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Sideline needs dressing up

Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

John from Palatka, FL:
What are your thoughts on the Bert Jones, Roger Carr and Lydell Mitchell era in Baltimore Colts history?

Vic: That was an offense Jaguars fans would've loved. Carr was a burner and one of the best deep threats in the league. Mitchell was to Jones what Lenny Moore was to Johnny Unitas, which is to say a sensational pass receiver out of the backfield. Jones had an absolute gun. At 6-3, 210, he was a big, strong-armed pocket passer who, in the prime of his career, scrambled for a lot of yards and touchdowns. Jones had a passer rating of 102.5 in 1976, when he threw for 24 touchdowns in what was the height of the defensive era of the NFL. The problem for that era in Colts football was that it came along at the wrong time. Pittsburgh and Oakland dominated the AFC and the Colts lost to the Steelers in the 1975 and '76 playoffs, and to the Raiders in the '77 playoffs. That was the end of the line. The Colts had a three-year window and were blocked by two teams.

Zach from Lubbock, TX:
It seems that every time a well-known free agent comes on the market all the fans want them to sign with the team. In most cases the players are old, nearing the end of their careers and are a shell of their former selves. I think the fact that their old team was willing to release them says a lot. Isn't loading up on overpriced free agents what got us into cap problems a few years ago? What are your thoughts?

Vic: You got it. If you wanna build your team to last, youth must be served. It's OK to patch with a veteran player here and there, provided the price is right, but the nucleus of your team has to be home-grown. People use the Patriots as an example of a team that was built through free agency, but that's just not true. The players who have been at the core of their success over the past four years have come through the Patriots' drafts: Tom Brady, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Damien Woody, Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Lawyer Milloy, Troy Brown, Deion Branch, etc. When they have had to replace a guy, they've done very well in signing guys like Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel, but only at the right price. That's the formula for success: Build through the draft, patch in affordable free agency.

Mike from Piscataway, NJ:
With the Matt Jones injury during the first mini-camp, Will Poole being injured and done for the 2005 season before it even starts and the Shawne Merriman hold-out for mini-camp, would you say Merriman is justified in his position by holding-out due to the threat of a serious injury occurring before a deal is done?

Vic: As I wrote in an "Ask Vic" last week, the NFL has a procedure for safeguarding players against the effects of a pre-contract injuries. I still understand and appreciate a player's apprehension.

Paul from Virginia Beach, VA:
At the time the Jaguars drafted Tony Boselli, wasn't he injured but was expected to heal and, therefore, the Jaguars took a risk that paid major dividends?

Vic: You got bad information. Tony Boselli was "clean" on draft day. He didn't become injured until the first week of training camp, when he sustained a knee injury that forced him to miss the rest of camp, all of the preseason and the first three regular-season games. The guy you're describing is Willis McGahee, who the Bills drafted in the first round despite knee reconstruction that meant McGahee wouldn't be able to play until his second season.

Juan from Goleta, CA:
We have invested our last two first-round picks in wide receivers. I know you insist this is a young man's game, but what would you think of signing Jerry Rice to a minimum contract and giving him a shot to compete for a roster spot.

Vic: What purpose would that serve? If he gets hurt, you're stuck with him. If he makes your roster, he will have driven off a young player who might've been worthy of development. A year later, that young player is gone and so is Rice.

Joel from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I totally agree with your assessment of the downfall of the Pats. I just read they will have no offensive coordinator this year and the head coach will be calling the plays. Which approach do you think works best, that of the Pats, where the head coach is the coordinator, or that of the Jags where the head coach lets the coordinator run the offense without interfering other than communicating his offensive philosophy to him?

Vic: You can't compare the two because Jack Del Rio didn't have a guy on his staff who was prime for promotion to the offensive coordinator's job. Bill Belichick has such a guy. Receivers coach Brian Daboll is said to be a riser on Belichick's staff but is only 29 years old and has just five years of NFL experience, only three as a full-time position assistant. Dante Scarnecchia is also very highly regarded by Belichick, but Scarnecchia has never called the plays in his 21 years in New England. Belichick is acting wisely. Instead of panicking and hiring from a pool of outside candidates and running the risk of getting a guy who doesn't fit what he wants to do, Belichick is taking the patient approach and grooming someone from within his staff. That way, Belichick gets to put his stamp on the new guy and he doesn't paint himself into a corner if he doesn't like what he sees. Remember, on a team whose head coach is a defensive guy, as Belichick is, the offensive coordinator is the second-most important man on the staff. The structure may not be what Belichick would like it to be this year, but he's laying the groundwork for something stable and lasting in the years beyond. Why do I get the feeling Belichick knows he's in a bit of a rebuilding year?

Alan from Buford, GA:
You mentioned back on 5/2/05 that Joe Ferguson was one of the most under-appreciated QBs of his time. I just read today the bad news that he's being treated in Houston for cancer. What are some of the things you can remember about his career in Buffalo?

Vic: Consistency and longevity; Joe Ferguson played for 18 seasons and he had some very impressive touchdown totals in the prime of his career. Ferguson threw for 25 touchdowns in 1975, 20 in 1980 and 26 in '83. He was a technician. He was a quarterback you wanted on your side on third down. How about 29,817 career passing yards? Not bad, huh?

Scott not from Arkansas:
If you were responsible for deciding what the Jaguars should do at right corner this year, how would you approach the situation? Can you look into your crystal ball and see if there will be an upgrade at the right price after June 1? Or is help not on the way?

Vic: It's possible someone will come free who might provide help at cornerback, but I don't think that's the attitude you want to take. "Help is not on the way" is a mindset that dedicates you to developing what you have, instead of waiting for something better to come along. The Jaguars invested a third-round draft pick in a cornerback, and they really like David Richardson, who was an undrafted free agent last season. Remember his name; they really like him.

Mai from Minneapolis, MN:
With tight end being the en vogue position right now, who was the best, Winslow, Bavaro or Mackey?

Vic: Not even close; John Mackey.

Joni from Jacksonville:
I saw that 49ers head coach Mike Nolan was denied the right to wear a suit and tie to honor his father on gamedays by the NFL. Don't you think the league's grip on what can and can't be worn on gameday is getting a bit ridiculous? What's wrong with a coach wearing a suit and tie instead of a hoodie?

Vic: I'm on board with "league think," but if I was Mike Nolan you'd have to throw water on me right now. Picture Pete Rozelle telling Paul Brown and Tom Landry they have to take off their fedoras and put on baseball caps. Imagine Vince Lombardi's reaction to being treated as though he's a sideline model. After a couple of years of Belichick's homeless look, maybe the NFL could benefit from a more distinguished sideline appearance.

Mike from London, Canada:
I've been waiting a while to ask this question and I figure that since you officially announced dead time, now seemed appropriate. I keep seeing old footage of football on the NFL network, and the kickers all take one or two steps straight at the ball and kick it. What or who brought about the change to three steps away and offset?

Vic: The soccer-style movement was started by Pete Gogolak, who broke in with Buffalo in the AFL but became a star with the Giants in the NFL from 1966-74. Gogolak's brother, Charlie, was a first-round draft choice by the Redskins in 1966, but he didn't enjoy his older brother's success. The Gogolaks were born in Hungary and Pete's success gave instant rise to a wave of foreign-born soccer-style kickers, such as Jan Stenerud and Garo Yepremian.

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