Join jaguars.com Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Mario from Orlando, FL:
Thanks a lot for your column. I read it every day. Last year was a rookie season for Jack Del Rio. How satisfied are you with his overall performance as a coach last year? And in what kind of aspects of coaching do you think he will improve/mature this year?
Vic: My expectations for last season were very limited, and I announced that fact long before the season began. I expected last season to be a rebuilding year, and it was. So, I was satisfied with what was accomplished by Jack Del Rio and his coaching staff. I was satisfied that his offensive staff produced one of the most efficient offensive lines in team history, one of the league's best running games, and began the process of Byron Leftwich's development. Del Rio and his defensive staff made good on the coach's promise of "We will stop the run," and indications are defense will be the Jaguars' calling-card under Del Rio. I am especially satisfied that Del Rio cleaned out the Jaguars' roster last year. It's most important that a coach establish the foundation of his program as quickly as possible, and Del Rio wasted no time. He brought in his kind of players and let his players know in no uncertain terms what the conditions of his program are. How might he improve/mature this year? That's an interesting question and I'm not sure I have an answer. But I will say this: I think Del Rio was dogged last season by all of the hype of "A New Era." That won't be the case this year, and I hope that will help him relax with the media. I also can't help but believe the hype had an effect on his decision-making. He was presented as an attack-style, "no more three yards and a cloud of dust" kind of coach, and he may have felt pressure to live up to that billing. As a result, the Jaguars took some gambles on fourth downs, and I really don't think that's Del Rio's base personality. I think he's a defense-first coach who believes in the time-honored principles of field position. Now that he's a year removed from the hype, we might see that real personality emerge.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
I was just wondering why you have Phillip Rivers higher on your value board than Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger?
Vic: Because it's my value board and I don't agree with the people who think Eli is the second coming of Peyton. As far as Ben Roethlisberger is concerned, as talented as he is, he's still a one-year wonder who scouts agree will require more development time than Phillip Rivers or Eli Manning. Roethlisberger has more natural talent than either Rivers or Manning, but he also represents more risk.
Alan from Jacksonville:
Weather clearly affects players when they aren't used to it: Green Bay's home playoff record, the eventual NFC-champion Eagles losing on a hot, humid day in Jacksonville with McNabb getting sick on the field. So, do teams adjust their value board based on what weather conditions existed where a guy played college football? If so, maybe my favorite draft strategy, the best available GSH (Gator, Seminole or Hurricane), might make a lot of sense for a Florida team.
Vic: Terry Bradshaw is one of the best cold-weather quarterbacks in history and he's from Louisiana. Brett Favre is from Mississippi. Bart Starr is from Alabama. Fran Tarkenton is from Georgia. On the flip side, Dan Marino is from Pittsburgh. In other words, weather is no factor for great athletes. They can deal with any and all circumstances. Yeah, Donovan McNabb got sick, but he still threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards and one touchdown. Now I have a question for you: Do you honestly believe the Jaguars could be competitive with the rest of the league if they restricted their roster to players only from the state of Florida?
David from Jacksonville:
Does an unrestricted free agent who has not been re-signed report for offseason workouts?
David from Orlando, FL:
Should we read anything into the fact that Jack Del Rio, James Harris and Mike Smith were at USC on Wednesday, instead of at Texas? In other words, if given the choice, are we leaning toward Kenechi Udeze over Roy Williams?
Vic: Do not read anything into that. All bases have been covered. Roy Williams will have been evaluated fully.