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Must not buy into hype

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

David from Oviedo, FL:
It seems the overall unity and focus of this team has never been stronger. How would you compare the general attitude of the team under Tom Coughlin and under Jack Del Rio?

Vic: I'm not a psychiatrist, I'm a sportswriter. As far as I can tell, the attitude is great, but comparing the attitudes of players now to the perception of the attitudes of players when Tom Coughlin was the coach would only be a way of taking a slap at a guy who coached the Jaguars to two AFC title games in their first five seasons. This is a scoreboard business and you don't get points for attitude. Coaches are judged on wins and losses. That's the criterion you use to compare them and it's far too early in Jack Del Rio's career to compare his record to Coughlin's. I thought Coughlin did a sensational job of keeping the Jaguars competitive in almost every game in 1995, the team's inaugural season. Last season was the equivalent of an expansion season and, in my opinion, Del Rio and his staff coached lights out in rallying the team from a 1-7 start to a 4-4 second half of the season that was a lot better than the record indicates. That's how I compare the two coaches. At similar stages of their careers, they produced similarly impressive results. I'm sorry, but the attitude thing just wears me out. Do it on the scoreboard.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL:
Will those who don't have NFL Network be able to see the Jaguars' "Hard Knocks?"

Vic: The series will originally appear on NFL Network only, though I'm sure ESPN will pick it up in re-runs. Since the Jacksonville cable provider doesn't include NFL Network, the Jaguars will attempt to facilitate airing on a local station. If you're within range of that station or if your cable provider includes it among its lineup, you'll be able to see the show. Otherwise, you'll have to wait for the re-runs.

Reggie from Montgomery, AL:
I do live on a golf course but I don't own a golf cart. I took a piece of Jacksonville with me; I own a Larry's Giant Sub here in Montgomery.

Vic: How good is the course? Maybe I should come over and do a feature story on you; you know, where is he now? We might even be able to sneak in a round of golf.

Nate from Tampa, FL:
It was exciting to hear from Reggie Barlow! Do a lot of former Jags keep in touch with you? Or vice versa?

Vic: I see the old guys around town and sometimes even when we go into other cities. Football is a great fraternity. That's one of the reasons I want to pull off this "Ask Vic" convention. I love the idea of growing the membership.

Pete from Jacksonville:
"Ask Vic" is getting out of control. You are becoming a Jaguars legend of some sort. I really do enjoy it, though. One thing, Pete Mitchell played last year for the Colts late in the season as an injury pickup when they lost Dallas Clark. You probably didn't notice because you were too focused on ripping Peyton Manning.

Vic: Thanks for the info, Petey. You know who this is, don't you, folks? It's Pete Prisco of and formerly of the Florida Times-Union. Pete also moonlights as Peyton Manning's non-commissioned press agent. All of this leads me to another trivia question: What team hasn't had a winning season since Pete Prisco stopped covering it?

Jim from Jacksonville:
Vic, another scenario for the "Ask Vic" party: For those of us who don't golf and have season tickets, can we come to just the reception by itself?

Vic: Yes, that option will be available.

Keith from Jacksonville:
Everyone is excited about the Jaguars' potential for this season. I wonder how much of what is said about how good the team is affects the team. Do the players start to believe the hype? Do you think this could have a negative impact on the effort to get better?

Vic: That's an interesting question and I won't dismiss its credibility because I've covered two teams that absolutely melted down for no reason other than they may have gotten big heads. I was covering the Steelers in 1994 when they were cruising to the Super Bowl. They had just blown out the Browns in the playoffs, and they were healthy and at home in the AFC title game against a Chargers team that, frankly, wasn't that good. The Steelers had it all going for them, then they spent the week of the AFC title game making a rap song and talking about going to the Super Bowl and the Chargers beat them. Now go forward to 1999; same situation with the Jaguars. They had just blown out the Dolphins, and they were healthy and at home in the AFC title game against a Titans team that, frankly, most people didn't think was as good as the Jaguars. The Jaguars had it all going for them, then they spent the week of the AFC title game making a rap song and talking about going to the Super Bowl and the Titans beat them. In each case, I believe there was a loss of focus. The '94 Steelers and the '99 Jaguars forgot what got them to where they were. They relaxed, and you can't ever do that in this game. That's the danger the 2004 Jaguars face. They have been hyped as a team on the rise, and I believe they are, but they must not allow kind words to blunt their determination. We'll see.

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