Let's get to it . . .
John from Jacksonville:
Has Eben Britton
been playing so poorly that they are now scrambling to replace him? What do you think happened to turn his arrow from pointing up to pointing down?
Britton, who began the season as the Jaguars’ starting left guard, indeed has struggled. He was a reserve until two weeks ago, when he replaced Mike Brewster
when the latter was lost for the season with a hand injury. This week, Austin Pasztor
will start at left guard after being signed from the practice squad Friday. As for why Britton is struggling, this is entirely speculation, but it stands to reason that Britton’s back injury from last season could have caused him not to be playing as well as he had previously. I hate to speculate further than that out of fairness to him, but he was a serviceable player as a right tackle before the injury and he has not played as well since, so you figure that may be a part of it.
Jack from Jacksonville:
First, your alma mater; now, an elementary school? Is nothing sacred, O-man? And, look, I know there are a lot more important things than football, but do you think the Jaguars can be a pleasant distraction from those things this Sunday? We need it in the worst way.
John: We often hear the word “unspeakable” and the phrase, “beyond comprehension.” Unfortunately in recent years, our society seems to be able to comprehend and do things to one another we previously couldn’t imagine. The events in Newtown, Conn., on Friday were disturbing on a different level from anything I could ever imagine. Football will be played Sunday, and many no doubt will enjoy it. That’s fine, but I wouldn’t insult the memory of those lost or the reality of those grieving to say football could adequately distract any of us.
Carl from Jacksonville:
So I got bored and reread the "John's Introduction" article from your first day at jaguars.com. It seems a bit funnier since we've now known you for almost two years as our senior writer. I admit I was one of probably many that for a long while read both the O-Zone and “Ask Vic” pretty religiously early into your tenure, mostly because I didn't know what to think of you and/or your style. I still read Ask Vic now and then, but I still never miss an O-Zone. You took a little getting used to, but I think you turned out okay! Just wanted to take a moment and say thanks for everything you (and everyone else behind the scenes) do for the site. Merry Christmas, Oehser!
John: Wow, you were bored. By the way, what’s, “Ask Vic?”
Jay from Camp Lejeune, NC:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Chargers draft Eli and the Colts draft Elway?
John: Yes, and if I misled, it was unintentional. But the question Saturday was asking about No. 1 overall selections who subsequently led their teams to Super Bowls. Elway was indeed selected No. 1 by the Colts, but he played his entire career with the Broncos. Eli Manning was indeed selected No. 1 by the Chargers, but he has played his entire career with the Giants. In that sense, they were No. 1 overall selections who immediately became the focal points of their franchises and eventually led those teams to championships. The point either way is the same: that the surest way to long-term success is finding a quarterback who can make plays to win games late, then build a solid roster and organizational structure around him.
Johnny from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I don't understand why you would sarcastically dismiss the notion of bringing Vick to Jacksonville. If he's available and it's a viable option you can't honestly tell me he's not a more appealing option than Gabbert/Henne. I understand that we'll still need to find our franchise guy when the opportunity presents itself in an upcoming draft but why not bring in the best vehicle possible to get us there?!?
John: I sarcastically dismissed Vick because I thought my answer was sort of funny. It was a cheap laugh, but then again, that’s sort of my thing. Kidding aside, I don’t know that Vick is the answer short-term or long-term. He struggled this season, and for the long-term, I’m not sure an aging veteran is the right direction. That’s not to say something like that could never happen; I’d just say the chances are very, very slim.
Greg from Neptune Beach, FL:
I certainly don't blame Gene Smith for injuries to key starters. I blame him for not giving this team adequate depth behind those starters. Injuries are inevitable and must be seriously taken into account. I don't expect second-stringers to come in and be AS effective but I'd expect them to have some sort of effectiveness. For the most part, they haven't. THAT'S why you draft KEY position backups in the third round who can come in and contribute when called upon (ala Kirk Cousins in Washington as a prime example) instead of a starting punter who is slightly better than undrafted punters.
John: I’m worn out on talking about Anger. At 2-11, it’s an easy selection to criticize, because at 2-11, everything’s easy to criticize. At the time, I thought it was a solid pick and I still believe Anger will be a very good player for a long time and that’s what you want when you’re picking players. But if the Jaguars had known who would get hurt where could they have drafted someone in the third round who could have stepped in? Sure, they could have.
Steve from Paducah, KY:
Would you make a few comments regarding Austen Lane
and his progress/status this year? There is minimal coverage of Jaguar football here in western Kentucky. Thanks for your work in a difficult season.
John: Lane has played well this season. He missed the first part of the season with a foot injury and since returning has played in all but one game. He has been particularly strong against the run, and when he first returned, the defensive line played particularly strong in that area. Lane has probably been one of the pleasant surprises on a defense that has struggled too much this season.
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
With the Bills threatening to trade up to get a quarterback, perhaps the Jags do have a chance to trade back. While I doubt the Bills will break the bank, I could see the Jaguars being compensated nicely in this scenario.
John: I haven’t seen anyone from the Bills say anywhere they were trading up for a quarterback, and while they may have a need there, I imagine they’ll go through the same decision-making process any team with a high selection and a quarterback need will go through this year. That decision will be a difficult one, because there doesn’t seem to be a can’t-miss, franchise-turning player in the draft this season along the lines of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Now, is there a chance a quarterback could be taken earlier than originally projected in the first two or three picks by a team that really needs a quarterback? With the emphasis on finding that franchise guy, no question that could happen and it actually would be a little surprising if it didn’t. Teams want to find that guy, and sometimes that means drafting a quarterback who may or may not actually be worth the selection.
James from Orange Park, FL:
I'm not sure if this has been mentioned before, but instead of eliminating kickoffs from the game in place of automatically starting from the 25-yard line, has it been considered having a free kick (like what happens after a safety) take place instead of kickoffs? Free kicks are just as exciting as kickoffs and average starting field position would be increased, which would increase offense (something the league favors). Every yard would then be earned, and violent collisions would be reduced. Am I off-base on this one?
John: I’ve heard some talk about just having the free kick, but a more publicized idea may get a lot of consideration. Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano has promoted the idea of having the “receiving” team start at its own 30-yard line on 4th-and-15 after an opponent’s score. The team with possession would then have the option of going for the first down or punting. That would keep the spirit of the onside kick rule relatively intact while eliminating kickoffs and onside kicks, considered by many the most dangerous plays in the NFL. It’s a bizarre notion on the surface, but only because we’re so used to kickoffs and onside kicks. If we’d never seen kickoffs and onside kicks, they’d look pretty strange, too.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
I've never seen you naked (Thank God) but I have seen you up close and personal. If (and only if) you get that $100,000 offer, I'll give you $102,000 to not take it . . .
John: Let the bidding begin.