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Stats I consider important

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

Jim from Tampa, FL:
Love the column. I agree with you that free agency in its current form is a problem. I also think the players have a right to market their skills to the highest bidder. Let's pretend you have been bestowed unlimited authority on all things football for a day. How would you change free agency to be fair to both the teams and the players?

Vic: I have no problem with the system. I wouldn't change anything. Free agency is something we have to live with in this day and age of professional sports, and professional football has grown and prospered and can continue to do so in its present form. In my opinion, the key to success in the current system lies with the owners. They must discipline themselves to operate their teams as businesses, and not as toys for their personal entertainment. Their spending must be within acceptable margins of sound business and with the long-term future of the game in mind. It is also imperative that they place player development above player acquisition.

Mike from Jacksonville:
Hey, Vic, I think that 50,000 fans showing up to watch a 1-7 football team is not bad. I was wondering how the Jaguars rank in average home attendance this year compared to last year? Also, who has the best average attendance and the worst (probably Arizona)?

Vic: It's impossible to give you an answer to your second question. First of all, some teams announce their attendance figure as tickets distributed, which doesn't account for no-shows. Secondly, not all stadium sizes are the same. The only way to get an idea of a team's attendance performance is by measuring its stadium size against its TV blackout percentage. For example, you would obviously consider a franchise with a big stadium and no TV blackouts to be doing very well. Washington is the prime example of that. Teams with small stadiums and a history of blackouts would obviously be judged to not be doing well. The Colts have the smallest stadium in the league and they have had TV blackouts. In ranking cities according to attendance performance, market size has to be figured in, and I think we also have to consider the number of teams in that market that are a drain on the sports dollar. As far as the Jaguars' average home attendance, it was 56,277 in 2002, which is, by far, the smallest in their history. Through five home games this season, the Jaguars have averaged 54,992 per game.

Tom from Jacksonville:
With Terrell Davis announcing on NFL TV that he now thinks his career is over, there will certainly be another round of "Should Terrell Davis be in the Hall of Fame?" conversations. Seeing as though the HOF allows five guys in each year, even if five don't always deserve it, I couldn't see how letting a guy in who was the best running back in the league for four years would diminish the Hall. Your thoughts?

Vic: It's a minimum of three, not five. Terrell Davis was the signature back of his day, but his day was too short.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I have been a Jaguars fan since the start in 1995, and I'm still having nightmares about the three-game sweep at the hands of the Titans in 1999. What happened that season that we just couldn't beat Tennessee and why is our overall win-loss record vs. them so lopsided in their favor?

Vic: First of all, you gotta get over it. Move on. But, to answer your question, two plays in the 1999 season stick out in my mind as killers. Obviously, the Samari Rolle interception in the end zone at the end of the first game is the first of those two plays. Had the ball been thrown away, the Jaguars were looking at a chip-shot field goal that would've sent the game into overtime. The second killer play was Marcus Robertson's interception in the end zone in the second quarter with the game tied at 7-7 and the Jaguars second-and-goal at the Titans six-yard line. The next time the Jaguars had the ball James Stewart scored on a 33-yard run. The Jaguars dominated the second quarter and had a chance to blow the Titans away, but Robertson's interception prevented that from happening and, slowly but surely, the ball began to bounce the Titans' way and they took control of the game. Counting those three losses in '99, the Jaguars have lost eight of the last 10 games played between the two teams, and the reason the Titans have dominated the series is because they have been a superior football team.

Jim from Newcastle, Australia:
Is there any way, yet, for Australian/OS fans to receive "Jaguars Inside Report?" The last time I tried was a few years ago and there was none. Has this situation changed? If not, why is the organization (and I must include the whole NFL in this) alienating valuable supporters?

Vic: Jim, I'm sorry to report the situation hasn't changed. The overseas mail costs are prohibitively expensive, and delivery is very, very slow. Given the postal situation, we don't believe we could deliver to you a timely product that is worth the money you'd have to pay to receive it.

