Let's get to it . . .
Mike from Atlanta:
Question about Alualu: do many 4-3 interior defensive linemen get a lot of sacks in a year? Seems like some Pro Bowlers from last year in a 4-3 scheme had similar production?
John: Generally speaking interior defensive linemen do not get a lot of sacks. There are exceptions such as Ndamukong Suh, who had 10 sacks as a rookie with the Lions in 2010, but what you bring up is one of the big misunderstandings involving defensive linemen. Pass-rushing ends to some degree can be judged based on sack numbers, but defensive tackles must be judged on other areas that often aren't measured by statistics. Alualu is a very effective player and sometimes is unfairly criticized because he plays a position that isn't measured by sacks.
Bill from Westfield, MA:
Where do you find the next big name? The draft.
John: Thank you, Bill.
Fred from Jacksonville:
John, just a comment in regards to the question about lies. There is a reason when you are sworn in and the statement is "the truth, the WHOLE truth, and NOTHING but the truth" anything else is.... not the truth. Trust is difficult to win and easy to lose. I think GM Gene has lost some and Coach MM is headed that way with weak statements of support like, "we wanted him" and don't believe everything you read and hear in the media. Well, if people heard from you and the Jags, and they want to, they would believe. . . .
John: I shortened your email in the interest of brevity. To sum it up, you were encouraging myself and the Jaguars to be more open, honest and forthcoming regarding the team's actions. It always amazes me when our readers ask the Jaguars to be more transparent and more honest. Certainly, there are instances when the Jaguars – like any NFL team – don't announce everything they do. But I have been around the NFL nearly 17 years. I worked for or around the Colts 10 of those years. I can tell you that when it comes to being forthcoming with fans the Jaguars are at or near the best teams in the NFL. This forum – i.e., a daily mailbag in which the writer can interact, offer opinions and analyze – is rare and exists for no other reason than to reach out to fans and provide as much transparency and honesty as possible. Does the team reveal everything? No, no team does. But trust me, it is far worse in many other cities.
Chris from Jacksonville:
John, now that you've been in Jacksonville for more than a year, what do you think of the city outside the Jags?
John: I love it, but I'm not surprised. I grew up here and spent most of my life here except for 10 years in Indianapolis. The city certainly had changed in 10 years, but at its heart it's the same city we left a decade ago and we're happy to be back.
Kevin from Section 150:
Not sure if this has been pointed out to people and it is admittedly a bit delayed, but in last year's mock draft, readers of this column had Blaine going No. 1. So, most readers of the O-Zone (a large contingent of which are Jag fans) thought highly enough of him that they thought he would be picked first. Yet I hear all this naysaying about his potential from those same readers. Am I missing something?
John: You are not. While I don't put much credence in our reader mock in terms of truly analyzing a player, the reality was that a year ago many had very high grades on Gabbert entering the draft. That talent and potential hasn't just disappeared. A lot went wrong for Gabbert last season and he has much to learn. I would be very surprised if Gabbert isn't improved next season. What I mean by that is steady improvement with some hiccups, but a general feeling by December that he has a chance to be someone around whom you can build.
Tim from Section 238:
I would really like to ask a question but I already know the answers. L.A is the future, the team is just going through the motions until L.A. is ready for an NFL team. Too many poor judgment calls to be unintentional. Ignore Manning, poor effort on Tebow, no effort on Mario, no real effort on depth at wide, not looking for stars, just looking for help. TE's were horrible last year, so was pass blocking and you pick up a third-string WR, a QB that was benched. Ross may be the only new addition that has potential.
John: I've read this theory a couple of times in emails this week, and it strikes me as odd. I mean, I get that during the off-season there is going to be anger over moves that don't get made. And I get that people believe the only way to improve is dramatic moves that make headlines in March. Never mind that history shows that's not the best way to build. And never mind that the quarterback everyone is upset about not acquiring this week is not considered a bonafide enough starting quarterback for anyone – not just the Jaguars – to trade for him to play that role. But the perception that there's some intentional mandate to not try for an extended period of time so that the team can eventually move to a market that doesn't yet have a stadium, is a high-risk venture and has lost two franchises . . . I just don't see the logic. If you're disappointed about the events of this past week, I can't change that. What I can tell you is events of the off-season often look much different once a season begins. This time last year, I had emails from people saying they were done with the NFL because of the lockout. That changed in the fall. I think there's going to be a different feeling around the Jaguars come training camp and the regular season. Time will tell.
Ben from Corning, IA:
Any updates on re-signing Josh Scobee? With all the free-agent fuss it seems his importance to the team has been put on the backburner.
John: The team has not backburnered Scobee in any way. It's hardly uncommon for franchised players to retain the tag for a few weeks or even a few months. The franchise tag as often as not is a roster-management tool, meaning teams use it to retain a coveted player and buy time with the idea of getting a long-term extension done. I expect that to happen with Scobee.
Jon from Palm Bay, FL:
Just wondering, when free agents visit teams, do they pay for the airfare or does the team requesting the visit pay?
John: The team pays.
Dave from Section 235:
Speaking of juvenile, meaningless threats, can I request a moratorium on fans threatening to either cancel/ not buy a ticket based on the team signing/ firing the following: player. coach. GM etc. the team is going to have to build a winner to sell out and then hang on until enough new Jaguars fan grow into adulthood anyway. If you're a fan who doesn't want to buy a ticket that's your right, but please just do it or don't do it, but don't post like a spoiled child. You're not ultimately going to be part of the solution anyway, so really, it's fine either way.
John: You have been heard.
Dewey from Port St. Lucie, FL:
I really like what Gene Smith has been doing, and his philosophy of how to build this team. It seemed like during the "Evening with the Coaches" that Mularkey and the other coaches were defending Gene when talking about the players and their value. I'm sure that had something to do with the negative criticism he got for certain fans that we won't mention. But how each coach talked about Smith I really get the sense that they feel confident in the job he's doing. Am I right?
John: As hard as it may be to believe, coaches and even personnel officials don't spend an undue amount of time focused on what's written or said. Certainly, some are aware of criticism levied at Smith, but I don't know that they feel the need to go out of their way to defend Smith. The defensive coaches who spoke – linebackers coach Mark Duffner and defensive line coach Joe Cullen – believe strongly in their guys and they have talented players to coach. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski spoke extensively about Blaine Gabbert and got into pretty good detail about Gabbert's strengths and weaknesses, but my impression was he was speaking from the perspective of someone who had been studying a player rather than someone who was trying to defend Gene Smith. But to answer your question: yes, I believe the coaches are confident in the job Smith is doing. Many football people are.
Renee from Section 104:
John! I know your "head is bloody but unbowed" and you are still standing! You know it is just starting. The emotional swell of "Jaguar" will continue to build into a tsunami that threatens to drown all of us either with tears of elation or sobs of bitter disappointments. With echoes of "if you build it, they will come" gently ebbing, the anticipation of the coming season is building. John, "fasten your seat belt, it's going to be a bumpy night."
John: I'm not sure it can get bumpier. We'll see.
A bumpy night
Let's get to it . . .
Mike from Atlanta: