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Thoughts on Fred Taylor

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

Josh from Orange Park, FL:
How much cap room will the Jags have and do you think they will be a player in free agency?

Vic: Cap room won't be an issue. They'll have plenty of room but I don't think they'll be a major player in expensive free agency for the obvious reason that they spent big last offseason and the results were not rewarding. I think you're going to see most teams go into an austerity move in 2009, a reaction to the specter of labor unrest and a lockout or replacement players in 2011. NFL teams are headed into uncertain times and these are not good times economically in all phases of American business.

Michael from Lake Mary, FL:
What players are we missing to make a successful switch to a 3-4?

Vic: It's about more than players that are missing, it's about the players you have and it's about the head coach's system. Jack Del Rio is a 4-3 coach. That's his system and he's not going to junk it to experiment with something. Plus, Derrick Harvey might have to be a linebacker in a 3-4. Do you want to start playing with the future of the eighth pick of the draft, a player to whom you gave $17.5 million?

Kevin from Jacksonville:
If you are Wayne Weaver, how do you get ready for labor unrest that is coming sooner than later?

Vic: You do the tighten up.

J.B. from Jacksonville:
What is the role of the two inside linebackers in a 3-4, and who were some of the best inside linebackers in a 3-4?

Vic: One is a little more of a line-of-scrimmage player and the other has more ability to drop and run with tight ends and running backs. When I think of inside linebackers, I think of players such as Randy Gradishar, Levon Kirkland and Tedy Bruschi.

Jai from Liverpool, England:
Reading Gregg Easterbrook, he mentioned a series of old-style formations. Thanks to reading this column, I recognized most of them, however, I've never heard of the lonesome end. What is it?

Vic: The lonesome end got its name for being a player that stood away from the huddle. The lonesome end leaves the huddle as it's being formed and heads toward the sideline, where he stops just before crossing the sideline. The idea is that the defense will fall "asleep" and leave the lonesome end undefended. The lonesome end, however, is also a person, 1959 Army football captain Bill "Lonesome End" Carpenter. Look him up. I think you'll enjoy reading about him.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What's your opinion of fans letting the players know how they feel as they leave the field, as long as it's not profane or malicious, of course?

Vic: If that's what you wanna do, go ahead; it's your self-respect you're electing to ruin.

Corey from Madison, WI:
I was watching Penn State rip Michigan State on Saturday and noticed several times where Daryll Clark broke away from what I thought were sure sacks, then look downfield while scrambling and throw a beautiful ball for 30 or so yards down the sideline. I kept thinking to myself that he looked a lot like Garrard. Do you think he fits into Garrard's mold and do you think he'll play in the NFL some day?

Vic: You can count on him getting drafted and it would seem he'll be drafted high. Clark burst onto the scene this year as a junior and the first time I saw him I thought to myself, hey, JoePa, why were you hiding this guy? I didn't know what to make of the situation so I started asking scouts about Clark and they all kind of rolled their eyes and gave me that wow! look. You're right; they compare him to Garrard, inasmuch as Clark is a big, powerful guy who bounces off rushers. I asked one scout this past Sunday if Clark was better than a certain other junior quarterback and the scout just nodded his head.

Phillip from Jacksonville:
I was nine years old and my father and I happened to be at a Pizza Hut one Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley. The place was mostly empty with everyone at the ballgame, however, our service was slow and my father took this very personally. He noticed someone who had ordered behind us had received their pizza ahead of our own. He walked up to the counter mad as hell demanding an explanation. Finally the pie shows up and they tell him it's on the house. He wasted no time in throwing it directly into the garbage can. I didn't say a word because I liked Pizza Hut and hoped one day we might go back. We never did. Do you like that story?

Vic: You didn't ask your dad if it's normal to always be sad when you leave Pizza Hut?

Dustin from Kissimmee, FL:
Who's your pick for league MVP?

Vic: It's too early to make the pick but I can identify some candidates: Brett Favre, Troy Polamalu, Adrian Peterson, Peyton Manning, Albert Haynesworth, Ray Lewis, Kurt Warner and Matt Ryan jump out at me.

Rob from Orange Park, FL:
I'd like your opinion on whether the Jaguars will/should offer Maurice Drew a contract extension after this season. He's definitely out-played his rookie deal.

Vic: I think that's on the to-do list.

Deshawn from Des Moines, IA:
How is it the Jags' window has closed, while the Colts' window is still open? Indy has had just as many devastating injuries, but they are on target for 11-12 wins again this year, while the Jags struggle.

Vic: The Colts have gotten better yield from their draft classes than the Jaguars have. That's one reason. The other reason is obvious and has been the great constant in the Colts' playoff run: Peyton Manning is a dominant quarterback. He tilts the field. When he played poorly early in the season, the Colts' window looked like it was shut, didn't it?

