Just the truth

Let's get to it . . . Stephen from Glorieta, NM:
Do you think internet accessibility for everyone to complain and moan is a good thing? Football is a game and is fun to watch. Does the negativity and the armchair coaching and General Managing ever get to you?
John: Negativity? What negativity?
James from Fleming Island, FL:
If we get invited for Hard Knocks, should we immediately sign TO and Ochocinco to give people something to talk about? Who are the real personalities on this team?
John: There are plenty of personalities on the Jaguars without signing players for the sole purpose of being personalities. Eben Britton. Maurice Jones-Drew. Mike Thomas. Clint Session. Terrance Knighton. Marcedes Lewis. Blaine Gabbert. Paul Posluszny. Jordan Palmer. Derek Cox. Jeremy Mincey. Justin Blackmon. There are more. Are they over-the-top guys who will make idiots out of themselves just to appeal to the lowest common denominator? No, but to football fans tuning in to Hard Knocks, I have no doubt they'd be compelling viewing.
Talha from Piscataway, NJ:
A while back I saw somewhere that Blackmon could be a bust. How do these so-called analysts come up with these assumptions?
John: I didn't see a whole lot of pre-draft speculation that Blackmon could be a bust. Most of the pre-draft concern around Blackmon was that he might not be worth a Top 5 or 10 selection because of concerns over his size and/or speed. I shared those concerns, to be honest, but the book on Blackmon always was that he would be a productive NFL player. The question among most analysts was whether he will be a franchise-defining receiver who would be that go-to "No. 1" guy you usually want with the Top 5 selection.
Dave from Jacksonville and Section 412:
When the Jags held the Saints to 22 points and the game was in question all the way through – that's when I knew they were a front line defense. They had scored at will against everyone else.
John: That's one of the games I think about when I talk about the Jaguars' defense passing the eye test last season. I've written before that it's debatable whether the defense was actually the sixth best in the NFL last season. When healthy, it was close to that and when it wasn't healthy, it struggled. What it did do pretty consistently was play well enough that had the offense been functional in the passing game the team would have had a chance to win. In this era of the NFL, that's what I want from a defense.
Brian from Mandarin, FL:
I hate ranking questions, so here it is. How important is it for the jags to straighten out the passing game? I'd say 10. How important would it be for MJD to be happy with his contract? Maybe a three? We won five games with him and we can win five games without him...simplistic? Yeah. It's also simplistic to say we tore up his contract once, twice is too much for me. That's the Jags' business; we shouldn't be upset one way or the other.
John: I hate ranking questions, too.
Rick from Tampa, FL:
"If Henne is better than Gabbert and leads the Jaguars to the postseason, Smith shouldn't get credit for that?"
John: That makes zero sense, comparing Gabbert to Henne. Gabbert cost the Jags a second-round pick and I am positive that Henne didn't cost near that. One was drafted and one was a free agent. Free agents IMO should not be looked at like draft picks. Zero sense? Smith's job is to build a team that wins, contends for the playoffs and eventually wins the Super Bowl. You acquire talent however you can and talent acquisition in the NFL – particularly through the draft – is a percentage game. Some selections work out. Some don't. Maybe Gabbert will go to multiple Pro Bowls and maybe he won't, but either way, if the Jaguars are playing in conference title games during the next five seasons with Henne at quarterback, you wouldn't say Smith has done his job? I'd say that makes zero sense. If Henne leads to the Jaguars to the playoffs, Smith absolutely should get at least some credit – mainly because if Jaguars didn't have a capable backup, Smith surely would get the blame for it.
David from Waxahachie, TX:
So, you think that athletes should make more money than say, a soldier who puts his/her life on the line every day?
John: Do I believe they should? Of course not. But until society stops watching sports and thereby placing value on sports celebrities, that's the world in which we live. In that world, under the rules in which we live, athletes deserve to make whatever they can because sports leagues are willing to pay them. It's not fair. Then again, many things in life aren't.
Leonard from Jacksonville:
How does a team deal with a player that does not attend mandatory workout meetings or functions?
John: It fines him.
Jason from Jacksonville:
MJD had a lot of carries last year —around 340 I believe. Is it possible that he is not at the OTAs because he needs a little more R&R from the heavy load last season? This could also be part of why he wants a new contract.
John: He rarely is at OTAs, so I don't know that his carries from last season is a huge factor. Jones-Drew knows his body, knows how to prepare and knows how much rest he needs. He will be prepared come training camp, and this will be, at most, a minor issue come August. I can't stress that enough. As far as the number of carries being why he wants a new contract, I don't see it. He wants a new contract for the same reason any player does. He has a limited amount of time to maximize his earning potential and wants to do that while he has the chance. In that sense, it's perfectly understandable he would want a new deal. He's entering his seventh season and won a rushing title last season. His market value likely will never be higher. From the Jaguars' perspective, the reason they gave him a long-term contract when they did was they wanted to sign him to a long-term deal so they wouldn't have to sign him again a few years later – and because when you give running backs contracts, you try to time it out so that you're getting the best years from that player during the contract. The Jaguars appear to have timed Jones-Drew's contract fairly well.
Jodi from Nashville, TN:
This will be Mel Tucker's fourth year as defensive coordinator for the Jags, what improvements do you expect to see in the defense over last year?
John: It's Tucker's fourth season as coordinator, but it's really only his second with full control over the defense. I'd expect the pass rush to be better this season, and if the secondary is healthy the entire season, I think the defense can be more consistent than it was last season. I don't know that you'll see it rank sixth statistically, necessarily, but that doesn't mean it won't be more effective.
Reality from Orange Park, FL:
How could experts believe Gabbert's struggling in OTA's if he isn't? I suppose it's possible that they have no credible reason for it, or for leading others to believe it. Your call on that would be "lazy." I hail from a strangely misinformed land where it would be called "lying," that or you and Smith are for whatever reason walking this franchise's faithful in to the buzz saw of national embarrassment should Gabbert come out and play as poorly as those experts said he's been demonstrating he would all along. As much as I hate to say it, you have made frequent mention of how "lazy" you tend to be.
John: You're right. The experts who haven't seen Gabbert at OTAs are a more accurate gauge than those who are there. Look, I don't know how Gabbert's going to play next year. I believe he's going to play better because I believe he's talented, I believe he's working hard and I believe if you're talented, work hard and have better people and coaching around you that that should lead to playing better. Could I be wrong? Sure. Anytime someone projects something that's a possibility. As for my motivation, as I've often said before, I have no incentive to write about Gabbert one way or the other. Some fans believe I have been too easy on him. Believe it or not, there were fans and players who believe I was too hard on him last season. I haven't spent much time worrying about whether I was hard or easy. My job is to answer questions and to try be as informative as I can with the information I have and with what I hear and see, and to try to fit it all in between my morning and afternoon nap.
Charles from Orange Park, FL:
O-Man, which is supposed to be worst, an MCL or an ACL injury?
John: ACL.
Kevin from Section 106:
How did you get into football? I know you said you were a Redskins fan growing up, but did you play during your youth as well?
John: I did not play football growing up, but I did play basketball at a remarkably low-flying, slow-footed level. I was a diehard Redskins fan and spent hours watching and reading about the game. I also spent hours breaking down statistics and doing what I could to analyze the game. Had fantasy football existed, I have no doubt I would have been into it as well. I then started covering sports for the Florida Times-Union, which naturally meant covering football. I started on high schools, then moved to the University of Florida beat before moving to the Jaguars beat. I have covered the NFL since 1995. That was my path to here, and now I write and talk about the NFL every day. I'm fortunate, and that's no quippy ending. Just the truth.

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