Let's get to it . . . Erik from Knoxville, TN:
Which 'jar on the shelf' that is little-known are you most excited about?
John: That's tough, because we've talked about so many players here in the O-Zone that to our readers most Jaguars players are known. There's indeed a lot to be excited about if tight end Zach Miller can stay healthy, and the same is true of players such as defensive end Austen Lane and defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith. There are more, but those three are the kinds of players who can suddenly make the roster look very deep if they can be available all season.
Bill from Scottsburg, NY:
Your response to Ben from Slime City didn't mention Mike Brewster. Do you not see him being a backup for the team or was this another one of your oversights? I guess it's hard to judge a player of his position without the pads, huh?
John: I'm obviously not immune to oversights. In this case, I see Brewster having a real chance to be a practice squad guy and perhaps making the team as a reserve, but in terms of the first guys off the bench along the line, I don't see him being one of those this season.
Billy from Hilliard, FL:
What's your take on the concussions that are becoming more and more common in today's game, and the long-term effects that may result from one? Has the NFL already done all it can to provide safety in an already dangerous sport?
John: My take isn't that concussions are becoming more and more common as much as they are being diagnosed better. Not being a doctor, I wouldn't pretend to know the long-term effects of concussions, though evidence is certainly starting to suggest there are such effects. As for what the NFL is doing, I don't think we yet know if the league has done all it can. I do know that in the last three or four years it is doing more and more and is approaching the issue with a seriousness that wouldn't have been imagined 10 or 15 years ago. That has caused concussions that previously may have been overlooked and unaddressed to be diagnosed. In that sense, the league now appears to be doing what it can to provide safety. All indications are that the league will continue to focus on the area, so you probably will see progress in that direction over the coming seasons. This is a changing issue, so it may be that in 10 years we look back in amazement at what's being done now – either in the sense that it is too much or not enough – but only time will tell.
Todd from Panama City, FL:
I was just browsing through ESPN's web page and found an article they did on future power ranking for the 2015 NFL season. They based it on current talent, specifically younger guys, and the team's history of success in the draft. They had the Jags ranked 31 just ahead of the Browns. Are we really that far off from being a consistent contender or is this just more the national media not respecting Jacksonville?
John: Neither. That's a relatively old list – old, as in a few months – and as I recall, it was based a lot on quarterback and a panel's perception of how teams had drafted in recent seasons. If Blaine Gabbert has a good season and the Jaguars contend you'll be surprised how much better the Jaguars look to national people, even those boldly trying to predict the future.
Harry from Jonesboro, AR:
One argument for or against Vinatieri or anyone else in the Hall of Fame is the entire body of work. Sure, he made some big kicks, but how about what he did all during those seasons that helped his team get there? Otherwise, it becomes the equivalent of letting someone in the Hall of Fame for just a few big catches in the biggest game of the year. Consider the totality of someone's career before you talk Hall of Fame.
John: Hey, if it worked for Lynn Swann . . .
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
Any chance we see Gene trade someone in our secondary for a late-round draft pick? I can't believe there isn't a buyer out there somewhere for one of our defensive backs and we seem to have more than enough to go around.
John: If that happens, it likely won't be until after the final preseason game. That's when general managers around the NFL analyze their rosters and figure where they have glaring holes. There's really no rush to trade right now, anyway. Let training camp play out and figure out how deep you really are.
Christopher from Callahan, FL:
Regarding the Estes vs. Meester question, Estes is twenty five. Meester, though a solid and consistent player who has been good for a long time, is a thirty-five-year-old man. It's a young man's game. My point is if Estes was ever good enough, he would have been good enough by now. He is not so much a jar on the shelf as he is a solid backup. Rackley may be an option in the future, but Estes is not. How old does Meester have to be before Estes is clearly better?
John: I am amazed we're still on this topic, and amazed at the misconception over the matter. Your premise that it's a young man's game has been offered up regarding Meester-Estes before, and it's a premise that is woefully incorrect when it comes to certain positions. Center is a position at which experience plays a huge role. That's the case with many line positions, but particularly true at center, where knowledge of the offense, knowledge of defenses, knowing how to use hands, being comfortable with blocking techniques, etc., often outweighs the pure strength and athleticism of youth. I actually mentioned this premise – that Estes being 25 and unable to beat out a 35-year-old made him somehow flawed as a player – to a couple of Jaguars officials/coaches in the last month and the response was a pretty unanimous role of the eyes. I have no idea if Estes will be a long-term starter, but just because he "can't" beat out a veteran center who knows every offensive line trick doesn't mean he's not an option for the future, whatever your theory about the meaning of age in the NFL.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
When talk about a punted ball "turning over" what does that mean exactly?
John: "Turning it over" refers to a punt that leaves the foot at an angle with the tip pointed down back to the punter, then "turns over" at the peak of the punt, falling toward the returner with the tip in that direction. It usually means a well-hit, long punt. Usually, you want a punt to turn over when you're going all-out for distance from your own territory. Punts that occur closer to the opponent's goal line are hit differently, sometimes in end-over-end fashion in an effort to get a bounce that will keep the ball in the field of play.
Jeremy from Navarre, FL:
I'm all for giving people second chances, but let's keep it in perspective that Blackmon committed a crime. There's a big difference between a mistake and a crime. With that said, here's to hoping he matures and learns from what he did.
John: I'm not sure anyone said that Blackmon didn't commit a crime. But let's keep that in perspective, too. There are crimes of intent and maliciousness and crimes of bad judgment. Blackmon erred and showed similar bad judgment to what many young people show. But yes, here's hoping . . .
Ron from Orlando, FL:
I don't understand the Whimper praise. He was a rotating turnstile last year. I strongly feel that both backup tackles are a position of need. If you don't believe me, check out Whimper's production at profootballfocus. Garbage!
John: I believe you that Whimper struggled as a starter. I also believe I'd written many times during the offseason that he played significantly better before an injury in September. He played through that injury, and while it's hard to know how much it affected his play, it didn't help. No roster is going to be as strong in the backup positions as it is in the starting lineup, but good luck ever finding a roster that doesn't have areas that make you nervous if injuries occur. This is the NFL in the salary cap/free agency era. No roster is stockpiled enough to have a veteran with starter potential at every position. It just doesn't happen.
Dave from Section 412:
I'm on to your shtick, O-man. I'm with you on only achieving slightly below-average performance. Once you reach average, they start tasking you. The art is to be just below average enough to hang on and not get tasked but not below average enough to get dumped.
John: It's dangerous to ask me to strive. I might pull something, and the training staff has more important tasks.
Beware of pulls
Let's get to it . . . Erik from Knoxville, TN: