Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Rich from St Augustine, FL:
I find your comment, "The NFL punting and kicking games are dramatically different from anything college punters and kickers experience," intriguing. Could you please elaborate on how they are different. The only thing I can think of is the rush would be faster.
Vic: There's a big difference between playing for a letter and playing for money. Imagine you're a young, unestablished kicker facing a 45-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the game that will determine whether your team wins or loses. And you know that if you miss, you'll probably get cut, and that means you can't go back to the dorm. Get the point? When I started covering football, Chuck Noll was the head coach of the Steelers. He was also his team's untitled offensive coordinator and special teams coach (no assistant). He had a total of six assistant coaches. In contrast, Jack Del Rio had 16 assistant coaches last year, and that included a special teams coordinator and special teams assistant who spend all of their time all year on nothing but special teams. In many cases, college special teams coaches also coach another position. In the NFL, special teams play has become every bit as creative and detailed as its two counterparts. "Directional kicking" is an art, and if a punter or kickoff man can't do it, he's gone. A missed field goal attempt is the next thing to a criminal offense. In other words, expectations and demands have never been greater, and considering all of the time and money that goes into special teams, they should be. In the pro game, the simple execution of snap, catch and kick is extremely faster and more precise than it is in the college game, which sometimes appears to be slow motion. The ball is different; a little fatter and more difficult to kick than the college ball. The kickoff tee in college football is one inch higher than the NFL tee, and the kickoff line in college football is five yards ahead of the NFL line. The rules are different and everything about the pro game is meant to make punting and kicking difficult. Consider the difference in the rules concerning downing of the ball. In the college game, a player may stand in the end zone and down the ball at the one-yard line, as long as the ball doesn't cross the plane of the goal line. In the NFL, if either the ball or the man touches the end zone, it's a touchback. One other thing: College football doesn't have the sideline "ball police" the NFL does. That means a lot of previously-used, softer balls happen to make it into play in the college game.
Jason from Jacksonville:
Vic, I was the one who asked what type of defensive innovation our flag football team should run and you advised, "surprise break from huddle." Thanks, our defense ranked number one in Jacksonville.
Vic: Congratulations, but I can't imagine the "surprise" tactic had anything to do with it. When the ball is snapped, you gotta play, and apparently you guys did.
Dewayne from Detroit, MI:
Vic, I see Mike Williams, Roy Williams and Larry Fitzgerald being the top three receivers in the draft. Do you think there's a chance the Jaguars may draft one of the three?
Vic: If Larry Fitzgerald were to be available when the Jaguars pick, there's no doubt in my mind he would be their guy. But Fitzgerald will probably be gone, and most people think Mike Williams will be gone, too. That leaves Roy Williams, who appears to fit somewhere near where the Jaguars are positioned, so, Roy Williams is number one on the rumor mill at this point. No doubt, "Shack" Harris wants to get a touchdown-making receiver for Byron Leftwich. OK, with all of that having been said, I want to make this appeal: The "Ask Vic" e-mails have become a daily grind of Mike Williams and Roy Williams questions. There's really not much more I can say about these two guys; they're both tall, they're both named Williams and the Jaguars could sure use one of them. Please don't send me anymore questions about Mike and Roy for awhile. I'll answer questions about Ted Williams, Hank Williams and even Esther Williams, but I have to take a break from Mike and Roy. There are over 300 other candidates in this year's draft – some of them aren't even named Williams – and I happen to think they're worth considering, too.
Eric from Columbus, IN:
Vic, in your opinion, who is the biggest first-round bust ever?
Vic: There are the usual candidates: Aundray Bruce, Tony Mandarich, Ryan Leaf. But I'm going to give you a fresh name: Walt Patulski, a defensive end from Notre Dame who was the first pick of the 1972 draft. Patulski dominated at Notre Dame, which played the best schedule in college football. The '72 draft produced some of the best players in NFL history and Patulski was considered the can't-miss pick of that draft, but he missed. He hung around with Buffalo for a few years, then tried to reclaim his career one season with St. Louis, but it was too late. At no time in his brief NFL career did he ever look like the "killer" he was in college.
Thomas from Hays, KS:
Hey, I really like your column and I was wondering where you think K-State QB Ell Roberson will go if he will go at all? I haven't heard anything about him in the upcoming draft and would like to know your thoughts.
Vic: Undrafted free agent.
Travis from Eau Claire, WI:
Vic, I've got a kind of wordy question, but I'll see if I can't have it make some sense. Let's say, hypothetically, Freddy T's contract was to pay him $2 million next year and $5 million in his last year, and after the regular season gets started the Jaguars are like $4 million under the salary cap. Could the team restructure his contract to pay him more in the current season and shave some of the final year to keep from getting into any cap problems in the future and, if so, what are your thoughts?
Vic: What you're describing is called moving money forward. You never want to leave room on your salary cap at the end of the year, so, if you're going to have some room left, it's a good idea to move money forward from future caps. Here's what you do: You negotiate a contract extension with a player you consider to be one of the core players of your team's future. You pay him roster bonus instead of signing bonus because roster bonus must be declared in full in the year it's paid, while signing bonus must be divided evenly over the life of the contract. By paying roster bonus and having all of that money put on this year's cap, you're effectively prepaying for future caps. There are other ways to accomplish the same goal. Make the up-front money current-year salary instead of signing bonus; anything that requires the money you've paid him to be declared in full now. Read "Salary Cap 101."
Joseph from Pensacola, FL:
Thank you for the best team site on the web. My question is: Why is the NFL so ambivalent to what the fans want? We like celebrations. We like to drink beer in the fourth quarter. We like to watch our teams on TV, especially if we're paying for it (NFL Sunday Ticket). This is supposed to be entertainment, not a moral crusade. Vic, is the NFL now so PC that it's losing touch with the fan?
Vic: It's also supposed to be an athletic competition, and the NFL is responsible for protecting the integrity and dignity of that pursuit. I am one of those "crusaders."