craft isn't starting and Deke went to play free.
Vic: Jason Craft is going to have a second opinion on his knee injury. Rashean Mathis' move to cornerback now appears to be permanent, which has allowed Deke Cooper to move in at free safety.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Are you going to vote for Byron Leftwich for rookie of the year, and do you think any Jags will make the Pro Bowl?
Vic: I don't have a vote for rookie of the year. In fact, the award is kind of nebulous. It's presented by a couple of publications and a wire service, but nothing official. Byron Leftwich would certainly be a top candidate. Terence Newman, Jordan Gross, Marcus Trufant, Domanick Davis, Andre Johnson and Anquan Boldin are other candidates, but, truth be known, this is not an especially good year for rookies. If Leftwich was to have a big second half of the year, he'd probably be the guy.
Greg from Orlando, FL:
I know nearly, if not all, NFL head coaches today were NFL players prior to their coaching jobs. How many coaches in the league today have not played in the NFL?
Vic: The fact is most of the coaches in the NFL were not NFL players. Jon Gruden, Gregg Williams, Marvin Lewis, Butch Davis, Mike Shanahan, Dom Capers, Dick Vermeil, Bill Belichick, Bill Callahan, John Fox, Dave McGinnis, Bill Parcells, Steve Mariucci, Mike Sherman, Mike Martz, Dennis Erickson, Andy Reid, Mike Holmgren, Brian Billick and Dave Wannstedt did not play in the NFL. Holmgren, Billick and Wannstedt were drafted but did not play.
Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA:
It looks to me like the KC Chiefs have a decent chance to go unbeaten, with only the Broncos and Vikings games as "on-paper" competition the rest of the season. What do you think?
Vic: I'm intrigued by this Sunday's game in Cincinnati. Chad Johnson's guarantee of victory will have the Bengals energized, and Jon Kitna is a hot quarterback. Why do I have a feeling that the gods of football are going to guide the Bengals to victory?
Jimmie from Jacksonville:
I saw where former Miami Hurricanes player Brett Romberg was added to the roster from the practice squad. Was that a result of a vacancy or from improved play or development?
Vic: Brett Romberg was added to the active roster as a result of Vince Manuwai's foot injury.
Wilbur from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
The list of QBs injured would fill another page in "Jaguars Inside Report," as I have already finished it and it will not be daylight for quite awhile in Ponte Vedra Beach.
Vic: Wilbur, you live in a beautiful village by the sea. Life can't be that bad.