Let's get to it . . .
Steve from Jacksonville:
With the new CBA, teams are not allowed to have more than one padded practice a week. But can the players call the practice themselves, as long as coaches are not involved?
John: No. In theory, the players could go to another site and practice, but that won't happen for a multitude of reasons. One is that injuries in that situation would almost certainly violate the contracts of many players. For the same reason teams put clauses in contracts against riding motorcycles, skydiving, etc., teams don't want their players playing football unsupervised. But we've probably dug into this too much. It just won't happen.
Jonathan from Blacksburg, VA:
If I watch Brandon Lloyd go to the Titans for a third rounder in 2012 and a fourth rounder in 2013 I'm going to scream.
John: Did you scream when they signed Randy Moss last season?
Lance from Jacksonville:
Here's my question: Besides Blaine Gabbert and Tyson Alualu, who else from this draft and last year's draft has shown that superstar quality that is desperately needed to lift this team?
John: None, and while it would be nice if it were different, it's not a concern. If you get a superstar quality player in every first round, that's more than enough superstars to build a winner. And while I agree that the team needs more productivity at wide receiver and defensive end, I don't believe adding "superstar quality" is the end all. Draft good players who make plays, and the superstar stuff will follow.
Andrew from St. Augustine, FL:
Gabbert gets the ball out quickly, extends plays with his legs, and has a hard work ethic. This kid may have the "IT" factor Jacksonville has lacked in a QB in a long time, maybe even ever.
John: Yep. As much as the "IT" factor, what I like is that you keep hearing positives on the difficult, necessary stuff – work ethic, film study, seeing the field, getting in and out of plays. It's still going to take time, but the things that a quarterback needs to do to be a franchise quarterback are things you keep hearing that Gabbert does well – or is striving to learn how to do well.
Jordan from Vienna, VA:
Is it time to release the Kampman, John?
John: Good gracious, no. I don't know if he'll return to his pre-injury form or not, but what would be the point of releasing him now, just as he's about to come back? Fans always want to cut injured players. While it may be frustrating for fans to keep reading about a guy being out, a team has to look at it more unemotionally and say, "Can this player help us if he returns more than someone else we could acquire." Kampman has difference-making ability. You don't cut that until you know he doesn't have that anymore.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Since hair is considered part of the uniform, and our QB has long hair, would defenders be allowed to tackle him by grabbing his hair? The hair is attached to his head so I would think that would be a 15-yarder.
John: No, it's just a tackle. No penalty.
Jonathan from Fort Benning, GA:
I know this is probably rare to get a question that isn't about our lack of a WR, how much better Garrard would be for the team right now, how crappy our front office and head coach are, or even the poor drafting that has plagued the Jaguars in the past, but I still have a question that I would like some "professional" feedback on... How would you grade Rashean Mathis's play this season? I think he gets too much criticism, and he isn't as bad as his critics make him out to be. Your thoughts?
John: Rashean Mathis is better than most people realize. He is a starting-quality cornerback and while it has become vogue to criticize him, the Jaguars are better with him than without him.
Jimmicane from Cardiff, CA:
I can't help but look at the Falcons and think they made a huge mistake by trading all those picks for Julio Jones. Not that he won't be a good player, but he's only a single player. The mentality of "We're one player away from a Super Bowl" is always flawed thinking. All GMs in this league should be obsessed about depth. Besides having an elite QB, it's the most important need on a roster.
John: I find little in your email with which to disagree. Huge trades up for one player in the draft rarely look good in the long run. Will Jones be the exception? We'll see, but I'm with you: give me picks and multiple good players over trading away picks for one player. Wide receivers are enough of a risk in the first round without giving up your draft for the rights to take the risk.
John from Westchester, PA:
I believe the last big-time wide receiver we sign was Jerry Porter. I forget, how'd that turned out?
John: I can't remember.
Nathan from New York, NY:
In regards to the wide receiver position, you said the Jags were not unaware of the need to upgrade the position. Yet, all during the offseason and preseason the company line was that the receiver group was "solid" and they were very happy with it and they would surprise a lot of people. Even you supported this. It is this type of deception that has fans irate and dejected and not buying tickets.
John: The expectation was they would play better than they have. The Jaguars weren't being deceitful. What is a team supposed to do, come out and say, "We stink at this position or that position?" Would fans be happier if they said that? I don't think so. And the Jaguars didn't believe they stunk. They believed they could be solid and are disappointed that that hasn't been the case. That happens. The fans are irate and dejected over 1-4 and a four-game losing streak. If the receivers were playing great and they were 1-4, they'd still be irate. If they were 5-0, the front office could walk around with Pinocchio noses and signs on their chest that say, "We are lying to you" and fans would be ecstatically filling EverBank Field.
C.P. from Jacksonville:
Isn't "catching the ball" essentially the primary component of being a wide receiver? How do players who have played football much of their lives, made their way into the NFL, and earned millions of dollars in contracts still struggle with that basic foundation? That blows my mind, why are players who drop passes consistently even wide receivers in the first place?
John: It is a good question. There are organizations that value speed and size at the position and sometimes overlook hands. When I covered the Colts, I always was struck by something Bill Polian would say about receivers. He'd say the first and most important thing they valued at the position was the ability to catch. It sounded very obvious until you realized that what he meant was they'd rather have a guy who could catch consistently than a guy who could run open and be inconsistent. Drops are frustrating drive-killers, and when you have quality quarterback play, quality hands are more important than running wide open. That's the long answer to your question and probably more than you wanted to know. Short answer: Yeah, receivers have to catch.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Did you ever think it's possible that teams in warm-weather climates and without domes don't play as strongly as teams in cold weather climates or with domes? Just look at the last five super bowl winners. The Packers, Saints, Steelers, Giants, Colts, Patriots. They all play in cold weather climates or had domes for stadiums. Coincidence or just stroke of luck?
John: Coincidence. There used to be a theory that dome teams couldn't win the Super Bowl, and you always hear about cold-weather teams having an advantage in the playoffs. Great teams contend for Super Bowls and healthy, great teams with big-time quarterbacks and defenses that can pressure the quarterback have a better chance to win them than everyone else.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
Jags started 3-6 in 1996, just one season after becoming a team and went on to play in the AFC Championship. Just sayin, 1-4 sucks, but win 2 of the next 3 and they're still alive.
John: Yes, they are.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I love how the general presumption is that no one in the Jaguars organization knows what they're doing and the current state of the W-L record is the result of rampant incompetence. As if the problems with which the team has been struggling for the last several years just cropped up overnight and only an idiot wouldn't be able to fix them. We also seem to think that the money our "cheap" owner spends is from a giant Monopoly set. I figure that the guys in the organization are probably working hard in an ultra-competitive league and are making progress. Either that, or they're morons.
John: The only moron I know at EverBank Field won't get out of my chair.
A problem with my chair
Let's get to it . . .
Steve from Jacksonville: