Let's get to it . . . Jason from Section 122:
I know in years past when a team had a new coaching staff it was allowed extra off-season camps. Does that still apply or has that gone away with the new CBA?
John: Teams with a new head coach may have an extra voluntary mini-camp. Mike Mularkey is having such a camp in April, and he's referring to it as a veteran orientation. Mularkey said recently it literally will be that – with veterans learning how this coaching staff wants them to get in and out of the huddle, getting to know the coaches, etc. There are basics for a team to learn when working with a new head coach, and the first minicamp is a time to start that process.
The 12th Man from Jacksonville and Section 122:
So I guess you're going to ignore the terrible decision by Khan of getting rid of teal?
John: Not ignoring it. While in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl, Khan told local radio host Mike Dempsey of 1010XL the team was planning a change to all-black uniforms with teal becoming a secondary color. As Khan understands it, the plan is for the Jaguars to wear black as a primary color in 2012 with a new uniform design by Nike in 2013. The team hasn't released anything official on it, so right now, that's where it stands. There are no prototypes yet, so I haven't seen the uniforms to comment on whether I like them or not. A lot of people really like the black; a lot of people really like the teal. I'm more of a helmet guy than a uniform guy. I like the Jaguars' helmet, but have never had much of a preference between the team's black, white or teal jerseys. There are a lot of details as yet unknown regarding the uniforms moving forward. We'll let you know more as we know more.
Jason from Madison, WI:
Shouldn't we expect to get improvement in receiving from the guys we have? I get that the GM said it last year and Jason Hill didn't work out, Marcedes regressed, and Thomas seems to have hit his ceiling, but I'm thinking of Dillard, Shorts, Robiskie, Miller, and West. We have a lot of good young WR talent and now a top WR coach, so am I alone in thinking this isn't such a glaring need? Does bringing in pricey new guys mean giving up prematurely on some of the guys we have?
John: I think what you'll see is a combination. Some of the players of whom you speak will play far better than most fans expect possible – from what I have heard, new wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan is capable of having that kind of an impact – and there also will be an infusion of talent. The receivers currently on the roster are capable of playing better, but there also is need for at least one more player to upgrade the talent level. The Jaguars for the past few seasons have been building inside out – trying to strengthen the lines and the core of the defense. Now, it's time to focus on the edge – i.e., receiver and defensive end. Those are the vital pieces to the puzzle now.
Brad from Orange Park, FL:
I am glad to hear that Martin getting in to the Hall in some aspect increases Taylor's chances. At what point do you reevaluate the effectiveness of the induction process? What players have done on the field shouldn't be diminished because they played in a small market or because the teams they played on weren't perennial Super Bowl contenders. Am I off my rocker here, Bro-Man?
John: You're not off your rocker, but for the most part, I like the current system in this sense: I don't know what you would do to enhance it. The people involved are for the most part qualified people who have covered the NFL for most of their professional lives, and who have access to people such as current and former general managers, coaches and players. I know that many of the Hall of Fame voters use that access to extensively discuss each candidate each year and I know most Hall of Fame voters take the process very seriously. Now, I will say this: I wasn't crazy about a few of this weekend's selections. I don't know that I'd call Doleman, Roaf and Martin borderline selections, but it did strike me that this year's class was a bit less dazzling than many. I do know my first thought upon seeing the names started off like this: 'Well, if Martin and Roaf got in, then Taylor and Boselli damned sure . . .'
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
The Eli vs. Peyton comparison couldn't be any more apples to oranges. Eli plays for a team with a smothering defense and a stout rushing attack. Not to downplay his individual abilities, but I believe many active NFL quarterbacks could be successful in the Giants' system. By contrast, Peyton plays (played?) for a team that was built with him in mind and was asked to do everything. It's easy to make the argument (particularly in the wake of the 2011 season) he is as vital to the success of the Colts as any player has ever been to his respective team. If you think about it, the only time in recent memory the Colts fielded a team with a better-than-mediocre defense was during the playoffs following the '06 season. I think we all remember how that turned out. Holy Christmas, O-man – did I really just pen an email complimenting Peyton Manning? The shame . . .
