Game-day O-Zone. Woo-woo.
Let's get to it . . .
Jim from Jacksonville:
Given you say it is rare for rookies to contribute immediately in a substantial way, how do you explain the high proportion of success some of the rookie quarterbacks are having this year?
John: I would say Andy Dalton and to a degree, Cam Newton, are having success as rookies this season. I don't know that I'd call it a high proportion of success. Newton is playing better in the NFL in a lot of ways than many believed he would when they projected it this time last year. He improved pretty dramatically from the end of his college season in terms of his passing mechanics, and scouts have told me he made another jump from pre-draft workouts to the start of the season. He clearly has a chance to be special, though I still don't know that I'd call 2-7 a huge amount of success. Dalton is also playing well and the Bengals are winning. I don't know that there's an "explanation" beyond that they are playing well. Some play well quickly. Others need time and the correct circumstances to develop.
Mike from Orange Park, FL:
The Jags are in the second year of a three-year rebuilding process. What's so difficult to understand that progress this year isn't necessarily measured in wins and losses? Especially considering the starting quarterback is a rookie who expected to carry a clipboard when the abbreviated season was to begin? It's so easy to be entertained by Jones-Drew and Mincey, by a bad defense turned very good in one season, or a kicker who's as automatic from as far as the Jags need him to be as anyone in the league. If the offense improves as much next year as the defense did this year, sorta like on the original schedule, what will there be left to complain about then?
John: People will find something. And way to keep that glass half full. Keep bringing it.
Austin from Waycross, GA:
Hi there! First off this has nothing to do with Jags or NFL but I was watching Oklahoma State versus Iowa State Friday night and I noticed every FBS coach has a smokin' hot coed following them around. Can you shine some light on this?
John: FBS coaches are either very smart or very fortunate.
Kelvin from Orange Park, FL:
In a production-based business like the great NFL, aren't wins and losses all that matter? I don't think style points count. I'm a transplant to the state of Florida so Tebow mania is not my thing but for now, the Broncos are 4 and 1 with him as a starter and that's all that really counts isn't it John?
John: Absolutely, and for now, there's no denying the Broncos' Polarizing Experiment has been a successful one. I would caution that the Broncos' offense scored seven points on Thursday and that in over time, the Polarizing Experiment must find a way to be more consistent and complete passes downfield – I'd caution that, but supporters of the Polarizing Experiment probably wouldn't listen. Perhaps the Polarizing Experiment will improve as a passer and prove his doubters wrong. Unless that happens, I just don't see it as a long-term, playoff-level success.
Mike from Jacksonville:
The problem with signing Gene Smith to a contract extension, among others, is that he is tied to Gabbert. Smith will stay with Gabbert for the next three-to-four years to prove that the pick was right. A new GM would make a decision based solely on Gabbert's performance. I don't have any confidence in Smith, so I'm seeing four more years of 8-8 quality team with a chance to make playoffs coming only from playing in a bad division.
John: You have the right to be wrong, and I'll even post the email. You, like many, seem bound and determined to judge Gabbert based on a half a season. If there is no improvement next season, with an improved receivers corps and time to fix other things going wrong in the passing game, then I'll worry about the Jaguars sticking with Gabbert too long. Until then, Gabbert is what rookie quarterbacks are – a work in progress.
Austin from San Antonio, TX:
Can you see Urban Meyer ever coaching in the NFL? I think that if he and Tebow were to get back together that they would make a fierce duo. Heck, even if he went to the Jaguars I'm sure he would not only help get wins, but help improve ticket sells.
John: I cannot, at least not successfully. Meyer's spread option offense, though successful in college football, is a difficult system to run in the NFL – if not impossible. It exposes the quarterback to injury and depends largely upon having players who are better athletes than the defensive players they face. In the NFL, the speed and athleticism and physicality of the defense would make running that system very difficult if not impossible. Those factors also would eventually take their toll on a quarterback running it. Just as it will surprise me if the Polarizing Experiment has long-term NFL success, it would surprise me if Meyer tried NFL coaching and it would surprise me more if the system were successful. Because of that, I don't think you'd see it improve ticket sales on any sort of a meaningful, long-term basis.
Keith from DeLeon Springs, FL:
Have to give my two cents on Tebow. He is the worst NFL QB I have seen. Having said this I have come to like him and he seems like a genuinely nice kid. To me the sad part is the weird expectations that have been bestowed upon him by his fans and media. He is not a great NFL quarterback and is not a prophet sent here by God Almighty to win football games in Colorado. He is a good Christian kid who was a great college football player. . . . They are winning in spite of him not because of him, it reminds me of Vince Young's rookie season. The Titans won a bunch of games and all you saw was highlights of his two or three good plays, not the horrible passes and decisions he was making. . . .When the Titans started losing games because of his poor play everybody turned on him, I hope Tebow does not suffer the same fate.
John: The Young comparison is a valid one. The Polarizing Experiment indeed is a fascinating figure, with people seeming desperate to prove he's terrible or prove he's great. I don't think he's a long-term winning NFL quarterback, and I don't agree with fans who currently believe the Jaguars were wrong not to take him in the first round of the draft last year. He is interesting, though, and people are sure watching.
Robert from Chicago, IL:
Just wanted to add to a previous answer on Jimmy Smith. I remember watching a segment years ago, and they were interviewing an opposing defensive back (I think from the Steelers). He commented that every time Smith took off from the line of scrimmage, his movement looked exactly the same. He basically was saying Smith was very deceptive and that you never knew what was coming route-wise. I think that is another aspect of WR that often is overlooked. I see a few guys in the league that aren't necessarily the biggest, strongest, or fastest, but they just know how to get open. It will be nice to find that kind of guy again, can't wait to see what Gabbert might be able to do with that kind of weapon and another year of experience.
John: That was indeed another part of Smith's game that made him special. When you combined that with all of his other skills, you had one of the best receivers in the NFL. With the receiving corps currently struggling, fans perhaps understandably are pining for the days of Smith and McCardell. News flash: it may be a long, long time before the Jaguars have a receiving tandem on that level. They rank with the top duos at the position in NFL history. I do think the Jaguars will improve at receiver in the coming seasons, and that as they do, the passing offense and Blaine Gabbert will improve accordingly.
Steve from Woodbine, GA:
I was sure you would not have anything to say about my comment on Mathis! You obviously fall into that category of people who still believe he is an elite player because he made the Pro Bowl once! Once again, I am sooo glad he ain't in there no more!!! I sure got tired of looking at his pretty hair!!
John: I 'm not sure I remember your original comment about Mathis! I get many emails each day! Some don't stand out and sometimes, I choose to answer other questions!! I never have written that Mathis is an elite corner anymore! I do believe the Jaguars are a better defense with him than without him, and that it will be a challenge later in the season when they need to play man-to-man defense in the secondary against teams with above-average receivers!!!!