Let's get to it . . .
Edward from Orange Park, FL:
Shad stated he would have 100 percent drafted the Broncos’ quarterback. Is he claiming Gene screwed up, Alualu is a bust, Gabbert is not good or all of the above? Or is he trying to please the perceived majority fan base? This response by him saddens me.
John: Cheer up, Edward. I sense the spirit of what Khan was saying was somewhat lost in translation. I didn’t take it as him saying Smith erred, and certainly not that Alualu is a bust, or as any indictment on Gabbert. And from talking to Khan afterward, I got the impression he didn’t mean it that way. I took Khan’s comments to mean that from an outsider’s perspective at the time he believed the Jaguars should have taken Tebow. Would he indeed have had the Jaguars take Tebow had he been the owner at the time and had he had detailed meetings with the team’s scouts on the matter? There’s no way to know.
Matt from Richmond, VA:
Will there be a running back comparable to MJD again? The underrated guy who gets pushed down in the draft and still proves his haters wrong . . .
John: I’m sure there will be. It’s very common. In fact, I think Arian Foster is doing it now, too.
Troy from Panama City, FL:
With Blackmon being projected as being gone at our pick, if Dre Kirkpatrick is available do you see us taking him over say a Floyd or Jeffries or could we be looking to trade up or down?
John: Could be looking to trade up. Could be looking to trade down. Could take Kirkpatrick or Floyd or Jeffries. Look, not to be cute, but we’re nearly three months away from the draft and teams haven’t even started signing their own free agents, much less guys from other teams. Once we get a few weeks into free agency we’ll have a better idea if certain positions and scenarios make sense. I could speculate, but the speculation wouldn’t mean much – not yet. I think the Jaguars will try to address wide receiver and defensive end in free agency, and if they do so, that will allow them more freedom to take the best available player in the draft. If they have that freedom, I think corner is a real possibility. That’s based on the landscape January 31. It could change and almost certainly will.
Joe from Aurora, IL:
Correct me if I'm wrong, John, but an NFL team has gone 15-1 5 times in history: the '84 49ers, the '85 Bears, the '98 Vikings, the '04 Steelers, and of course, the '11 Packers. The 2011 Packers were the only 15-1 team that failed to advance to the Conference Championship game in that season. How excellent is that?
John: For you, judging by your address, it apparently is very excellent, but it did occur to me while watching the Packers lose to the Giants that it didn’t seem like much of an upset at all somehow – or at least not as big as it should have seemed. Perhaps that’s because we’ve had so many cases recently of teams starting seasons with gaudy records before losing in the post-season. No real theory, I guess; it just seems more and more that regular-season success and the accompanying home-field advantage means a bit less these days.
Kenny from San Diego, CA:
In regard to Michael's comment about the "stellar" WR crop of last season, I'd say that I don't think anyone was under the impression that last year’s crop was stellar. Breaston vs. Vincent Jackson? No contest. Burress vs. Stevie Johnson? No contest. Rice vs. Colston? No contest. Many of this year’s guys may be re-signed and this year’s crop may end up looking like last year’s, but as it stands now, this year’s crop is much, much better.
John: As it stands now, yes. The next six weeks will be intriguing to watch, because it seems very likely that many high-level receivers will be re-signed by their own teams. Because of that, I anticipate much handwringing and anguished moans among O-Zone readers as teams re-sign players they had penciled in on the Jaguars’ depth chart. We’ll see what happens.
John from Elizabeth City:
Just give them the truth about why players continue to play and maybe the questions will cease. Let's be honest: guys play at the end of the season because they have incentives in their contracts. So many games played or tackles or touchdowns – whatever it may be. It's all about the money, baby.
John: Players are indeed motivated by money. I’d never say otherwise. But once the season begins, and once players are on the field, they are also motivated by the same competitive nature that enabled them to reach the NFL. Do incentives play a role at the end of the season? Yes, but so does just wanting to beat the other guy.
Phil from Vancouver, BC:
Do you think we have seen all that can be expected of
Jarett Dillard? I like him, but it seems many feel he will be on the bubble next season with wide receiver being addressed through free agency.
John: The wide receiver position will be intriguing to watch during the off-season, minicamps and training camps. Yes, there undoubtedly will be new faces, but I also expect to see the entire group viewed with a clean slate under a new head coach, new offensive coordinator and new wide receivers coach. Several players in the group likely will be new, but the players here – particularly
Mike Thomas, Dillard and Cecil Shorts – will have a chance to compete, as will Chastin West and Brian Robiskie. From that group, a surprise or two could emerge next season.
Randy from Jacksonville:
Every place I look it says undisclosed draft pick for Lowery... is this something you can disclose??
John: The Jets will receive the Jaguars’ seventh-round selection for Lowery.
Zoltan from Budapest, Hungary:
Heard anything about how
Tyson Alualu and the Jaguars trying to fix his knee problem? It's a very, very big issue in my opinion, because that knee was a major factor why Tyson's progress as a player slowed down in '11.
John: Alualu plans for now to try to strengthen and rehabilitate the knee and see if that fixes the issue. If it does not, surgery could still be an option later this off-season. You’re right that it’s a big issue, and when I spoke with Alualu shortly after the season he said he absolutely realized as much. He wants to do what’s necessary to get his knee right, and that’s his priority.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
As a Redskins fan, which of the franchise’s Super Bowl victories did you find the most pleasing? Which of their Super Bowl defeats was the most difficult to watch? Do you have any advice to Jaguars fans should our team one day play in the game?
John: I won’t bore non-Redskins fans with a detailed answer. The first came when Riggins went 43 yards on 4th-and-1, and there’s something special about the first, but any Super Bowl is memorable and historical and unforgettable. When I think of how I felt about them as a fan, I can honestly say each is equally memorable for different reasons. Any defeat rips your heart out because you know how close your team was to achieving the ultimate and losing makes what had been an incredibly memorable season suddenly seem phenomenally empty. Advice when the Jaguars make it? Enjoy it, and realize whatever happens during the game simply getting to a Super Bowl ensures that season is a benchmark in the history of the franchise.
Micah from Kansas City, MO:
If you watch the movie Moneyball, you see a great picture of scouting in professional sports. As a scout you can look at the tangibles and try to get a feel for a player and who he is. But some don't pan out and others who seemingly had no chance succeed. It's an educated crapshoot. I feel it's unfair to criticize Gene Smith for the picks he has made. Some players just don't pan out and you can't predict which ones those are going to be.
John: It’s not unfair to criticize Smith or any general manager, and they know that. This is professional sports, and these are highly-paid people who are expected to succeed. They also expect to be criticized if they don’t succeed. Believe me when I say that on the list of Smith’s concerns this morning fan criticism is very low if it is there at all. Scouting departments must have a plan and stick to the plan.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
Concerning the signing of a team’s own free agents, under the new CBA do all contracts contain sure money or is that only if the player avoids the Turk? Or would that vary from contract to contract?
John: In the NFL, guaranteed money comes in the form of signing bonuses. That didn’t change with the new CBA. And while Matt Turk indeed was a disappointment for the Jaguars this past season, whether or not a player avoids him or not has nothing to do with whether or not he gets paid.