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The Ray Lewis era?

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

Brent from Jacksonville:
Since Jacksonville was awarded the team back in 1995, can you think which player or players have had the biggest impact? I realize this is just your opinion but it is valued.

Vic: There are four players whose impacts have been the greatest: Mark Brunell, Tony Boselli, Jimmy Smith and Fred Taylor. There have been a lot of players who've made major impacts, but those four players represent the main body of this franchise through its first 11 seasons. Marcus Stroud and John Henderson are the leading the Jaguars into a new era of star players. Who will join them? Byron Leftwich? Matt Jones? Rashean Mathis?

Derrick from Jacksonville:
Is there any truth that Ray Lewis wants out of Baltimore? Wouldn't this be a good move for the Jags? Put Mike Peterson in his natural position and put Ray in the middle. Am I wishful thinking?

Vic: I wouldn't call it wishful thinking. I'd call it ridiculously clinging to the past. You can't build football teams on worn-out bodies. It's a young man's game.

Clay from Jacksonville:
Previously you've stated that you posted questions that generally reflected the questions of your readers. Now you state that you were receiving around 20 questions a day on Arrington's status. Why not keep your readers updated then? Did you find leaving us in the dark brought more or fewer questions than keeping us informed like you did with J.J. Stokes?

Vic: What update? I asked the Jaguars front office guys what was new with Arrington and I was told every time that nothing was new. I believe them because nothing happened after he visited. Do you really want me to update you every day that there is no update? Isn't it implied that if there's nothing to report nothing will be reported; that news will be reported when it happens? Tell me what I failed to report. What event occurred between the Jaguars and Arrington that I missed? Repeatedly I said the Jaguars were interested in him. They were. That's as far as it went. Aren't you a little manic about all of this? You may need to check yourself.

Frank from Oviedo, FL:
I think you should start a "Hall of Shame" or something like that for the attention all of these overrated free agents get from the fans who get all worked up over them. The first three inductees would be LaVar Arrington, Terrell Owens and J.J. Stokes. You could make a list of these players so fans will stop the nonsense. What do you think?

Vic: I think we're about to go into the Ray Lewis era.

Chris from Tallahassee, FL:
I agree with you that it's smarter to get a young player cheaper than to buy a more expensive veteran. Even if you do have a lot of cap room, you don't want to spend it on a guy who might get hurt. Wasn't Coughlin a victim of the salary cap so we had to let go of Keenan McCardell and our other premium players from the first era of Jaguars football?

Vic: In a self-inflicted kind of way, yes, he was a victim. The decision was made to be aggressive. The Jaguars were too aggressive. It caused a collapse Tom Coughlin couldn't prevent, once the cap mistakes were made.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
When responding to Tom from Ft. Meyers you neglected to mention the trade right before the 1995 draft that sent third and fifth-round picks to Green Bay for some quarterback named Brunell.

Vic: That was a smart trade, wasn't it? And what about trading Mark to the Redskins for a third-round pick? Consider the irony: He's acquired for a third and a fifth, then returns a third in departing. In between, he led the Jaguars to two AFC title games and established himself as the standard by which Jaguars quarterbacks will be judged for a long time. You trade a three for a star and then get the three back when he leaves. That's what I call maintaining value.

Travis from Charlotte, NC:
Since you think playoff performance is the most important indicator of a quarterback's greatness, would that mean Peyton Manning is one of the worst quarterbacks ever?

Vic: Postseason performance isn't the only standard by which quarterbacks are judged, but have you ever heard anyone talk about Dan Marino that they didn't mention the fact he never won a Super Bowl? Don't kid yourself. Quarterbacks are judged mostly by what they do in the postseason. Who would you rather have, Manning or Tom Brady? If you said Manning, you better check yourself, too.

Henry from Jacksonville:
I think you are being misled on the New Orleans situation. A Super Bowl is a huge economic boon for a region and I cannot believe that city would turn down a Super Bowl, even if the Saints moved away.

Vic: It's not likely a stadium can be maintained to Super Bowl standards without having a full-time tenant. The Rose Bowl does it, but it hosts a lot of games and it's one of the premier venues in American sporting history, which makes it an historic landmark. The Rose Bowl has only hosted five Super Bowls, however, and hasn't hosted one since January of 1993. It is the only non-NFL stadium to host a Super Bowl since 1985. The NFL likes to play the Super Bowl in NFL stadiums. That guarantees the facility will be maintained up to NFL standards. That's the thinking on New Orleans needing to have a team to continue to be a Super Bowl site. The NFL wants New Orleans to remain in the Super Bowl rotation and that probably means the Saints will stay.

Martin from Jacksonville:
With all of the excitement surrounding the draft next weekend, what does Vic's crystal ball see for rookie of the year? Also, who is your sleeper in the draft this year at any position?

Vic: It appears as though LenDale White, Laurence Maroney and DeAngelo Williams are all going to hang on until the late stages of the first round. That means they could all end up with playoff-caliber football teams, which means they'd be playing on good teams and their impacts could be high-profile. I think the rookie of the year could come out of that trio. If White ends up in Carolina, he could have a big rookie year. As far as a sleeper is concerned, I like the Toledo quarterback, Bruce Gradkowski. I think he's a guy who could play in this league as a capable career backup for a long time. He's an almost perfect backup. He's smart, tough, durable, mobile and he seems to always find a way to win. He's got nothing for an arm but he finds ways to get it done. Teams are becoming increasingly concerned about their backup quarterback, for the obvious reason. More than ever, the backup quarterback job is a tightly defined role, and teams don't want to have to change the guy in that role from year to year. Guys such as Gradkowski have no delusions of grandeur. They know what they are and they are satisfied with the role they are asked to perform.

Russ from Jacksonville:
What is the major knock on Maurice Jones-Drew? He is said to be an ultra-productive, game-breaking runner, pass-catcher and return man. He runs low to the ground and gets lost behind linemen. So what's the major negative on drafting him early? Is it only an issue of his height?

Vic: The guy's 5-6; 5-7 if you like him. I'm not saying he can't overcome his lack of size, but you're picking against the odds when you select someone that small. I agree with you that he's a terrific player.

Sam from Jacksonville:
What exactly do you mean when you say a linebacker is or isn't a disruptor?

Vic: It's another way of saying he's a player capable of penetrating into the other team's backfield and causing a disruption in the flow of the offense's execution. The Jaguars have a gap-scheme defense. It is based on penetration and disruption. Some teams prefer to hold the point, which is thought to yield fewer big plays. Attack defense is fun to watch, unless it gets creased for a long run. The Jaguars gave up more big plays last season than they would consider acceptable. They were still among the best defenses in the league against big plays, but the Jaguars' standards on defense are very high and decreasing big plays is a goal for this season. If they're going to continue to play their attack, gap-scheme defense, and they will, they need a weakside linebacker who can penetrate into the opponent's backfield and disrupt the flow of the offense's play.

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