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Modest expectations

Let's get to it . . . Paul from St. Augustine, FL:
It's interesting that people were complaining about the third-round Bryan Anger pick, but all excited about getting Josh Scobee signed to a big contract. I'm personally excited to see what an improving No. 6 defense can do with Anger handcuffing opponents with hang time, bad field position and pinning them back in front of their own end zone. Potential for more scoring by the defense?
John: Absolutely, but I don't know that you necessarily need to see obvious examples such as defensive touchdowns for the Jaguars to have benefitted from the selection of Anger. I honestly don't know that having Anger on the roster is going to mean seeing some huge, impact punt once a game, one you can point to and say, "SEE!! THAT'S WHY THEY DRAFTED HIM!!" More likely, the benefit is more often going to be in so-called "hidden" yards with an opponent starting on its 15 rather than the 23, and therefore calling more conservative plays. Or a team starting on average at its 25 rather than the 35 and a team therefore having four less points in a game because a drive resulted in a touchdown or a field goal. Those seem like small things, but in a league in which games are decided by small margins, those things can make the difference in one or two victories a year.
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
I am concerned about the Week 1 matchup against the Vikings, reason being Jared Allen. I fear he will put up a monster game on our offensive line, sacking Gabbert several times, and damaging his confidence before the season really gets going. Gabbert's under a lot of pressure this year, and if he is getting smacked around in Week One, he might play scared again.
John: Your concern is based on an assumption that Gabbert was scared last season. I don't assume that, and people around the team don't, either. Will Allen get pressure? Probably. He's really, really good. Could he sack Gabbert? Perhaps. Is getting sacked going to freak Gabbert out and ruin his season? That doesn't concern me.
Manuel from Jacksonville and Section 215:
Do you think we have sufficient depth at the linebacking corps? Who would that fifth linebacker be? How will the level of play be impacted if Poz or Smith go down due to injures?
John: I'd guess Brandon Marshall will develop into the fifth linebacker. That's why you take a guy where the Jaguars drafted him. The depth at the position is pretty good considering you get very little dropoff when you go to Russell Allen. The play would drop a bit if Posluszny or Smith is injured. They're starters for a reason, but Allen is capable of replacing one or the other and letting the defense stay afloat. If you go beyond Allen, things are more uncertain, but that's a pretty common situation around the league.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
Why would we let a Pro Bowl punter go just to spend a third-rounder on another one that we hope can get to a Pro Bowl level? Podlesh was very good and a proven commodity, so why not pay him and guarantee a good punter, then spend the third-rounder on a position that a third-round pick justifies?
John: First, Podlesh has never made the Pro Bowl. Second, the Jaguars tried to re-sign Podlesh last offseason, and the Bears offered him a contract that the Jaguars thought too much for his value. Third, my understanding is the difference in leg talent – and therefore, potential – between Anger and Podlesh is significant. The Jaguars drafted Anger in the third round because their belief is he will be good enough that he's far from just a possible Pro Bowl-level punter. They believe him capable of being a long-term, annual All-Pro player. Whether they were right remains to be seen, but that was the reasoning.
Kelly from Greensburg, IN:
The perception of media bias amongst Jags fans most certainly is not made up. I live far from Jacksonville. Anytime I speak to someone about the Jags they are consistently under the impression we are still suffering from blackouts. They are also under the impression we are moving to L.A. and believe it or not, these are moderately educated fans I hear these things from. For people who pride themselves on trying to be current on sports topics to have this perception, they must be receiving misinformation from somewhere.
John: There is certainly a difference in the perception people have of Jacksonville/the Jaguars and reality. That perception probably will remain the same until something comes along to change it. I believe many of the steps being taken around the organization will help in that area: the hiring of new vice presidents to focus on sponsorship and stadium experience, the focus on building a regional fan base, improvements to the facility, etc. In time, people will realize the commitment is real and the best way to get that word out is for the franchise to continue to remain focused in the mission. Nothing convinces like long-term integrity. When the team begins to win, media will do stories on the Jaguars and Jacksonville, and those stories will include many of the things I just mentioned. At that point, the perception will start to change and the nation will begin to realize that the reality is different than their perception. After that, the perception will change. It's a process and it doesn't happen immediately, but the first steps are being taken.
Gary from Brunswick, GA:
We all understand that football is a business, but I think that when a player holds out for more money after signing a contract, he is saying that not only is my word no good, neither is my signature. What do you think?
John: I think it's not that simple. It would be nice if it were, but it's just not.
Hogfish from Mayport, FL and Section 441:
When do the teams pay a signing bonus? I assume it's at signing as the name implies. Is it possible that the teams do deals so close to the deadline to hold on to cash as long as possible? With the amount of money involved in some of these deals, the interest earned in the 3-4 months that fans are mad that the team waits would be significant. Holding on to that cash and earning interest not only helps the team's bottom line, but it gives the team as much insurance as possible against a player getting in trouble, or hurting himself jet skiing. It makes business sense.
John: It benefits the team a bit, but that's typically not the reason contracts get delayed. They get delayed because both sides believe strongly in their stance, and the thing that forces compromise more often than not is a deadline. And yes, the signing bonus is paid at signing. There are other types of bonuses such as roster or workout bonuses that get paid in later years, but the signing bonus is just that.
Ted from Cambridge, MA:
I heard on JTW that the radio shows are moved around a little bit. I'm confused about whether or not Gene Smith will be featured on a show. Thanks!
John: He will not have his own show this season. The Mike Mularkey Show will air on Mondays at 6 p.m. each week. Jaguars Reporters with me and Cole Pepper will air on Tuesdays at 6. Jaguars This Week with Brian Sexton, Jeff Lageman and a former Jaguars left tackle whose name escapes me will air Wednesdays at 6 p.m. We will feature exclusive comments from Smith on Jaguars Reporters.
John from Commerce, TX:
Do you think that with the signings of Forte and Rice that the team has gained the upper hand in contract negotiations with MJD?
John: Because there are no negotiations or any plans for negotiations to take place, I'm not sure either hand is above the other.
Mike from Section 238:
Another levelheaded Jag fan here. I expect to know by the end of the preseason whether or not we'll go undefeated this year and, if not, I'll expect the coaching staff, front office and players to return their money, offer a public apology that they really mean, and written resignation so we can change directions by the first game of this season. I expect Mr. Khan to pry open his checkbook to pay T.O., OchoCinco, Cedric Benson, and every other free agent anything their agent asks for. I expect a flatscreen TV at each seat, free beer, and a return of profits to the fan base since this is supposed to be a charitable endeavor. And all draft picks/free agents must have a written contract at least three years before they are needed so I don't lose anymore sleep. Have I been heard?
John: If you add in that the team must tell you in March who it is going to draft and give you input into the selection, I think you're all set.

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