Robert from Jacksonville:
Wednesday night you and Jeff (Lageman) were jabbing at one another. There were some stats thrown out there about the special teams. I believe Jeff stated that special teams were ranked 11th in gross punt yards, not net, and that this stat is a bit misleading. On this topic, what stats do you think are overrated? Which stats do you think are most important?

Vic: Passing yards are a great stat if you want to know who lost the game. For example, Peyton Manning had 347 yards passing yesterday, while Byron Leftwich had 179. Touchdown passes are very important, and third-down passing is a critical stat, but the league's highest passing yards totals each week usually belong to quarterbacks on losing teams. The stats I have traditionally revered are rushing yards, rushing attempts and time of possession. For example, the Jaguars out-rushed the Colts 174 yards to 47, had 38 rushing attempts to the Colts' 21, and held the ball three minutes and 18 seconds longer. If you apply a points-per-minute formula to time of possession, you could argue that it's the most important of all the stats. Of course, turnovers are very important, but in the case of the Colts' two turnovers Sunday, one of them produced a touchdown for the Colts. Donovin Darius intercepted Peyton Manning in the first possession of the game, on third down. Then Darius fumbled the ball away to the Colts on his run-back. The Colts went on to score a touchdown. Had Darius dropped the ball instead of catching it, the Colts would've had to punt, so, in that case the turnovers cancel each other out. No matter what stat you use -- even turnovers, whose importance is considered to be set in cement -- you have to look deeper than the numbers.

Alan from Orange Park, FL:
Can the Jags put the franchise tag on Darius two years in a row? If not, who do you think might get the franchise tag next year?

Vic: Yes, the Jaguars can put the franchise tag on Donovin Darius again. There's no limit as to how many times that can be done. But teams are not required to use the franchise tag every year. In fact, I think it's best to avoid using it. By not having a "franchise" player, you've successfully achieved contract harmony with every player on your roster, for at least another year. In many cases, the franchise tag creates enmity between the player and the team.

John from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What a big win for the Jaguars. We tried our best to give it away with the botched field goal. What was up with all of the dropped passes? Was Leftwich throwing the ball too hard or were the receivers hearing footsteps? Boy, do we miss Keenan. It looks like Troy Edwards is afraid to make the tough catch over the middle. He whimped out at least twice when he had legitimate chances to make the tough catch in traffic over the middle. I thought J.J. Stokes was supposed to be our possession receiver and he isn't even dressing. What are your thoughts about shoring up the receiving corps?

Vic: Next year's draft crop would seem to be perfect for doing that.

Jay from Jacksonville:
We lost the toss yesterday and chose the side of the field that had us going into the wind in the fourth quarter. Can you explain the strategy involved after losing the toss at the beginning of a game?

Vic: Your statement is not correct. The Colts won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball. At that point it was the Jaguars' turn to exercise their option and they chose to defend the south goal. Each team gets one choice per half. To start the second half, the Jaguars had first choice and they chose to receive the ball. At that point, it was the Colts' choice as to which goal to defend and they elected to defend the south goal.

Derrick from Jacksonville:
Well, we finally got what you wanted; a win against a quality team. What are your thoughts on this win and can we do the same thing against Tennessee? Oh, to Terrence, I believe that was Mike Doss on his back at the 15-yard line, so my friend who is sighted tells me?

Vic: All right, Derrick, don't get too full of yourself now. It's just one win, and the boys do have to go to Tennessee this week. What do I think of their chances? It's too early to get a read. Ask on Friday.

Karen from Jacksonville:
Why were there TV timeouts during yesterday's game if it was blacked out?

Vic: You see, Karen, there's this little town in Indiana called Indianapolis. It's a really nice town with a lot of people in it. They even made it the state capitol. Since Jacksonville was too far of a drive for Colts fans, the league decided to show it on TV to the nice people in Indianapolis.

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