Patrick from Jacksonville:
What's with this Stroud infatuation? He barely played for us the last two years and wasn't even our best defensive tackle. Any worthy DT prospects in the draft?

Vic: When a team loses, its fans look for anything they can use to vent their anger. The truth of the matter is that with or without Marcus Stroud, the Jaguars were going to have to address defensive tackle. Yeah, there are some good-looking defensive tackle candidates among the college senior class, but it would appear to be a much better year for offensive tackles. That's good because the Jaguars definitely need to address that position.

Craig from Auburn, IN:
What do you think about Ball State quarterback, Nate Davis? Do you think the Jags might go after him, if he is available?

Vic: He's a junior so I don't know if he'll be in next spring's draft or not. I saw him play a couple of times this season and he's very impressive. He's a true physical and athletic specimen. He has a kind of ease to his game that lets you know he's bigger than the competition he's facing. He dominates. He does anything he wants. Yes, I think the Jaguars need to address their quarterback depth by adding a young guy to be developed for the future, but Davis isn't a depth kind of guy. He appears to be headed for a high overall choice, which will immediately make him "The Man" by whatever team picks him. If Davis doesn't come out, then the 2010 quarterback draft class could be a blockbuster.

Sara from St. Augustine, FL:
Is Fred Taylor gone after this year? I was curious of your opinion on this.

Vic: As Jack Del Rio would say, that's the $64 million question. What I think has to happen for him to remain with the Jaguars is that Fred has to be willing to re-work his contract. Clearly, the torch is being passed from Fred to Maurice Jones-Drew. Fred has acknowledged that fact. Jones-Drew is the Jaguars' leading rusher and he's likely to be their feature back in 2009, which means the two players' roles are being reversed. Hey, it could be the best thing for Fred. Jones-Drew could do for Fred just what Willie Parker did for Jerome Bettis, which is to say extend Fred's career and allow him to enjoy the senior years of his football career as the spokesman and identity of the team. Let's not forget, however, that Bettis took a pay cut to stay with the Steelers. In my opinion, it's real simple: If Fred is going to remain with the Jaguars, he will have to re-work his contract relative to Jones-Drew's contractual situation. I think Fred knows that and I think his recent comments about his football future are his way of opening negotiations.

Chris from Jacksonville:
Is it easier for you to write stories when the team is winning, like last year, or losing like this year, or do wins and losses not matter?

Vic: It's easier to write about a winning team than it is about a losing team, especially late in the season, because there's more subject matter and each week's game remains the centerpiece of the week's reporting, as opposed to having to create storylines because the upcoming game is meaningless. Either way, I'll get by, but there's an old saying in the newspaper business: People don't read losing stories.

Brian from Birmingham, AL:
I just finished watching a documentary on Jerry Rice. It seemed that he was not blessed with blazing speed or great size and, yet, he was arguably the greatest wide receiver ever. What do you think it was that made him so special?

Vic: Yeah, he was a great technician and, yeah, he had great hands and instincts for the position and, yeah, he kept himself in fantastic condition, but I have a feeling Rice was a lot faster than he let people know. I always felt that somebody got a bad time on him when he was being scouted for the draft and after he established himself as the premier receiver in the league, he was more than happy to let everyone think he was slow. Rice was not slow, but if they wanna think you're slow, let 'em.

Ken from Jacksonville:
Would you please weigh in on your thoughts if the NFL was to go to only a two-game preseason and either extend the regular season or playoffs by another two games?

Vic: I'm OK with it, but there's a natural problem: The regular season will either have to start before Labor Day or end well into January.

Roy from Jacksonville:
Is a complete roster overhaul coming next season?

Vic: It's nearly impossible with today's roster limits to overhaul a roster in one season, nor do I think that's necessary for the Jaguars to do. I expect significant changes, but not an overhaul.

Nick from St. Augustine, FL:
I wanted to hear what your take is on the comments that Fred made. Is this frustration of an older player or are there some real chemistry issues with this 2008 team?

Vic: Fred didn't define until Wednesday what he meant when he said the mix is bad. Most people thought Fred was referring to personality issues. They thought that by team chemistry Fred was saying the players didn't like each other. What Fred explained on Wednesday is that he meant the on-the-field chemistry was bad. For example, the Jaguars are a ball-control, possession offense that lost the guys up front that allowed for that identity. The Jags have top running backs that can control time of possession. They have a quarterback who's best in the short-passing game and they have tall, possession receivers, but none of that worked this season because of the injuries on the offensive line. In other words, their mix of talent was not a good complement. Those are the chemistry issues to which Fred is mainly referring. He's right.

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