Let's get to it . . .
Lawrence from Omaha, NE:
What I don't understand about hoping Chad Henne
improves is that he's on, what, his fifth year in the league? When it comes to room to grow, one would think that there is MUCH more room for Blaine Gabbert
to develop than Henne. I'm really nervous that Henne will overachieve during these last few games, give the team a false sense of confidence going into next season, and prompt them to pull the plug on Gabbert only to let some other team realize his potential. Is this crazy talk?
John: I’m sorry you’re feeling nervous. It’s not crazy, and it gets to the crux of the conflict in this situation. Because players are human beings, you don’t always know in advance how they’ll develop. I don’t know that this is necessarily a plug-pulling situation, because there’s no incentive to get rid of Gabbert. There’s every chance he’ll be on the roster next season and get the opportunity to continue to develop. As we’ve seen, in the NFL, opportunities often arrive in unexpected situations, so guys on the roster someway somehow typically get their opportunity. Regarding Henne, there’s really not a negative for the Jaguars if he plays well during the final half of the season. If he does, he has a chance to go into next season as a starter. If he does that, and continues to play well, that’s a good thing. If he doesn’t play well and Gabbert keeps working, then Gabbert will get a chance. This sort of confusion isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t mean a viable quarterback can’t emerge.
David from Kingsland, GA:
Where do we stand in regards to the salary cap? I recall reading just last off season that we were near the top in "money left to spend," and then recently that we weren't? It seems like there will be several top cornerbacks available in free agency as well as other players who would be significant upgrades. After retaining those we wish to, will we have money to be "players" for these players?
John: As is always the case with the salary cap, it’s difficult to explain in absolutes because what is reported is interpreted differently by different people. The best answer is the Jaguars indeed rolled over a significant amount from the 2011 cap to the 2012 cap – about $30 million. Most reports throughout this season were the Jaguars were about $20 million under the cap. When Shad Khan earlier this season said the Jaguars were $17 million over the cap, he meant they had outspent the league’s $120.6 million cap by that figure, something they could do in 2012 because they carried over the $30 million in cap space. This is confusing, certainly, but the end game is that the Jaguars will be able to roll some money into next year’s cap and will enter free agency under the cap, though the official figure isn’t yet known and probably won’t be until closer to free agency. Their approach in free agency remains to be seen. As history has shown, free-agency often is a crap shoot in which short-team gain doesn’t always equal long-term results. My sense is the Jaguars will be active in free agency, but to expect all problems to be solved there is probably setting yourself up for disappointment.
Scott from Ponte Vedra, FL and Section 139:
If we do not play well or lose badly to the Jets who have even a worse time at quarterback, will that signify the need for some major changes or coaching philosophy?
John: In the eyes of many it probably will, because many view the NFL as a league in which you can make decisions based on one game. I have no idea what will happen against the Jets. On the surface, it will be a tough game because the Jets are still alive in the playoff chase and the Jaguars are not – and because the Jaguars are without several front-line players. But whatever the outcome Sunday, that one game won’t signify a need for major changes or a need for a change in coaching philosophy. That’s not to say major changes or changes in coaching philosophy aren’t needed. Maybe they are or maybe they aren’t. That’s something that’s evaluated by every NFL team at the end of every season, but to base those changes on one game? No. Certainly not.
Bill from Jacksonville:
Can you give us Jags fans some examples of quarterbacks who were benched following their rookie season, who went on to be franchise quarterbacks? Go Jags!
John: Steve Young did it in the sense that he started for Tampa Bay, then went to San Francisco and backed up Joe Montana before getting an opportunity. Phil Simms was benched in his fourth season and went on to be the Giants’ franchise quarterback. So, yes, there are instances. There are probably more that don’t come to mind immediately, but your point is well-taken. It’s very, very rare, and that’s why it will be tough for the Jaguars to go back to Gabbert. He has potential and has shown flashes, but he needs experience and giving him more time to gain that experience is a tough decision to make.
Eric from Washington, DC:
Hey O-Man! Just wanted to say I love the way you and this organization runs this site. I especially like the videos of kickin it with Scobee. It's fun to see the lighter side of this team, and that even at 2-10 they can still find ways to be light-hearted. Also, you always hear things about kickers and punters not truly being a part of the team, or at least as respected in the locker room. Is this not the case with Scobee? Seems he gets along with the team just fine. Is there love for the kickers?
John: Everybody loves Scobee. I think the Jaguars should pay him a lot of money.
Patrick from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I saw the free agent list for next year. Do you think the Jaguars will pursue Flacco, Reggie Bush, Freeney or Bowe? I mean, that would make us a contender.
John: I think the Jaguars will pursue free agents who are available next offseason. I think a lot of other teams will, too. My guess is the key name on your list, Joe Flacco, will be off the market well before the start of free agency, because the Ravens won’t let a franchise quarterback go elsewhere. As for the other names, Freeney is aging and would have to come at the right price. Bowe would make some sense, and I imagine the bidding will be very, very intense.
Dane from Jacksonville:
Realistically, how much of a rush is there to get Cecil Shorts back in action in time for the Jets game? Knowing the effects we've seen from concussions this season, I would feel much more comfortable putting Cecil Shorts on IR to save our best playmaker from further injury.
John: Concussions are case by case. You can’t rush every player who has one to injured reserve just as you can’t ignore incidents or symptoms. With Shorts, as with any player, risk will be weighed against reward, and a decision will be made, but he certainly won’t be rushed.
Bruce from Jacksonville:
I don't have a question you can answer unless your crystal ball is back from the shop. I just hope those "voices" Mr. Khan listens to in the football business aren't named Snyder or Jones. Even without that type of ownership decision-making I fear we are destined for mediocrity not only due to internal factors but due to the Colts and Texans, who look to be better than us for the foreseeable future. If your crystal ball is back what scenario do you see where optimism is possible?
John: I’m not optimistic or pessimistic. I try to be realistic, and realistically, I know that just because teams appear to be well ahead of other teams in divisions doesn’t mean that’s true and it doesn’t mean it lasts forever. When I was covering the Colts in the early part of the last decade, there was a perception entering the 2003 season that the Titans were well ahead of the Colts. The Titans had swept Indianapolis the year before, and the talk was that the Colts weren’t built to beat the Titans. The Colts swept the Titans that season and dominated the division for years. Build your team to be good, then get better and don’t worry about who’s in the division. Khan needs to make sound decisions on people in the organization, then the people running the organization need to get good players and develop them. Do that, get good enough to win, and the rest takes care of itself.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
How loud of an ovation do you think that Mr. Tebow will get when he enters the game this Sunday? Notice I said when and not if, because we all know that Rex will put him in just to rub something in our faces.
John: It will probably be loud. I was away from Jacksonville a long time, but if I’ve read correctly, Tim Tebow went to high school in Jacksonville, and attended college near here, too. I also read that he was successful in both locales, and as such, that he is popular with the local fan base. When players are popular, people often cheer for them. As for if this popular player will play, I imagine he will if the Jets can find a role in which they believe he will succeed. The Jets are trying to make the playoffs, and I imagine that will dictate much of their decision-making Sunday.