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Down in the mud

Let's get to it . . . Tommy from Jacksonville:
Caught a lot of flak for wearing my Jags shirt to work. But I'm setting my frustrations aside for a moment to ask a statistics-related question. If a passing interference or facemask is called on a completed catch are the penalty yards assessed also added to the receivers catching yards as well as the quarterback's passing yards? Or are their yards for the pass and catch marked only by the line of scrimmage and yard line where they were downed?
John: The quarterback and receiver receive statistical credit only for the yards gained on the catch. And don't worry about the flak. Keep wearing the shirt. It makes the good times that are coming all the sweeter.
Jordan from Kill Buck, NY:
Let's say Mr. Weaver pulls you into his office and says, 'You stink and nobody likes you, but we're going to keep you around one more year.' Would you stay?
John: If I left every situation I ever was in where nobody likes me . . .
Andrew from Toledo, OH:
I do not want to hear people complaining about Gene Smith. The NFL takes time for players to develop and his players have only been playing for a maximum of three years. Call Gene cheap when he spent big money all over the defense and left room to spend next year bringing in new free agents and extending current players? I think Smith absolutely deserves three more years to judge how effective he has been. Agree?
John: Yes, I do. I think Smith's measured, long-term approach to building a franchise and his focus on not reaching for players is exactly the way to build. I had heard very positive things about Smith before I arrived in Jacksonville. I've seen nothing that tells me those things are wrong.
Ausguste from Jacksonville:
There's a bit of an argument going on in my office in regards to the NFL's rules on when a player is considered down, and I was hoping you could help resolve it. My understanding of the rule is this: unlike in college, in the NFL a player is not considered down until he is actually touched by a player from the opposing team, even if one or both knees are on the ground, unlike in college football where a player can be down without being downed by contact. Is this correct? My co-worker is under the impression that the rule is the same in the NFL as it is in college football, and we haven't been able to find the definitive answer anywhere online.
John: In the NFL, a player has to be touched down to be down.
Bill from Jacksonville:
When the Jags run the ball in the red zone and short yardage, why do they insist on everybody in tight? Why don't they ever spread the defense out and then run the ball?
John: A lot of teams do it. It's a good question. I've always thought spreading the defense out made it easier to run.
Newt from Jacksonville:
I guess I am seeing this team through rose-colored glasses. I see a defense that will most assuredly rise once the offense and special teams get their engine running; an offense that despite its showing has the most potential gain when Blaine gets even more comfortable with the other players; and I now see a special teams that could make dramatic leaps in their performance. I am only saying that down the road is a very bright light. Am I way off base?
John: You're not. The issue with the Jaguars now is keeping things together and staying the course despite the frustration and the losses. That's difficult. Some things have to get changed. Some improvements in key areas must be made, but even if it's hard to see sometimes, there are building blocks in place.
KC from North Bay, CA:
What is Gabbert doing in the shotgun on 3rd-and-1, anyway?
John: With just over a minute remaining it was a passing situation.
Mike from Jacksonville:
This has always been something that I wanted to ask: how do teams at the NFL level typically work in the rotation of personnel groups and packages? With a short play clock they must be pretty efficient and working out the communication of substitutions.
John: Efficiency is key. If you watch, the offensive skill players not in the game typically stay near one another near the coaches and near the field when the offense is on the field; same for the defense. They prepare throughout the week to know what packages will be used in which situations and it's their job to be ready to go in quickly on game day.
Aaron from Chehalis, WA:
I saw that the Bucs signed Jacob Cutrera from our practice squad. What does this mean for us? Do we get any compensation for another team signing one of our practice squad guys?
John: It means Cutrera is no longer on the Jaguars' practice squad. No compensation. No nothing. The Buccaneers must keep him on their active roster for at least three games.
Kyle from Charleston, IL:
Justin Blackmon. That is all. Have a good day.
John: Few words. Lofty goals. Good thoughts. Good day.
Emory from Jacksonville:
I've been watching the Jags since the beginning, and some things just confuse me. Here's one: quarterbacks. I don't mean to put anyone down, but Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, and Trent Dilfer did. Seriously, how important is it to have a Peyton Manning-caliber quarterback? Like Jimmy Johnson said last week, you don't win by making huge plays; you win by not making stupid plays.
John: A great quarterback doesn't guarantee a Super Bowl victory, and an average one doesn't mean you won't win. But the odds go up in your favor dramatically if you have one and it's much, much harder if you don't.
Silly Max from Tucson, AZ:
Am I just being silly, or is the reason we have a recent history of first-round receiver "bust" picks because of the simple fact that Mr. Harris chose to pick who he thought was "BRA--Best Receiver Available," as opposed to BPA. I'll bet we could have traded down into the second-round both years, snagged extra picks and still ended up with Williams and Jones. I see Mr. Smith as a more astute scout than Mr. Harris, and therefore have more confidence in seeing improved results over past drafts. Am I as silly as they say I am?
John: You don't sound silly to me.
Sean from Mandarin, FL:
Every single game the receivers have dropped at least four passes right in their hands. That's another 12 completed passes that would have added yards and continued drives. Not to mention the dropped ball by Marcedes this past week and the dropped ball by Mike Thomas in the New Orleans game that would have resulted in a touchdown each. Gabbert's stats are skewed by the poor play of the receivers. He should have two more touchdowns, at least 10 more completions, and as a result a higher quarterback rating than he does. I know stats don't matter, but when grading a rookie quarterback it's hard to not look at the stats, and he's played much better than his stats say he has. I think we'll be fine next year and I'm very excited about the future.
John: You don't sound silly, either.
Micah from Kansas City, KS:
I don't really expect to see a ton of improved technique from Gabbert this season. During the week they game plan, watch film, and get ready to try to win the game on Sunday. Not a lot of time for footwork. I'd be worried if he didn't improve after an off season where he can focus specifically on his technique plus full OTAs and minicamps with the coaches. I'm content this season to watch his physical skills on the field and know he is getting lots of experience for the mental aspect of the game.
John: You're right about when Gabbert will take the most dramatic strides. He can get better in that area during the season with focus, but the biggest steps should come after an off-season with constant coaching from professional coaches working on technique.
Matt from Bloomington, IN:
It's okay! It was my fault! We're gonna be fine and turn things around now. I forgot to flip my Jaguars calendar of off August. How could the guys have possibly been getting the wins with that being the case? But all is well now.
John: C'mon, Matt! Get your head in it.
Tom from West Falls, NY:
I just wanted to help alleviate the concerns of those that are up in arms against drafting or playing small school players. Being from Buffalo, the Bills have a guy who is 30 years old, played at Coe College, went to play in NFL Europe, Practice Squad, made the roster a couple years back as a backup. One year later, they drafted someone to replace him and now he is churning up yards at an amazing rate. Fred Jackson. It took him years to break into the NFL and now he is tops in the league. You preach patience for Blaine Gabbert and people understand, why can't they do the same for other rookies/2nd/and even 3rd year players? Not everyone can be Suh or Chris Johnson their first year in this league.
John: The small-school thing is an easy target. It's also irrelevant. As I said before, I do believe small-school guys often need a year before they're able to contribute at a high, high level, but I don't know that that's exclusive to small-school guys, either.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Here is my tidbit for today. Arguing with fanatic fans is like wrestling with a pig in the mud. After awhile you realize that they like it.
John: Schnrof. Oink.

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