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Leaving a little mystery

Happy Thanksgiving. OK. That's that.

Let's get to it . . . Carson from Jacksonville:
Irrelevant as it seems, there are a number of your (daft) readers who feel that Gabbert has played better than Cam Newton this season. What are your thoughts?
John: I'd stop short there. Newton has played well for the most part – certainly better than many believed he would, including me. All reports and evidence are that he is a dynamic player whose teammates believe in him, and he has been productive for the most part as a rookie. Gabbert has shown signs of those attributes, but not on as consistent a basis as Newton.
Sean from San Bernardino, CA:
I want to say that if the fans don't see that Gabbert is progressing as the weeks have gone by, then they are as blind as Helen Keller. I saw a few plays where he ACTUALLY stepped up into the pocket and threw a strike. First time all year I saw that from him. He's going to be solid next year.
John: I see it, too. That's what you want to see.
Charlie from St. Augustine, FL:
If an official reviews a play and rules the call on the field was correct when video replay shows the call should be over turned, is there anything the team that asked for the review can do? One example is the pass interference call in the Cleveland game, when the video replay showed the pass being tipped by defensive line.
John: No. Once it's reviewed, the decision is final. I agree with you that the call should have been overturned Sunday. The defense of the league and the official is it was hard to see the hand actually hit the ball on replay and it was hard to prove beyond shadow of a doubt that a tip caused the ball to wobble. I don't buy it, but that's the argument.
David from Kingsland, GA:
By the way, according to Vic the correct way to say it is "times out," not timeouts. He loved to point this out to readers regularly. Just one more thing we have all learned reading this great column! Keep up the good work!
John: Technically, my predecessor is right. But you know what? I like saying timeouts. I'm comfortable with it. It sounds good to me and I don't have to think about it when I do it. Also, when I write it in Microsoft Word I don't get a little squiggly red line beneath it. Doesn't that mean something?
Matt from Stroudsburg:
You say that it is very rare for a single player to come into an NFL locker room and make a huge impact to help the team (i.e. the Colts losing games to take Luck compared to LeBron). In the Jaguars scenario, however, it seems to me that if the Jags get the opportunity and draft Blackmon, this team is drastically better. Think about how much better a team the Jags would be this year with him in the starting lineup. We most certainly wouldn't have lost this many games with him outside.
John: On paper, yes. And if the Jaguars would take Blackmon and improve, it would be pointed to as the sole reason. The reality would more likely be that the players on the roster, including the quarterback, improved, and that other young players played better together. It's just very rare that one player can be accurately pointed to as a reason for a dramatic improvement. That's particularly true of a young player. That said, the Jaguars would improve by being better at the receiver position. No argument there.
Limo Bob from Neptune Beach, FL:
Cleveland is the first game I remember seeing Gabbert strongly discussing misplays with his wide receivers. Is this a good sign?
John: I'd take it as such because I'd take it to mean he has enough grasp of the offense to be confident immediately when discussing plays.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
Blaine isn't going to get tougher until he gets his Pamela Anderson blonde locks cut off. You are going to cringe and run like a girl if you have hair like a girl. I say he shaves an old school mohawk, John Riggins style. I think it will improve his toughness in the pocket.
John: I once had long hair, too, and I didn't start cringing and running like a girl until far later.
Joe from Jacksonville:
John, why oh why are the Jaguars keeping Eben Britton on the roster? Doesn't Michael Cheever come to mind? Britton hasn't done a thing for this team.
John: Britton is on IR. You keep him around because he's a second-round drafted talent who is going through an injury situation. Maybe he doesn't come back, or maybe he does, but you don't risk much by keeping him and if he's healthy he can certainly help you.
Greg from Jacksonville:
Just wondering, we allowed three players to leave in free agency, Gerald Sensabaugh, Reggie Nelson, and Justin Durant, all of whom are starting for some pretty good defenses in the league. Then we sign three players (Session, Landry and Lowery) in the same positions to start on our defense. Why not keep our players? Money should be similar in either case. That's what free agency is all about, right?
John: The Jaguars determined the players they released weren't helping, and believed the players they signed would be better fits. The three players signed have made pretty significant contributions to a defense that has played pretty well all season.
John from Jacksonville:
Honestly, how do you do it? Fans beg for the O-Zone but complain when you publish your answers. An O-Zone even on weekends and they'll complain it's too much. An O-Zone only on weekdays and they'll complain it's not enough. They don't like your body language, your grammar, you're being too tough or too easy. They complain about the pre-season being too long, but then complain during the season. They complain when the season ends. They complain about the too predictable run play that was called then complain about the pass play. They complain everything Del Rio knowing that Del Rio can't complain back. They complain it's players not plays and then complain it's plays not players. They complain about this player and that player and whether or not the flyover messed their hair up. I can't take it. I want to keep reading but the fans are so critical and I bet these are the same fans that can't take any criticism back. In fact, I constantly see it when they post a critical comment, someone criticizes their comment, and then they get mad. Bottom line is these fans would never coach better, play better, or write better than the weakest link in the franchise and that's why they are fans. Just enjoy sport people, win or lose, and be a loyal fan.
John: Fans are fans and people are people. I've been covering sports a long time. If I didn't understand now that fans are fans I'd probably be better off doing something else – and as you infer, there are those who believe that to be the case.
Wayde from Santa Ana:
With the playoffs all but out of reach, would it be beneficial to start some of the second-string receivers in the place of Jason Hill?
John: I don't know that you need to overturn the lineup and change starters, but there's no reason not to see what you have in the younger players. The beginnings of that occurred last week when Jarett Dillard and Chastin West moved into backup receiver roles. There's a limit to how much you can really do that in the NFL at some positions. There are 46 players active and most of them play a role, either starter or as a backup.
Tristian from Crystal River, FL:
PLEASE stop saying "four shots" into the end zone means four throws. It's driving me crazy. You have the option to either run or pass on the 4th down play, and the defense knows it. Just like we did on our 3rd down play. The only difference is, oh what do you know, an extra down. Can you just admit you're wrong here?
John: You're right. On the fourth-down play they would have had the option. What the Jaguars were trying to do was get the run-or-pass option twice. Had the offense gotten to the line as quickly as it should have, the Jaguars could have had run-pass option on first down and on fourth. Again, the main point I've attempted to make is the failure of the offense to get the play off quickly is what went wrong rather than the not using the timeout. But if it makes you feel better to believe that's wrong, have at it.
Andrew from Jacksonville:
Magic Hat or Sweetwater? The Beatles or Stones? Grits or Hashbrowns? Southpark or Family Guy? Boxers or Briefs?
John: Magic Hat, but not by much. Beatles. Grits. Family Guy. As for the final question, I'll leave a little mystery. Some things the readers don't need – or want – to know.

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