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Furry beacon of freedom

Let's get to it . . . Nick from Jacksonville:
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but Khan's remarks about a new coach as being first priority, big decision, money not an object, and the fact that he said "you guys are going to be very popular soon" . . . are these comments just to hype the fans or is there information us fans just don't know yet? When is the earliest a team can hire a coach? Is it possible that Khan has already made a deal with or working out one with a big-name coach?
John: The Jaguars can hire a coach at any time, but the process is just beginning. Khan was in town this weekend meeting with front-office personnel, and that personnel already has begun the research process on finding a coach. The process now kicks into gear.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
Mike McCarthy wasn't a high-profile coach with a track record when he was hired to coach the Packers. In fact, he was offensive coordinator for a 49ers team the year before he landed in Green Bay. They had one of the worst offenses in recent memory while he was on the staff. In his only season in San Francisco the 49ers finished last in points and yards gained. People scratched their heads when Green Bay hired him the very next season. Why didn't they sign some big shot who was in a studio doing pregame shows or analyst work for years? Well, I'd say that's worked out well for the Packers.
John: I'd say it has, too, and my guess is there will be a story or two similar to McCarthy's in the mix for the Jaguars in the coming weeks. "Track record" and offensive rankings are nice, but what you want in a head coach is organization, the ability to lead, the ability to set a tone for the organization and the ability to establish a level of expectation that permeates the building. Having a recognizable name has little to do with that. There really isn't much buzz about the direction of the coaching search, and that's because Shahid Khan just started his process of getting to know the staff and hearing the information and thoughts of the decision-makers. The feel you do get is that Khan has a remarkably good feel for people, and that he will be looking for the right values and the right attributes from whoever he hires. I get the idea that it won't be hard for him and Gene Smith to get on the same page in that area.
Nick from Toronto:
You're the one with the epic logic problem John. You're basically saying that because you don't who the next great QB is, pass on them all. In other words, to avoid failure, never take the chance in the first place. Yeah, sounds like a recipe for success.
John: Yeah, that's what I said. Exactly. To be quite clear, that wasn't at all what I said. My point was while it's easy to say you don't want to make the same mistake again, you are not only far too early in the Gabbert process to know if it was a mistake, you don't know if the next Ben Roethlisberger is in this draft. Now, if the Jaguars' personnel people and decision-makers honestly believe Gabbert is not the guy, then by all means, if you think there is a better option in the draft, then you must take him. What I'm saying is you simply don't know if Gabbert is the guy yet. The people who say they know don't know, despite their conviction and annunciation of that conviction to the contrary. Gabbert still has the same attributes that made him the No. 10 selection, and those who work closely with him and know football – say he has what it takes to be great. Not good. Great. It's the job of the decision-makers in this organization to surround him with an offensive structure and players that will allow him to be great, and it's his job to improve within those surroundings. That's where we're at in this process.
Matt from Jacksonville:
Do you know why injuries aren't an excuse? Because the moment they are, it becomes a reason to quit trying to get better. I want every man on my team, from the stars to the practice squad, to believe they are absolutely capable of going toe-to-toe with the best player opposite their position. Not actually able? Ok, then get better. Nothing is given for free in the NFL, and the 'injuries are not an excuse' mentality shows you the men who will work and TAKE what they want.
John: Precisely.
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
I'm sure your mailbox is cluttered with rants and raves about Blaine Gabbert, but what I want to know is about Gene Smith's other two first-round picks, Eugene Monroe and Tyson Alualu. What do you take from their play this season? Are they going to be significant in the future of the franchise?
John: Yes. Monroe has shown throughout the season that he is a strength at left tackle. You'd like to see him be more consistent, but it's not from an area of weakness and there is continued improvement. Alualu needs to get his knee issue straightened out in the off-season, and there's every reason to believe that can and will happen. If it does, there's every reason to believe he will continue to improve as well – significantly, in fact.
Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Help me understand what's going on with Matt Roth. He gets his bell rung and he's out for a month?
John: He sustained a concussion. In the climate of the NFL these days, when that happens teams are going to be very, very cautious bringing a player back. He hasn't passed the baseline test to return, so he hasn't played. The getting-his-bell-rung approach isn't one that's taken anymore. Teams are being cautious with concussions, and that's not changing anytime soon.
Bill from Orange Park, FL:
Not really a question but a call to action. Being a season-ticket holder since Day 1, I love my JAGS. Sure, I wish we would win them all, but it's the NFL and that really doesn't happen. All the season-ticket holders will be at the JACK on 1/1/2012 to root for the team. I challenge all the so-called fans who complain to buy a ticket and support the team, at least to watch MJD win the rushing title and perhaps Offensive Player of the Year. We need to show the team and Mr. Khan we have their backs. After all, it's the Colts and whether Peyton Manning is playing or not we want to put a hurt on them. Having 65,000 fans in the seats will say a lot to the bobble heads at ESPN that the JAGS have the fan support and we are the true 12th man in all the NFL. Maybe I'm asking too much but think how that would look to the league and Mr. Khan to end the season we've had. Thanks John for hanging in there this year, I firmly believe things will improve next year and my tickets are confirmed.
John: You have been heard.
Chase from Jacksonville:
I have two questions. 1. When does pro free agency begin? 2. Do the players on IR get to use the facilities the day after the last game of the season?
John: Pro free agency will begin in early March. Yes, players under contract may use the facilities.
David from Merced, CA:
Do you find it funny that people were so obsessed with Obama possibly being a Muslim, but yet no one seems to care if the guy from Pakistan is?
John: I find it irrelevant and with respect to Shahid Khan, I am surprised anyone would care at all.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Gabbert is the third-most sacked quarterback in the NFL. Some have been the fault of the line, some have been his fault, but there it is. Line health plus pocket presence training equals victory. While he has more interceptions than I'd like, he's still 19th in the league in interceptions, not too bad for a rookie. The 13 fumbles are an issue for me though. Can he train taking hits without dropping the ball? Perhaps just have our linemen whack him while he focuses on hanging on?
John: Gabbert has not had an issue at all with bad interceptions. He has thrown a few bad passes, but absolutely no more than would be expected of any rookie. If anything, it's surprising he doesn't have more. As far as the sacks, some are indeed on him and the line and a bunch are on the receivers for not getting open, too. Yes, the fumbles can be addressed. He'll learn how to sense pressure better and the line will improve. That area should get better as the entire offense improves.
Jai from Bethesda, MD:
Shahid Khan may be the new owner of the Jags, but his moustache is the new owner of my heart. It majestically perches on his upper lip, a furry beacon of freedom and the American way. Can you feel the power, John?
John: Indeed I Khan.

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