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Misplaced effort

Even at 2-10, game day is better than the alternative.

Let's get to it . . .
Caitlin from Jacksonville:
We have had a CONSIDERABLE amount of injuries this year. If at least half of those injured players were healthy, I feel like we would at least be 6-6. Obviously injuries hurt the team, but do you think it's a somewhat "good" situation now that we can put in rookies and help them practice?
John: Whenever a team sustains a lot of injuries – or, actually, whenever it sustains any injuries – one of the first things coaches and general managers say is how much benefit young players get from the practice and game time. It's true; those players do benefit. But as much benefit as it might give those players, you would still rather be healthy. Starters are starters for a reason, and while teams need to have depth to overcome injuries, it's very difficult to win – particularly in the postseason – if you are without key players on your team, particularly your pass rushers and your quarterback. As for what the Jaguars' record would be if healthy, who knows? I'd say they would be better than 2-10 – perhaps 5-7 because there are three overtime losses that could have been different – but I can't honestly say they would be a playoff team. A playoff team needs a quarterback playing at a postseason level, and so far, the quarterbacks on the Jaguars' roster haven't done that.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
I wore my No. 56 Lageman jersey to the Titans game. Some around me said it looked "dated." Later, I saw others proudly wearing their Sims-Walker and Matt Jones jerseys, so I felt better then. At least Jeff is still associated with the team.
John: Lageman indeed is still associated with the team. Even worse, Boselli is, too.
Steve from Section 206:
You say you don't know that we have an answer about how much time we can afford to give Gabbert. Who knows whether he'll get much playing time next season, but I think if by the end of the 2014 season Gabbert isn't getting it, it's time to cut your losses.
John: If Gabbert hasn't played extensively again by the end of the 2014 season, he almost certainly wouldn't be here after that. That's because his contract runs out after that season and if he hasn't played extensively by then, he almost certainly wouldn't be re-signed as a starter and you would think he would go to a team that would let him compete to start. But honestly, we're way ahead of ourselves by discussing Gabbert and post-2014. The more pertinent question is whether he gets a chance to play next season, and how Chad Henne plays in the final four games will have a big influence on that.
Josh from Jacksonville:
Kevin Elliott must be pumped. They have removed some of the tarps in anticipation of his starting debut.
John: Either that, or there are a lot of Quan Cosby and Toney Clemons fans coming Sunday.
Matt from Manassas, VA:
I wonder what would happen if the organization caved to fans' pressure and made popular picks in the draft or free agency? It is just a hunch, but I think we would not be happy either way. Just look at the current climate in Philly. They signed the "Dream Team" during free agency and it has produced nothing under an established coach like Andy Reid, or in Washington where there is a big free agency story every year with no production behind it. I don't see anything wrong with what Gene has done with the team when drafting or free agency. You hit or miss on players regardless of who they are. I cannot blame him if he tries to assemble a team we can proud of on or off the field.
John: I think Gene Smith would be the first to tell you he is responsible for what goes on on the field, but while people hate hearing it, you're right that you can't always control hitting/missing on players. There is an element of luck to the draft and building a team, and much of that luck depends on hitting on a quarterback. Having one such as Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III cures a lot of ills. The Redskins, for example, have been largely viewed nationally as a mediocre, directionless franchise for 20 years. Griffin is a star as a rookie and now they're suddenly portrayed as a team of the future. The Colts struggled in Indianapolis for much of their first decade and a half there. They hit on Peyton Manning and now on Andrew Luck, and now they look like they have a chance to contend again for a while. That's not to say Smith hasn't made mistakes, and it's not to say there's not more to building a team than finding the quarterback, but it would be amazing how good the Eagles, for example, might look if their quarterback was playing at a high level.
Steve from Elk River, WI:
Is Greg Jones OK? I remember him being a very good tail back at FSU, and was very happy when he was drafted. Why not put Potter at fullback and Jones at tailback and run forward?
John: The Jaguars are down to their fourth running back, Montell Owens. It's very possible your idea is next.
Rob from Section 410:
So, in your answer to William from Jacksonville, you are saying Khan needs to not act like Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder. I'll agree.
John: Each owner is different. Jones has been one of the NFL's best owners for 25 years, and from a distance, it appears Snyder has stepped back a bit and allowed his football people to make decisions. Khan needs to find his own way and he seems to be doing that based on his own life experience. I'm not sure how else anyone would expect him to go about it. He seems to be taking the approach of trying to set up a sound structure, of hiring knowledgeable, good people and letting those people do their jobs. In the long run, that's usually a good strategy.
Jody from Fort Pierce, FL:
So is a kickoff from the 35 more dangerous than a punt from the 30? Kickoffs typically are touchbacks now and, well, punts are guys waiting for a ball to drop with a gunner flying at them. To me that doesn't make sense. Please explain this way of thinking.
John: The punt returner has the option of a fair catch, and the punt typically hangs in the air long enough that there aren't the violent collisions that often mark a kickoff return. Really, the concern on kickoffs is as much the blockers and coverage guys as the returners. There's a violent collision on practically every kickoff whereas on punts they're more rare.
Gary from Centerville, OH:
Hadn't thought of Steve Young (since he started with the LA Express of the USFL), but how about Terry Bradshaw? He was even cheered for being injured.
John: Yes, Bradshaw struggled enough that he lost his job to Joe Gilliam in his fifth season – 1974 – before the Steelers won the first of four Super Bowls in the decade that year. There were doubts about Troy Aikman in Dallas when he went 0-11 as a starter in 1989, his rookie season. But the culture of the NFL is different now than in the 1980s and certainly in the 1970s. Quarterbacks are entering the NFL far more prepared and having success early. I doubt you'll ever see a quarterback drafted early and given the starting position early who gets four or five seasons to develop. It appears players will have to enter the NFL far more pro-ready and if they're not, they may not get the second chances players of previous eras were given. That may not be fair, but it certainly seems to be how it's shaping up.
Johnny from East Palatka, FL:
See? This is what I was talking about last week when I emailed you about being too nice. The Tebow response to Joe from Jville was perfect. Well done, sir! Keep up the good work.
John: Shut up.
John from Jacksonville:
With Shorts as our biggest threat at receiver, wouldn't it have made sense to play him as a decoy to gain a competitive edge and to help get full attention away from Blackmon and other receivers? Shorts is probably able to run routes and still able to stay away from the risk of being hit. Who knows? He might have even been wide open on a play to take a shot downfield.
John: The idea of not playing a player with a concussion is to prevent him from being hit again. Your scenario might reduce the risk, but it also wouldn't take the opposing team long to figure out that the Jaguars weren't looking Shorts' way.
John from Jacksonville:
John: Good job.
Miguel from Section 145 and Jacksonville:
I see what you did there. Now Dan Edwards HAS to come through with your new digital recorder or face the fury and furor of a fan base always at the ready to stand up for their Senior Writer Extraordinaire! Well played Mr. Oehser, well played.
John: Had I known that would work, I would have asked him about that car allowance.

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