Let's get to it . . . Erik from Bridgeport:
Thank you for posting the comments by Bryan from Charlottesville. It is important to know young people are not perfect and will make mistakes. What matters is how you learn to be a well-adjusted person by learning from your mistakes. Bryan's comments help us realize Justin Blackmon has a good head on his shoulders and a good heart and shouldn't be judged by something many people in this country do in their youth.
John: One thing I try to remember on a daily basis is players are people, which means they are multidimensional. Often, because they are public figures, we in the media and sports fans forget this, and define a player by one action, incident or impression. That's understandable, because all we usually see of players is a few actions, or how they are in the locker room or on the field. And as is the case with all of us, just because players err doesn't mean they are horrible people with no redeeming qualities. Yes, Blackmon is a person who obviously made a mistake and may still need to mature, but that's true of many people his age and it doesn't paint his entire picture.
Joey from Yukon, Canada:
This team has let me down so many times that I don't want to get worked up about an upcoming season anymore. I don't think I am alone on this. I just want to say I am proud that the Jags are my team.
John: Remind me not to invite you to my party.
Perry from Orange Park, FL:
I know kickers don't have a monumental impact on the game, but it seems a little unfair not to give credit where it's due in regards to the Hall of Fame. Players who are among the best to ever play their position should be entitled to a bust. Even kickers.
John: Yes, they should. The problem is once it comes down to a vote each February, it just gets hard to convince enough people in the room that a kicker merits going in over a position player. It's not fair, but it's how it is.
Ben from Slime City:
You were around offseasons with one the most potent offenses in the last 10 years. How far away is this team based on the little bit you've seen so far? Do you think Rashad Jennings is ready for a heavier workload? Can he set the tone like MJD or is he still just a backup? Are you concerned with depth at linebacker and O-line?
John: You can't compare the Jaguars' offense now with the Colts' offense with Peyton Manning. Certainly not yet. That was an offense with a Hall of Fame quarterback and through much of the time I covered them, the team also established prime talent at every skill position. It also was an offense that had been together for multiple seasons. What you're looking for from the Jaguars' offense next season is movement in that direction and significant improvement in the second half of the season. There's every reason to believe you'll see that. Remember, offensive efficiency means the ability to work together and know what people around you are doing, and that takes time and game experience together. Jennings is absolutely ready for the workload and can set the tone, but he must prove he can stay healthy. That's a major task. As for depth at linebacker, Russell Allen is a very good backup and we'll wait until the pads go on to evaluate Brandon Marshall. I like the depth on the offensive line more than most. Guy Whimper, Cameron Bradfield, John Estes and Jason Spitz figure to be backups. With Whimper healthy, all four should be able to play if needed for a short stretch and not have a huge dropoff.
Roger B from Section 204 and Cherryville, NC:
I think the overall media treatment of Jacksonville and the Jaguars is the perfect platform to develop a "testy" "IT'S US AGAINST THE WORLD" attitude. It could be extremely positive and bonding between all parties, players, coaches and all Jaguar fans. What do you think?
John: If the Jaguars start winning, I believe a healthy us-against-them approach will develop. Without winning, it's difficult to have much of a unified approach about anything.
Sean from San Bernadino, CA:
I have never witnessed so much disrespect for a rushing champion and a player who carried over 50 percent of the offense as you have given in the O-zone. With your opinion in mind, Adrian Peterson , who's going on his sixth season, wouldn't be worth an extension in the same scenario? I don't like the disrespect you seem to have for Jones-Drew's effectiveness on the field and what he has meant to this team. I do not like it one bit John.
John: I absolutely respect Jones-Drew, and if you read back over last season's O-Zones, you'll see that most fawn over what I believed to truly be a remarkable season. The effort he gave and what he endured was extraordinary and it was truly one of the notable seasons in franchise history. Will he be the same going forward? I have no idea. History is not kind to running backs who have had as many carries as Jones-Drew has had, and that makes paying him more and extending him a risky proposition. I merely have stated that there are very sound reasons for the Jaguars not to renegotiate a contract with two years remaining. This also has become a league where you have to be careful how much you pay running backs – even ones who are among the best at their position. There are many NFL observers who will tell you the Vikings and Titans made mistakes giving Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, respectively, huge deals – and they were younger at the time than Jones-Drew is now. For Jones-Drew's sake, I hope he makes every penny he can. He's one of the great players in franchise history and is truly a special player. But that doesn't mean the Jaguars are wrong to not renegotiate.
Jodi from Jacksonville:
Nothing serious here, I was just wondering why coach Mularkey chooses to wear long sleeves, even sweat shirts during the practices. This is based on the pictures that I've seen and I was wondering if he was somehow trying to prepare for the Florida heat along with the players.
John: I noticed this, too, and it reminded me of my childhood friend, Brian. Growing up in Arlington in the 1970s, Brian developed a theory one summer that he could become "immune to heat." Bravely ignoring the skepticism of his peers, he tackled this concept by wearing long sleeves and pants, warm caps and garbage bags. He did this briefly, and soon enough he appeared in shorts and short sleeves. As best I recall, when asked what happened to the theory his reply – much like Kramer and his levels project – was that it was possible, he just had chosen not to pursue the matter further. As I wrap up this admittedly self-indulgent, off-topic answer, I realize this doesn't answer your question about Mularkey. Maybe he just likes a good sweat.
John from Gloucestershire, England:
I think the biggest influence in Blaine Gabbert's performance this year will be Justin Blackmon, who seems to have that rare talent for catching those "ugly" throws that all quarterbacks make when under pressure - slightly behind or too high/low. In his rookie season many of those throws resulted in dropped passes and drew heavy criticism quite rightly from the media. From what you have witnessed in mini-camp has Gabbert shown improvement in his throwing technique and accuracy?
John: Gabbert seems to have improved the technique in his drops, which should make his overall technique more consistent. That should lead to increased accuracy. As for the biggest influence on Gabbert's performance, I agree that Blackmon will help, but Gabbert's own maturity, experience and the work he has done in the offseason may have the biggest influence. People seem to overlook that Gabbert is a true talent who was the No. 10 overall selection in the NFL Draft. If things develops as they should, it should be Blackmon benefitting from Gabbert more than it is the other way around. That's no knock on Blackmon. It's just the nature of the game.
Cedrick from Jacksonville:
When does a player like John Estes stop being a "jar on the shelf" and become an impact player? Going into his third year, I'd expect him to be a little closer to succeeding Meester as our starting center if the Jags truly "like" him so much.
John: How much closer to succeeding Meester do you want him to be? He's the backup center. Would it help if the Jaguars made the space on the depth chart smaller so Estes' name was closer to Meester's? As for when he stops being a jar on the shelf and becomes an impact player, my guess is it will happen when Meester retires.
Brandon from Jacksonville:
John you had us all worried not posting the O-Zone till the end of the day Friday. Were you holding out for more money?
John: Holding out? You don't hold out in my position. You hold on. And, baby, am I holding on.
Just holding on
Let's get to it . . . Erik from Bridgeport: