Let's get to it . . .
Darren from Jacksonville:
Sources say we have our eye on a "stealth candidate" for our head coaching job. First off, what does that mean and do you have an idea who it could be?
John: You are referring to a report by ESPN's Adam Schefter and it makes sense that that is the report. Schefter is very tied in and very accurate on league matters, and for him to be using the word "stealth" is yet another indication that this is going to be a very guarded process that almost certainly won't be played out in the media, either local or national. Shahid Khan has indicated that that's how he wants it done, and if you doubt that a head coaching search can be done under wraps, remember: this is the man who spent a very long time negotiating to buy an NFL team and the word got out on that about three hours before it was announced. We'll keep you updated on the coaching search on jaguars.com and we'll discuss candidates as the questions come in, but I anticipate all but a select few being surprised when official word comes down.
Ryan from Oswego, NY:
Maybe I'm getting a little bit ahead of the ball here, but I was wondering what your expectations were on how this offseason will play out for us, most specifically free agency. Do we have another big spending-spree like last year, or do we only bring in a few names? Do we end up bringing in a quarterback to push Gabbert (Matt Flynn, mayhaps)? Do we bring in a budding star wide receiver (Colston, maybe)? Do we bring in two starting wide receivers (Colston and Reggie Wayne seems like a good combo, as Wayne probably has a couple years left to play at a level of an elite #2 type guy)? Are the o-line issues addressed or is that best left to the draft?
John: Good questions, all. A backup quarterback is a possibility, though I would be surprised if it's a player who thinks of himself as believing he deserves even footing to compete for a starting job. That would seem to take Flynn out of the mix. As for your broad question of a potential spending spree, I do think the Jaguars could spend similarly to this past August, and there's a good possibility the money will be spent at wide receiver (two) and defensive end, with cornerback also a possibility. When speaking of veteran wide receivers, I think Colston and Wayne are the sorts of players who will be on the Jaguars' radar, though I caution that at this point it's far too early to accurately forecast targets. The offensive line "issues" aren't so glaring as many believe. A lot will depend on how management feels about Eben Britton's return from the back injury, and if it is strongly felt that he will return and that his health isn't a huge issue, then line likely will be addressed as part of an ongoing draft strategy. What I mean by that is offensive line is a position you want to address in most drafts, but if you have your starters pretty much in place you can be comfortable drafting with the idea that they will have a year to develop.
Richmond from Jacksonville:
This "waived-injured" stuff confuses me. Are Mike-Sims Walker or Scotty McGee currently Jaguars in any capacity or are they long gone?
John: They are not with the Jaguars. When a player is waived injured, they are off of the roster and essentially free agents, though in theory they can be re-signed.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Who will be free agents this year for the Jaguars?
John: Many of the recently-signed players will be free agents. Among those players who have been on the team all or most of the season who will be free agents in the off-season are: Luke McCown, quarterback; Brock Bolen, fullback (restricted); Zach Potter, tight end (restricted); Guy Whimper, offensive tackle; Jeremy Mincey, defensive end; Matt Roth, defensive end; Russell Allen, linebacker (restricted); Dwight Lowery, safety; Rashean Mathis, cornerback; Will Middleton, cornerback; Courtney Greene, safety.
Joel from Jacksonville:
You mentioned Meester being ideal as the center of our line, and while I agree that he has played well, at his age I think that injury or deteriorating play has to be on the horizon, and quite possibly for next year. That said, is John Estes ready or do you expect the Jaguars to address center in the offseason? Any other players we don't know about on the roster that have the ability to step in?
John: Injury or decline certainly is a possibility at Meester's age. I was glad when he said last week he hoped to return, and was a little surprised I got some negative feedback to my saying he would be ideal as the center next season. Meester has played well this season, and certainly would be a strength at center next season. Yes, he is in his 13th season, and that means he's far closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but the Jaguars believe that John Estes is on track to succeed Meester, so there's little risk in having Meester play as long as he can function at a high level.
Jason from St. Augustine, FL:
With Aaron Kampman finally going on injured reserve and the news of more surgery to his knee, will the new "businessman" owner see value in keeping him or will he be cut? I'm thinking the return on the investment isn't really there.
John: That's a valid question, and a question likely to be answered sometime next month. It is logical for the outsider to look at Kampman's 11 games played in two seasons and see a player who should be released, but you can't make that decision based on emotion or what occurred in 2010 or 2011. You have to look at your roster entering 2012 and decide what makes sense on the field and within the salary structure. You also have to be honest with Kampman and yourself about his chances of playing a far more significant role than he did this past season. That will largely depend on the assessment of the Jaguars' medical staff and I suspect there will be pretty detailed analysis and discussion on that issue in the next few weeks. It seems likely at this juncture that Kampman could be asked to return at a reduced salary with less risk for the Jaguars, but again, those discussions are likely forthcoming.
Jordan from Vienna, VA:
I don't really get the point of the "Falcons player" who criticized the Saints for "airing it out" so that Brees could get the record. For starters, I see no reason why a team shouldn't score as many points as it likes. If they are that dominant over you, then just suck it up. How is it classless to give the other team your best? Secondly, the Saints had tried running the ball the past two drives and it wasn't moving the chains. I don't even think they were inflating their numbers. The Saints were just playing Saints football. What is your opinion John?
John: Saints Head Coach Sean Payton opened his post-game press conference addressing the issue, and said while he might not normally be throwing it in that situation, he thought it was appropriate to go ahead and get the record. Some Falcons players reportedly were upset afterward, but I never give much credence to teams who complain about running up the score or throwing too much in the NFL. It's professional football and if you don't want someone to do something against you, stop it.
Blake from Jacksonville:
I thought Gabbert played pretty well last Saturday and if some of those drops were catches it might show on paper, too. The big problem I had was with Steve Tasker saying after every incomplete pass it was because Gabbert was scared. On screen passes, which Gabbert did struggle with a little bit, Gabbert was scared every time. I think there have been a couple of times where Gabbert showed caution from a hit, and now it is trendy to attribute every bad play to him being scared, which is insulting. Also, I see most quarterbacks in the NFL try to minimize a hit while throwing the ball and not fully stepping into throws, except for maybe Big Ben.
John: I agree with you that part of the issue now with those calling Jaguars games is that it has become trendy to call Gabbert scared. It's a trend built on laziness, but a trend nonetheless. He certainly had issues with pocket presence and footwork early in the season, and there are still times he has those issues. But it has improved and there is every sign that it will continue to improve in the off-season. Still, commentators have locked on to that as an issue, and will continue to do so until someone has enough independence of thought to say it's improving. I wouldn't hold your breath on it happening this season. Most likely what it will take to turn the tide is for Gabbert's numbers to improve and the Jaguars to win. At that point, the talking heads will search for a reason and point to Gabbert doing something better. That's probably the point where it will be trendy to admit that, yes, he is improving.
A trend built on laziness
Let's get to it . . .
Darren from Jacksonville: