Let's get to it . . .
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
Call me sentimental, but I just realized this Sunday might be the last time we see a number of our favorite Jags. This could be the last time we see Mathis (might be cut), Meester (close to retirement), MJD (contract issues), Pot Roast (not living up to contract) and a number of other faves in the Jag uniform. Something to think about at the game this Sunday. Happy Holidays.
John: Mathis actually signed a one-year deal this past offseason, so it’s up to each side to determine if he returns. The others are indeed veterans with pending issues, so yes, there is uncertainty facing all of the Jaguars players you mentioned and many others. That’s the nature of the NFL. It’s a high turnover league and when players walk out of the locker room following the end of each season, they do so with the knowledge that the team they’re leaving never will be quite the same – and that there’s a chance they may not return. That’s the nature of the business, something all NFL players realize.
Andy from Columbus, OH:
Why is there so much talk about Tebow, but barely any about Alex Smith? This is getting annoying. People keep spouting the "it'll help ticket sales and attendance and jerseys," but last I checked, the Jags are nowhere near last place as far as attendance goes or looming blackouts. WHAT GIVES O-MAN? WHAT GIVES?
John: Tebow is an all-powerful force. Nothing else compares.
Ken from Jacksonville:
I'm sure you're getting sick of the Tebow questions, but I'm going to ask one more. Sorry. You said "he has the potential to be a distraction on a level few players in sports history have matched." Why is this? He seems to have done nothing more than support the two teams he's played for, given all the right answers to the media, and be an all-around good guy. I honestly don't understand why he's such a controversial figure. Your thoughts?
John: Actually, I’m glad you asked, because I probably didn’t clarify that answer enough Friday. It’s through no fault of Tebow’s that he is a distraction. He’s a distraction because of the fans, and the media scrutiny. The pressure that that creates – while something that on the surface should be easily set aside or ignored – is from all reports and all evidence a very real force. The Broncos wanted to part ways with it, and it reportedly has been an issue with the Jets. I’m not doing a great job explaining it, probably because it’s an intangible force as much as anything, but as far intangibles go, it’s about as big an issue as professional sports has seen in a while. Again, it’s not his fault. He hasn’t asked for this, but the rabidness of his fan base, ironically, is something that some teams see as a negative in as many ways as it is a positive.
Henry from Savannah, GA:
O-Man, O-Man, O-Man: The good news is that I am alive and woke up next to this beautiful woman. The bad news is I won't be able to use that pick-up line again.
John: Good teams take advantage of opportunities.
Anthony from Madison, WI:
Forget the question if Tebow is our starting quarterback – how about just our red zone quarterback? How about no more 3rd-and-1s and 4th-and-1s getting us zero or three points when we should have six or seven? Even if he doesn't end up being our future quarterback, plugging up this gaping hole in the Jaguars’ scoring ability would be huge. If management is as level-headed as you say, the fan frenzy of having the team play Tebow every week won't affect them, and therefore this is without a doubt a no-brainer.
John: This is the last Tebow question of the day. I promise. First, I’ve said the last few days that I don’t know what the future will bring with the Jaguars and Tebow. As of now, he’s with the New York Jets. Is there a possibility? Sure. Anything’s possible. And did Shad Khan attempt to bring Tebow here last offseason? Yes. If he is available this offseason, would he try again? Would Tebow want to come here? Those questions are unanswerable for now. Could he help in short yardage? I suppose, but to think that there aren’t potential distractions and off-field issues with Tebow is incorrect, and those would be a factor in any decision. They could be positive or could be negative, but they would be a part of the decision.
Forrest from Jacksonville:
In your response to Chad, you forgot to say that Brady and Manning have a pocket to step up into.
John: Well, yes. There is that.
David from Jacksonville:
You continue to answer ridiculous Tebow questions and even questions about soap, but you refuse to address the fact that there is a very strong probability that Gene Smith will be gone next year and that we are currently looking for a new candidate. It's even been reported by media outlets outside of the organization!
John: I’ve discussed pretty regularly that the direction of the franchise is uncertain after this season. Khan earlier this season said that he is evaluating everything this season, and it’s pretty obvious at 2-12 that that evaluation will involve the general manager and about everything else involved with the football operations. Many outlets report many things, and there was a report this week that a candidate had been recommended to Khan. The report also said Jacksonville is “virtually” certain to make a change. That could be true. Or it may not be. At this point, we don’t know, but as we have said here often, the NFL is a result-based business, and when the results aren’t successful, owners will explore options.
Peter from Maribor, Slovenia:
Instead of wondering how many touchdowns Brady will score against Jags this Sunday, let's talk about how many sacks and pick sixes our defense will get? My guess is six sacks and two interceptions. I sure would like to see Tom on his back.
John: Considering the Jaguars are last in the NFL in sacks, I’d guess that your guess is a little wishful thinking as opposed to “trend-based analysis,” but hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, it’s Christmas.
Nic from Kingsland, GA:
Forget complaining about how bad the team is this year. Every team in the NFL has had horrible seasons such as this and they have all overcome them at one point. I'm still a Jags fan for the same reason I was a Jags fan when they first got here. That's because when they earned their way into this city they earned their way into my heart as well. I'll be a Jags fan till the day one of us is no more win, lose, or draw. Go Jags!!!!
John: That’s an important point, and while the inbox is full of negativity lately, I think your point is still at the core of most emails. Most of the people who email angry or upset or even just growing weary of losing feel how they feel because they care so much. Most, I imagine, feel the same way as you – that while they hate the team losing, and desperately want to the Jaguars to win, that in the end, the Jaguars are in their heart, win or lose. It would just be a whole lot more fun if they won more.
Scott from Jacksonville:
Teams that can't handle adversity during the course of the game are soft. This team has been horrible at dealing with adversity. How do they turn it around? This season is long gone, but I could really use some hope for next year. Can you help me out here?
John: It’s something that has to improve. The Jaguars didn’t handle it well, and I think a lot of it had to do with confidence. That’s something that seemed to lack from the time the Jaguars took the lead late against Minnesota only to lose it and lose in overtime. Coaches talk about learning how to win, and the Jaguars after 14 games this season seem to still be struggling to do that. That can change, and can change with some early-season success. The Jaguars didn’t get it this year, and really the only way to do that is to win games, gain confidence and get used to winning.
John from Jacksonville:
For the 2013 Jaguars to make the playoffs they have to...? What say you O-man?
John: Get a lot better. The offensive line has to pass block and run block better, and the defensive line has to pass rush and stop the run better. To do that, I would say the Jaguars need to add speed and a big-time playmaker on the defensive front. They also need to get better quarterback play. That’s a lot to ask in a year. It’s not unprecedented that it could be done, but it’s a lot to add.