Let's get to it . . . Candice from Jacksonville:
What reason is there to believe D'Anthony Smith and Zach Miller will shake the injury bug this season? They are both relatively young. Maybe some bodies just can't take the rigors of the NFL? Can you give us any words of hope on their chances this season?
John: These sorts of questions are always difficult to answer. Smith has had an Achilles injury and a toe injury that forced him to miss his first two NFL seasons, but he is participating in organized team activities and said Tuesday he feels good about his health. Miller missed much of last season, but played through some minor injuries before that, so it's not fair to say he never has been able to get on the field. There are indeed cases when players' bodies just aren't built for the NFL, but how to know if an injury is bad luck or a predisposition? I don't know. No one does. You just have to let the season play out.
Kyle from Bloomington, IN:
Hey O, I just graduated from college. Any words of advice for a young Jags fan about to strike out into the world?
John: Duck. It's coming.
Rob from Jacksonville:
Hard Knocks is nothing but a big distraction. Shad needs to put his foot down and knock this off if he's really serious about the Jaguars. How many teams won a Super Bowl after being shown on Hard Knocks?
John: I've never been big into "How Many Super Bowls Has a Team Won?" when they have done something as an argument against anything. The Super Bowl is hard to win, many factors play into it and you could use that argument against a lot of things. The Jets had a very good season after appearing on Hard Knocks. Good organizations deal with distractions and win games. Struggling organizations find ways to not win games. If the Jaguars do Hard Knocks, I have every confidence that Gene Smith and Mike Mularkey can structure training camp in such a way to get their work done – and that HBO being in town wouldn't have much to do with the outcome of the season.
Andrew from St. Augustine, FL:
Even if he isn't a Pro Bowl player year in and year out, isn't the Blackmon pick still worth it if he is our best receiver for a few years?
John: You would certainly think so. Now, if that means catching 38 balls for 335 yards and a touchdown, then perhaps not, but if it means being a solid receiver who is productive statistically – and who helps makes other receivers him around him better, then absolutely.
Hogfish from Mayport, FL and Section 411:
I hear about the inherent risk in signing LeSean McCoy to a five-year contract because five years is a long time for a running back. If teams can cut players whenever they want and not be on the hook for the remainder of the contract, what's the risk? If he got hurt or played poorly, couldn't they cut him and rid themselves of that salary?
John: The long-term risk for NFL teams signing players is the amount of the signing bonus. The player keeps the signing bonus in most cases in the event of injury, so if you commit to big signing bonus over a long-term contract, that's perceived as committing long-term. If you cut the players, you're out the signing bonus, but not the salary. That's only different if a team has guaranteed the salary, but that's rare.
Todd from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
It seems almost every offseason the last group to come together and look good is the offensive line. Is this typical? If so, can you remind everyone, myself included, of this fact to prevent mass hysteria in the preseason?
John: The offensive line indeed is almost always the last group to come together and look good. And as was the case last season when people wondered if the Jaguars could run block, I'm sure I'll spend a decent amount of time reminding you and others that that's the case.
Mike from Charleston, SC:
Joined the Hall of Shame and watched Road House from beginning to end. John, I thought you would be bigger.
John: Never watch Road House title-to-credits. It is best enjoyed when you happen across it on TBS, slouched on the sofa, wearing your "fat" shirt and feeling guilty about not doing something productive. Watch until a fight scene, murmur "Swaaayzeeeeeee" to yourself, then get up and pretend to be productive. That's plenty of Road House to make you feel good and bad about yourself at the same time.
James from Bossier City, LA:
What keeps all owners from getting together and saying "we're not going to pay ANYONE more than X amount up front, but will offer production-based pay?" If the stars don't want to play for what they're offered, there are always others willing to take the job.
John: First off, what you suggest is collusion, which is illegal and got baseball owners in all sorts of trouble. Secondly, it would require owners being willing to stick together on such a concept and not go out and try to get the best players. In the NFL, owners have not proven themselves willing to do that.
John from Jacksonville:
Do you find yourself wishing the season would start tomorrow so you wouldn't need to answer the same questions you really can't answer over and over again? I've seen multiple versions of "Will Gabbert improve?" "Will Kampman rebound?" and others that simply can't be answered until the games begin. Also, there is so much speculation about this player and that player that could be snuffed out with a key injury in training camp, early in the season, etc. I can't wait to watch it all play out week by week beginning just over a loooong 11 weeks away.
John: Whenever I would say something like that to my old friend David Lamm, he would tell me, "Don't wish your life away." The season will get here soon enough. Until then, we'll answer a lot of the same questions, but that's OK. There will be more questions come training camp and regular season.
Jordan from Muncie, IN:
I'm afraid the Jags are going to become the Falcons of the AFC, a team that is solid and well-rounded, but cannot win a playoff game. A team full of hard workers, who make the most of their ability, but cannot compete with the league's elite in the playoffs. Example, Eugene Monroe: Solid left tackle, yet not elite; Tyson Alualu, solid yet not elite; Blaine Gabbert, sorry to say but seeing the tape from college and from last season, he will never be an elite quarterback. Maybe a "good" one, but never on Brady/Manning(s)/Roethlisberger/Rodgers level. We are just going to end up like the late 90's Jaguars teams I grew up with as a kid – good, but not good enough to compete with the best of the best. A very disappointing feeling.
John: Referencing my answer to John from Jacksonville about not wishing your life away: Don't worry it away, either – certainly not about things like that. Let me get this straight; you're worried about the Jaguars becoming the Falcons? You're worried about a team that has missed the playoffs four consecutive seasons "only" becoming a perennial playoff team? The way you win in the NFL is you get to the postseason every season and hope you're healthy enough and matching up well enough against your opponents. And in particular, you hope your pass rush and quarterback are healthy. Let's get to the postseason first. Let's figure out what Gabbert's going to be. Then, we'll worry about not being able to get to the next level.
Kenny from San Diego, CA:
Who complains more? People complaining about the team or people who complain about people who complain about the team?
John: People complaining about people complaining about people complaining about the team.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
I see major differences in our front office regarding the direction of the franchise. Gene has always been an under-the-radar guy, and from my perspective, Khan seems to be more of an attention-seeker with wanting Hard Knocks and the quarterback not to be mentioned. There is a feeling in my gut that this front-office may not co-exist in the long run. Thoughts?
John: My thought is that so far, they actually seem like a good mix. Yes, they have somewhat contrasting styles, and yes, part of Khan's focus is to raise the Jaguars' profile. That doesn't necessarily have to clash with Smith's under-the-radar approach. The styles can be complementary. Khan's style has been to be outspoken on high-profile issues and to offer his opinion to the media when asked, but when it comes to football decisions, he has listened to Smith and allowed Smith to do his job. I'm not sure why that sort of marriage can't work.
Patrick from Aiken, SC:
The Jones-Drew that we have all grown to know as a well-spoken, intelligent, say-what-you-mean and mean-what-you-say, always-prepared-and-always-tough kind of guy, is probably getting a kick out of all of this "attention" over nothing. No worries here.
John: I'd say there's a pretty good chance that's true.
Joel from Arlington:
Speaking of food in the break room, last week I walked into our break room at 3:30 and saw two uncut cheesecakes on the table. Of course I grabbed a knife and cut myself a piece. Ten minutes later the announcement was made that our monthly birthday celebration was about to occur in the break room. Turns out I had taken a piece of the birthday cake before anyone had even sung happy birthday. Was that wrong of me?
John: As long as you said nothing of the incident to anyone, you did the right thing. Stay strong.
Doing the right thing
Let's get to it . . . Candice from Jacksonville: