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Seventeen percent get it

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

Sam from Gainesville, FL:
There's a poll over on asking about "the biggest story this offseason." Thirty-seven percent of respondents said Roethlisberger's accident, 33 percent said Terrell Owens signing in Dallas, 14 percent said Brett Favre returning. A paltry 17 percent said the Collective Bargaining Agreement deal. When are NFL fans going to wake up and realize that without the CBA, nothing else matters?

Vic: Those among the 17 percent get it. The rest are completely out of it. The new CBA is, without a doubt, the top story of the offseason. It's a labor agreement that, in my opinion, threatens the health of the game. It's an agreement that, in my opinion, is nothing more than a four-year license for the players to accumulate windfall profits. It's an agreement that, in my opinion, will be terminated after four years, not six, and will require the owners to take a very hard stance the next time around. It's an agreement that, in anybody's opinion, will largely determine who the next commissioner is. Roethlisberger? T.O.? Favre? Only for those who don't get it.

Michael from Orange Park, FL:
I hope you enjoyed your time off, Vic. Do you know where the Jags are as far as getting their draft picks signed?

Vic: It'll start to happen now; a couple will probably fall later in the week. The big one is the first-round pick, of course, and that's just starting.

Jim from Jacksonville:
"The teams that are more physical usually win." Does that mean you think the Patriots have been the most physical team the last few years?

Vic: They were one of them. I don't know how you could argue that they weren't a physical team in 2004. In the Super Bowl against Philadelphia, the Patriots took control of the game with a physical, ball-control running game in the third quarter. Their first two Super Bowl champions didn't have great rushing offenses, but under Bill Belichick the Patriots have always had extremely physical defenses and special teams. I think it's safe to say the Steelers were the most physical team in the playoffs last year. Tampa Bay was a physical team. So were the Ravens. You have to go back to the Rams' win over the Titans to find the last sissy team to win the Super Bowl. I think it's an accurate statement that the teams that are more physical usually win.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
I would like to know what makes Bill Belichick so good at running a team and drafting and evaluating players.

Vic: Belichick sees the big picture. I think it is the most important quality a coach can have. If his focus becomes too narrow, he does things for today at the cost of tomorrow. That's a formula for disaster. Belichick has always had an eye for value, and he's not afraid to act on his opinions. When he thought Bernie Kosar had eroding skills, he cut him. When he thought Tom Brady was better than Drew Bledsoe, he made Brady the starter. When he thought Lawyer Milloy wasn't worth the money he wanted, he got rid of him. Belichick understands the importance of having a healthy salary cap, and he understands the importance of the draft. Even though he has a deep-pockets owner who is very capable of spending big money in free agency, Belichick has built his team through the draft and by spending prudently in free agency. He doesn't do wild things. Want more? He's a great defensive mind and he develops his coaching staff with great aplomb. He truly is a great coach.

George from Baltimore, MD:
You made reference to the offense changing its philosophy to suit Marcedes Lewis' talents. At the same time you've stressed that Jags fans' expectations were unrealistically high for Matt Jones last year. Don't you think you're making the same mistake with regards to Lewis?

Vic: No, I don't. Matt Jones was making a position switch. Marcedes Lewis isn't. I also don't expect Lewis to play quarterback, wide receiver and running back. I don't expect him to throw passes and run out of shotgun formation. I have one expectation for him: Catch the ball. I expect he will catch lots of balls.

Howard from Buford, GA:
It seems like every year there's at least one team expected to do well that falls off the map and one team that seems to come out of nowhere to surprise everyone. Who do you think these teams may be this year and why?

Vic: My surprise teams would be Miami and Philadelphia, but would they really qualify as surprises? Miami is everybody's surprise team. Cincinnati was my surprise team last year and I hit on that. My disappointment team this year is Washington. They barely made the playoffs last year and now they're being predicted to win the NFC. Not in my book. My disappointment team last year, I think, was New England. At midseason that looked good, but by the end of the year I was all wrong.

Keith from Jacksonville:
We all know how the Seahawks ended up in the NFC, but how did the Colts come to the AFC?

Vic: The Colts were one of three NFL teams that agreed to move to the AFC when the NFL and AFL merged. The Steelers and Browns were the other two. Each of the three got $3 million for moving. The moves were necessary to balance the number of teams in both conferences.

Jared from Edison, NJ:
Care to explain just exactly how somebody could be misquoted in an autobiography?

Vic: Terrell Owens and his agent used the word very loosely. Is there anyone who actually thought Owens wrote that book? It's a biography, T.O. You could look it up. Do you think he has a dictionary in his house?

Brandon from McComb, MS:
What rookie has the best shot at linebacker, in your opinion? What about Brent Hawkins intrigues you?

Vic: There are only three rookie linebackers: Clint Ingram, Brent Hawkins and Brian Iwuh. Ingram, in my opinion, has the best chance of being a starter because he's the only one of the three who offers immediate every-downs potential. Iwuh has a chance to become a big-time special teams player. Hawkins intrigues me because he does one thing very well, and that one thing is at a great premium in the NFL. If he can rush the passer in the NFL as he did in college football, Hawkins will be a home run pick.

Lawrence from Jacksonville:
Last year, I pointed out that Byron's 2004 season was statistically identical to Brunell's 1999 season. As uncanny as those similarities are, they don't end there. Brunell's record as a starter his first three years here was 22-18. Leftwich is 21-17. The Jaguars' records in Brunell's first three years were 4-12 in 1995, 9-7 in 1996 and 11-5 in 1997. The Jaguars' records in Leftwich's first three years were 5-11, 9-7 and 12-4. Your elaboration is welcomed.

Vic: I think you've said it all. I love students of the game.

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