Join *Jaguars Inside Report *Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
David Wielgus from Orlando, FL:
Are there any new rules changes this year of any significance? Also, what does the future hold for instant replay?
Vic: Replay returns this season just as it was used last year. The NFL is very pleased with the numbers from last season: 38,111 total plays, 247 plays reviewed, 84 decision reversals. The intent is to correct major plays, and the NFL has judged the system to be successful. Clearly, replay is here to stay. As far as rules changes this season, there are some alterations of the "momentum of fumble recovery," "illegal substitution" and "illegal forward pass" rules. For example, a player recovering a fumble at the one-yard line and being carried by his momentum into the end zone will have the ball placed at the point of recovery. That changes the safety call in the Oakland-Seattle game last season. The "illegal substitution" and "illegal forward pass" changes are also spot-of-the-foul updates. The big rules issue this season is going to involve strict enforcement of "unsportsmanlike conduct." Last season, only 26 such penalties were assessed in the NFL. We may see that many in week one alone, because the NFL wants its officials to flag anything that hints at taunting or distasteful celebration: No spitting at an opponent; no group celebrations; no in-your-face abuse, pushing, shoving or baiting an opponent; no throat-slash gestures; no taunting the opponent's sideline. Also, bandanas and head stockings will be prohibited in the game, pregame and postgame periods. Because enforcement of the sportsmanship code will be subjective, several trademark celebrations are in danger. For example, Keenan McCardell's "spin the ball" routine following a pass reception may be flagged if an official determines McCardell was attempting to taunt a beaten defender. The officials will also put special emphasis on protecting quarterbacks and wide receivers from cheap shots, and on making sure offensive linemen are on the line of scrimmage. One other note: The umpire will move from his usual position behind the linebackers to a spot in the offensive backfield in weeks one and three of the preseason. It's an experimental move intended to get the umpire out of harm's way.
Jim Smith from Warrenton, GA:
Like most Jags fans, I'm learning more about the details of salary cap than I ever thought I needed to know. Isn't the team's salary cap calculated based on the combined salaries of some number of the highest-paid players? If so, then, when the Jags sign a player such as Stroud, is his cap figure added to the team's cap and the cap figure of the least-paid player on the cap list dropped?
Vic: Prior to the start of the regular season, the top 51 salaries, all bonus amortizations and all likely-to-be-earned money counts against the salary cap. During the regular season, everything counts, which includes all salaries, amortizations, "dead" money, etc. Yes, when the Jaguars signed Marcus Stroud, he knocked off the 51st guy, because it was prior to the start of the regular season.
Brian W. Fullford from Jacksonville:
I just wanted to thank you for taking time out to speak with the jaguars.com group (on Sunday). You, specifically, spent a great deal of time answering my questions regarding the Ravens, Titans and future issues with personnel. One doesn't often get an opportunity to speak with someone housing the quality NFL experience you have, and your takes on the variety of questions answered were quite interesting and informative. You said you don't consider yourself a teacher, but I would have to disagree with you. Those of us who follow the game for what people like you report on can learn a great deal about issues and philosophy that we either never considered or disagreed with. Even the simplest questions gave way to a degree of insight that gave pause to thought. I don't know how frustrating or tedious some of the questions may seem, especially ones that you hear far too frequently, but to be able to bounce them off someone other than your friend or workmate, someone whose occupation is what you are asking about, is a rare occasion.
Vic: Brian, I enjoyed meeting you and your group. One of the subjects I touched on is the fans' growing discontent with the media that covers the Jaguars. If I may repeat myself: Read for information. Even if you don't like the way the story was written, you'll probably find some new information that'll enrich your perspective of the Jaguars and professional football. It is a sportswriter's major objective to provide that information.
Brent Swanson from Bell, FL:
If a player gets fined, does the money they get fined lessen their cap hit? For example, if Marcus Stroud gets fined $2,000 for a fist fight in training camp, does his cap hit go down $2,000?
Vic: No. If fines could be deducted from the salary cap, the Jaguars might have more cap room than any other team in the league.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.