Join *Jaguars Inside Report *Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Gene Nichols from Keystone Heights, FL:
Everyone keeps saying the Jags should be more like the Steelers when it comes to the salary cap. I agree, but it misses the point. The Jags should be more like the Steelers when it comes to drafting and developing. How do the Steelers do it? They seem to re-load every year with new talent they have drafted and developed, especially on defense.
It's what they do and have done for years. The Steelers live or die by their drafts and their current roster is loaded with players they've drafted and developed. But that doesn't mean they don't make mistakes. Jamain Stephens was a first-round bust. Jeremy Staat and Scott Shields were major mistakes in the second round. No team bats a thousand with their high picks. That's why it's so important to hit home runs in the late rounds. Therein lies the key to the Steelers' success. When other teams have been drafting special-teams players and role players in the late rounds, the Steelers have reeled in long-term starters. Aaron Smith may be their best defensive lineman and Smith was a fourth-round pick in 1999. Earl Holmes was a fourth-round pick. Lethon Flowers came in the fifth round. Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala was a sixth-rounder. Darren Perry was an eighth-rounder. Justin Strzelczyk and John Jackson were the Steelers' starting offensive tackles and they were 11th and 10th-round draft choices respectively. Those are only a few examples. That's how the Steelers have managed to remain competitive and deal with the salary cap. Late-rounders are great bargains. Of course, the Steelers' commitment to the draft is such that if you're selected by them, you're probably going to make the team. Then, the development period begins and the Steelers have exercised great patience with the development of their players. Interestingly, a lot of their players have not been as successful when they've moved on to other teams, which would suggest that the Steelers system had much to do with those players' success.
David Wielgus from Orlando, FL:
Thanks for keeping Jag fans updated on the latest Jaguar news, especially during the offseason, the most depressing time of year. My question: Will there be any noticeable improvements at Alltel Stadium this year? When will we begin to see "Super Bowl" size upgrades?
Construction on Alltel Stadium will begin this summer. It is intended that construction will be complete for the start of the 2004 season.
Atlas Rankin from Jacksonville:
Last year, the Jaguars' roster was loaded with All-Pro players on defense, with Moeller as the coordinator, and those guys stunk up the place. How improved do you expect this year's defense to be, with less talent and Pease as the coordinator.
Statistically, the defense was average. It finished tied for 16th place overall (10th against the run but 22nd against the pass), however, it blew leads time and again late in the game. That was the issue last season and Gary Moeller was harshly criticized for his late-game strategy. I understand the logic of your question; six starters are gone so why should we expect the Jaguars to be better defensively? You're right. Defense is a major concern.
David Hargraves from Jacksonville:
I need to find a place in the stadium where women and children are not allowed in. My friends and I cannot have a proper football experience with all the women and children. Can you help us or maybe tell us who can?
It's about time some erstwhile and ambitious young man carries the flag for men's rights. I think you're the guy, David. Go for it.