In a good place

Let's get to it . . . Garrett from Drewval, FL:
O man, my friend just offered me 100 bucks to write a six-page paper for him. If you do it I'll split the money with you. You in?
John: You call that a joke; I call it a raise.
Mark from Jacksonville:
In the Times-Union's NFL notebook on Thursday May 24, Tania Ganguli writes that "Maurice Jones-Drew remains out of the OTAs and is expressing his desire for a new contract." Where did this come from? Has Ms. Ganguli interviewed MJD? This is the first time I have seen it reported. I have read blogs where various people speculate that MJD is holding out, but no writer has reported it as fact. You have stated several times that he is not obligated by contract to be here and he has two years remaining on his contract. I believe you over Ms. Ganguli. Please put this to rest and let's get on with football.
John: We're both right. Jones-Drew has not publicly said he wants a new contract, and because the events he is missing are voluntary, he is not holding out. But Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said earlier this month it's his understanding Jones-Drew is interested in a new contract, which Ganguli reported. That in no way means he plans to hold out and in no way means he will miss games next season. I would be surprised if either happens. Let me clarify what I've written most of the off-season. Yes, it would have been better had Jones-Drew shown up for a day or two of the voluntary veteran mini-camp in April, and he perhaps could have benefitted from a few organized team activities sessions. Will there be a noticeable difference in his play next season because of it? I doubt it. And this much should always be kept in the front of our minds on this issue: Jones-Drew is doing nothing wrong under the rules of the CBA. He will not be fined. This won't hurt his status in the locker room. It's a short-term story that only becomes a long-term story if Jones-Drew isn't there for training camp, which I can't imagine happening.
Keith from Summerville, SC:
Do you know if there are any teams that still use the Oklahoma drill because that's who I'm cheering for this year. And I'm also not going to buy all of those season tickets that I was going to buy.
John: I'm going to assume I'm missing the sarcasm.
Jim from Jacksonville:
The Jags relied on MJD a lot because we didn't have an effective passing game. How much impact did that have on the offensive line's scheme to protect Gabbert? I expect a more balanced attack this year, which would mean the offensive line will need to demonstrate more versatility. Do we have the talent to see that happen? How do you rate our offensive line: Good, average, mediocre or at the bottom, compared to the rest of the league?
John: I'd call the line a bit above average and as far as protecting Gabbert, yes, there is the talent to make that happen. I expect the Jaguars' offensive line to have better numbers this season for several reasons. First, the receivers will be better, which means they will get open more often and more quickly. Second, I expect the offense to throw more in less-obvious passing situations. That will reduce sacks, too. Third, I expect Eben Britton to return and Will Rackley to be improved in his second season. Fourth, I expect all of those factors to help Gabbert be better. You'll notice a lot of those factors intertwine. That's how the passing game works. If one part is better, another part should be better, too. The Jaguars should be a more efficient offense next season. The improvement of the offensive line will be a reason, and the offensive line will improve as a result of the other improvement and so on and so on and so on . . .
Jeff from Starke, FL:
Regarding Gabbert's time for making mistakes is in OTA's... I've been in the technology field for coming up on 20 years and I've always said I learn more when I make a mistake than I do when I do something perfect the first time. If I make mistakes I have to figure out what when wrong, why it went wrong, how to recognize it before it occurs the next time and how to quickly resolve it again if it does happen. Things I would never have known otherwise, I learn when a mistake is made. Go make 'em now Blane. This time is invaluable to this young QB.
John: That's lost in today's quick-trigger world, but yes, absolutely.
Tyler from Jacksonville and Section 204:
If you could go back in time and re-do one moment in Jaguars history, what would it be and why? How would things have turned out if this decision was made?
John: This is a difficult question, because any decision effects so many later decisions. Many people point to the 2008 offseason as disastrous, which it was because the team gave up an enormous amount to get Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves, believing it was a step away from the Super Bowl. The Jaguars also signed Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence that year. The signing of Jack Del Rio and David Garrard to long-term, "franchise-level" contracts around that same time also set the franchise back. But how much would be different? That's hard to say, If the Jaguars had been more patient at the time could they have built differently and been more competitive? Perhaps, but if they had stayed more competitive they might have plateaued and been forced to rebuild at a different time. In the end, I suppose I'd say it would have been interesting had Wayne Weaver been able to convince Tom Coughlin to stay on as head coach only in 2003 and elevated Gene Smith to general manager at that time. I would have liked to have seen what they could do working in tandem.
Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL and Section 215:
OK, I get it about the Oklahoma drill -- some players could get hurt with no real football benefit from running the drill. But can you put in a word to the coaching staff that we really miss the "chopping wood" drill. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
John: Sometimes, I include emails that make me laugh. This is that.
Richard from Tampa, FL:
Based on a comment you made I went back and studied the schedule. I am not seeing eight wins based on our opponents. If the Colts went .500, we would have the third-toughest schedule in the league. This brought me to the following question: can we be a drastically improved team and still only have seven wins? We have a new coaching staff, a new playbook to learn, and a monster schedule filled with perennial playoff teams. Is seven wins a failure? For the first time in the existence of the Jacksonville Jaguars I have no idea what to expect from this team. Please help me with a realistic expectation for this team.
John: Although I believe the Jaguars will go at least .500 next season, they certainly can be drastically improved and win seven games. What you're looking for from the Jaguars next season beyond a winning record are signs the team is building and doing things the right way. You want to see a pass rush getting pressure when it matters. You want to see receivers good enough to make defensive coordinators take safeties out of the box. You want to see quarterback play that's improving and that can be relied upon to perform consistently. As far as how the season will play out, it wouldn't surprise me if the offense – and perhaps the team – starts slower than the Jaguars want. It wouldn't surprise me if people are questioning things after six or eight games. I don't say that because I think the offensive coaches don't know what they're doing, but when you're doing things right and changing things, sometimes in a competitive business such as the NFL, things don't go perfectly early. Patience may be needed this season, but by the end of the season you'll see a lot of the things I mentioned above. Every time I hear someone talk about how to judge new coaches, I think about Joe Gibbs, Tony Dungy and Jimmy Johnson, three of the best coaches of the last three decades. Gibbs started his first season as an NFL head coach 0-5. So did Dungy. Johnson's first Dallas team went 1-15. My gut is the Jaguars' roster is good enough where the record will be better than many believe, but as far as realistic expectations, mine is I want to see a team by the end of the season that I think has a chance to be a long-term contender. I think there's a good chance we'll see that.
Chris from Section 243:
O-man!!!! It's only 8:29 in the morning, and I'm getting a Krystal craving... pull me back from this ledge, bro!
John: You're in a good place. Go with your instincts.

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