Opening day. We're here in the Metrodome. Maurice Jones-Drew is active, that horn with the weird name is on the sideline and silent for now, and JaguarsInsider is ready to go and already hungry.
Let's get to it . . . Kyle from Charleston, IL:
I had a pretty good outlook on our defense coming into the year. Now, with arguably our two best defenders (yes I said, "BEST") still sidelined I'm a bit concerned. Will they be back by Week 2? Week 3? Whenever they do get back, we are sure to allow them time to catch up to "game speed." I'm worried our defense is going to get exposed through the air the first quarter of the season until we get these guys healthy and in the fold again. Help me here, am I close to reality?
John: It's certainly a concern. If Derek Cox and Daryl Smith didn't matter, they wouldn't be starting. I always believe a team can overcome a few injuries, particularly if they're not at quarterback, and injuries to pass rushers and defensive tackles concern me far more than injuries to other players on defense. If the line is disruptive, it can make up for a lot of errors and cover a lot of injuries in the back seven. All of that said, are the Jaguars better with Cox and Smith? Will teams test those areas? Absolutely on each count.
Alex from Melbourne, FL:
Hey there, O-Man: I want to start by saying I am nominating you for an induction to the Hall of Fame. You're in my opinion probably the best senior writer in the league up until this point. I thought I saw you rocking slip-on shoes with no socks on the Inside the Jaguars Friday Edition. I was wondering is this injury related? And will you be game ready for Sunday in Minnesota?
John: I almost stopped at "Hall of Fame," but being no fool and enjoying adulation, I was intrigued. I finally stopped at "best senior writer" and started basking in the glory that is me.
Anthony from Madison, WI:
I'm glad you mentioned "especially players that aren't QBs" when referencing that teams don't rise and fall on one player. Having a Top 5 quarterback immediately puts your team in playoff contention at the least, regardless of the players around him (See Colts with Peyton Manning; see Colts without Peyton Manning but virtually the same players other than that). In fact, the reason I personally believe Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever is because of what he has accomplished considering his teams were not anywhere near on par with what other HoF quarterbacks have had in terms of overall talent. This is also the reason I believe quarterback is the only position that SB wins and appearances should be considered as a significant weight in determining who was a better quarterback.
John: In general we agree, though I do disagree on several fronts and my biggest point can be seen within your argument. The Patriots going 11-5 without Brady certainly weakens your point a bit, though not completely. You said a Top 5 quarterback puts your team in playoff contention, and in general I believe that's true. A mark of Brett Favre's greatness was his team was in contention nearly every season. That's Brady's truest measure, and Manning's as well. An elite quarterback puts you in contention, and the best can allow you to navigate through the regular season with enough victories to give you a chance in the postseason. From there, the biggest factors are health, good fortune and the completeness of the team around you. The competitiveness of the NFL is such that one play or one injury can alter the postseason. Brady, for example, is lauded as an all-time great because of three Super Bowl victories. But since 2004, when the Patriots' defenses faded and the team became one-sided on offense, he has not won a Super Bowl. Manning got his team to the playoffs pretty much every season, but didn't win the Super Bowl until the Colts' defense played exceptionally well for a four-game stretch in 2006. I get that most people will always judge a quarterback based on Super Bowl victories, but I don't buy that Jim Plunkett (two victories) was better than Favre (one). Give me a guy who can get me to the playoffs eight or nine times in a 10-year span and I'll take my chances that on at least one of those occasions there will be a team around him that can win the Super Bowl.
William from Fleming Island, FL:
You know, John. I think the Jaguars are gonna suck this year, unless we do these things right now: Sign Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, and Plaxico Burress, coax Fred Taylor out of retirement with Maurice Jones-Drew's contract. As for Maurice, we will guarantee him 50 percent of the franchise upon retirement. Trade this lame Blaine kid for a compensatory pick. We need to fire Mike Mularkey and hire former Jaguar Tony Boselli to be the head coach. Gene Smith can easily be replaced by yours truly, and last but not least, trade away all of our draft picks for the next five years away to New York for Tim Tebow, and sign him to whatever is left in the salary cap. See, it takes a genius like me to run a football team properly; 16-0 and to the Super Bowl we go!
John: No way should Tony Boselli be a head coach.
Hugo from Jacksonville:
I disagree with your observation that quarterbacks should be captain of the offense. I look at 32 teams with 32 starting quarterbacks and I don't see 32 quarterbacks who should be captains. You don't get "respect" by the position you play. You get respect for your production in the field. Do you see 32 "should be captains" in the 32 quarterbacks that will start this week?
John: Of course not. You missed my point. I didn't say the quarterback must be the captain. I said he should be the captain, and what I meant is that if your team is where it should be in this version of the NFL, the quarterback is the team leader and the acknowledged "Guy." Clearly that's not always the case and clearly that's why you don't have 32 quarterbacks as captains.
Shane from Jacksonville:
From what we have seen from Gabbert and the receivers through camp and preseason, who do you see being our leading receiver at the end of the season? Blackmon seems to have claimed the No. 1 spot, Robinson would seem to be our deep threat, and Thomas will benefit being our third receiver and having the coverage shifted toward the others. I think Thomas can have a similar season to what Robinson had last year. Just curious on what you think. Go Jags!
John: Your thinking is pretty accurate. I don't think there's much question Blackmon's the No. 1 option, and he has the early look of a star. I envision Robinson helping the Jaguars for a couple of reasons. One is that I believe he is an upgrade in terms of talent and he will make defenses focus on him more than anyone who was playing receiver for the team last season. I also think he will be able to be effective on third downs and provide the deep threat of which you speak. For observers expecting 1,400-yard, 10-touchdown numbers, I don't know that we'll see that, and while that might anger some fans, I don't know that he has to get those to be effective. As for Thomas, the more I watched him in preseason, the more I think he'll be a big factor this season. We'll see. It starts today.
James from Orange Park, FL:
What is the over/under for the senior writer being called an idiot/ any insult per day during a football season? I'm setting the number at 11.
John: It's two or three, but the ones that say it do so with admirable passion.
Nicholas from Anchorage, AK:
Do you think the O-line was frustrated with the MJD holdout? After all, it is the O-line who was made it possible for both Jennings and MJD to gain their rushing yards.
John: I think the members of the offensive line would have liked to have seen Jones-Drew in camp because they believe he makes the Jaguars better, but I also know players know this is a business and any frustration toward holdouts doesn't last long. I actually think the offensive line was far more concerned about getting through a difficult, hot, physical camp and improving as a pass-blocking line to worry too much about someone who wasn't here.
Renee from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I am sitting in a Hampton Inn outside Minneapolis, near the "Mall." "You know," these Minnesotians have been "Minnesota nice" and "you betcha" they think they have a win. I don't know about that - but honestly I really don't know how the Jags will play. If it is like the first drive of the preseason, I am going to have a wonderful time in the HHH dome. The fun of it all is, we don't know and we get to see it unfold. See ya in the dome, John.
John: It's football season. Enjoy.