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A better chance than many believe

Let's get to it . . . Kevin from Jacksonville:
Football is a results-oriented business. At this stage in his tenure, it's hard to consider Gene Smith reign as being successful. I hear how complimentary you are of his manner of building a team and how highly his peers regard him, but his results leave a lot to be desired. For example, he had all of last season to evaluate the WR position yet in still his only addition to the position was Cecil Shorts. Furthermore he extended Mike Thomas's contract for no apparent reason and overpaid for him. The QB he drafted is clearly playing at a level inferior to all of draft mates and his 2010 draft has to be considered a failure. Please help me rationalize why he is still employed by the Jaguars.
John: No reason to rationalize. The roster is significantly superior to what it was in 2008, and aside from wide receiver and quarterback, there are few glaring holes. I'm not going to get into a position-by-position breakdown, because no roster is perfect, but the problems at wide receiver weren't all about talent – as this week's firing of wide receivers coach Johnny Cox perhaps reflects. As for Gabbert, I've said it often enough that I'm worn out on saying it. Judge him next season, when he's had an off-season to prepare and when he's working with an offensive system that undoubtedly will be reset. People who know far more football than I – people with no interest in the Jaguars' organization – tell me Smith is as good as there is, and from what I've seen, they're right.
Joey from Hays, KS:
If half the people worried/complaining about the team moving bought season tickets . . .
John: Yep.
Lee from Duval County, FL:
I live in DC, so I'm at the mercy of ESPN and the mainstream media, who jump at every opportunity to bash the Jaguars and their fans. I hope that on Monday night the Jaguars organization takes the opportunity to correct some of the misinformation during interviews. Why do we just sit and take this abuse?
John: Oh, if an interview or two would solve everything . . . The reality when it comes to the perception of Jacksonville is it doesn't matter much what people here say; the talking heads and analysts are going to opine whatever they opine. The national media is wrong about the majority of what they write and say about the Jaguars' situation, and time usually reveals as much. As strange as it seems, facts aren't always part of the conversation these days because facts are often about minutiae and it takes effort, thought, time and consideration to digest them. That's counter to the world in which we live in, so stories and perception are about sound bites and what is easy to understand. It's easy to understand someone when they say, "The Jaguars are moving." It's harder to understand the details and sound reasoning about why it's not true. Bottom line: What the national analysts say has little to do with the reality of the situation here, so the best thing for people here to do is support the team, understand that the Jaguars are close and wait for better days, which are coming sooner than many believe.
Stan from East Timor:
Peyton is arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time, and the effect of his injury on the Colts this year cannot be understated. But do you think the loss of 19 players to injured reserve, and the loss of Garrard to a back injury which probably resulted in him being cut, has had just as big of a impact on the Jags this year?
John: I'd like to say yes, because it would explain a lot, but the truth is probably not. The Jaguars have been hit hard in recent weeks by injuries, but through pretty much the first eight or nine games they were actually pretty healthy throughout the starting lineup. The loss of backup running back Rashad Jennings, backup tight end Zach Miller and right tackle Eben Britton were the biggest losses in the first half of the season, and that's not an extreme rash of injuries in the NFL. At that point, the Jaguars were already struggling, so injuries can't be used as an excuse. As for Garrard, I don't want to re-start the conversation, but I'm not of the belief his absence had a major effect on the season. If he had been playing at the level he had in the past, perhaps it would have been different.
Gabe from Jacksonville:
Who's making the coaching changes? Are these all on Tucker, or is Gene Smith calling the shots, or is it a combination of both? Media is reporting that Tucker is making the moves, but I thought Gene Smith was in charge of everything.
John: Tucker and Smith see football through much the same lens with similar philosophies and approaches. The coaching changes were made by Tucker, and certainly Smith had input, but it's safe to say it was a pretty easy consensus to reach.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
It is possible for a below average group of receivers to make an above average quarterback look not all that proficient?
John: Yes, although with the Jaguars this season it has been more about an underachieving group of receivers helping to make a young quarterback look far worse than reality.
Lawrence from Omaha, NE:
How do you think Gene Smith evaluates someone like DeSean Jackson? Would he view him as a troublesome teammate with a bad locker-room presence despite the fact that he had no off-field antics prior to this season, or would he view him as someone who maybe just doesn't handle a contract dispute well, and would play well in the big-picture mentality once paid?
John: It's a worry either way. The concern is while Jackson may not have had problems until this season – and while those problems may have been brought about by a contract dispute – there is still a clear body of evidence that suggests the guy doesn't handle a difficult situation as well as you might like.
Joel from Jacksonville:
Another interested day in the neighborhood. It has been said by many people it is players, not plays (implying coaches as well). So the Jags start winning - what does that do to that idea?
John: I believe it's players and not plays when it comes to the specifics of play-calling. But when it comes to a group of players being drilled in the fundamentals and basics to a to a level that allows them to perform consistently, efficiently and effectively to their potential throughout the course of a season, then the coach matters very much. On that front, I am intrigued to see how the final weeks of the season unfold.
Jason from Tallahassee, FL:
I couldn't disagree with Danny from Fernandina Beach more. It will ALWAYS be on the fans if this team leaves. Let's say the team has a few more losing seasons. It will get better. Teams go through cycles. They have a chance to get better and have winning seasons. If the team MOVES there is NO chance for it to come back. Jacksonville will NEVER have another pro team EVER! What is so hard to understand? More excuses? No! There are no more! JDR is gone, so all of those "fans" that won't buy tickets until he's fired. It's time to pony up! I've heard that tired excuse so much John, now I'm being told that if they move it's the team's fault, not ours. Our problem is that our fans are the dumbest in the league. They have no idea how fortunate we are to have football in Jacksonville. No more excuses! JDR haters out there, go buy tickets. He's gone, no more excuses. There are enough of you out there for them to take the covers off. Support your team! That's what fans do!
John: Well said.
Chris from Houston, TX:
Do you see the Jaguars picking a quarterback in one of the later rounds as sort of a "security blanket?" No one in the front office can really be happy about our current quarterback situation. Gabbert has probably played as bad as any starter in the league and clearly McCown isn't the answer.
John: Until the effects of the recent changes can be seen, I wouldn't presume to know what the front office really feels about the quarterback situation.
Keith from DeLeon Springs, FL:
Do you think Mel Tucker is up for the job and will the D suffer with him taking more responsibilities? Also, is he going to have a chance at staying the head coach?
John: I absolutely think Mel Tucker is up for the job, and while I believe injuries could hurt the defense overall the final five games, I do not believe the defense will suffer because of Tucker's new responsibilities. And yes, I do think Tucker has a better chance of staying the head coach than many might believe. Tucker will be a head coach somewhere in the NFL relatively soon. I believe he probably has to win four or five of these last five games to do it, but so far it's hard not to like what you see around here in terms of the direction in recent days.

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