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The three 'faces' of Brunell

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

Jacques Wright from London, England:
Over the past few weeks many have said the Jags' offensive line has contributed greatly to our poor offensive play. Where do you see Maurice Williams in all of this? Is he holding his own as a rookie? What are his long-term prospects with the team?
Vic: Maurice Williams is more than holding his own. He may be the best offensive tackle to have come out of last spring's draft. Williams is the best thing about a bad season, and his long-term outlook is even brighter.

Jon-Michael Harris from Starke, FL:
Why doesn't the NFL use just division games when deciding a division champion? If a team goes undefeated in division play, are they not the best in the division? The division teams are not playing the same schedule; a schedule they had no choice in.
Vic: If only intra-division games counted in the standings, inter-division games would be nothing more than exhibitions. Why would you even play your starters? Now, if you're saying do away with divisions and just rank the teams 1-16 in the two conferences, I'll agree that it's a viable idea and it was discussed during realignment meetings. However, the NFL wants to maintain the idea of division title races in December. They like the idea of division titles and so do I. They are the pro equivalent of regional conferences, and they especially mean a lot in divisions where the teams are traditional and geographical rivals.

Paul Beardsley from Jacksonville:
Why, in Soward's case, since he's the one who is in breach of his contract, do the Jaguars suffer if we cut him? In all business contracts that I know of, if you are in breach of the contract you suffer, not the company.
Vic: The answer is very simple: You pay it, you claim it. In this case, it's the remaining amortization of R. Jay Soward's original signing bonus. They can not extinguish that money from their cap by cutting him, and Soward is not obliged to return it. It should make teams very careful about the people to whom they give money. That's the idea of the salary cap; fiscal responsibility.

Harley Hoffman from Ormond Beach, FL:
I read your response to the "get rid of Taylor and Brunell" demands. Cap issues aside, the fans will react by not buying tickets unless something is done. Fifteen thousand ticket defections at $1,500 per is $22.5 million. It could happen in this football-savvy town. We may also need to load Coughlin on the bus for departure. A clean sweep is needed. Butch Davis has done a great job in Cleveland and we need some of that kind of change. What do you think?
Vic: I think the Jaguars should take a calm and calculated look at their situation when this season ends, and I have no doubt they will. Clearly, there needs to be change in philosophy and operation. How could this team have allowed itself to get into such a grave salary cap situation? That question must be answered and a course set for recovery and maintenance. The same applies to the draft and all other forms of player-acquisition. All teams experience operational reviews following down seasons, and no team and no coach is above review. However, if change is effected as a knee-jerk reaction to sagging ticket sales, the situation will only worsen. Responsible management makes decisions based on professional information, not fan dissent.

Eric Blackman from Jacksonville:
Speaking of the Texans and the expansion draft, do you think there's any way Mark Brunell gets left unprotected, especially if the Jaguars have another losing season? Cap ramifications would make him untradeable, right?
Vic: The Texans will assume the remaining amortization of the players they select in the expansion draft. Mark Brunell will have $6 million of remaining amortization when this season ends, which would make him the fourth-highest amortization on the Jaguars roster. However, Brunell is one of the top quarterbacks in the game and I have to believe he would return a high draft choice in a trade. His cap figure for next year is $8.25 million. If the Jaguars traded Brunell, they would have to retain his $6 million of amortization, but they would subtract $2.25 million in 2002 salary. Here are the possibilities: Put Brunell on the expansion list because the Jaguars desperately need all $8.25 million of cap room; trade Brunell because the Jaguars need draft choices to begin their rebuilding phase and because $2.25 million of cap relief would help matters; keep Brunell because he's an excellent quarterback whose contract is probably the best the Jaguars have on their roster. Pick one.

Micheal Diaz from Burbank, CA:
It bothers me that a star player of the Jaguars can walk away from a game and feel proud of what his team did in a game they lost. That's fine for a first-year expansion team, but we are way beyond that. Why were the Jags smiling and shaking the hands of the Bills? What did they have to smile about? They lost to one of the worst teams in football. Could this be a sign of a team becoming comfortable with a loser mentality? Why are they so OK with losing?
Don't judge teams by what they do after the game; judge them by what they do during the game. To this point, I have seen nothing about the Jaguars' performance that indicates they are accepting of defeat. I've done this long enough to know what quit looks like, and I haven't seen it. You'll know it when you see it.

John Andreoli from Orange Park, FL:
I would like to know if the Jags are trying to re-sign or negotiate with Kevin Hardy. He is playing unbelievable, in my opinion, and they should try to negotiate a new deal if possible.
Vic: John, the Jaguars have a cap problem.

Lou Nussbaum from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars are off to a very disappointing 2-4 start with four losses in a row. They have lost their best player and team leader, Tony Boselli, gone for the season. Fred Taylor has proven, again, that he cannot be counted on to stay healthy for a whole season. The last two draft classes have proven to be extremely disappointing, especially the first-rounders of both years. The team's best defensive player by far, Kevin Hardy, will be long gone after this year. Other reliable veteran starters such as Nickerson, Wynn and Seth Payne are also likely to be gone due to the salary cap. Vic, I'm trying to find something positive about the Jaguars' short-term future, but I cannot. Can you help me out with this?
Vic: Lou, the best thing about the Jaguars' short-term future is that you still care.

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