Let's get to it . . . Manuel from Jacksonville:
I don't know much NFL history, please enlighten me. I understand Los Angeles has had the Rams and the Raiders, and had both at one point of time. How come LA has not been able to keep an NFL franchise? Was it lack of support, outdated facilities or what?
John: The problems in Los Angeles have been many, but it hasn't necessarily been as simple as lack of support. In essence, Los Angeles has run into a lot of the problems many California cities have run into with the NFL – i.e., difficulty providing stadiums capable of retaining NFL teams. The Rams moved from Anaheim in 1995 because the stadium there was falling behind in terms of being able to generate revenue. The Raiders had a long, storied history of disputes with both Oakland and Los Angeles under the late Al Davis, but dissatisfaction with the outdated Coliseum was chief among the reason for the Raiders' move from Los Angeles. I don't know that it's correct to say Los Angeles is a bad market for football, but California in recent years has certainly been a tougher place to get a viable stadium situation established than most of the rest of the country.
Eddie from Flowery Branch, GA:
Is there any chance the Jaguars' Caravan will get any closer to the Atlanta, Ga., area? Preferably the Gainesville / Flowery Branch Ga. area this summer?
John: Not this year. The 2012 Caravan schedule is pretty set, and it is focused on Florida and Southeast Georgia. I doubt the Caravan would get too close to Atlanta. That's Falcons territory, and the Jaguars' focus right now is establishing their own regional market.
John from Gloucestershire, England:
Marcedes Lewis looks to have secured one of the tight end spots on the roster but who in your opinion deserves the other TE role-Cloherty or the injury prone Miller? Which has looked more impressive in OTAs?
John: Zach Miller is the backup tight end. While he missed much of the season last year with injuries, he actually missed comparatively little time before that, and the Jaguars continue to believe he can be a viable option in the passing game.
Steve from Fleming Island, FL:
If an onside kick is deemed a "dangerous play" wouldn't a pass over the middle kind of be dangerous also? What about a run up the middle between two 320-pound linemen? That sounds dangerous to me. I thought we were trying to get away from Pro Bowl type games? We have always been told that football players need to make a lot of money because it is a dangerous game and careers are short. If all danger is removed from the sport then I would expect salaries to plummet.
John: The onside kick was deemed dangerous by the league because more and more, kicking teams were lining up on one side of the kicker or the other and running a line of players full speed at the opponent to try to blast them off the ball and create an opportunity for a recovery. It was an effective play, but highly dangerous. Ask anyone who had been near such a play about the force of impact. As for your point on salaries, football players make a lot of money because this is a supply-demand based country. There is a short supply of people who can do what they do at their level and there is a high demand. The military, firefighting, police work and coalmining are all dangerous, too, but they don't make the money professional athletes do because people aren't willing to pay it.
Chuck from Deland, FL:
MJD is expendable. Don't give him a new contract. He's just a running back – a very good one yes, but still just a running back. For what the game has become, I would put money on Rashad Jennings being effective enough to make the offense work with or without Jones-Drew.
John: I'm a big believer that on a leaguewide basis running back has been devalued, but specific to Jones-Drew, I don't think it's fair to say you can just swap out any back and have him be as effective. He gets yards where other backs might not, and at the moment, he is critical to the Jaguars' offense. Considering his workload and that he is entering his seventh season, it's fair to ask how effective he will be in 2014 – the year after his current contract expires – but for right now, it would be a pretty significant stretch to say the offense would be just as good with Jennings. And I say that as someone who thinks Jennings has a chance to be pretty good.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Let's get back to some football questions. Since the change to the onside kick was implemented to where you are not allowed to stack one side and must have at least four players on each side of the kicker, are you allowed to stack the middle of the field next to the kicker? Or is there another rule that states so many players must be outside the hash-marks?
John: The new onside rule in essence means you can't have more than five players bunched together pursuing an onside kick. It doesn't really matter where it is on the field.
Mike from Jacksonville:
I remember Vic saying, "don't let the facts get in the way of a good story." In the sports world, entertainment is the business. If a cheap shot at a city which few care about is entertaining, so be it. I'm just not sure fact checking every article in which Jacksonville is mentioned will do much to raise this city's status among outsiders. The constant whining about respect kind of makes us an easier target.
John: Be bigger than your critics. To do otherwise is to sink to their level and encourage them to be more critical and juvenile than before. Besides, these things often depend on how a team is doing on the field. The jokes about the Buccaneers largely stopped when they stopped losing 10 games every year. When the Jaguars were making the playoffs and getting to the conference championship game you know what Jacksonville was? An uplifting story. When the Jaguars have been losing and struggling to make the playoffs, they're an easy target. Win, and you're uplifting again. You're the comeback city. Lose, and you're a target. It's just the way it is.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
Armand got me thinking a little. What if you came into a game and had 10 offensive linemen go down in a freak sequence of injuries? Would a team forfeit? Has any NFL game ever been forfeited? Or would they start plugging in backup defensive linemen and try to function? That seems impossible at that level.
John: What if aliens came down and took all of your linebackers to Hurricane's for dollar drafts and quesadillas? What if the earth caught on fire? When players get hurt, you put backups in. When backups get hurt, you move guys from other positions and do the best you can. Let's not get out of hand with scenarios.
Scott from Jacksonville:
Please tell me that all the money being spent on the locker room upgrades is being spent on the home locker room. No upgrades for visitors?
John: The current renovations involve only the home locker room.
Ramses from Norfolk:
If we have solid play at QB, do you think we have the tools for an offensive explosion this year? I'm talking a top ten unit.
John: I think the Jaguars have the tools to be improved. As far as ranking, I doubt they will rank that high – not necessarily that the talent is not there, but I expect there to be an early-season transition as the offensive players become accustomed to Mike Mularkey's offense and as Blaine Gabbert continues to mature. I expect the Jaguars' offense to be a lot better in the second half of the season, but as for an overall season ranking, I'd be surprised if the Jaguars are in the Top 10. This year.
Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I am stunned that Blaine Gabbert's hair is still an issue. (See Andrew from St. Augustine) As a guy growing up in the late 70's, if you had short hair you were either a world class dweeb or your dad was stuck in the 50's. Have we regressed back into a parallel universe where it's 1957 and every guy has a flat top? When Blaine has a great year, will it be because he got a hair cut? Really?
John: Generally speaking, I agree with you. Your humble senior writer has had hair of varying lengths throughout his life, even sporting an ill-advised pony tail during the early days of the Jaguars. Were he performing well last season, the length of Gabbert's hair would have been not an issue. Because he struggled, and because of the circumstances, I liked that he returned this off-season with shorter hair, if only to perhaps eliminate that as a possible source of criticism, and to perhaps indicate a level of seriousness. If he plays well this season, he can grow his hair to his knees and wear a skirt and most Jaguars fans would be fine with it.
Marion from Section 437:
Dude, thanks for making me laugh almost every day. I am happy to be counted as one of your peeps! ;)
John: That's the difference between you and me, Marion. You laugh every day and I usually just cry.
Laughing every day
Let's get to it . . . Manuel from Jacksonville: