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No bikinis in Jacksonville

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

Wade from Winston-Salem, NC:
: I don't think I've ever seen a response like this since the 1999 AFC title game. Can you remember a regular season game that caused this much angst?

Vic: The volume of questions to "Ask Vic" exploded immediately following the Steelers game and that volume has stayed high ever since. You're right, it spiked again this week, for the obvious reasons: 1. Fans are deeply disappointed by the team's performance against the Texans; 2. the fans literally became the story of the week due to the no-shows. Your question has given me an opportunity to communicate something more to "Ask Vic" contributors whose questions have not been published. Folks, I've been swamped with questions. It's taking me twice as much time daily as it ever has before to read, select and answer. In the majority of cases, I feel guilty for deleting the question because it is usually worthy of an answer. As you can see, the column has been running a little longer this week because the questions have been so many. Please don't feel slighted or unappreciated. You make this column possible. Happy new year to all of you.

Preston from Atlanta, GA:
Maybe you should show all these bad-weather cry-babies the photo of the three girls in Green Bay wearing bikinis. If the men in this city aren't as tough as the women in Green Bay, then maybe we don't deserve a team.

Vic: I don't wanna see three men at a Jaguars game wearing bikinis on a cold day in Jacksonville.

Jim from San Diego, CA:
Which wide receivers were drafted after Reggie Williams and how do their stats compare with Reggie's? Was there anybody still on the board when we drafted Reggie who has provided the punch we needed this year?

Vic: Lee Evans was selected 13th overall and Michael Clayton at 15th. Evans has 46 catches for 780 yards and nine touchdowns; Clayton leads all rookie receivers with 78 catches for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns. Michael Jenkins and Rashaun Woods were drafted late in the first round. Jenkins has five catches for 111 yards and no touchdowns; Woods has caught four passes for 84 yards and one touchdown. As you can see, Reggie Williams' production is between those two pairs of receivers. In my opinion, the Jaguars need to make Williams a priority player next season. They need to get him the ball and find out what he can do.

Ed from Orange Park, FL:
I am sick and tired of the way the media keeps pestering our coach about the LSU vacancy. Let him concentrate on getting his team ready for Oakland. Do you think he should respond to these stupid questions?

Vic: Coaching is a tough business. Their greatest enemy is insecurity, and for the obvious reason. How would you like to constantly worry about losing your job? That's why it's understandable when these guys refuse to shut the door on job rumors. It's not only flattering, it's something that might help develop an appreciation in his team's owner and fans for the job he's doing. When is the last time you heard any coach definitively say "no" when asked if he had any interest in a particular coaching vacancy? It's a cat and mouse game coaches and reporters have been playing for a long time. Reporters are obligated to ask the question and coaches do their best to avoid answering. That's an answer in itself, isn't it? Frankly, I think the LSU rumors have developed a deeper appreciation for Del Rio. He has this thing headed in the right direction. Can you honestly say you'd want to have to find a new coach and start the whole process over again?

Neil from Jacksonville:
The Jags have played four teams that play the 3-4: Pittsburgh, Buffalo, San Diego and Houston. All these games, except the great Pittsburgh showing, had poor offensive performances. Even in the San Diego game, most of our 21 points came in catchup mode. Did the coaches not do a thorough enough job prepping for the 3-4 this season?

Vic: Pittsburgh is the number one defense in the league. Buffalo is number three. San Diego is 14th with the number two run-defense. I think it's understandable why a team might struggle on offense against those three. What I don't understand is why the Jaguars were dominated by the Houston defense, which is a lowly 24th. I think that's the greater issue. You might also say the Jaguars offense has struggled against most teams. The offense just hasn't made the gains this season that I expected it would. I don't think it's about the 3-4. I think it's about not playing well overall.

Ed from Kansas City, MO:
Now that the AFC South games are over, would you comment on how you think the Texans, Colts, Jaguars and Titans all played? Are we seeing a new rivalry form between the Jaguars and Texans? Tennessee has stayed alive against division rivals. Are you ready to say they are no longer a factor? Do the Colts even consider the rest of their division as serious opposition?

Vic: Just because you're sore the Jaguars lost to the Texans doesn't mean the two teams are developing a rivalry. What you're describing is temporary anger. Rivalries are built over a period of time. Rivalries aren't rivalries until they are never-ending. They are wholesome confrontations built on genuine emotion. I think the Jaguars developed that kind of thing with Pittsburgh and Baltimore from their days together in the old AFC Central. Tennessee and the Jaguars clearly built their rivalry from their days together in the AFC Central, too, and now they've carried it into the AFC South. That's what rivalries need: time to grow. The Jaguars and Texans may develop a rivalry over the next few years, but I'm not ready to concede "rivalry" status already, just because Gary Walker and David Carr decided to act like children. When I look at the AFC South, I see two teams with major salary cap problems and two teams with healthy salary caps. That's the line of demarcation in this division. The Colts are doing everything they can to stall the effects of their salary cap problems and appear to be succeeding. The Titans did that for a long time but have now surrendered to the inevitable, just as the Jaguars did a few years ago. Houston and Jacksonville are clearly in addition modes. They have cap room to add players and there's every reason to believe both teams will only get better next year. I think I can say the Titans are in rebuilding and the Jaguars and Texans are poised to make their runs. The unknown in the AFC South is how long the Colts can hold out against the suffocating effects of their salary cap.

Pete from Jacksonville:
In your opinion, would going 9-7 and not making the playoffs be a disappointment or a taste of good things to come for Jaguars football?

Vic: If the Jaguars don't make the playoffs, it's going to be a disappointment, because of the Houston game. They had it all in front of them. All they had to do was win, but they played their worst game of the year. We're going to wrestle with that one for a long time. When you get past that disappointment, however, it's easy to see major gains have been made. A win in Oakland this Sunday would give this team its first winning record in five years. I think that's important. But even if they don't win, there are major positives. The greatest of those positives is a salary cap oozing with room for 2005. This team will probably be a major player in free agency. If it makes smart decisions on how to spend its money, it could turn the corner in a very big way in 2005. That's what makes me feel best about what's happening. When I evaluate a team's future, the first thing I look at is its salary cap.

Bryan from Fleming Island, FL:
I listened to the radio program on Wednesday night and I was trying to find an excuse for myself as to why I did not attend the game on Sunday. I moved here more than two years ago and held season tickets the first year and I opted out for the golf club membership this second year. Boy, did I get the short end of the stick. My game has not improved and the Jags have.

Vic: I recommend that you buy Jaguars tickets and keep the golf club membership, too. Surely, the kids could cut back on some things, right?

Scott from Bordentown, NJ:
I was thinking about the division games this year against Indy, Tennessee and Houston. Where do you think the division ranks compared to the other ones?

Vic: It appears that all of the AFC divisions have the same composition. They each have a dominant team at the top, a team with double-digit losses at the bottom and two contender types in the middle. In my opinion, there isn't a division in the NFC as strong as any of the four divisions in the AFC.

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