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Small market requires winning

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

Galen Link from Merritt Island, FL:
I have wondered over the years what affect Jacksonville's small media area has in the after-game interviews, play-maker clips, and sports announcers' general attitudes toward the Jaguars? It seems all aspects of the Jaguars' traditions, community activities and game-day accomplishments go unnoticed at the national level and only mentioned in our local area. Do you think if our media base was on a par with New York, San Francisco or Dallas that the sporting news commentators would be more Jacksonville friendly?

Vic: If you want national publicity in a small market, you better win. However, I don't believe Jacksonville is treated harshly by the national media. In fact, the national media went out of its way to promote the Jaguars in recent seasons. Now, as a result of last year's disappointing season, that could change.

Scott T. Sevaaetasi from Carson, CA:
Is there any real chance for these free agents to make the squad, especially at the linebacker position, with Hardy's contract being up and the age of Nickerson? Do these newer, younger and more explosive linebackers have any chance of seeing time. With such a new look and approach this year toward the draft and all these free agents coming in, it seems to be leaning toward a new and fresh start on the defensive side.

Vic: I believe third-round pick Eric Westmoreland is going to have a major impact this season, but I'm not expecting a big bang from the undrafted rookie linebackers. Hardy Nickerson's cap situation is such that the Jaguars can't replace him. Linebacker can be expected to be a position of need in next year's draft, too.

Matt Kochan from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Do you feel that in cases of players who have off-the-field problems, like those of R. Jay Soward, a strict disciplinarian coach like Tom Coughlin is better to straighten out their conduct, or perhaps a more easy-going coach who wouldn't be so harsh on the player?

Vic: History would tend to suggest it doesn't matter. Off-the-field issues are personal property and seem to run their course, despite the efforts of coaches and teams to guide troubled players. All coaches and all teams have players with off-the-field problems that won't go away.

John Smithers from Jacksonville:
With the Jaguars struggling to sell out each game, approximately how many season tickets have been sold for this upcoming season? How does this compare with previous seasons? Do you expect the poorest attendance yet? Also, is there any ranking of how good NFL fans are? Where do you think Jags fans stand? Personally, I think Jags fans are fair-weather and quiet. What's your take?

Vic: I can't provide you with actual numbers, but ticket sales for the 2001 season are significantly lower than in past seasons. As disappointing as that it is, there is still no doubt in my mind that Jacksonville is intensely interested in the Jaguars. The TV ratings tell me that. The rules of supply and demand govern all of business, and the size of Alltel Stadium makes selling out difficult. That's an undeniable fact with which the Jaguars are attempting to deal by becoming more aggressive and creative with their ticket marketing. My opinion of Jaguars fans is that they are a "prospect with enormous upside." They have been enthusiastic and loyal through the first six seasons, and their ranks are growing. Growth is the key. Anything lasting takes time to build.

Cliff Younger from Jacksonville:
I might be a little ahead, but what's going to happen next offseason with the Jaguars salary cap? Is it going to be worse, or will it be any lighter than it was this year?

Vic: It doesn't appear the Jaguars will be as far over the cap as they were this past winter, but their cap situation may still be as critical because there's considerably less room for re-structuring contracts. The majority of high-priced veterans on this team have already had their contracts re-structured to the max. Next winter, the Jaguars will have to deal with cutting many of those maxed-out veterans, which will immediately accelerate their bonus money onto the 2002 cap. Cleaning up the Jaguars salary cap situation is probably going to take at least two more years.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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