Let's get to it . . . Ray from Jacksonville:
I saw recently, once again, a mention of how Gene Smith surprises with his offseason moves. I think it is just the opposite. He does exactly what people expect, sometimes exactly what he said he would like to do. The names may be kept secret, but the rest looks transparent. Last year he said it was the time to draft a developmental QB and that he would add some veteran free agents in the middle/secondary of the defense. In years past he talked about the importance of linemen and what came to us in the draft? Does his maverick rep boil down to the Alualu pick (that I believe was a good one) and some late-round small-school guys?
John: It seems it mainly stems from the Alualu selection, although I'd argue that taking a defensive tackle to solidify a defensive line that needed solidifying wasn't as much being a maverick as being a general manager trying to build a team the right way. You're right that Smith has been fairly up front through the years about how he hopes to build the Jaguars. As he said recently, his goal in building a roster and to approaching the draft isn't to be cute and it's not to impress people. His goal is to build a team that's strong from the inside out and on the lines – and that's built to contend for the long-term and not just a year or two. Now, the idea is to provide skill players and allow Blaine Gabbert a chance to develop. The small-school thing is a matter of not paying attention to school names and trusting your grades. It's all pretty basic stuff and by "basic" I mean sound, time-tested ways to build a franchise.
Aaron from Milroy, PA:
I loved your Inside the Jags article you posted. Great details on how the receivers looked in seven on sevens very interesting. Will you be posting these often? Keep up the good work.
John: Yes, the plan is to post some version of the Inside the Jaguars story on days when the Jaguars are practicing and when players are available to the media. The goal is to provide a format with which we can provide a lot of information quickly. If it's well-received, it should be a very regular feature.
John from Jacksonville:
If they won't allow a muted video feed of the war room, will they allow a muted audio feed? Yes, I'm joking. Also, I read where there are cameras installed that are intended to monitor that the teams are following the CBA rules in their practices. Are they serious? I think it has gotten way out of hand. Next, the coaches will be wearing ankle monitors.
John: Yes, there is a camera installed at EverBank Field to ensure that the Jaguars are following the CBA rules, just as there are cameras installed at every practice facility around the NFL. It may indeed be a bit out of hand, but it also ensures all teams are following the rules. As soon as you say it's out of control you realize that if one team bends the rule another will bend it further and so on and so on. The camera for the Jaguars' practice field overlooks the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields and monitors it at all times. Also, no Jaguars player works out on the fields that there is not someone filming what he is doing. It goes without saying that this is incredibly compelling viewing for some poor soul at the league office, but in a league in which teams will go overboard looking for any competitive advantage it is, alas, probably necessary.
Alan from Mandarin, FL:
In your answer Thursday to Andy you indicted that the schedules are set by the league years in advance and for that reason we play more winning teams than the Patriots. I thought the schedules were set according to the position a team finished the prior season, i.e., we would play a third-place schedule. This was set up to increase competitiveness. What happened?
John: The formula is set years in advance and it is based on how a team finished the previous season. It's set up that way to ensure that teams play one another on a relatively regular basis and so that there is balance and as little controversy as possible over scheduling.
Jimmicane from Cardiff, CA and Section 245:
Gene Smith has said he will draft BAP, regardless of need. If Richardson is there at No. 7, there's no trade option, and he's the top player on Gene's board, do you really think he wouldn't be the pick?
John: No, in your scenario, I think he would be . . .
Forrest from Jacksonville:
To answer Andrew, if Richardson is available at 7, there's no way we wouldn't be able to trade back.
John: . . . and then there's that.
Trevor from Jacksonville:
I keep hearing you and others say running back isn't as important as it used to be. I understand that, however, wouldn't a dominant running back be CRUCIAL for a team like ours to compete since it doesn't have the top notch passing game?
John: No, what's crucial when building a team is developing a balanced offense and an offensive line that can block for the run, whoever is playing running back.
Sean from Jacksonville:
I was reading a mock draft on a "trusted" site for entertainment purposes only. It got me thinking though . . . From user picks they have us going Ryan Tannehill, which makes sense from fans across the league based on play last season. What has me thinking is the analysts have us picking Riley Reiff at No. 7. Just wanted to get your thoughts because it's something that has not come up I believe.
John: Reiff, the right tackle from Iowa, actually has been brought up and considering Eben Britton's health problems the last two seasons, it makes some sense on that level. The problem you run into when mocking Reiff to the Jaguars is you would be mocking him there as a right tackle and No. 7 is traditionally quite high for that position. You're right, incidentally, that Tannehill makes sense from fans. Each of the selections illustrates the problem with most mock drafts. People who don't spend time really analyzing how a team operates and what the team believes about its personnel see things one way that seem to make a lot of sense. People who know how the team functions know there are certain ways a team simply won't go on draft day.
Damien from Appleton, WI:
In your Reggie White vs. Deion Sanders, is this considering Sanders ability to also play as a return man? Oh wait, never mind they will remove special teams from the game.
John: I get your point, but they're not removing Sanders' primary special-teams role from the game. Sanders was one of the best two or three punt returners in league history, and that role is not being legislated against. And yes, I did factor in Sanders' role as a punt returner, but White in his prime was among the game's great pass-rushing forces and ability to truly disrupt an offense takes precedence over just about everything except quarterback.
John from Jacksonville:
After reviewing the "prime-time" schedule for 2012, which totals 50 games (defined as games played outside of the normal Sunday 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. slots), I have some comments. The teams with the best records last season score four or five appearances but I thought it odd that some teams with 8-8 records also landed five appearances (Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, and San Diego). Tennessee with a better 9-7 record only got two appearances. The Jags were one of eight teams in the "no-respect club" that only scored one appearance and was surprised that Indy fell into this group (even though Manning is gone, but there is a new kid on the block to showcase). Finally, it's curious that New Orleans didn't suffer any from the scandal and scored four appearances in prime-time.
John: I found very little about the prime-time games curious. Television wants games that will draw and maintain viewers. That means the teams that are generally believed to be the best and most interesting teams will be there. Chicago and Philadelphia are major markets that traditionally draw viewers, and Dallas is Dallas. San Diego in recent seasons has been a good draw and their games are typically exciting games. Denver signed Peyton Manning and Peyton Manning means ratings. As for New Orleans, why would television want to make them suffer for their scandal? They have Drew Brees, they score points, they have a compelling storyline and they're Super Bowl contenders. The surprise isn't that they got four. It's that they didn't get five.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
There is already a collegiate form of football that has weight limits. Sprint football requires all players to weigh less than 172 pounds. It's played primarily at the service academies and Ivy League schools. Donald Rumsfeld played at Princeton and former President Carter played at the Naval Academy.
John: Well . . . good for them, then.
Disruption takes precedence
Let's get to it . . . Ray from Jacksonville: