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Tie-breakers are critical

Keith from Jacksonville:
Once the regular season ends for a playoff team, can an injured player be replaced like in the regular season or is the roster frozen.

Vic: Everything is the same as it was in the regular season after the trade deadline. You can sign anybody who's available, but you can't trade.

Tim from Jacksonville:
Your column is awesome; very informative and also fun to read. I had a question regarding Jimmy Smith. What's his cap figure like for next year and how many years is he signed for? How many years do you think he has left in him? My friend and I think he has at least 2-3 good years left. What's your opinion?

Vic: Jimmy Smith has two years remaining on his contract after this season. His salary cap hit in 2005 is scheduled to be about $5.4 million. When the Jaguars signed Jimmy to a new deal a few years ago, I really thought they had made a mistake, but I'm the one who was mistaken. He is having a Pro-Bowl kind of year and he is worth the money the Jaguars are paying him. He has given every reason to believe he has more left in the tank.

Nick from Hanover, NH:
Approximately how much of a team's total revenue do ticket sales comprise? It would seem that ticket sales are a much less significant component of the total profitability of the Jaguars than, say, apparel sales or television contracts.

Vic: You're wrong. Ticket sales remain the second-most important revenue-maker for every team in the NFL. It varies in percentage from team to team, but it would probably average out to about 33 percent of each team's total revenue. Revenue from television, of course, is number one, but I don't know of any business that would consider 33 percent to be an insignificant figure. That's why we have the blackout rule, because ticket sales are extremely important to the health of an NFL franchise and they must be protected.

Scott from Canandaigua, NY:
I really like Notre Dame DE Justin Tuck. I don't know how much attention you pay to the college game right now, but what do you think of him?

Vic: I watch way too much college football and I spent nearly four hours this past Saturday watching Pitt and Notre Dame. In that game, Justin Tuck went head to head against Pitt left tackle Rob Pettiti, who is considered to be one of the top offensive line prospects for the 2005 draft. Tuck is a hard-working player and you have to like him, but against Petitti he was a non-factor. Petitti stoned him, just as he had stoned Boston College DE Mathias Kiwanuka earlier in the season. What does this mean? Kiwanuka and Tuck are each considered to be better prospects than Petitti, yet, Petitti scored major KOs against each of them. Should we ignore that? I can't.

Nick from Tallahassee, FL:
I just listened to your "Jaguars This Week" radio show and the topic of Reggie Williams was very intriguing. I, too, believe he is getting the starting nod due to his cap figure. On that note, since everyone is beating the Steelers' drum and rightfully so, should we look at Reggie in the same light as Plaxico Burress? A late-blooming early first-round WR of similar stature and, in his contract year, this has been his coming-out party. Should we look to Burress as a timetable for Reggie's success?

Vic: They're similar guys in that they were each high picks and they're each tall receivers who are not known for being burners, but the comparison ends there. Plaxico Burress had a disappointing rookie season, but it was largely due to a wrist injury early in that season that eventually required a risky surgical procedure. Burress exploded in his second season for 66 catches, 1,008 yards and six touchdowns, as the Steelers made it to the AFC title game. He had his best season in his third year, 2002, when he caught 78 passes for 1,325 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season his numbers fell off to 60, 860 and four, as the Steelers slumped to 6-10. In other words, this is not Burress' coming-out season. He "came out" in his second year. This is his comeback season after a down year in 2003. If Reggie Williams' career parallels Burress', that would be just fine.

John from Atwater, CA:
Can you help enlighten us regarding the players at the CB position the Jaguars might be interested in come draft time next season?

Vic: I have no idea who the Jaguars might be interested in for next spring's draft, but I can tell you that some of the cornerbacks who are considered to be top prospects are: Antrel Rolle of Miami, Marlin Jackson of Michigan, Corey Webster of LSU, Antonio Perkins of Oklahoma and Fabian Washington of Nebraska.

Mikey from Richmond Hill, GA:
In the AFC, how many wins do you think a team will have to get to go into the playoffs and why is the NFC so bad?

Vic: I don't think the NFC is inferior to the AFC. As far as how many wins it'll take to make the playoffs, 10 has always been the standard. There have been teams that have won 10 games and not made the playoffs – Miami won 10 and didn't make it last year – but they have been clearly in the minority. With the Jets having lost on Sunday, there are currently six teams in the AFC that have 6-3 records. You can see what's happening. It's tightening up, as it always does at this time of the year. Ten wins may not do it for every team, but you can bet somebody will make it into the playoffs with 10 wins. That's why the tie-breakers are so important, and the Jaguars' win over the Lions was a critical common-opponents victory.

Joni from Jacksonville:
In your opinion, who are the top five players in the Jaguars history?

Vic: Mark Brunell, Tony Boselli, Jimmy Smith, Fred Taylor and Keenan McCardell.

Alon from Peru, NY:
If Brees is so great and Rivers' ability is still an unknown, why don't the Chargers sign Brees to a long-term deal and trade Rivers?

Vic: The simple answer is this: The Chargers can't trade Phillip Rivers because all of his amortization would accelerate onto the Chargers' 2005 salary cap. That's not even considering his talent or the value of the pick they used to select him. The amortization alone makes it impossible. He is due a $6.625 million guaranteed option bonus on the 10th day of the 2005 league calendar year. When this season ends, he will have a remaining amortization of $6.375 million. If the Chargers traded Rivers in that small window between the end of the trade deadline and the 10th day of the league calendar year, all of the $6.375 would accelerate onto the '05 cap. If they waited nine more days to trade him, they'd have to pay him another $6.625 before doing the deal. Get the point? It's about the money. When you invest that kind of dough in a guy, he's "The Man." Brees is just the temporary caretaker of the position.

Mike from Burbank, CA:
Garrard is the guy I wanted. It is very premature to give him the job, but he showed me he has everything Leftwich has, plus the ability to move. Leftwich's body type (big and awkward), plus this injury, should show anyone that he will spend quite a few games on the bench each season. My question is this: How much success in these next few weeks would Garrard have to have to threaten Leftwich's job?

Vic: Congratulations, you were the first to ask the inevitable question. Now here's the answer: No chance.

Jeremy from Buford, GA:
Who do you see as possible suitors for David Garrard in the offseason? Arizona, Oakland, Miami?

Vic: Those are all logical candidates. How about New Orleans?

R.J. from St. Augustine, FL:
Kick the ball out of bounds!

Vic: Absolutely.

Joel from Orange Park, FL:
I understand teams are required to have exactly seven men on the line of scrimmage. I noticed Sunday that "on the line of scrimmage" was defined loosely. Is there an NFL rule that clearly defines "on the line of scrimmage?" Or is it up to the line judge alone?

Vic: Generally speaking, for a player to be judged to be "on the line of scrimmage," his helmet has to break the belt of the center. If a tackle, for example, is judged to have lined up with his helmet behind the belt of the center, he would be considered not to be on the line of scrimmage and, in most cases, that would constitute an illegal formation.

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