We're Mobile, Ala.-bound. Senior Bowl time. We'll check in later.
Let's get to it . . . Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Suppose the Colts released 18 and he became a free agent? Would you spend the money on him knowing he is going to give you a ten-win season if healthy? I mean it's Peyton Manning?
John: It's an unbelievably tempting and unique situation, one many teams will have to discuss more than perhaps they might have first thought. Even teams that have what they considered solid quarterback situations almost certainly would have to have some meetings and discuss it. During those meetings, I have no doubt that some ordinarily pragmatic people will get very, very excited and rethink their situations. Remember, the last time Manning played he wasn't just playing at a high level; he was playing at a level close to as high as anyone ever has played. He also, as you say, is capable of changing the dynamics of a franchise. On the other hand, all of that said, he hasn't played in a year and there isn't much certainty around his health moving forward. I'm not sure there ever has been a situation quite like it; it will be fascinating to watch.
Kenny from San Diego, CA:
What are the chances that the Jaguars would be able to land both Marques Colston and Mario Williams? Those two signings would improve this team immensely, and I would be extremely happy if they happened, assuming there is enough space to at least address any other glaring depth issues. Am I just dreaming or can this happen?
John: If those players are available, I'd expect there's a good chance the Jaguars will be in the mix. Beyond that, free agency is hard to predict.
Dustin from Jacksonville:
I have a problem with getting a quarterback to help mentor Blaine Gabbert. I want our backup quarterback to want a shot at the start. If you just want a mentor, hire a quarterback as an assistant quarterback coach and keep a competitive backup. Not only would it push Gabbert, but as you pointed out, injuries are unpredictable.
John: The term "mentor" is a bit overused in this discussion, and I don't know that it's the exact right word. When Bob Bratkowski talked about a veteran, the example he used was Jon Kitna, who played a season for Cincinnati when Carson Palmer was a rookie. Kitna is a player capable of playing well as a starter, but when Palmer was ready to start, Kitna assumed a backup's role. I doubt that Kitna spent his time in Cincinnati after Palmer moved into the lineup trying to digress. Rather, I imagine that he kept competing with the knowledge that in the NFL, situations often change dramatically. Most NFL players, even backup quarterbacks, are by nature competitive, and even if a player is backing up Gabbert there's no reason he can't have competitive drive.
Tyler from Jacksonville and Section 204:
So O-man, could you tell us a little more about our new OC Bob Bratkowski? What are his philosophies regarding play calling? How do you think his offense will compare to that of Dirk Koetter's?
John: Bratkowski, like Mike Mularkey, believes in an offense that emphasizes the run and that can also produce yards in chunks in the passing game. It's hard to compare the schemes, because I believe there are things Koetter would have done with different personnel and if he had had Gabbert at a different stage of his career. I think you'll see the Jaguars continue to favor the run next season, but when Bratkowski was in Cincinnati as offensive coordinator he had no problem passing early and often when Carson Palmer was developing as a Pro Bowl quarterback.
Jodi from Fleming Island, FL:
Mr. Khan appears to be having fun with his new toy. I am assuming he has a lot to learn about how things really work in the NFL behind the scenes?
John: Let's be clear about something regarding Shad Khan. Is he enjoying being the Jaguars' owner? Absolutely. Why shouldn't he? If I owned an NFL team, I'd be pretty happy, too. But let's not buy into some notion that he is treating the Jaguars like a toy. Khan in the two months since he has been publicly associated with the Jaguars has worked diligently to understand what's needed to succeed in his position. If you think about how much has to be learned in any new situation – then throw in the process of learning the ins and outs of the NFL culture – you understand the difficulty of his task the last eight or so weeks. He had to learn all that while also in the process of hiring a head coach and determining the tone and structure of the organization moving forward. As I've said before, I don't pretend to know Mr. Khan on a detailed, personal level, but I do feel comfortable in assuring you that as far as learning how things really work behind the scenes, that's a process he is approaching with the same seriousness that enabled him to be one of the nation's most successful businessmen – and that's a good start in his ownership career.
Christopher from Columbus, GA:
I am a little puzzled about not bringing Byner back as running backs coach. I remember reading an article about how he has coached Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson to rushing titles in two of the past three seasons. Jones-Drew was the one bright spot on offense, and I have to believe Byner had something to do with Jones-Drew setting the franchise record for rushing yards and winning the rushing title (even without a passing game). I do not know anything about Croom, but I thought Byner would be a logical choice to bring back (just like most of the defensive staff). Can you shed some light on why the Jags would not try to retain him?
John: Position coaches always are tricky to analyze, and running back sometimes is the most difficult. First, let me say I like Earnest Byner and obviously to have coached two rushing champions in three years he must have been doing something right. That said, I've never put a whole lot of stock into how much influence a running backs coach really has on a running back's rushing yardage. The running backs coach's responsibility often has more to do with teaching blocking schemes and the running back's role in the passing game than it has to do with how to run the football. There are many, many running backs who can run effectively given the opportunity; the difference in most running backs playing in the league and not is their ability to block, catch and function within the rest of the offense.
Courtenay from Jacksonville:
I just wanted to say, on the subject of Boselli, that he was really great to watch. He also had a bit of a mean streak much like Ndamukong Suh. I miss watching that guy.
John: He was, and he did. The mean streak was what made Boselli more than just a great pass-blocking left tackle.
Julie from Wahiawa, HI:
Hey O-man, I've been wondering, with David Tyree's amazing catch in the super bowl a few years ago, why is he out of football? What happened there?
John: One play doth not a career make. This is a competitive business with young players entering the league every season. That means that even for a Super Bowl hero it's difficult to carve out a long-term NFL career.
Steve from Columbus, GA:
How many fans have written to you suggesting that Blaine Gabbert skip the offseason and start working immediately on next season? I'm sure many of these people happily volunteer their weekends and vacations to keep working after a year's worth of hard work. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that Coach Mularkey would rather have Blaine use this time to rest, reflect and prepare himself for next season rather than working with another unknown coach after going through three in a twelve-month span.
John: You're probably right, and for now, I think we may close the book on this topic for a while. Much was made during the season about the need for Gabbert to improve in the off-season, and he is well aware of the need to do so. The off-season program starts in April. Whatever he does or doesn't do between now and then, that will be when his process truly begins.
Lee from Section 211:
Teams cannot talk to other players from other teams until the start of free agency? I almost spit out my coffee on that one, O-Man. Like the Redskins really didn't have any conversations with Albert Haynesworth and his agent prior to the start of free agency. They must have just pulled a number out of their butt and it was the same number that Albert was looking for? Reality is that we're neck-deep in Tampering Season, and teams are already talking behind the scenes to agents of players they'd like to sign.
John: Just passing along the rule, Lee-man. Just passing along the rule.
Josh from Section 106:
Twice, in the last two days, I have laughed out loud reading your responses. Great job. Keep up the good work.
John: I'm glad I can keep you and Lee entertained.