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Our batteries are re-charged


Vic: Will you handle the offensive play-calling chores this season?

Coach: I thought that would be the very first thing asked of me when I did not name an offensive coordinator. As it stands at this point, yes, I will be the play-caller.

Vic: What does your team's salary cap recovery mean to you?

Coach: It means being in a position in which we can be aggressive in the player market; not necessarily at the top of the market, but certainly in a position in which we can do more than only deal with the absolute minimum-salary player, the player with no accrued seasons, who is truly a street free agent.

Vic: You're obviously going to have a younger roster in 2002. What are the advantages and disadvantages to that?

Coach: The disadvantages to that would be that most people in football would tell you the veterans know how to play, and if they end up being at the bottom of your roster, you're the better for it. They know how to play; they've been around situations in which they've had to win in big games, etc. Young people can be molded and shaped, but you can not give them the experience factor; you can not tell them what it's like to be in the NFL in the fourth quarter. They've got to learn it. While they're learning it, are you winning or losing? That's the question. You are molding and you are developing, and the advantage is there's no question that between years zero and four accrued seasons, you have your best ability to maneuver in this market.

Vic: What are the merits to selling your players on the idea of a fresh start?

Coach: The merits are obviously a renewed enthusiasm, a renewed hunger, a renewed coming into contact with the basics of this game. It is a physical game and it's played by competitive people; it is played with the top goal being winning. Those are the things that have to be the selling point for a new team. It all deals with renewed enthusiasm.

Vic: Does any of this alter the way you approach the college draft?

Coach: The approach to the college draft can be somewhat different this year, although I always have to put guidelines on whatever it is I say, so it isn't misinterpreted. We are closer to the point that we can take the best available player than we have been in some time.

Vic: Do you look forward to working with young talent?

Coach: I look forward to the kind of combinations that occur in this league, where you have a small group of veterans who make up the core leadership of your team, and then you have a vast majority of younger players who are trying to make their names and their reputations in this league. The challenge comes from not whether I look forward to it, but from the responsibility of molding and shaping these young people in a winning way, and it falls on the shoulders of that locker room, as well as on the coaching staff.

Vic: Your coaching staff has undergone dramatic changes. What is your overview of the changes?

Coach: I like what I see in our coaches. The reason I like it is because each coach knows his job will require great enthusiasm, great energy, great zest, great desire to be with players of different ages, who may have all kinds of questions, all kinds of experiences and who are from all kinds of backgrounds. The challenge is not to get down; never get down; being on the same page, with no ego and with one goal. As I told all of them, when we walk out of this office in the spring to go down the hall and meet this football team, everybody has got to have just one goal in mind. In that way, I like the way this staff is coming together.

Vic: What style of play will John Pease bring to your defense?

Coach: John Pease will be an aggressive play-caller. We certainly will learn from this past season's experiences. I think we'll have a more true identity. I think there will be -- and we've spent some time trying to fashion this idea -- an opportunity for this team to break the mold in certain situations. I don't see this as being a stereotyped defensive football team. I see it as a team that will prepare itself to have a higher percentage of man-to-man coverage; a better mix; a better pressure style than we've seen this team have in the past. It'll definitely be, I believe, a more aggressive style of defense, which I believe in.

Vic: If you could gather all of the Jaguars' fans in one place, what would you tell them?

Coach: I would tell them to not despair. I would tell them things change in the NFL and they change rapidly. I would tell them I would be the first person to understand their disappointment in the last couple of years, but no one is more disappointed than I am. I would tell them I constantly study teams in the NFL and how turnover occurs and how programs are resurrected and rebuilt. I'm most aware of Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and New England. I know exactly how their rosters were built. I am very much in tune with the strategy that has proven to work in this league, which we are trying our best to employ. I think the most important thing we can accomplish here at this point in time is to put ourselves into a position financially that we can be in a position to try to attract players who can help us win. I believe this will be a very important draft and it'll be a good draft. Our batteries are re-charged, we've done this once before, and I think we've turned the corner at looking forward and not looking back. If I could draw other strategic impressions from these teams that have turned it around, it would be somewhat based on the loyalty of their fans and the commitment of the community to the team. During Pittsburgh's 7-9 and 6-10 seasons their fans did not lose faith in what was going on. We're young to the NFL and our fans are young to the NFL. They're used to winning. For five years we were the most winning franchise in the history of expansion football and we are in more difficult times now, but keeping the faith is asking people to believe when there isn't any proof. There isn't any proof right now. It's going to happen, but it's going to happen one day at a time. Before we could even be in a position to act, certain things had to be done that are not popular, but nevertheless demonstrate we will make the hard call.

Vic: When you gather your full roster of players for the first time this spring, what might you say to them?

Coach: I would say to them we enter the AFC South, that it's a new division and a new time and a new era in Jaguars football. Let's be about the business of being the best football team as fast as we can.

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