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The great debate

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

Brian from Jacksonville:
I love your articles and sense of humor. As training camp draws to a close, would you agree with a local media report that the Jags have more questions to answer at the end of camp than they had at the beginning of camp? What stands out the most to you as camp ends?

Vic: If there are more questions to be answered today than there were on July 25, it's only because young talent has emerged that is pressing the issue where there previously wasn't an issue. That's what stands out most to me as this team heads into its third preseason game.

Steve from Palmdale, CA:
Now that training camp is over, the team goes into "season practice mode." What does that consist of?

Vic: A lot of meetings and one practice a day. It's a way of saying players can return to their own beds.

Chuck from Jacksonville:
Counting this year, how many years are left on Jimmy Smith's contract? Also, what kind of hit would the Jaguars be facing if they release Smith from his contract?

Vic: Jimmy Smith has four years remaining on his contract, including this year. He is scheduled to be close to a $6.5 million hit on the Jaguars salary cap this year. If the team released him now, he would be a $3.25 million (his salary) savings on the cap. The real issue is his remaining amortization, which is $10.2 million (highest on the team). If he was released now, the stagger on that figure would be about $3.1 million this year and about $7.1 million in 2004. Of course, all of that would be in the form of "dead money." By the way, if you're wondering why the 2003 figures don't add up, it's because they don't include a $100,000 workout bonus this year that has already been paid and must stay in this year.

Skip from Jacksonville:
How come all of the posts from folks not even on the "First Coast" about the Jags? I still have yet to see my question that I posted last week regarding Mark Brunell's longevity in Jacksonville. Oh, and a football virgin? Get real. I can't believe you even put that on there.

Vic: I'm sorry, Skip, but I don't think virgins get enough credit.

Mario from Orlando, FL:
I've been a football fan for about four years now and I'm still trying to understand some terms used in play-calling. What does a "cover two" defense mean, and strong or weak coverage?

Vic: "Cover two" refers to a two-safeties, two cornerbacks, three-linebackers coverage scheme. The safeties are the keys. They are each responsible for the deep half of their sides of the field. Why do they call it "cover two?" Because "cover one" was taken. "Strong" and "weak" are nothing more than terms that usually define the side of the formation on which the tight end lines up. The tight end's place in the formation usually makes for one more body on that side of the field, and that becomes the strong side. The other side of the field is the weak side. Don't be intimidated by football terminologies and people on the outside who try to impress everyone with their command of such self-serving babble. The object of defense is very simple: Tackle the man with the ball. If you understand and embrace that basic concept of the game, you are a truly wise person.

Scot from Jacksonville:
We all know it's possible to push salary cap money into future years, but if a team is currently below the cap, can they proactively take a hit of some dollars this year to lessen the hit in future years?

Vic: Yes, but they'd have to re-structure contracts to move future salary money into the current year. It would provide for future salary cap room, but it comes with a risk: With that salary money having been moved forward, that player's incentive to perform has been reduced.

Chris from Jacksonville FL:
I know it's not going to happen, but if we were to cut Jimmy, Mark and Kyle right now, I understand the cap ramifications would be somewhere around a $3 million savings this year. How would those cuts affect next year's cap and would all three players' salaries be off the books by 2005?

Vic: Three million dollars? Try $13 million. Mark Brunell is due a $6.75 million salary, Jimmy Smith a $3.25 million salary, and Kyle Brady a $3 million salary. All of that money would be saved and subtracted from the Jaguars' 2003 salary cap. Of course, it's too late to use that money to provide significant replacements for those players this season, and that would be the big drawback making those cuts: The team would weaken itself for this season. The real gain would come in the future. The remaining amortizations of those three players, which totals $17.5 million, would have to be off the books by the end of the 2004 season. The same could be accomplished by releasing those three players after this season is complete, but would the team do that? I'm inclined to believe it would probably wait until after June 1, 2004, so as to lessen the "dead money" hit in '04, and that would push more "dead money" into 2005. My concern is this: I think it's important that by '05, which is the earliest it can be accomplished, Jack Del Rio should be able to field a football team of his players and with a salary cap that is free of burden inherited from the previous regime. Present vs. future: It's the great debate.

Joe from Phoenix, AZ:
I have had season tickets since 1995 and have been flying back for home games since I moved to Phoenix in 2001. I was at the Dolphins game and was very concerned about the low attendance. The stadium renovations are awesome, our team has a lot of potential and the opponent was top-notch. I truly believe we must put in 70,000-plus fans for our regular season games against Tampa, Miami and Tennessee or Mr. Weaver is going to eventually look at other options. What's up with the fan base? As a contracts attorney, there is no such thing, in my experience, as an iron-clad lease.

Vic: Joe, I can't answer your question, but I wanted to make your comments available to our readers.

John from Jacksonville:
While it's still very early and training camp is ending, how would you rate the Jaguars first draft class in the new era, compared to the average draft class grade of the old era?

Vic: It really is too early, John. The Tom Coughlin era had eight drafts. This new era has had just one. What I can tell you is this year's draft class appears to be strong. Yes, it's early, but you have to like what you see. And, yes, the Coughlin era was soundly criticized for its drafting, but Coughlin's last two draft classes aren't bad. The 2001 crop produced two players of star-quality potential; Marcus Stroud and Maurice Williams. And the 2002 class may have found a quarterback (David Garrard) in the fourth round who will either become this team's quarterback of the future, or provide great trade value, as Rob Johnson did.

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