Excited about Saturday. LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., is a great place to watch a game. Great vantage-point, great game-day atmosphere. Can't wait.
Hard to believe we've only got two more games this season. The older I get, the faster these seasons fly by and no matter how difficult the season, game day always makes you feel . . . well, if not young, then pretty darned alive.
Enough of that. An early Merry Christmas and . . .
Let's get to it . . . Sam from Tallahassee, FL:
Reggie Wayne would be an amazing addition to the Jaguars roster next season! Is this wishful thinking?
John: Probably so, mainly because the time in his career at which Wayne is coming free would make it a tricky acquisition. Wayne is 33, and that's a difficult age for any free agent, particularly a wide receiver. It appears he probably won't return to Indianapolis, but the dilemma is not knowing how many good years he has left and how much to pay for the years he does have. My guess is the Jaguars will pursue wide receivers in the 27-to-29-year-old range this off-season as opposed to 33, so the chances are slim. If something could be worked out at a reasonable price for a short contract, though, Wayne does make a lot of sense. He's a dedicated player with strong work ethic and certainly would be a good influence around younger players. He also runs very precise routes, which would help Blaine Gabbert. Still, this one would be a surprise if it worked out.
Jason from Honolulu, HI:
Just wondering, does new owner with a lot of cash = pay raise for the senior writer?
John: So you were "just wondering," too?
Brian from Jacksonville:
Rick was on record for saying he wasn't into autographs. What's your stance and whose autograph, past or present, would you like to have in your collection? I very much agree with my predecessor.
John: I believe I have some autographs somewhere in storage from when I was a kid – I was one of the kids running around Sawgrass bugging golfers when the TPC was held there in the 1970s – but as a rule, I'm not a collector. I do, though, have one "autograph:" a Super Bowl XLI mini-helmet signed by Tony Dungy. I have that because of my respect for Dungy, and the level to which I value the relationship we had during my seven years covering him. We spent many hours talking football and I respect him as a friend and a man and more than I do a coach – and I respect him as a coach very much. The signature is on a helmet that my current boss, Dan Edwards, sent me shortly after the game. I had Dungy sign it before he left the Colts and I had him sign the Super Bowl helmet – and not a Colts helmet – because I wanted to remember Dungy and not the organization. Overall, I have little use for autographs, although I absolutely value the relationships and memories of players and coaches I have covered. The stories, interviews, memories and games are my autographs.
Josh from Harrisburg, PA:
Do you ever nap on the roof in place of your office to you know catch some rays?
John: That can be very dangerous where I work.
Jacob from Jacksonville:
To all the fans wanting a big-name coach, I ask this: Who "wants it more?" - a coach who has already won a Super Bowl, or one who never has? I'm not questioning the integrity of any of the "big name" coaches, but I imagine the internal drive to get that first Super Bowl victory to be unparalleled.
John: We have come at this from many angles and obviously will continue to do so. I don't know that having won a Super Bowl has too much effect on how much a guy wants it in the future. With some exceptions, coaches I've been around are incredibly driven and I haven't seen that many cases when I thought "want-to" was a significant factor in success or failure.
Houston from Aiken, SC:
You think you hate it now, wait until you drive it.
John: You see kids . . . a car . . .
Kevin from Jacksonville:
In regards to the idea of throwing games for the upcoming draft, does anyone consider the fact that half of this roster is playing for their lives? How could you tell even one of them to purposely give up? They have families that count on them. Play hard and have pride that you went out swinging. What do you think?
John: Anyone who thinks otherwise is detached from reality. That's why I didn't give much O-Zone space this season to the idea that the Colts or any other team were trying to lose to get Andrew Luck, and it's why I continue to write that the Jaguars won't be playing for draft position in the final two games – either their own or that of another team. If there was ever any doubt, the Colts' performance in the last two games should prove otherwise. The players and coaches involved with these teams aren't thinking about Andrew Luck or RG3 or anyone else. They're playing to win, and that's how it should and must be.
Josh from Jagsonville:
Luck/Colts question coming up, but I think it's a good one and a two-parter. For the last month, I have been reading questions about losing the rest of the games for higher picks, blah blah blah. I'm with you all the way: play to win and I want to beat the Titans and the Colts. But in the Colts' situation winning could be devastating to their long term future (not that I care). Now, I know they are in the NFL playing to win, but do think a small part of them wouldn't mind losing. Also if they did win and the Rams or Vikings got the No. 1 pick do you think either team would pick Luck (you have to, don't you?) being they both spent their recent No. 1 picks on their quarterback of the future. I know this isn't much of a Jag question, I just wanted your thoughts.
John: This is almost certain to be a week-long O-Zone theme, so we may as well keep diving in. Would the Colts like to be picking No. 1 in the April NFL Draft? Sure. But the reality is when it comes to quarterbacks or any other NFL player, you just don't know how that player will turn out – and yes, that includes a prospect as highly-regarded as Luck. You also don't know in December how that player will grade out in April. There's also no reason teams can't trade to get the player they want on draft day. In the Colts' situation, for example, if they beat the Jaguars and slip in the draft to No. 2, they could likely trade with the Rams – for example – to move up to No. 1 and take Luck if that's their desire. It might cost them a future first-round selection, but if Luck is indeed the end-all, wouldn't that be worth it? Also, you just don't know how the future will play out. As nonsensical as it now seems, when the Colts picked Manning in 1998, many thought they picked the wrong guy and that the Chargers made the better selection when they traded up to get Ryan Leaf with the No. 2 overall selection. The many who believed that were wrong, but at the time, no one knew. As for the Rams or the Vikings picking Luck, it's an intriguing question. If you've done the research and studied him and you think he's just that good, then you're obligated to take him, but as we just discussed, it's so hard to be sure on such things that it makes taking Luck for those teams a very, very difficult move.
Connor from Westborough, MA:
I get it now, John. All this talk of teams tanking for draft picks? I've seen the light, and it's unfathomable to me after seeing Thursday's performance by the Colts. Sure, fans could hope for it, and it might be in the best interests of the team in the future, but the game is played TODAY. These guys don't march onto the field thinking about some young gun that isn't even on the team yet, prospect of the century or not. They are thinking about playing to their highest level for whatever reason; as an audition for the future, to support their teammates to whom they are loyal as brothers, and to feel the inimitable sensation of victory at the end of the day. That's why they play the game. And as for the Colts potentially losing on the first pick, so what? I hope they bring it against the Jaguars, and I hope we fight tooth and nail right back to beat them, because there would be no better feeling than crushing our biggest rival in a well fought game, especially if it means heading into the off-season on a high note with our new owner. And it sure as hell would feel better than a silly draft pick.
John: That's the reality. Sometimes it's tough for people to grasp, but that doesn't make it not true.
Dave from Ada, OK:
I am preparing my beer and pickled eggs for Santa and was wondering what kind of beer does Santa drink?
John: Leave whatever you think best. If Santa's like me – fat, doughy and near the age of desperation – he won't turn it down.