Let's get to it . . .
Anthony from Madison, WI:
I agree with what you say about finding a better player than our early picks. A better player is indeed a better player, but in terms of rating a general manager, ability to find players early that become "franchise" guys IS something we can do. Gene Smith drafted and acquired the players that took over for our early picks, but that doesn't excuse poor early picks. That means he got lucky with some late picks and acquisitions whereas a good general manager would have gotten great early picks and gotten lucky on some late picks, creating an overall better team, which we do not have.
John: I understand the need to rate, grade and assess, and I particularly get the need to do it regarding Gene Smith. Everyone understands that, and with the Jaguars at 2-9, few will grade him highly. This grading and assessing is bound to continue, and if the Jaguars are 2-14 at the end of the season with the lowest-ranked offense and defense, then most will grade Smith very poorly. If they're 7-9 with an improving offense and defense, people will feel slightly differently. But while all of that's true, it matters comparatively little because the decision on the future will be up to Shad Khan and we don't know exactly how Khan is going to judge. I assume Khan will judge based on how he has said he will judge, which means he will assess whether the Jaguars have the right plan in place and whether the people are in place to execute that plan. As for whether that will mean Smith is the general manager next season, only time will tell and only Khan will make that decision.
Joy from Section 103:
I don't understand why the Tebow fanatics are still screaming for Tebow. The team he is on pretty much stinks and THEY are not even using him. I am a Tebow loving orange/blue bleeding Gator, BUT Tebow is NOT an NFL QB. He is a fantastic person and athlete. He would be a wonderful tight end. Let it go people; it's done.
John: Tebow time!!!!
Kenny from San Diego, CA:
I keep hearing from you that Gabbert looked great in the offseason. But all season, whenever I hveard from any outside reporter who had visited a Jags practice, they mentioned how BAD Gabbert looked. Given his play on the field, I'm inclined to believe their take.
John: First, practice has been closed since training camp. Anyone who was at practice during that time can tell you that Gabbert looked improved. I don't know that I ever said "great." I doubt I did, because it's rarely a word I use and I rarely go gaga over describing a player in training camp, but if so . . . whatever. The point is, just about everyone who saw training camp agreed that not only was Gabbert the clear choice to start, but that he looked better than he did last year. He looked better during preseason than Henne, and he looked better against Minnesota. He continued to look better much of the first half of the season, as evidenced by the Oakland game. But forget all that. Believe what you want. If it makes you feel better, so much the better.
David from Jacksonville:
Please enlighten me: why on earth would someone want Alex Smith for a trade? When you are a former No. 1 overall who just saved yourself from being a bust to average quarterback, got benched by a young third-rounder, how does that indicate Smith is any better than Henne?
John: It doesn't.
Ray from Jacksonville:
It seems what Ryan described could be seen often. All season, Mularkey would talk about something they wanted Gabbert to work on and we would see him trying it in the next game – sometimes even trying too hard on that one thing, to the detriment of other things. I kept thinking that when he learns to balance these aspects of the game and tie them all together in a consistent way is when he will emerge. I still think that. It may even do him good to see it happening from the sidelines, for a bit so that he can work it out and internalize it in real time, but without the pressure.
John: There indeed seemed to be many times when Gabbert would be working on improving something he needed to work on. That's a good thing, and it enabled him to show progress. Gabbert likely needs time to continue in that vein, with the question being, "When does he get it?"
Scott from Section 139 and Ponte Vedra, FL:
As good as Derek Cox may be when he plays, he seems to always be hurt and missing multiple games every season. Do you think he should still be a signing priority if he cannot prove that he can stay healthy?
John: That will be a major decision for the Jaguars in the offseason. What they do on that front undoubtedly will be affected by Cox's injury history – perhaps as much as his production when healthy – and it makes it a tough call. Had he been on the field more consistently, it would be a relatively easy decision. He hasn't, so it makes it very, very tricky. It's very appealing to have a player of his ability, but if that player can't be consistently reliable, it's difficult to give the player a lot of guaranteed money.
Greg from Neptune Beach, FL:
Smith acquired Bradfield, Mosley, Henne, etc., but these are not guys Smith drafted. Smith made it clear with the Anger pick he picks to get starters. His high-round draft picks are supposed to be safe, base hits who are starters. They haven't been in too many cases. That's not a good thing when you pass on other guys who would be starters only to watch your picks sit on the bench.
John: All true, and at the same time, if a general manager makes the playoffs with undrafted players it's no better or worse than if he makes them with drafted players. Obviously, you want to hit in the first round, because that's your highest-percentage chance of drafting a good player. Of Smith's first-rounders, it seems the Jaguars may have hit on Justin Blackmon, and most would argue Eugene Monroe is a solid pick. That leaves Tyson Alualu and Blaine Gabbert. While it is fashionable to bash the Alualu pick, injury has had a huge impact on Alualu and if he hadn't been injured, there's a very good chance he would be a much more solid pick. That statement will draw criticism and that's fine, but we don't know. That leaves Gabbert, which is the hot-button issue, and as of right now hasn't worked out. No one's saying 2-9 is good enough. It's not. It's far from good enough, but the only point I've made is if a player is playing at a high level it matters not a bit where you got him. And in the case of Henne, if he finishes the year playing at as a high a level as he has the last two weeks, Smith must got some credit for that just as he gets the blame for about everything else.
Taylor from Keystone Heights, FL:
In the Texans game the Jaguars changed their running strategy by putting more bodies on the line to more successfully open up holes. There was drastic improvement in our running game for the first time this season based on this one change, which subsequently opened up the throwing game and made this whole offense look effective. I think Henne is getting too much credit for improving the offense and it's just a coincidence that he came in when this running strategy was altered.
John: I can't jump in on this one. The Jaguars had 86 yards rushing against the Texans and 28 came in overtime on a run by Jalen Parmele. No question there has been more to the improved offense than just Henne. The wide receivers have improved and Marcedes Lewis is playing well. The running backs also ran harder in the last two games and that has helped the passing game. But to say Henne coming in and the offense improving is coincidence – I don't see that one.
Darrick from Jacksonville:
I'm feeling a little déjà vu. Help me to understand how the Jason Babin signing is different than the Aaron Kampman signing. I'm keeping a tighter reign on my optimism these days.
John: It's different in multiple ways. One, Babin isn't coming off of a serious injury and really doesn't have a history of health issues. On the other hand, Babin hasn't been as consistently productive as Kampman was throughout his career. On the other hand. Kampman never had the year Babin had last season. On the other hand, Kampman was a high-priced free agent whereas Babin comes at almost no-risk. The bottom line: just because Kampman didn't work out doesn't mean Babin won't. One has nothing to do with the other. The Jaguars this week had a chance to acquire a player who might help them and they did that. Sit back and see if it works out.
Different in many ways
Let's get to it . . .
Anthony from Madison, WI: