Alex from Austin, TX:
Training camp starts Friday and Blackmon is yet to be signed. I understand Blackmon's agent is probably taking his time trying to avoid offset language, but do you see Blackmon being absent for the start of training camp?
John: I’d say at this point there’s a good chance Blackmon could miss a day or two at the beginning of camp, if for no other reason than if he signs Thursday, the logistics of signing and getting to camp could take long enough to force an absence from practice. I’d be surprised if it’s longer than a day or two, and if it’s longer than that, I’d say fans and the team have a right to be disappointed. The issue here is going to be the Jaguars not wanting to give a lot of upfront money. The only reason the Jaguars will be adamant about that is because of the mistake Blackmon made. In other words, Blackmon put himself in this situation. Now is the time to accept it, get signed and earn a contract that likely will be very fair if he remains clear of trouble.
Todd from Section 143 and St. Augustine, FL:
One key factor in attendance issues is a lot of the teams in the NFL are relatively young. I was 13 when the Jaguars came to Jacksonville. I have been a fan since but could not afford season tickets until five years ago. I would think as more years pass the younger generations that grew up with the Jags and love the NFL will see going to the game as a more appealing option. Obviously, winning will help as well. What are your thoughts?
John: There’s no question that many of the teams without long waiting lists are young teams without a long-standing, “generational” element to their season-ticket bases. That said, the NFL can’t just assume that time will build markets in newer cities. The league’s focus now is on making sure attending games is a better experience than watching them on television. The league seems if not proactive at least active on this front. When the league sets its focus on an initiative, it typically is pretty relentless and often pretty innovative. This will be an area worth watching.
Michael from Fruit Cove, FL:
Have you considered the possibility of Jones-Drew holding out being a good thing? This man has taken a beating over the last few years and it could be good to have him stay a little fresher by not taking hits in training camp and preseason games for a couple weeks. We all know that he will be in camp by the third preseason game at the latest, and that should be plenty of time for him to get ready for the regular season.
John: Your point that Jones-Drew needs to be as fresh as possible is a valid one. That’s something that would absolutely be monitored in training camp, but make no mistake: once training camp begins, Jones-Drew needs to be here. Not a lot of good is going to come from a long absence.
Brandon from Orlando, FL:
I have to say the video series on the Top 25 Jags players was top notch. Your graphic designer is putting out great stuff. New intern?
John: No, it was great work by new Video Coordinator Patrick Kavvanagh and our graphics guy, Chris Burdett. I join you in commending their work.
Keenan from Jacksonville:
I just caught up on the recent editions of the O-Zone and seen an answer you responded to someone about the 'Top 25 Jaguars of All-Time'. You said credit should go to Ryan Robinson for the original idea, and while this is not to take away from him in any way, there has been a countdown of the 'Top 25' taking place on the blog Big Cat Country for the last month or so by a contributor of the name Jpon. While this list should warrant more credibility, as there is more input from professionals of the local media, his effort deserves acknowledgement. His list is notably different, but the point is, the idea is not entirely original as would initially be thought by your reply to that question. Again, this is not to take away from Ryan in any way, just to give credit where credit is due.
John: The idea was original. Not that it takes a genius to come up with the idea of listing a franchise’s best players, but we were working on it and discussing it before Big Cat Country began running its list. As you said, this is not to take away from the BCC list in any way, but when I said credit should go to Ryan Robinson for the original idea, that’s what I meant. In the context of the jaguars.com list, that’s where credit is due.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
Let's say the Jaguars go 10-6 and close the regular season with some kind of streak. How fair do you think it will be for the media to label the Jaguars season a "Cinderella" story? I know it seems a bit nit-picky, but wouldn't that kind of label serve to diminish the hard work Gene has put in for the last four years?
John: If the Jaguars go 10-6 and close the regular season on a positive streak, I’d call that a successful season and a season that can be built upon. I wouldn’t really care what the media called it, and I don’t think anyone else around the Jaguars would, either.
John from New Orleans, LA:
I was sad to hear Gene won't have his weekly radio show this year, but glad to hear he will be involved in some capacity with Jaguars This Week. My request is that you guys please continue his weekly "Scout's Eye Player of the Game.” That was my favorite three minutes of radio each week.
John: Smith actually will be featured in multiple segments on Jaguars Reporters each Tuesday. Right now the plan is to have one of those segments be the Scout’s Eye Player of the Game.
Dave from Orange Park, FL:
How to "make attending a game better than watching at home.” Simplest way is to cut concession stand prices. Why pay $3.50 for a bottle of water that costs 99 cents at a convenience store? Four dollars for a hot dog? I can get an eight-pack of Ball Park franks and the buns at Publix for that price! Ten dollars for a 20-oz. premium beer? A six pack of the same beer doesn't cost that much! I know, I know..."you don't have to buy anything at the stadium if you don't want to," but when you are sitting in that slow cooker of a stadium for five hours, you have to hydrate, and they won't let you BYO. By the way, I'm a season-ticket holder, and I spend my money there, but MY experience would be much better if it were a bit cheaper.
John: There’s no question it’s expensive, and although the Jaguars have made efforts to make the game affordable, no one will say going to a game isn’t pricey. At the same time, it is a money-making venture and though I sit in the press box and drink free water, I have roughly the same reaction as you whenever I step into a movie theatre. Eating and drinking at concession prices is expensive. I wish it wasn’t, but it just is, and I wouldn’t expect efforts to make the game-day experience better to include a dramatic reduction in prices. The Jaguars do, however, reduce the price of bottled water to $2 when the temperature hits 90 degrees, they routinely have specials on concession items, and they will soon announce a policy allowing fans to bring food items into the stadium.
Jason from Dallas, TX:
Any chance you'll be uploading some videos from training camp?
John: Good idea. I’ll be sure to get in front of the proper people.
Joe from Aurora, IL:
I think the biggest difference, and biggest hurdle to clear, between the 2012 Jags and the 2011 49ers is pass rush. Aldon Smith comes in and has 14 sacks!? We need that kind of production to have a game-changing defense. Not just the sacks, but the pressure around the quarterback.
No question. The Jaguars’ pass rush has improved the last two seasons, but if you want your defense to change and dominate the game, you need impact pass rushing. Andre Branch
should provide a step in that direction. Just how big that step turns out to be could determine a lot about this season.
Brian from Jacksonville and Section 230:
I believe someone asked this question last year while the Weavers still owned the team, but are there any plans to display the division and/or conference champion banners in the stadium somewhere? It seems odd that they don't have a prominent place to be seen.
John: I don’t remember the question last year, but the Jaguars do display banners for the 1998 and 1999 AFC Central championships on the field wall.
Justin from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
So what is your advice to the Khan family as they get ready to embark on their rookie season as NFL owners?
John: 1.Increase senior writer salary. 2.Give senior writer “perks of choice.” 3. See Nos. 1 and 2.