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Owens is high-energy

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

David from Woodbridge, VA:
In a logical followup to Eddie's question about the teams with the highest winning percentages, what teams are at the bottom of that ranking? Has Tampa Bay finally won enough recently to no longer be the most win-percentage challenged?

Vic: The Houston Texans technically have the league's worst winning percentage at 33 percent, but they've only been in existence for three seasons, so, I think they should be eliminated from consideration. Yeah, that means the Tampa Bay Bucs would hold the distinction of having the worst winning percentage of all the remaining teams in the league. The Bucs have won just 38 percent of their games, including postseason games. The next three "losers" are bunched right around 40 percent: Arizona, Atlanta and New Orleans. The Cardinals are an amazing study. Few people realize what an esteemed franchise it is, in terms of longevity. The Cardinals have played 1,129 games in their history. By comparison, the Bears have played a league-most 1,191 games. We're talking about two old franchises, the difference being that one of them won the battle of Chicago, which forced the other one out of Chicago. The Cardinals are now in their third location, Phoenix, where the team will move into a new stadium in 2006. Maybe the fate of that franchise is about to change.

Armand from Jacksonville:
I read your column every day, faithfully. Now the question: You are the head coach. How many players at each position do you keep and why?

Vic: The numbers game dictates that you keep a minimum number of players at every position. For example, a minimum of four wide receivers, four cornerbacks, etc. If I was a head coach, however, my main concern would be for keeping good players. I wouldn't hesitate going light at a position so I could go heavy at another position where there was more talent. In my opinion, the bottom reaches of the roster should be about the future. Special teams coaches would hate working for me because I wouldn't be as inclined to let them keep kick-coverage specialists at the expense of cutting a young guy who has every-downs upside. If I was a head coach, my greatest fear at cutdown time is that I might be cutting a young player who will develop into something real good. If I was a head coach, I would have to walk away from final cuts believing that I have found a way to protect every player in my training camp who I believe offers the potential to have a future in professional football. Sometimes that means using the injured reserve list, if you know what I mean.

Nick from Odenton, MD:
I just saw the training camp highlights video and was very impressed with the little bit of Chad Owens that was in there. Do you see him as a guy that can give the Jaguars an edge in the return game, unlike the past few years?

Vic: That's the idea, but what's impressed me about Chad Owens hasn't been his specific ability to return kicks. What's impressed me about Chad Owens is his unflagging energy to play this game. This is a high-energy sport. I have never known a championship team that wasn't high-energy. Since the first practice of mini-camp, Owens has been all-out, all the time. Yeah, a guy has to have talent, but natural energy is so important. It's contagious. I'm not talking about hustle, because sometimes hustle is manufactured and appears artificial. I'm talking about an inherent kind of energy that tells you this guy lives at this metronome speed. Ray Lewis has given the Ravens that kind of energy for a lot of years. Bill Cowher's teams have always had that kind of natural, infectious energy. Owens is that kind of player. He ups the tempo of everything with which he is involved. He's a great practice player and there needs to be an appreciation for that. Frankly, that's why Owens is going to make this team. Nobody has practiced better than him since mini-camp began.

Stanley from Jacksonville:
It is very refreshing to read your column and get an intelligent, honest perspective on the Jaguars. I am amazed that the vast majority of comments I read on internet message boards and hear on sports radio are Byron-bashing. It's amazing to me that I hear ESPN advertise the Jaguars-Falcons preseason game by promoting "two of the best young quarterbacks in the game," yet, the local fan base is so critical of our young quarterback. I know this is a team sport, but how many wins last year do you believe we can attribute to Leftwich playing like a seasoned veteran?

Vic: That's a difficult question to answer and I don't want to overstate Leftwich's importance. I think it's fair to say the Jaguars wouldn't have beaten Tennessee, Kansas City and Indianapolis without Leftwich, and his performances in the other game against Indianapolis and against Pittsburgh were good enough to have won. He had a passer rating over 100 in each of those games.

Steven from Jacksonville:
Most teams in the NFL that have a dominating defense seem to have a much larger portion of their salary cap designated to that side of the ball. The Jaguars seem to have a good balance but still have a dominating defense. How much of the cap is being used on defense?

Vic: Defensive players probably occupy more space on the Jaguars' salary cap this year, for the obvious reasons: The team just did deals with Marcus Stroud and Reggie Hayward, and both deals are front-loaded in bonus money, especially Hayward's. The Jaguars, in my opinion, have approached the balance between spending on offense and defense very logically. Offense has always been the more expensive side of the ball, but you can lessen the spending on that side of the ball by building your offensive team through the draft, which is a less expensive avenue for player acquisition than free agency. That's what the Jaguars have done.

Todd from Pineville, NC:
Who is the better quarterback, Matt Jones or Peyton Manning? How about running back, Walter Payton, Jim Brown or Matt Jones? Who do you think was our nation's greatest founding father, Thomas Jefferson or Matt Jones?

Vic: I'll go with Brown and Jefferson, for sure. Manning is definitely the better quarterback, but Jones might give you the chance to win the big one.

Jon-Claude from Harrison, AR:
Sorry you "can't take it anymore." That's disappointing. You will have to learn to understand that the Jacksonville Jags just inherited a whole state when they drafted Jones. We bleed Razorback Red, and if it is an annoyance to you, perhaps you are in the wrong line of work. Your salary is paid by the fans one way or another, correct? To say we are badgering you is a little harsh. We are proud of Matt Jones and now we are proud to be Jaguar fans. Don't bite the hand that feeds you. I don't expect this to be printed, but I do hope you understand that we are just glad to see Matt playing for a team like the Jaguars. Have a great season. I'll keep reading.

Vic: I once knew a guy who bled to death from a paper cut.

Carol from Orange Park, FL:
For some positions we have talent that's not going to make the team, right?

Vic: Yeah, but don't underestimate Jack Del Rio's and James Harris' abilities to massage their roster. If they think you can play, they'll usually find a way to keep you. I think the Jaguars have reached the point with the development of their roster that there's a definite risk that one may get away, but maybe not. We'll see.

Dave from St. Louis, MO:
It seems like the Texans are a team that has given the Jaguars a lot of trouble over the last two seasons. Why do you think they match up so well against the Jaguars?

Vic: I'm not sure that's it. The Jaguars lost in Houston in 2003 in what was Byron Leftwich's first-ever start. They lost in Houston last year in a game in which Leftwich was injured. They lost to Houston in Jacksonville late in the season at a time when the offense was without Fred Taylor and was really struggling. Hey, the Jaguars only scored 13 points the following week in Oakland, against a Raiders team that was 31st in the league in points allowed last year. I'm not ready to pronounce the Texans' domination of the Jaguars as anything more than a product of circumstances.

Tony from Jacksonville:
Jimmy Smith has been dropping balls lately that he would not have dropped in the past. Should Jaguars fans be concerned about this?

Vic: I'm more concerned about something else. Frankly, I haven't seen guys getting deep. I love sure-handed receivers but speed is what opens up secondaries. I need to see more speed from this wide receiver corps – especially on a team that wants to throw the ball down the field – and that includes Jimmy Smith, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones, too. The Jaguars threw deep balls to Smith and Williams against the Dolphins and the defenders were right there to knock the ball away. Jones was drafted in the first round because of his eye-popping speed but, frankly, I haven't seen evidence of it in training camp. I need to see the speed.

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