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Reason for optimism

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

Tremaine from Jacksonville:
What are the factors that determine a team's market size?

Vic: Population and number of TV households are the two important categories in judging the size of a team's DMA (designated market area), which includes the city proper and its surrounding communities. Jacksonville's DMA includes the counties of Duval, St. John's, Nassau, Baker and Clay.

Madinah from Raleigh, NC:
Why no cheerleading in the press box?

Vic: The press box is a working area. It's a place where professional people are housed to perform their specific tasks. The press box includes reporters, scouts and NFL officials from all over the country and "no cheering in the press box" is intended to guarantee a working environment free of interference and conflict. It's more, however, than just a rule; it's a mind-set. Reporters are expected to be objective. We know we all have some kind of "rooting" interest in the game we cover – most reporters will tell you they root for the story – but we discipline our behavior out of respect for our profession and those around us. This is our job. This is what we do for a living. In most cases, we are college journalism graduates, and one of the courses all journalism students take is "Ethics," which explains in detail why there is to be no cheering in the press box. I was surprised by the recent firestorm of debate about the role of the media. I had assumed it was understood that reporters are required to be objective.

Chris from Fleming Island, FL:
Do you think Reggie Williams will have a superb year? From what I've heard, he has had a great showing in the OTA's and will live up to his hype. Also, I've got to say that Joe Zelenka is thecoolest, most down-to-earth player I have ever met. He takes the time to talk to you, sign autographs and answer any questions.

Vic: Reggie Williams was one of the hits of the spring. Since last season, he's lost weight and gained quickness and maturity. Williams is properly positioned to have the kind of year he predicted he would have last season, when he sat in front of reporters on the first day of his rookie training camp and talked about making the Pro Bowl. That was, in my opinion, an immediate red flag about his maturity level. As far as your comments about Joe Zelenka, I'd like to relate this little story. I recently had the pleasure of giving a group of Air Force officers a tour of Alltel Stadium. I finished the tour with a trip to the practice field, where the Jaguars were going through a workout. We stood next to the field where the specials teams guys were practicing. During a break in the action, Zelenka and Chris Hanson came over to the Air Force officers, introduced themselves and thanked them for their service to their country. I like that a lot.

Frank from Orange Park, FL:
What has the team been doing in the offseason to become better than last year, and to become a playoff team?

Vic: That's a great question so let's take a hard look at what the Jaguars have done to become better. Start with a re-shaping of Jack Del Rio's coaching staff. Del Rio hired Carl Smith to be the team's offensive coordinator. I like the way Del Rio went about the hiring process. He didn't go for the "hot" guy, he went for the "right" guy. What I mean by "right" guy is that Del Rio picked someone who meshes with what Del Rio wants to do; with Del Rio's beliefs in how football should be played. I don't think Bill Musgrave was a good fit for Del Rio. Musgrave is a "West Coast offense" guy and that means finesse football. I don't think Del Rio respects finesse football and I don't think he wants his team to bear that tag. Smith is a power football guy. He's a run-it-between-the-tackles and throw-it-down-the-field coordinator, which is the philosophy that would seem to fit the talent this team has. On defense, Del Rio added Dave Campo and I think that's a big plus. Campo is a coverages wizard. He's also a former head coach on whom Del Rio can lean during tense times. On the roster front, the Jaguars made a major acquisition in defensive end Reggie Hayward. They are entrusting in him the responsibility of being a big-time pass-rusher. If he fulfills that expectation, the Jaguars will have clearly solved their greatest need on the defensive side of the ball. On offense, they added a weapon in Matt Jones and a major talent at the critical left tackle position by "stealing" Khalif Barnes in the second round of the draft. Third-round pick Scott Starks is fast and tough and may be just what the Jaguars need at right cornerback. Roster depth was significantly improved with the addition of other players in free agency and in the draft. Improvement, however, isn't all about new players. It's also about the development of young players already on your roster. We expect Reggie Williams to be better; Ernest Wilford to be better; Jorge Cordova to be recovered from his ACL. Most of all, we expect Byron Leftwich to play at a higher level in his third pro season and I can honestly tell you that when spring practices ended Leftwich was at his all-time practice best. I see lots of things about this team to make me believe it will be better than last year's team and that it'll compete for a playoff spot this year. If I have one concern, however, it's for Fred Taylor's recovery from knee surgery. We haven't seen him test the knee, yet, and that worries me. The Jaguars need him to be the star running back he always has been because you're not going to win in this offense without a productive running game. Soon, we'll have our answer on Taylor. Frankly, I'd like to see the Jaguars swing a trade for a running back, such as a Travis Henry, a Larry Johnson or a Kevan Barlow.

Sonny from Jacksonville:
What is the state of the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville proposal for revenue sharing? I know it was discussed at a recent owners meeting and hope the big-market teams paid close attention.

Vic: It's a long-term sell job. It's not dead.

Keith from Jacksonville:
Your idea of having guest fan columns was awesome. It was a great way to get our daily Jag fix while you were gone. Please do it again next year when you're on vacation. You don't know how many people depend on you for Jag news and having something to read during this dead time keeps us from pulling our hair out.

Vic: They did a great job. I thank them all.

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