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Keep answering the phone

Let's get to it . . . Mark from High Springs, FL:
New rules call for a player to have three days of non-contact work before he's allowed to put on full pads. Blackmon signed on Tuesday. Can he play on Friday?
John: Actually, Blackmon's first day was Monday, so by rule, he could play Friday. Mike Mularkey said it's his call and he has decided Blackmon won't play against the Giants.
Sonny from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Can you give us a breakdown of how many players per position the Jaguars plan on keeping?
John: Mularkey has said a lot will depend on special teams, but there's usually not a dramatic variance from team to team. If I had to guess, I'd say the breakdown will be: quarterbacks (3), running backs (3), fullbacks (2), wide receivers (5), tight ends (3), offensive tackles (3), offensive guards (3), centers (2), defensive tackles (5), defensive ends (5), linebackers (6), cornerbacks (5), safeties (5), long snapper (1), kicker (1) and punter (1). You might see a variation or two depending on young players standing out on special teams, but those numbers will be close.
James from Jacksonville:
Where's MJD? Is he at camp? Is going to play for Jax this year?
John: 1.Somewhere else. 2.No. 3.He is if he wants to play in the National Football League.
Roger in Section 211:
I'd like your opinion on how MJD's holdout compares to Chris Johnson's holdout last season. Johnson was a few years younger, but also had two years left on his contract, correct? The Titans rewarded his holdout with a $55 million extension that included a $10 million bonus, then they declined to exercise their option to release him and save $17 million in guarantees after his pathetic performance last season. How much do you think MJD might be influenced by CJ2K's successful gambit that netted him a cool $10 million up front, and another $17 million after 302 rushing yards and one touchdown on 107 carries? MJD could do that in three games.
John: You got pretty deep into numbers, and that's understandable, but the key phrase was, "Johnson was a few years younger." Johnson at the time of his holdout was entering his fourth season and still in his first contract, so the Titans' motivation was to sign him and have him under contract for his prime years. Jones-Drew is entering his seventh season and is in his second contract. Rightly or wrongly, that difference is mammoth in the NFL. Jones-Drew may have many, many productive seasons left, but conventional wisdom is you don't give running backs huge, "core-player" contract extensions in Years 7-9 or so of a career. The other problem with the comparison is more simple. The common belief around the NFL is the Titans overpaid Johnson pretty dramatically, so that's not a contract the Jaguars want to use as any sort of a base.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
Do you think part of the reason why MJD is holding out is because he wants to be traded to a championship contender? I'm sure he's thinking about at least winning a championship before he hangs it up, and as much as I love the Jags, I think we're about 3-5 years away from realistically contending for the trophy.
John: I think Jones-Drew wants more money.
John from Jacksonville:
Last season, the philosophy for the defense was to simplify the schemes in order for the players to play "faster." In regards to the offense this season, it seems the coaches are installing a more complicated playbook/approach. Is it accurate that the Jaguars are trending in this direction? If so, does this make the offense "slower" if staying with the theory about the approach with the defense?
John: Not necessarily. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker indeed emphasized simplicity last year so the unit could play faster. His theory, and the belief of others who believe in playing simple defenses, is that if players don't have to think about scheme they can react to the ball quicker. That can be especially effective for a young defense that hasn't been together long. In the NFL, a half step makes a difference. Offensively, it's a little different. Players indeed will still play faster the better they know the offense, but because the offensive players should know the plays before they are run they should be able to run even complicated plays without overthinking. Now, obviously that theory depends on players knowing the offense well and it's likely that that process for the Jaguars will take some time. People familiar with Mularkey's offense have said as much. But once the system gets into place, and once players learn it, the offense shouldn't be slower.
Scot from Section 122:
My wife asked me a question and all I could tell her was, "they fly." She wanted to know how does the team travel to their away games? Do they have their own plane? Fly commercial? Charter? etc?
John: The Jaguars charter a big, big plane. I sit in coach.
Matt from Bloomington, IN:
Let me premise this by saying I fully support Gene Smith, I believe in Blaine Gabbert, and I want Blackmon to be great for us. But, Blackmon didn't even know the details of the contract that has left him behind in camp. That, added with the DUI, is seriously making me question his maturity and responsibility, which is making me seriously question the pick. If he turns out to be a flop and Gabbert doesn't become an elite quarterback, then Gene Smith's days are numbered, right?
John: Smith, like any general manager and/or coach, needs to win. Let me put it this way: if Gabbert is awful and Blackmon is a bust and the Jaguars play in the AFC Championship Game, do you think Shad Khan is going to say, "Thanks for the successful season, Gene. Now, hit the road?" Of course not. Now, the performance of Blackmon and Gabbert obviously is important and if they play well, it's easier to envision the Jaguars winning, but a lot of factors go into a general manager's performance. Also, don't read much into Blackmon saying he didn't know much about the contract. He gained nothing by discussing contract details, so he chose not to do so.
James from Socorro, NM:
Michael Lombardi of NFL Network was reporting live from Jaguars Training Camp and stated that Gabbert has been awful and Henne has been "lights-out." In addition, Gabbert threw for 25 yards during the scrimmage, despite it actually being about four times that with a 120 QB rating. Also, I am intrigued about this "Rashard Mathis" individual, is he a rookie free agent? Kidding aside, this is what the national media is feeding the average fan.
John: Not that he needs it, but I sort of went out of my way to give Lombardi the benefit of the doubt this past offseason when he wrote about Gabbert. If he truly thinks Gabbert has been awful and Henne has been "lights out," his benefits may have expired.
Mark from Jacksonville:
The Jags are in Year 4 of the Smith rebuild. Looking at the schedule, they appear to be an 8-8 team in a bad division. Is this a successful rebuild?
John: That depends on how they look this season. If they're 8-8 and showing clear signs of being a young, improving roster, then I'd say it's the right step of a successful rebuild. Remember, it can be dangerous to overreact and patience often is rewarded. Many, many Texans fans wanted Gary Kubiak fired many times before 2011.
Scott from Jacksonville:
Matt Stafford is the new king of the chuck-and-duck. Nobody is complaining after he threw for over 5000 yards, though.
John: No, they are not.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
I understand quarterbacks have to be smart, especially when the franchise is riding on their backs. But the chuck-and-duck or self sack made so popular by the Manning brothers is sort of like sliding when they are on the run. It almost feels like they are cheating the spirit of a violent game. Especially when offensive linemen and fullbacks are throwing their bodies in harm's way to protect the quarterback on a regular basis. It's sickening to watch a quarterback self sack when they could have made a play for their team because they don't want to get hit. Maybe I'm just old school, but I have more respect for guys like John Elway who are willing to take a helicopter hit as they dive for the end zone than I do for the self sack guys of today's game.
John: Respect who you want to respect, but all of those players who are throwing their bodies in harm's way are doing so because they want to win. Ask Colts players on last year's team if they would rather have had a healthy Peyton Manning avoiding a major collision or a brave one standing in the face of a rush and missing games.
Joe from Jacksonville:
If MJD decides to hold out into the preseason & season, what other options will the front desk take?
John: I'm sure they will keep answering the phones and patching calls through just as they always do.

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