Trying to avoid all MJD all the time this morning. Won't be easy.
Let's get to it . . . Dustin from Jacksonville:
I'm sure you're getting a lot of hate towards MJD. I'm not angry. I'm disappointed. I really thought he was above this. How do you think this is going to play out?
John: I'll take this question and the next few to address the Jones-Drew situation, then do what's possible to address other topics. First, there truly are two sides to this. Jones-Drew wants a new deal. He is entering his seventh season and he's not ignorant about the ways of the NFL. He knows that as a running back, there is a limited time to maximize your contract. If he waits until the end of his contract, he'll be entering his ninth season and his earning power will be significantly less. The other side is when the Jaguars signed Jones-Drew to his current deal, they did it with the idea that they'd have him under contract for the prime of his career, and that by the end of the contract, he likely would be getting past that prime. And don't forget the signing bonus money he got up front. From the Jaguars' perspective, they timed it about right. As for how it will play out, General Manager Gene Smith said Monday the Jaguars aren't going to renegotiate, and Smith isn't given to lying to the media. Because of that, I think Jones-Drew will end up eventually playing for his current deal, because if he doesn't, he'll be walking away from a lot of money. Until then, there are liable to be a lot of nervous and contentious days. That's not unusual in these situations, and it doesn't mean it can't get resolved. It does mean it could get pretty weird and maybe even a bit ugly.
Tim from Kalamazoo, MI:
With MJD not showing up to camp, and Gene saying they won't give him any more money, should I just cancel the NFL Sunday Ticket now?
John: If you do, you'll be missing some good stuff. The train is moving forward. There are a lot of good coaches and good players on board. That's true with or without Jones-Drew.
Kurt from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Hypothetically speaking, say you're building a team from the ground up and the roster isn't an issue, would you go 4-3 or 3-4 on defense?
John: I'm a 4-3 guy. I'm probably biased toward it because every team I've covered in the NFL – the 1995-2000 Jaguars, the 2001-2010 Colts and the 2011 Jaguars—used it, and for the most part, used it more effectively than not. I'm a traditional guy, and I like the idea of a front four with ends coming off the corners. If you have good tackles and ends and can get pressure with four, it leaves enough players to effectively cover the second and third levels of the defense. Realistically, the scheme is less important than having quality players to play in it.
Manuel from Jacksonville and Section 215:
Is the final decision of keeping two quarterbacks or three quarterbacks an indication of how much progress has Gabbert made or how much confidence coaches have in Gabbert?
John: Neither, really. It's more an indication of whether you have a third quarterback on the roster that you like enough to worry about protecting. Otherwise, you ideally would like to carry two and carry the third on the practice squad to preserve the roster spot. You really don't carry a third quarterback with the idea that he will play. If he does, things have gone poorly enough that it doesn't matter too much any longer.
Wayne from Jacksonville:
Do you think Coach Mularkey will ever speak truthfully about a player's development, even if it's negative? If Blackmon wasn't living up to potential or what if Gabbert isn't really progressing? Do you think he would ever say that? Personally, I don't think a coach would until action has been taken on the issue (releasing or starting the "other guy").
John: There are ways a coach can indicate if he's not thrilled with how a player is performing. Two weeks ago, for example, Mularkey was pretty open about Blackmon needing to get a better grasp of the playbook. He made it clear Blackmon was doing well when he knew what was going on, but not so good when that wasn't the case. Now, is Mularkey going to come out and just hammer a player? No. Nor should he, but I've found Mularkey to be pretty honest about players and that gives him credibility. On Tuesday, for example, he praised punter Bryan Anger and Blackmon. The praise of Blackmon was immediately more believable because he had been willing to point out something Blackmon needed to improve on before.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
O-man, I'm curious. After Mike Doss ran his mouth about Fred Taylor and then Fred ran him over on the way to scoring the winning TD against the Colts the next time the two teams met, do you recollect what the mood was like around Mr. Doss' locker after that December game in Jax? I'm sure he wasn't enjoying the humble pie that Fred served up.
John: You know what? I actually don't remember the mood around Doss' locker, and when I received your email I tried hard to recall something he said afterward. Doss, like most NFL players, played the game with bravado, so I'm sure he played it off as best he could. What I remember the most about that story is when Doss originally made his gesture toward Taylor following the Colts' victory in September I thought that Doss probably had chosen the wrong player to anger. When Taylor ran over him in November of that season, I was working for the Colts, but I knew Taylor and liked him, so I'm not going tell you a part of me wasn't smiling a bit at the circumstance. You just had to know better than to mess with Taylor, but Doss obviously didn't.
Section 106 from Jacksonville:
Why would they cut Kampman at this time? I would think they'd want to keep him through camp to see what he had left compared to our other prospects. You can't tell me that evaluation was possible just from OTAs. If he's healthy, which I assume he is as there was no injury settlement announced, he's probably the best DE we had. And, of course there will be injuries. What are we going to do if we lose a couple defensive ends? I'm beginning to wonder about that "all in" talk I heard a few months ago.
John: Gene Smith said the Kampman release was a matter of the circumstances at the position changing. He said the Jaguars liked what they have seen from Jeremy Mincey, Austen Lane and George Selvie, and the team now has a first-round talent to develop in Andre Branch. Releasing Kampman now as opposed to waiting also gives Kampman a chance sign with another team, and Smith said that was only fair considering Kampman's professional approach to the team while here. Now, saying all of that there is the obvious implication that the team doesn't expect Kampman to be the same player he was early in 2010. If that was the expectation, you don't release him.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
It is called honoring your word. But if Mo-Jo wants a new contract for more money because he did so good last year, then if he does poorly this year the Jags can give him a lower-paying contract? This renegotiating contracts because a player performs better in a given year than the previous one has gotten out of hand. I would like to see the league pass a rule that all contracts are valid and cannot be renegotiated until six months prior to the contract's expiration date.
John: Teams would love that, too, but the contracts are already valid. Players already get fined for holding out. There's not much more the league can do to enforce.
Todd from Jacksonville:
I read on NFL.com that Jones-Drew won't be reporting to camp. When reporters post these articles, is it speculation, or where do they usually get information like this, when the team themselves don't have this info?
John from Section 113 and Steubenville, OH:
Let the GM Gene bashers begin their rants on his insistence that MJD fulfill his contract and report for mandatory minicamp. I believe Gene has a long-term strategy for Jaguars to consistently compete for division title. Despite MJD's accomplishments last year, we were still 5-11. One player does not make a team and teams win championships.
John: Smith is a big boy, and more importantly, a capable GM – i.e., he can take the bashing and the ranting. What he's doing here is actually such an easy decision as to be a no-brainer. Jones-Drew has two years left on his contract, and teams just don't want to get into the habit of tearing up contracts with two years remaining – especially veteran players whose contracts will expire deep in their careers.
F Dogg from Jacksonville:
I thought this was the year that the Jaguars were going to make it to the playoffs, but with Blackmon's DIU arrest and MJD not reporting to minicamp, it seems like this football team is falling apart rather than growing as a team.
John: Your perception is the opposite of reality. What's important is what's going on on the field and in the meeting rooms. The growth remains strong, and a few headlines don't change that.