John: I don't want to turn this off-season into all-Manning, all-the-time, but since we're in the wake of the Super Bowl and a few weeks from the combine/free agency, we can dedicate some O-Zone space to the topic. You're right that it's an apples-to-oranges comparison, but just about any comparison in the NFL fits that description – so different are the circumstances surrounding each team. A couple of quick thoughts. One, Eli is better than you give him credit for. I didn't firmly believe that until this season, but each time I watched him this season he made big-time throws and big-time decisions and made clutch plays I'm not sure he was capable of making in past seasons. Two, the Colts had a very, very good defense in 2005 and 2007 and lost in the Divisional Playoffs each season. The biggest problem with the Eli-Peyton debate – if indeed there is a debate – is the same problem with all quarterback debates: people put far too much stock in rings as the deciding factor. You can make an argument that Tom Brady should have five rings, and maybe he would if Wes Welker doesn't drop a pass and if a football doesn't miraculously stick to David Tyree's head. You also could make an argument that maybe he should have two if not for the Tuck Rule. I do know Brady doesn't have any since the Patriots' defense began to weaken following the 2004 season. I get that rings are how quarterbacks are judged by most people. I just believe success and failure in the NFL is more complex than that.
Sam from Jacksonville:
"So do about 28 or 29 other NFL teams." Wha!? I think that there's only 4 or 5 NFL teams that DON'T have a WR that can make that play! Unfortunately the Jags are one of those teams. Mario Manningham is nothing special. In fact, he's the third option on the Giants WR corps.
John: I'll give you that a there are a lot of receivers who can make that play on occasion. I'm not sure there are more than three or four teams with a quarterback who can make the throw.
Wyatt from Jacksonville:
The reason why I said his receivers are bailing him out again is because in the previous Giants/Patriots matchup the David Tyree catch was really a pretty serendipitous play from the Patriots not going ahead and sacking Manning to Tyree actually catching the pass. The pass in particular I'm thinking about in the Super Bowl was when Manningham caught a pass along the sideline against double coverage and it was so close that Belichick had the play reviewed. Not that I'm discounting what Eli did, but basically the breaks went more his way than Brady's. (fumbles being recovered, difficult catches being made rather than dropped, etc).
John: I'm about ready to move on from the Super Bowl, but are there really people who thought Eli was "fortunate" on that pass? Yes, Manningham made a great play; the catch was unbelievable. The pass may have been better. ESPN showed a slow-motion replay of the ball sailing between two defenders and Manningham literally holding out his hands at half-arms length to catch it. No way does the play happen if Manningham doesn't do a great job getting both feet down, but the same if true of Manning: No way does Manningham make the catch if the throw wasn't perfect.
Scott from Newcastle, UK:
Don't you think Bradshaw should've taken a knee at the one a la MJD a few years ago?
John: Yes, and he tried to do just that. His momentum carried him into the end zone.
Ron from Asheville, NC:
What stands out from the playoffs is the top offenses are sophisticated and complex, which keep defenses from being able to read what comes next. I heard Mike Mularkey say he wants to keep the Jags' offense simple so that players understand what to do, which in turn will make them play fast. To me that sounds like a vanilla or predictable offense which has been the complaint with both Mularkey- and Bratkowski-led offenses. Maybe you can elaborate on this or shed some light on the Mularkey statement, and direction of the offense?
John: This reminds me a bit of last off-season, when Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker talked about playing simple and playing fast. I received many, many emails worried about being too vanilla and about not "fooling" the opponent. The Jaguars indeed kept things simple defensively, played fast and improved. Complexity isn't nearly as important in the NFL offensively or defensively as players executing the plays called correctly and as fast as possible. The Colts' offenses under Peyton Manning weren't complex. In fact, they basically lined up the same way every time and didn't run a phenomenal number of plays. They out-executed their opponents. That's all Mularkey is saying – that he wants the players to know exactly what they're doing in every situation, and to be able to do whatever is asked as quickly as possible.
Joe from Orange Park:
I think teams should be allowed to poach coaches of teams playing in the playoffs. The Giants get to be world champions and keep all their coaches from this season? Hardly seems fair.
John: Joe's email address is something to the effect that he is awesome. His question is not.
Evan from Orlando:
I'm feeling really good about this staff that the Jaguars organization has collected. When I was younger I didn't really pay attention to staff hiring but lately I've intrigued. Do you think in your time that you have covered the Jags that this could be one of the strongest staffs assembled in the franchise's history?
John: I also have changed my view on coaching staffs. When I first began covering the league, I took for granted that all coaching was pretty much created equal. Over time, I have come to believe that while players ultimately decide championships quality coaching is necessary to create a structure in which players can perform. I don't know how to intelligently compare this staff to past staffs because we have yet to see this staff really work together. From my conversations with people around the NFL, the feeling is this staff is professional, capable and will create that structure. That's a good start.
A good start
Let's get to it . . . Jason from Section 122: