Let's get to it . . .
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
I saw Derek Cox at this huge Town Center in Jacksonville. It was Epic!! Wait, or is it EPIC!!? I can't remember which one you prefer. Either way, EPIC.
John: It was so EPIC!!!
Ryan from Boynton Beach, FL:
So, I would love for MJD to win the rushing title, but after hearing the news that AP has a torn ACL and could easily miss a nice portion of next season, too, with that injury I'm not so sure. Do you take it easy with MJD or let him play to win the title?
John: You let him play, and not only that, you let him play with all of his heart and desire. You play because there's a game and it's the regular season and you play because you don't know how many opportunities you will get to play in the league.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Dreeeeeeewwwwww! Let's bring in the New Year with a win over the Ponies and a rushing title for our All-Pro.
John: Those will be the themes for the week and they will be more than themes. I fully expect Jones-Drew to get the rushing title, particularly considering the overwhelming lead he has after this past weekend. The bigger question is whether Jones-Drew will break Fred Taylor's franchise record. That will be difficult. He needs 136 yards and hasn't eclipsed the 122-yard mark yet this season. It's not as easy a task as simply feeding Jones-Drew. An offense has to keep getting first downs to allow a runner to have the opportunities and that takes a mix. I have a feeling Jones-Drew will get the record, but it will be close. And as for All-Pro, if Jones-Drew doesn't get it it's a crime. That doesn't mean it will happen, but it does mean it would be a crime.
Mailman from Jacksonville:
I like these guys. They keep fighting. GM Gene finds guys with the Right Stuff. They play for the love of the game. That's enough for me to show up at The Bank on New Year's Day,
John: They have heart. As you inferred, the season has not gone close to how this team wanted, but at no point have I seen signs that the team is fragmented or that there is finger-pointing. That sounds as if it should be the norm, but too often, it is not. What the Jaguars did this season isn't expected. Everyone knows it, and trying hard isn't enough, but given the circumstances, not quitting does say something about the character on this team.
Mike from Champaign, IL:
Every time that I hear or read someone make a comment about the records MJD is breaking, I can't help but think about when he was drafted. The concern was that he was too small to play at a high level in the NFL. Being small also meant he couldn't be an every down back, that he wouldn't be able to contribute to the pass protection, he couldn't make consistent 20 rushing attempts a game for a full season and that he would simply get beat up by the big defensive players in the league. Those big dummies. Merry Christmas, Jags.
John: Yes, a lot of those things were said and I admit thinking them about Jones-Drew from afar early in his career. I also wondered if he would be able to make the transition from a situational back to a go-to-every-down back. You know what I thought once? That Jones-Drew wore down at the end of seasons and end of games. Well, wrong again. Jones-Drew has used being doubted as motivation and he has proven many, many people wrong. That's the beauty of sports and of the NFL. If you can play, you get an opportunity and everything is decided by those who play, not those who observe.
Scott from London, England:
Mincey can catch. Maybe wide receiver isn't a need at all. Blaine has a new go-to guy -- maybe along with Guy Whimper.
John: All kidding aside, let's not overlook the year Mincey has had. He was a guy not many people knew much about outside Jacksonville before this season and maybe they still don't. If so, that's not Mincey's fault. He has developed into the kind of player every team needs: consistent, reliable and willing to play hard whatever the situation. And yeah, he has a set of hands, too.
Kevin from Ocean Springs, MS:
I know the stats won't show it, but I think this was one of Gabbert's better games. I saw a lot of improvement in his pocket presence. I know he had some bad plays in there, but I liked what I saw from that 80-yard touchdown drive and that pass to Dillard at the three-yard line. We're a lot closer to being good than most people want to believe.
John: Here's a funny thing about Gabbert. I seem to recall writing often between the draft and the regular season that there were going to be steps forward and steps back this season and maybe a lot more of the latter at first. I also recall the Jaguars being pretty specific about him not being ready to play this season. There were also an awful lot of readers and fans who said they didn't care how rough the learning process was, that they wanted him to play and take his lumps this season. I recall someone writing that was easier said than done. Lo and behold, there have been steps forward and steps back and guess what? The first season was a difficult learning experience. This was expected and here at the end of the season you're starting to see signs of a quarterback who can learn in some specific areas in the off-season. In a lot of respects, there's no reason to think Gabbert isn't on schedule. He must stay confident and must keep working and fans must remember he is still 22 and very, very young for what he is trying to accomplish.
Jordan from Vienna, VA:
How tough a decision do you think it may be for the Rams if they end up having the No. 1 overall pick considering they spent one two years prior in Bradford?
John: It won't be tough, I don't think, because the Rams have every reason to like Bradford. It's almost certain they would trade the No. 1 selection for multiple selections and that may be exactly what that franchise needs.
Carson from Jacksonville:
How long are we going to blame everyone else but Gabbert? I'm tired of seeing no progression. Good players eventually make mediocre players better and he has made them worse, if anything. If we don't draft a quarterback high, as a backup plan, we may be in for yet another long, depressing season. I get the frustration with Gabbert, and
John: I've written again and again that he must improve. But there's also a part of me that closes my eyes and sees pass after pass this season bounce off the hands of receivers -- and sees many other times when plays weren't made on the ball -- and wonder just how the quarterback us supposed to be blamed for that. As for how long we're going to blame everyone but Gabbert – I don't know; he seems to have taken plenty of blame.
Tim from Tucson, AZ:
Merry Christmas. Another frustrating loss, but I continue to see silver linings. A tight end from Brown, some young defensive backs who can play, a good offensive line with Britton coming back, MJD, etc. Think many of the offensive woes have become mental and with Gabbert's improvement, I can see a ten-win team next year. Have I hit the egg nog too hard?
John: There's no such thing as too much egg nog and I like the way you're thinking. Yes, there are several silver linings. Obviously there is much work to be done, but that's OK. The off-season is for work and the thing to remember about the Jaguars is they are indeed very, very young. Young players in the NFL often take quantum jumps in the off-season, and players such as Gabbert, Will Rackley and Cecil Shorts have the chance to make such jumps in the coming months.
Lee from Duval County, FL:
Merry Christmas to you and all of your readers.
John: And to you and all of yours.
Chris from Dirty Duval, FL:
A healthy team and some new receivers this offseason and we'll be OK, I think. I like Gabbert's zip on the ball, but he needs to put a little more touch on some of his passes. I think he'll master that with an offseason and some better coaching. I'm excited about 2012 and everything about it. It's a new beginning, John, and I'm glad you're here to witness it.
John: Me, too. We'll all be watching Gabbert, and the touch on his passes is something on which he'll work. He's the No. 1 story of the off-season and watching it will be fascinating.
Matt from Jacksonville:
I hope Gabbert's digression . . . you know what? I can't even be pithy with this one. Merry Christmas, O-Man. And thanks for the article to read Christmas morning as the smell of turkey filled the house and my glass was full of brandy.
John: Here's hoping your glass always is full and that your holiday home is long filled with the heady, good aroma of dead game.
A heady, good aroma
Let's get to it . . .
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL: