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A reasonable explanation

Jeremy from Wise, VA:
I know you said not to worry about the contract situations, but Josh Scobee's situation comes to the forefront today. I want to see things work out long-term for him and the team because I feel he is one of the best kickers in the league and gives the Jags a huge weapon. I understand the business aspect of it, but I hope the negotiations go well because the Jags don't need that hanging over them until next year when this all comes up again.
John: The deadline for Scobee to reach a long-term deal with the Jaguars is Monday at 4 p.m. If an agreement is not reached, a long-term deal can't be signed until after the season. So, if you are indeed inclined to worry about such things, today is the day to do it. And you're not alone. Everyone involved would like to see something get done. Scobee's a good guy and the Jaguars like him, and Scobee wants to be here long-term. Ideally, something will get done today. Still, from a team standpoint, I don't know that it's tragic if something doesn't get done. In that scenario, Scobee likely will kick this season under the franchise tag, and if history is any indication, the whole tag thing wouldn't be a huge issue during the season – at least not to the point of being a distraction. After that, he and the team would negotiate for a long-term deal again come the off-season.
John from Lake Asbury, FL:
How do you see the preseason games shaping up? I know most seasons they are used to evaluate the roster, especially non-starters. But this year I'm thinking the preseason games may be used more to finish installing the new offense, and we'll see more of the starters playing. Your thoughts?
John: I'd guess there is a chance you'll see the offensive starters a bit more than usual – perhaps a series or two more in one of the first two preseason games and many a couple of series more in the final preseason game. For the most part, though, you can't change from the norm too much. You still need preseason games to evaluate the entire roster, and you still don't want to expose the starters to injury too long in the preseason.
Lawrence from Omaha, NE:
Perhaps I'm alone in this (I doubt it, though), but I am grateful for the missteps in the 2008 offseason. Not only did it pave the way for Gene Smith to take over and build this team the right way, it also gave all the detractors from the way he does things a healthy example of how chasing need in the draft and "big-name" free agents can really set you up for failure.
John: You probably are alone, but the point you make is a good one. No question that offseason was an example of what not to do. You are rarely in the NFL, if ever, "a player or two away," and it's dangerous to act in the offseason as if you are.
Saif from Washington, DC:
Are there any long-term drawbacks to a rookie quarterback's development in starting him too early?
John: That depends on the quarterback. The only negative would be mental; if a quarterback did poorly and lost confidence or couldn't handle criticism. If this happens, it could be theorized that he perhaps wasn't destined for success at the position anyway. I thought one of the best signs of the Jaguars offseason was that Blaine Gabbert looked very confident throughout. Despite a difficult rookie season that included struggles and criticism, he showed no signs of having lost his confidence. That's no guarantee of future success for Gabbert, but it gives him a chance.
Paul from Farnhamville, IA:
What if MoJo does not show up to camp? What if he takes this in to the season? What do you predict would happen with the team? I'm with you in believing this does not happen... but what if?
John: If Jones-Drew doesn't show up to camp, the Jaguars will prepare without him. If he takes this into the season, they will play without him. I predict they would play hard and play well, and though they will be a better team if Jones-Drew is present – and I absolutely believed he will be present – I believe they would be competitive without him and would improve and contend without him, too. As good and valuable as Jones-Drew is – and he is very definitely both – my experience is that good teams that are well-coached aren't dependent on one player unless that player is a quarterback. It's hard right now for some to see the Jaguars in that light. I don't think it will be as hard once the Jaguars get into the teeth of the season.
Tyler from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Is it a coincidence that Ganguli is now working for our division rival, and that we also got you from within the division? When looking for positions such as a writer do you think there is any preference in first looking within the division to find that person who may have some extra dirt on a seasonal opponent?
John: There's really no connection. The Houston Chronicle, I assume, was not looking for "dirt" on the Jaguars when they hired Ganguli. The Chronicle in fact has very little interest in the Jaguars. My assumption is they were trying to hire a qualified writer to write quality stories for their newspaper and web site. As for me, I covered the Jaguars for the Times-Union before I covered the Colts. Those connections and that experience I believe had much more to do with me returning to Jacksonville than any knowledge I had of the Colts.
Shay from Jacksonville:
I haven't been able to find what would happen if a player refuses to sign the franchise tag and sits out the year. Does the team still have rights to the player? Is he a free agent next year?
John: He does not become a free agent. The Jaguars would still have the right to franchise him again the following season.
Hogue from Bethesda, MD:
Regarding Dave's "sense" that preseason games do hint at the quality of a team, I crunched some numbers. Over the last five years, the top four teams in the AFC had a 242-78 record. Their preseason record? 48-33. It would have been much better, but of the 20 teams only three had losing records: the Colts each time. Over the last five years the four worst teams in the AFC had an 82-237-1 record. Their pre-season record? 29-52. Again, only three of the 20 had a winning record. I think you and I might have gotten a skewed view by watching the Colts all these years. Except for them, preseason record does seem to say something about regular-season success. I was surprised. My apologies, Dave. John?
John: Interesting stuff, but it doesn't change how I feel about preseason. I want to see a team playing well and I want to see starters looking like they're as good or better than the other teams' starters. I also want to see a look from the starters by the third preseason game that they're ready for the regular season. If you're down 28-3 at halftime of every preseason game, that's a bad sign. If you're ahead when the starters leave the game and losing games in the fourth quarter, that's not ideal, but it's not a huge deal. And by the way, I'm sure the Rams fans are still celebrating their 4-0 preseason record last season.
John from Kingland, GA:
John, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I just saw the new Blaine Gabbert All In commercial and....I'm afraid you're no longer my man crush.
John: I'm sure Gabbert is ecstatic over this news.
Manuel from Jacksonville and Section 315:
Should we be as optimistic and confident as you are in our receiving corps? Laurent Robinson was a third-string WR last year, and yes he had a good year, but is he ready to be a No. 1? Blackmon is a rookie and not many rookies explode the first year. Cecil Shorts was a disappointment last year. Marcedes Lewis and Mike Thomas went a step back last year.
John: If you read back over what I've written this offseason about the receiving corps it's that I expect improvement. That's a reasonable expectation. I'm not sure I've ever written that that means the group is going to produce three 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown players, or that suddenly the group is going to be lauded as one of the league's best. I expect the receivers to run better routes, to be better prepared and to show a season-long professionalism. By the end of the season, I think those things will help make the offense better and that because of that, the receivers will be said to have taken a step forward. How optimistic and confident that statement makes you is up to you.

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