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A different game

Let's get to it . . . Jaquan from Jacksonville:
Seeing that Gabbert hasn't improved this year, is it time to put the foot down and bench him to see what Chad Henne can do? Or just have another terrible game with low-scoring points?
John: I'm not sure I agree with the premise. Gabbert clearly has improved this year, although perhaps not as much as many people wanted. You bench people if you believe making a move would make the team better. With Gabbert having little time to throw and the receivers not consistently open, I don't know that I see the logic behind a change.
Steve from Homosassa, FL:
My prediction is not bold, but I think it will be true. We saw this several years ago; if things don't turn around this season, someone will lose their job. I know this is obvious, but it is the reality in the NFL.
John: It's a results-based business. If you don't win eventually there will be changes.
Frustrated Jags Fan:
Do you think Brad Meester retires after the season? I love his durability as a player, but there seems to be a dropoff in his play. More mental errors than anything else. On Jaguars All Access this week, Jeff Lageman showed plays where Blaine was pressured by Geno Atkins or inside linebacker blitzes. In every instance Brad made the wrong blocking call. He typically helped Uche Nwareri, but Eben Britton on his left was the one getting his lunch handed to him by Geno Atkins. Any reason why Brad wouldn't slide to his left to help the left guard block the defense's best pass-rushing defensive tackle?
John: I have no idea of Meester will retire, but I know that when discussing the offensive line this week, coordinator Bob Bratkowski said Eugene Monroe and Meester were playing the best of that group. I do know one thing – that the Jaguars feel a whole lot better having Meester available than if he wasn't.
Dave from Panama City, FL:
Do you think the "great" rookie years we saw from some offensive players last year was a result of the lack of an offseason for opposing defenses?
John: No. Defenses have the advantage when there is less time to prepare because continuity is important for offensive players.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
The top six conferences in college football are ranked as listed; SEC, Big 12, Pac 12, Big East, Big 10, and ACC. When you compare the rosters of the Jags and the Falcons, there is a glaring difference. The Jags have 22 players from those conferences and the Falcons have 38. Taking it a step further the Jags have four players from the SEC and the Falcons 14. Of the four players from the SEC three are from Missouri, probably one of the worst teams in the SEC. My question is don't you think this speaks volumes about the Gene Smith era and the linkage between NFL teams with winning records and losing records? It seems to me we should get the good players from good schools. For every small-school kid that makes it in the NFL, there are 5 more that make it from a top 6 college conference. I would like to know your thoughts.
John: My thoughts are you select players based on your scouting and where you project them. Cecil Shorts has made two of the biggest plays of the season for the Jaguars and played at Mount Union. Derek Cox might be the team's best defensive player and he played at William & Mary. I also know some of the biggest draft busts in this franchise's history have come from some of the biggest of schools. I'm not saying this roster is the NFL's most-talented. I just think as long as you select your first-round players from big conferences I'm not overly concerned about size of school after that. I've discussed this a lot, so I'm not inclined to get deep into it, but my guess is there have been a lot of bad teams through the years loaded with SEC players.
Carter from Fernandina Beach, FL:
As I recall, once a tarp is removed, it must remain off for the balance of the year and those seats become part of the "sell-out" numbers. Has the League changed its policy or did we just increase our seating for the rest of the season.
John: The league changed its policy. You are now allowed to remove the tarps at times and reinstall them.
David from Durban, South Africa:
Please tell me that Gene Smith placed Will Rackley on IR with that new designation that allows the player to return later in the season, if necessary?
John: No, Will Rackley is out for the season.
Derek from Ville Platte, LA:
Been a Jags fan since their inception into the league, and here is just a thought. I think the whole problem is that Jacksonville got spoiled to success so quickly in the beginning that they never had to go through the growing pains of being an expansion franchise.
John: There's some truth to that, but I wouldn't say it's the "whole" problem. Yes, Jaguars fans experienced success, but if they hadn't experienced that, I think they would still be frustrated with losing. The franchise has been to the postseason twice since 1999. Any fan base would be frustrated and should be. The team is working hard toward changing that, and feels it's closer than many believe, but there's nothing wrong with fans being frustrated and impatient.
Phil from Jacksonville:
I'm not going to predict that the Jaguars defense returns to Top 5 category when Daryl Smith returns, but it's possible. I remember an Indy team that the Jaguars destroyed with the run game. Bob Sanders came back from injury and their defense looked night-and-day different. They went from being average to a Super Bowl winner when he returned to the active lineup.
John: There was more to it, but certainly Sanders was the most important element. One player can make a difference because the NFL is so situational. A player such as Smith can force more third-and-long situation, or can rush the passer from the outside linebacker position well enough to cause disruption. That can create more opportunities for other players. I'll continue to say that I believe Smith's return won't solve everything, but I'll also continue to say I believe it will help.
Bob from Section 436:
How much of our defensive woes might be attributed to the lack of motivation, leadership and example of Mr. Kampman?
John: Little. Very, very little. I respect Kampman a great deal, and he was a leader, but he would be the first to tell you it's tough to lead too, too much when you're not on the field.
Howard from Homestead, FL:
I'd be shocked if the Jaguars only beat 'Bama by 40. I think 70 would be a more likely differential.
John: I do, too.
Rob from Jacksonville:
I noticed on your reply to Mark from Beaufort that you didn't mention Gabbert. Simple mistake or intentional?
John: My feeling was that the question to which you refer was asking me about players I believed were core players going forward. Gabbert could show himself to be that, and I believe he has the chance to do so.
John from Athens, GA:
Various sources have consistently reported on the huge amount of cap room that the Jaguars have to spend. I've seen it as high as 32 million and as low as 20 million. From a fan's perspective, this shows an unwillingness to pony up the dough and go, dare I say, All In. Now I believe that Shad and Gene are definitely all in, but why aren't they spending the money? They could outbid every team in the league?
John: Sure, they could have spent more. On what? They spent on Laurent Robinson and Aaron Ross and neither player has had an enormous impact yet. The Buffalo Bills spent on Mario Williams and he hasn't done much in Buffalo. You don't spend for the sake of spending in free agency. It's just not the way to build and it is very much a way to ensure you have a very difficult future.
Brendon from Austin, TX:
You're probably being generous by saying the Jaguars would beat a college team by only 30-40 points. The true blowouts in the NFL happen when one team simply dominates the line of scrimmage to such a degree that the lesser team simply cannot function at all. That is what an NFL team against a college team would be like. A college team would struggle to perform the very basic fundamentals of the game. People look at elite college players making the NFL, and don't think about just how badly the average, never-gonna-get-drafted college player would be thrown around by an NFL player.
John: It always cracks me up when this question comes up, and I always include it because it's such a hot-button issue. It's usually good for a couple of days' worth of discussion. There are always those who believe a great college team could play with a struggling NFL team. Such argument flies in the face of reason. As you alluded to, NFL players are grown, mature men while even the best college players for the most part are 20-to-22-year olds. There's a physical difference. People who stand on the sidelines of NFL and college games are often amazed at the difference in size, speed and force of collision between the two levels of play. Plus, even on the best college teams there are players who don't play in the NFL. Many of those who do take years to develop. There are no players on NFL teams who can't play in the NFL. There are first-and-second-round draft selections who are ineffective in the NFL. It's a different game.

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