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Dress-rehearsal week

Mmmm, pints o' Bass . . . Johnny likey.

Let's get to it . . .

Lee from Jacksonville:
Rumor has it that Commissioner Goodell will be in town this week to announce a Jaguars home game to be played in London next season. While I am excited for the international exposure, I recently signed my season-ticket contract. Will the team be charging me for one less ticket next year?
John: That is indeed the rumor, and we'll have more on this afternoon. My understanding is the Jaguars will play an international game the next four years, and that the cost of the season-ticket package will be adjusted accordingly.
Mark from Jacksonville:
Can we stop the Jones-Drew questions until he crosses the county line?
John: Fans ask; I answer.
John from Elizabeth City, NC:
I understand it's all about the money, but man, does it kinda stink that there's finally excitement about this team again, yet we're sending multiple games overseas? I'm not sure I get the point in going to all of these cities in a bus telling people to buy tickets and grow the market, then send games elsewhere?
John: That's a concern I got a lot in the inbox since word got out about the Jaguars playing in London, but it seems we've got to look through a wider lens. When Shad Khan purchased the team, there was the immediate and expected concern and speculation that this guy from Illinois couldn't possibly want to keep the team in Jacksonville. In the eight months since, he has helped take steps to reenergize the franchise in many areas, including investing in a state-of-the-art locker room. The team also had the caravan you mentioned, and other initiatives to grow the market in and around Northeast Florida. There are many, many things going on establishing a new direction for the franchise, and playing a game in London the next few seasons is just a part of it. Shad Khan has been a successful businessman on an international level for long time. He has invested in Jacksonville, and wants to make this franchise work on a level it hasn't worked before. He wants international play to be a part of that, and his track record and commitment to Northeast Florida certainly merits giving the plan a chance to play out.
Jerry from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Why should a long-time season-ticket holder want his team to play a "home game" in another country?
John: Because the market and fan base must grow.
Jess from Highland, IL:
I think we all need to temper our enthusiasm in the preseason. I love my Jags and root for them always, but living near St. Louis I can give some perspective on the preseason. The Rams were 4-0 last preseason and 3-13 in the regular season. I'm hoping we have a great year with a playoff run and success once we get there, but we need to see how the season plays out. The preseason doesn't matter.
John: The preseason indeed doesn't matter when it comes to winning and losing. I'm on record for a long, long time saying as such. But I don't sense that the excitement about this team has nearly as much to do with a 2-0 preseason record as it does how the first-team offense has played early in the games. That's something we didn't see last season, and fans correctly have been hungry for it. My sense is that fans have a pretty good grasp that what we've seen isn't the end game, and that the regular season will be difficult. But the first two games have given people hope, and there wasn't a lot of that offensively a year ago.
Vignu from Jefferson, WI:
With the team moving Eben Britton to the guard position, what does that mean for Will Rackley and his future here?
John: It means Rackley remains what he has been for the last two years – a young player with a bright future. He will, I'm sure, compete with Britton upon his return and the better player will start. One important point to remember is injuries are a part of the NFL and it's rare to have five offensive linemen start 16 games. You need quality depth that can start with little dropoff. Whoever doesn't start, Rackley or Britton, will be a quality backup until injury occurs.
Drew from Buford, GA:
Finally, you made somewhat of a prediction about Jones-Drew reporting this week! This is what we were waiting for. You were right on the Blackmon signing, if you are right on this, I am sending you a turbin and a crystal ball!
John: I didn't bet the mortgage.
Nick from Fleming Island, FL:
Can you see Jones-Drew asking for a trade if he doesn't show up before the regular season starts?
John: Sure, he can ask.
Andy from Jacksonville:
The thing that seems to be overlooked the most about Gabbert is his age. He was only 20 with two years of college starting when he took over last year. No way would the best of the best quarterback be ready under those circumstances. The reason Peyton Manning, Luck and others are/were even somewhat ready is they were older and had at least twice as many college games under their belt. The media and fans tend to overlook the most obvious things and then say a man can't play. Terribly irresponsible.
John: Age and experienced played a role. Not playing in a conventional offense played a role. The lockout played a role. Coaching played a role. You know what matters now? What matters is Gabbert is looking better and showing the improvement the team expected. He'll still be subject to criticism, but at least now it has a chance to be on the normal level.
Jack from Destin, FL:
Are you kidding me? You drinking too much IPA? This offense throw more effectively than '07? In 2007, David Garrard played 12 games and had 18 touchdowns, three interceptions and 2,500 yards passing and a 64 percent completion percentage. You predicting that for Blaine Gabbert's first 12 games this season?
John: It's unlikely Gabbert will keep his interceptions that low. But I think it's very likely that the offense is more balanced and that the passing game is better overall than in 2007.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
Reading the past few days I see many fans being excited. I however see areas of concern as well. There are too many mental errors and drive affecting mental penalties. There are still dropped balls and missed blocks. While it is great to see production on both sides of the ball there are still things holding the team back. However, preseason is for working out the kinks isn't it?
John: Absolutely, and I think that's what has people excited about the offense. It's not as if what we're seeing is a bunch of big plays or anything that feels like players playing well above their heads. For the most part, we're seeing offensive efficiency and players doing the basics well. Those are things that translate to the regular season. There are things that must be improved, and that's an area of focus, but if the Jaguars eliminate those, then the excitement will only build.
Chris from Section 102:
The third preseason game is when teams usually game plan for their opponents, so shouldn't this week's game be more telling about how the Jags plan to attack other teams and how other teams plan to attack us?
John: Yes.
John from Gloucestershire, England:
I don't get the argument about Gabbert not being able to throw a deep ball. We know he has a strong arm and can probably make the throw, but isn't it just as much the receivers' responsibility to adjust their routes whilst the ball is in flight in order to make the catch? The risk of an interception is greatly increased but sometimes it's a risk worth taking particularly when the opposition is not expecting it.
John: I'm not going to invest much more time in the Gabbert-deep ball discussion this week. I mentioned it earlier only because someone asked about it, and if there was a knock on him in the pre-draft buzz, that was it. An effective deep passing game more often than not is the result of a good running game that can set up play action. Offenses that can consistently hit the deep pass without that are rare. I haven't seen Gabbert throw the deep ball enough to really gauge his effectiveness there. I do know that I have been impressed with just about every other pass he has thrown this offseason, and I know that his deep ball – like a lot of his other throws – seems to be getting better in the last two weeks as his confidence and mechanics continue to improve. He has a lot of what NFL coaches call "arm talent." My guess is that in time, that arm talent will produce deep completions as well.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
Do you think the starters will play much against the Ravens?
John: I expect they will play deep into the third quarter and maybe into the fourth. This is the dress rehearsal week of preseason, and teams want to simulate game conditions as best they can.

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