Let's get to it . . . Ken from Jacksonville:
As you know, the Jags' preseason schedule was recently released. I was wondering, which do you consider more interesting – preseason football, or watching grass grow?
John: I took a long time with this answer, and for a while, sitting in a nice lawn chair watching the grass was running pretty far out in front. In the end, though, I have to say preseason football is more interesting. Kidding aside, from my perspective there is value to the preseason games because position battles can play out and you can start to see young players separate themselves and begin to grow. From a team's perspective, just because the games aren't popular doesn't mean they're not important. They are very important when it comes to player evaluation. They may not be thrilling for fans and starting players, but I'm not a proponent of shortening the season. I believe teams need four games to evaluate players and prepare for the season, and most general managers do, too.
Jason from Mims, FL:
I always thought the real value of a Pro Day for scouts was to get a look at the guys who weren't invited to the combine – those guys that may go undrafted for some reason, but might make good practice-squad guys or late-round guys. You gotta get eyes on as many prospects as you can.
John: Scouts do attend Pro Days for that reason, too, but that's not the sole reason. As much as they say they're only a piece of a big puzzle, scouts and coaches go to the Pro Days for the big names, too. It may seem like a bit much and it may seems like they couldn't possibly learn much more than they already know, but they still go.
Not Fooled in Orange Park, FL:
What's with the song and dance over admitting you think Manning's the greatest QB of all time? Hate to break it to you, but repeating that there are 'few that have achieved that level' over, over and over while - never - naming them gives it away anyways. You're coming off like a girl in middle school that has a huge crush on a boy in her class but when teased about it, says there are other boys she's interested in, too, to try and take the focus off how much she sweats him. Come on, O. Jeez.
John: You're far more concerned with this topic than I am, obviously. I haven't named names because I hadn't been thinking much about it. I don't know that there's a greatest quarterback of all time, and if there is, I don't necessarily think it's Manning. I believe there's a conversation. I believe Manning's in it based on a phenomenal stretch of consistency and that just about every coordinator you talk to you will tell you his ability to expose a weakness of a defense is unparalleled. Many judge a quarterback on Super Bowls. Coordinators and personnel people? That's what they base it on. That said, I don't say Manning is necessarily the best ever. Marino's in the conversation. Elway is in it. Brady is in it. Montana is in it. Unitas is in it. Otto Graham is in it. Those are the ones I bring up. All right. Now maybe we can all go mop our brows.
Gabe from Section 124:
Based on your experiences covering the league, is targeting players' knees or targeting their known injuries a common thing, or is Gregg Williams just a loose cannon? I always thought that coaches tried to conceal their players' injuries on Injury Reports to keep the opposition from targeting.
John: Yes, players will target other players' injured areas within the course of a play in an effort to get them out of the game. At the same time, most players I have spoken with don't attempt to do this in a career-ending or career-threatening way if at all possible. These guys are competitors on game days but they also all understand that this is their livelihood and I've never sensed that most players are anxious to end other players' careers.
Al from Fruit Cove, FL and Section 102:
It seems to me that there is a long-standing misconception among readers of this site as to what Best Available Player means. In my mind, Gene Smith and his staff do not assign a specific precise numeric value to every player, where this running back is a 972.365 and this defensive end is a 972.364, so therefore we have to pick the RB when it's our turn. Isn't it more like this group of players is in the A group, this is the A- group, etc., so that when it's the Jags' turn to draft, they can pick from among the BAPs (note the "s") while also filling need. I wouldn't expect them to draft a B- wide receiver over an A- linebacker, but within the same general range of grades, get what your roster requires. Am I off-base on this?
John: You are not.
Gary from Vista, CA:
I'm sure you have your reasons, but after looking at Ingram and Mercilus, we'd be passing on a Clay Mathews-type in Ingram for a serviceable DE in Mercilus. Ingram's only knock is his size, but he happens to be the same size as Dwight Freeney and looks to be just as talented. The guy's a playmaker with an awesome motor and ball awareness. We'd be making a big mistake if we missed out on him or Floyd. I trust Gene, but if he trades down we better get our money's worth in picks because Ingram and Floyd are special.
John: I'll skip talking about Floyd and focus on Ingram because that was the majority of your email. I agree that Ingram appears to be a good player, but the only knock on him is not his size. In fact, that's not the major knock on him. The major knock is that he has short arms and that the pass-rushing he has done well in college has not come off the edge, but from the inside or rushing to the inside. Those things that make you a great pass rusher as a defensive end? Many believe Ingram doesn't have them and that's why it's a risk to take him as a 4-3 end. Freeney, incidentally, had longer arms than Ingram, and what scouts considered special speed, power and burst. He also had perhaps the best spin move of all time. Ingram has a chance to be a very good player, but I've heard no one say he's just as good as Freeney.
Mark from Section 227:
So if Andrew Luck doesn't reach those lofty heights and instead stalls out at, say, Matt Ryan level altitude, where will that put the Colts and would it change your (or anybody else's) mind about releasing Manning.
John: I'm sure it would change some minds, and I'm sure some will criticize the release no matter what happens. It will particularly be criticized if Manning is fully healthy in Denver and if Luck isn't the second coming of Manning. I'm certainly no Jim Irsay apologist, but one thing I'm not sure is fair is criticizing him for releasing Manning. Irsay always envisioned Manning playing his entire career for the Colts, and to Irsay, Manning was his once-in-an-owner's-career franchise quarterback. Manning was Irsay's John Unitas, his John Elway, and it had to rip him apart to part ways with him. He did so because he thought it was the only thing to do for the franchise, and because there was no way having Manning and a developing franchise quarterback made sense.
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
So I was scrolling on NFL.com and came across an article by Jason Smith that ranked the starting quarterbacks numerically based on projected performances. I expected Gabbert to be dead last, but I had to look anyway. Not only wasn't he dead last, he didn't even make the list, with the idea that Chad Henne was going to start. Really, I know Gabbert was bad last season, but good God, to not even think he'll start next season is more than extreme. Does he honestly think that we're just going to throw away everything and let Henne, who, no offense to him, is not taking anyone to the Super Bowl anytime soon.
John: It's the off-season. Writers have to do something. What many do is make lists. The reason they make them is people get upset and write letters to other writers complaining about them. That's about all there is to say about that.
Andrew from Los Angeles, CA:
If Trent Richardson is there at No. 7, I think that would be the perfect BAP value for the Jags. Look at Houston's running game last year with Foster and Ben Tate, with MJD and Richardson that combo can do some serious damage this year.
John: That's one school of thought. I don't attend that school, but there are those who do.
Jim from Jacksonville:
Just heard a story on the radio involving Coughlin, Kevin Gilbride, you and a broom closet. Thoughts?
John: I'm going to assume it's the story about Pete Prisco and myself hiding with Gilbride in an office just off the weight room in '95 or '96. Gilbride didn't want Coughlin to catch him talking to the evil media. I'm assuming that's the one you're talking about. The other stories about Tom and I in a broom closet aren't for public consumption.
I don't attend that school
Let's get to it . . . Ken from Jacksonville: