Let's get to it . . .
Mike from Jacksonville:
Why did the Jaguars cut Jason Hill? He caught half of Gabbert's touchdowns. And he was having a decent year despite our anemic offense this year.
John: Hill wasn't going to return next season and with five games remaining, it was time to look at other receivers. The Jaguars have six receivers on the roster, including three – Chastin West, Cecil Shorts and Brian Robiskie – who can be considered young players who the Jaguars haven't seen much of in game situations. It was time to see more of these players. It didn't help that Hill didn't make a great effort for the ball on the long pass by Gabbert that was intercepted Sunday. That didn't get him cut, but the play was indicative of what has gone wrong in the passing offense this season.
Buddy from Jacksonville:
First, Del Rio is fired. Now, Johnny Cox is fired as receivers coach and they make Mike Sheppard the receivers coach and Dirk Koetter the quarterbacks coach. What gives, O?
John: The receivers and the quarterback position are the two positions that need to improve the most, and that could benefit the most from focus on the basics and a more disciplined, focused approach. Koetter will still call plays, but will work with Gabbert more directly now. There are five weeks remaining in the season. If those five weeks can be used to improve the coaching at those spots, so much the better.
Mike from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I know this isn't football-related and the O-Zone isn't the place for social commentary, but I'm already sick and tired of seeing Shahid Khan referred to as a Pakastani businessman. He came to this country at 16, got educated, worked his butt off, married an American, raised two children as Americans and lived as an American. He is an American businessman of Pakistani decent. And, like a lot of Americans, he loves football, not futbol. So, I for one would like to welcome Mr. Khan and his family to Jacksonville and look forward to the passion that he most certainly will bring to the stadium every Sunday.
John: We're not going to saturate the O-Zone with discussions on this topic, but you made your point in salient fashion. From what I have heard of Khan, he is exactly what you say and will be embraced by Jacksonville. It obviously is up to him in a sense to ensure the city of Jacksonville realizes what he and his family are about – as well as his commitment to the city – and it is just as much up to the city of Jacksonville to embrace the new ownership. Whatever the public perception of Wayne Weaver, he never has shown himself to have anything but a sincere desire to make the NFL work in Jacksonville and I believe Weaver firmly believes that Khan shares that desire. I interpret that to mean that Jacksonville will be given a fair chance in the near future to show it can sustain a franchise for the long haul. Now, can it do that? That will be the story that plays out.
Daniel from Johnston, IA:
I'm sorry to see Jack go but at some point you do have to hold him accountable for the team's record. Of all the names on the list of coaches, my top choice would be Jeff Fisher. The man knows how to coach. Do you think there are any candidates that you would say the job is probably theirs if they wanted it?
John: Having covered a team in the same division as Fisher for pretty much all of my years in the NFL, I have watched Fisher a lot, and talked to a lot of people about him. I also have spent some time around him in several situations. That, combined with conversations with people who know him, causes me to believe he'd be a great choice. I also think Mel Tucker will get more of a chance than perhaps many believe at this point, and I certainly believe he should. I'm skeptical on the possibility of Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden, though Jay Gruden is intriguing. We'll be covering this a lot more, obviously, as the weeks go on, but those are early thoughts.
Robert from Jacksonville:
If the fans want to keep this team here in Jacksonville don't you think they should make a good first impression on Monday night football?
John: I'm understandably getting a lot of emails along these lines. Let's be clear. This is not a one-game trial situation where if Khan sees an empty seat he takes the team somewhere else. The way to look at this now is there is a team that is now moving toward stability. First, signing Gene Smith to a three-year deal. Then, getting the ownership question settled. Soon, the issue of the coach will be solved. No more uncertainty and everything moving in one direction. It hasn't been framed that way nationally and we're still fresh from the news Tuesday, so it's hard to see it that way, but that's the approach.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Everything will be fine! Mr. Weaver knows what he's doing. He wouldn't sell the team to just anybody. Especially not somebody who will move the team anytime soon. That'd be just downright evil. It's so evil in fact that the new owner would have to have some kind of evil moustache.
John: I don't think it's evil at all. To me, it seems sort of friendly.
KingAllo from Jacksonville:
I knew it from the moment it happened that JDR was gone after this season. Question, was this all a ploy by Wayne Weaver to sell the Jags? Even before the end of last season the media has been hinting here and there that the Jags were for sale to the highest bidder. Are there any repercussions from the NFL for tanking a season so that the owner can make a sale and profit from the city in the process?
John: Your question is so far from being based in logic that I'm not sure how to answer. I'm not sure how being 3-8 could have helped as a sales point, and an owner doesn't buy a team for its current record. He buys it for a long-term investment and long-term involvement. And the Jaguars didn't go to the highest bidder. Weaver reportedly had an offer from a California buyer a couple of years back for more than Khan reportedly paid.
Danny from Fernandina Beach, FL:
The fans of the Jaguars are worried about the team leaving, I being one of them. I have been a season ticket holder since 2000 and have been there through the good and bad and will continue to do the same. You're saying that if they leave it will because of not filling the stadium regardless who the owner is. I agree. That means for fair weather fans to become a season ticket owner and a lot of them. It's on Gene and the staff to put a winning team on the field. So, it's not on the fans if they leave. It's on the Jaguars. Win and they stay. Leave and there's no one to blame but the organization. You wouldn't keep buying something if it didn't do what it said it would.
John: Yes, the team must win. And the fans must respond. The fans also must be able to support the team through good times and bad. And the team must keep the bad times to a minimum. It's an ongoing cycle that every team in the NFL must face. This feels like a time when the team is going to generate some momentum moving forward and the fans must respond.
Eric from Jacksonville:
Could you give one specific example of why people in the media feel the way they do about Gene Smith? When you say he does things the right way what does that mean?
John: I don't know that it's any one thing as it is his overall approach. When you talk to Smith, you realize he has a clear idea of why he drafts a particular player and what is important to him. He has a philosophy, and has the conviction in his own beliefs with the courage to follow that philosophy. His skeptics understandably will take that and say, "Well, yeah, but look at the record." But doing it the right way means seeing the big picture and the long-term picture and being willing to continue doing it the right way no matter what critics and outsiders say.
Jim from San Francisco, CA:
KHAAAAN!!!! Seriously, how many of these did you get?
John: More than a few, and I like it. People need to get excited. People I have talked to say he's a great guy and that the city will embrace him. I don't know that mimicking a line from a movie is the end-all of that process, but maybe it's part of it.
Jeff from Fullerton, CA:
Is the selling price of the Jaguars public information? I have not seen any numbers thrown around. Just curious to see how close I am to owning my own NFL team.
John: All the reports are about $760 million. I had the same thoughts as you. I hope you're less discouraged than I.
A move toward stability
Let's get to it . . .
Mike from Jacksonville: