Let's get to it . . . Bill from Scottsburg, NY:
Hey O-man, maybe you can help clarify: Why not put Daryl Smith on the practice squad, so he can continue to work with the team instead of putting him on injured reserve, where he can't? Or can he still work with the team??
John: The short answer is the Jaguars placed Smith on injured reserve because he is injured. If they believed he could contribute in the coming weeks, they would have kept him active. Because they placed him on the new, designated-to-return list, while he can't practice for another six weeks, he is eligible to return for the final two games of the season, which means he can return against New England in the second-to-last game of the season. As far as the practice squad, that's not an option for a player of Smith's experience. It's only for players who have not been on an active roster for more than eight games or on a practice squad for more than two years.
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
With the Jaguars sending Smith to the injured reserve with the "possibility to return" how many players can receive that designation? I know that only one player is allowed to come back but can more than one be sent to the IR with the possibility to come back?
John: No. You can designate one player.
Mike from Jacksonville:
The Bengals might miss the post season. The Lions hit three elite players with their first- and second-overall selections and should miss the playoffs. Should their GM's be fired too?
John: Your email correctly points out that even having elite level talent and star-level players guarantees nothing in the NFL. The answer to your question is that with those teams – as with most teams – the season must play out to determine just where the teams stand. That's pretty much the case with every NFL team, Jaguars included. While fans may call for the jobs of people in charge with every downturn, ownership must take a more measured view and determine what's truly good for the long haul. That happens in essentially every NFL city every season, particularly in those in which the teams finish under .500.
Tyler from Neptune Beach, FL:
O-Man, which overtime system do you like better? NCAA or NFL? Why?
John: When I first saw the college overtime system, I preferred it to the NFL, but over time I have come to favor the NFL system. The college system, to me, produces too many bizarre, 56-50-type scores in which each team scores three touchdowns in the extra period. I don't believe the NFL ever will go to that, primarily because the NFL typically strives to shorten games and the NCAA system seems to lengthen them. I'm still getting used to the new wrinkle that allows a team a chance to score if the first team with possession doesn't score a touchdown. While it's an attempt to prevent a team from never touching the ball in overtime it seems it could create problems of its own. I actually didn't mind the NFL's pure "sudden death" system. While people complained that one team sometimes didn't get a chance to score, there was no rule that said the team kicking off couldn't stop the opponent and score and win the game. Often, that was what happened.
Bill from Jacksonville:
Florida versus Georgia: who ya got?
John: It's hard to pick against Florida. The Gators are playing really well, and their defense appears to be strong enough to dominate the game. I keep having this weird feeling, though, that this is a little like some of the Florida-Georgia games in the 1970s and 1980s when the Gators came in with high expectations and Georgia was under the radar but not as bad as everyone thought. A lot of those Florida teams lost because while they had very good defenses they couldn't score enough to put games away. That changed when Steve Spurrier got to Florida and the Gators began being able to pull away and eliminate the possibility of upsets. The Gators' offense isn't particularly explosive this season, which means Georgia has a chance to keep it close, so I don't agree with those who see a Florida blowout. Still, I see Florida winning.
Bob from Amelia City, FL:
How much influence does Mr. Khan really have on the football team?
John: As much as he wants.
Glenn from Jacksonville Beach and Section 416:
All of the second-year quarterbacks that everyone is comparing Gabbert to are struggling. Dalton, Ponder, Newton are all playing worse than last year, and Locker isn't playing. I know they say there is a "sophomore slump." Looking all the quarterbacks from last year, they all seem to have regressed, while Gabbert seems to be the only one who has improved his play from last year. Thoughts?
John: While Ponder is playing better than you indicate, your point is well-taken. It often takes well more than a year to truly get a feel for the future of a quarterback. Rick Mirer looked like a future star early in his career, and as I recall, Vince Young was an NFL Rookie of the Year. Neither is headed to Canton. Quarterbacks and all players develop at varying paces and the development is influenced heavily by circumstance. I continue to believe the coming two and a half months are critical for Gabbert, and hope for his sake that he can play through the shoulder injury enough to show what he can do.
Scott from Section 236:
I have a question about personnel. It seems like the Jaguars quite frequently sign players that are out of work, and they come in a play instead of our draft picks or other players on our roster sometimes without knowing our scheme. Does this happen around the league routinely, or are we just that bad??
John: It happens on occasion, but it's typically injury-related. The Jaguars signed Herb Taylor early in the season, for example, and he played at offensive guard immediately. But the Jaguars also were in a dire situation because of injuries.
Mike from Jagsonville:
John, I've seen multiple stories by you saying the running game is bad this year because teams are stacking the box. Please explain how this year is different than last year in that respect.
John: The Jaguars aren't handling it as well this year as last. That sounds snide, but it's not. We're also still talking about a pretty small sample size. The running game really has only struggled the last three games, with Maurice Jones-Drew being out of one of those games early and the other team well ahead in the fourth quarter in two others. Those circumstances will hurt the effectiveness of the running game, but as much as anything it comes down to the offensive line needing to run block better. The running game usually centers around that.
Jeff from Section 142:
Are we a victim of mediocrity? While we have a bunch of good players, do we suffer from not having the great players? The Pro Bowl, Hall-of-Fame game changers that can take a team over the top? Has not having a second-round pick in a few drafts been costly as it has taken another starter off our roster? While it's too early to throw away the season, I haven't felt we're going into many games with many game changers on our team this season or even in recent seasons.
John: I would say the Jaguars do suffer somewhat from not having enough Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame players. You can't attribute that solely to not picking in the Top 10, though picking there helps. There's no question you would like to have second-round picks. You can and should get quality players there. The Jaguars need more game-changers. There's no doubt about it. You get them where you get them, but the more selections you have early in the draft, the better chance you have at getting them.
Peter from Maribor, Slovenia:
There are just few of us that believe in victory over Green Bay on Sunday. I've been following this game for some time but still don't quite get it. Why force the passing game when you're not good at it? Run the ball. Over and over again. What takes more energy from the offensive line – taking steps back to protect a passer or moving forward, attacking d-line to make a gap for a run?
John: You force the passing game because at some point you have to be balanced to have success. It's the same reasons teams that can pass still work to run the ball – because if you can't do both in the NFL, it makes you significantly easier to defend. The Jaguars in the past have been relatively one-dimensional, and have struggled offensively at times. At some point, you need to be able to pass. As far as what takes more energy, it stands to reason that run-blocking is the more taxing task, but if you talk to offensive linemen, the energy, momentum and adrenaline you get when running effectively tends to counteract any fatigue that may set in.
Lee from Orlando, FL:
John, if you started your own business, what would you name it?
John: John's Really, Really Cool Business Where He Doesn't Work Hard, Is Irresistible to Women and Makes a Lot of Money.
Let's get to it . . . Bill from Scottsburg, NY: