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Going with the kid


No official announcement yet, but the Jaguars are confirming that Blaine Gabbert will start at quarterback against Carolina Sunday.

The future is now. Patrick from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What do you expect the game plan to be against the Panthers? Will we let Gabbert throw the ball or will we be scared that he may make mistakes and cost us the game? We have got to win this week because the Saints come to Jacksonville next week and we have the Ravens and Steelers.
John: I expect the Jaguars to play similar to what their style mostly has been in recent seasons – i.e., to emphasize the run and look for plays in the passing game to supplement that. Gabbert has a bigger arm than any quarterback who ever has played for the Jaguars, so you'll see passes at times you've never seen from a Jaguars quarterback, but he may not yet be ready to throw it all over the field 75 percent of the time.
Jason from Roberts, WI:
I read on CBS sports Gabbert is getting the start Sunday against Carolina. What are your expectations for Gabbert on Sunday?
John: I expect him to make mistakes. I expect him to show flashes of the God-given talent he has. Mostly, what I want to see is how he responds to the rush and to blitzes and how he responds from interceptions and errors. All rookie quarterbacks make mistakes. What you want to see is growth and progress. The mistakes shouldn't concern you. Making the same ones over and over again or looking overwhelmed should.
Chris from Tuscaloosa, AL:
Let's say a defense jumps offside and the offense completes a long pass downfield. The offense declines the penalty but then the catch is reviewed and eventually overturned to be ruled as an incompletion. Would the offense then be allowed to go back and accept the offside penalty?
John: Yes.
Michael from Gainesville, FL:
I agree that the offensive line was not THE problem on Sunday. However, you have to admit that giving up a sack for a safety against a three-man rush is humbling, if not embarrassing. Did pulling McCown demonstrate a flimsy commitment to him as our starter? JDR knows best, but if Gabbert isn't ready to go in Week Two then he isn't ready to go. Let McCown play out the game and avert the whole thing. Why would you put the not-ready rookie in to get killed in obvious passing situations for an unwinnable game?
John: The offensive line for the most part played well. After looking at the safety again, while an elite quarterback likely would have gotten the ball away to avoid the sack, the pocket did appear to collapse, and rookie guard Will Rackley appeared to give up the sack. As for McCown, pulling him when they did says nothing about their commitment to him as the starter. The game was out of hand and there was nothing to be lost from playing Gabbert in the fourth quarter and the Jaguars didn't call plays that put Gabbert at any great risk.
Ron from Virginia Beach, VA:
What would you choose - a shutdown corner or a No. 1 wide receiver?
John: I'd choose the No. 1 receiver, but I'd clarify by saying I think there are a lot fewer shut-down corners than No. 1 receivers. If you're asking me, "Darrelle Revis" or "Andre Johnson," I perhaps take Revis because he seems to be a shut-down corner of all-time abilities. If it's not Revis, then I'd rather have the No. 1 receiver because most "shut-down" corners are merely very good players who can't really cover No. 1 receivers for more than a few seconds anyway.
Ralph from Wise, VA:
Do you think the Jags should give Luke another chance to start? We've seen this before from David and you just can't put that kind of message in Gabbert's head if he has one bad game, he's out. For me, that's not the type of message you need your franchise quarterback to see.
John: How the Jaguars handled the McCown situation isn't indication how Gabbert will be handled as the starter. No one has any illusions that McCown was a short-term situation at quarterback; the only question was how short is short-term. Now that Gabbert is in the lineup, it's his job.
Frank from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Overall, we seem stout against the run and improved against the pass -- still not top-tier against the pass but improving. Are you getting any sense of how Kampman is coming along? Are they being cautious and holding him back until he's 100 percent or did he suffer a setback that might put him out of action for a while?
John: Kampman is recovering from a season-ending ACL injury and is less than a year removed from the surgery. In many, many cases, returning from such an injury is at least a year-long process. For Kampman last year, it took a couple of months less than that. This year, it seems to be taking about the amount of time that most people would consider normal.
Kenneth from St Augustine, FL:
It's kind of scary to see the defense playing so well (top 5) so quick. I would say the arrow is pointing up. If only our passing offense can get going a little this season could get really interesting. Running game is fine and will only get better. With that said, do you see any matchup problems against Carolina? And who would cover S.Smith? GO JAGS!!!
John: Don't be scared of the defense. They're good and getting better and that's only a good thing. The obvious match-up is how the Jaguars will combat quarterback Cam Newton. Usually, a rookie quarterback who starts is going to have some hiccup games in which he sees things he hasn't seen before. I expect the Jaguars to do what they can to pressure and confuse him. That's a bigger issue than covering Smith, though I wouldn't look for any exotic coverages based on him. For the most part, Jaguars corners play their side of the field, whichever receivers comes their way.
Manuel from Jacksonville:
OK, it was a bad day for McCown, but the special teams had a horrible day, too. Your take.
John: The kickoff coverage units allowed two long returns to Antonio Cromartie in the first half. On a day when the Jaguars couldn't afford to give up field position, those two plays hurt a lot.
John from Ponte Vedra, FL:
So far, the offense has shown very little in the pre-season and in the two regular-season games. Obviously, we need to get better at the quarterback position. What else needs to get fixed, how is it done, and is it doable given the current players and staff? They looked out-classed across the board in New York - what is a reasonable expectation for improvements this season?
John: I disagree that the Jaguars looked outclassed across the board in New York, and honestly, I thought the problems at quarterback made the difference between a competitive game and a 29-point loss. As far as improvement, I do believe that tight end Marcedes Lewis must be on the field. This is not an offense that can afford to be without key elements. It also has to get at least the sort of performance from Gabbert that McCown had in the opener – i.e., consistency with some clutch completions mixed in. No NFL team can win with four interceptions in six drives.
Sean from San Bernardino, CA:
I know it's your job to back the organization. I get that. However, there is no way you deep down honestly believe releasing Garrard was a smart move, nor was it based on McCown giving us a better chance to win. Please give me an honest response. Please.
John: The honest response I can give is Garrard in preseason was not playing like the player everyone saw his first four seasons as a starter. Would he have improved in the regular season? Perhaps. Would the Jaguars have had a better chance to win with Garrard? Perhaps, but he had several games last season very, very similar to the one McCown had Sunday.
Jim from Marshall, NC:
How about a non-quarterback question? Whatever happened to punters being able to kick to ball out of bounds inside the 20? I don't understand why a 43 year-old punter, and most of the rest of the punters around the league, can't pull off the old coffin-corner kick. Is it just a lost art; gone the way of the drop kick? Turk has probably kicked 100,000 balls in all his years and can't do anything but kick down the middle?
John: The prevailing approach in the NFL these days is to hit the ball inside the 20 and rely on the coverage team to down the ball there. The coffin corner, as you mentioned, has become more and more of a rarity. The theory is that the percentages of getting advantageous field position is better under the approach more often used now.
Joshua from Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany:
If Garrard were the answer, he would be on someone's roster by now.
John: You have been heard.

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