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More talk of shirtless free agents

Feisty day in the in-box. Must be game week again.

Let's get to it . . . Fred from Jacksonville:
The NFL is an amazingly well-run organization. All the efforts to balance competition are the best example. But there seems to be this one aggravating issue: teams losing intentionally. With the balance among teams so close – a fumble here, a missed tackle there and a late-season loss to improve next year's schedule or a draft position. What are the league safeguards against intentionally losing or even just not competing at their best? What are the league penalties in the rule book or considered by the Competition Committee or the Commissioner? For example, with another loss or two why would we continue to play a running back or defensive lineman that needs rehab or rest before a run next season?
John: I don't know that this "aggravating" issue is as big of a problem as some think. There are really two situations in which teams could have an incentive to not play their best. One is at the end of a season when they are out of the payoff chase. It's my experience that organizations rarely try to lose in this situation. Now, do players sometimes play less than their best in that situation? Maybe, but I don't know that it's as intentional as much as it is a case of the incentives being gone. I don't know how you legislate that. It's very hard to prove. The other situation is when a team already has clinched its playoff positioning late in the season. In those situations, teams often elect to not play their starters and front-line players. The league has identified this as a problem, but I don't see it as such. A team that has played its way into the playoffs has every right to play who it wants to play and enter the playoffs as healthy as possible. Other teams might miss the playoffs because of that, but every team controls its destiny at the start of the season. Win enough games and you don't have to be concerned with what other teams do. The bottom line is there's very little the league can do to legislate it, and the instances when a team loses at the end of a season to ensure a better schedule or draft positions are in reality very rare.
David from Charlotte, NC:
I agree you root for the Jags to beat the Colts this week, but if we can prevent them from 10-to-15 years of Luck with a meaningless loss the last game of the year, you better believe I hope they lose that game. In this hypothetical it prevents Luck from being their franchise quarterback and gets the Jags a higher draft pick. How can any logical person not think along the same lines?
John: Herm, take this one. Here.
David from Pensacola, FL:
Have your readers forgotten Garrard's own teammates didn't vote him as captain, the ones that know him best? How can you be so kind by not reminding them of that fact every time his name is brought up?
John: Contrary to popular belief, I have no interest in posting laundry lists of points against Garrard. I met Garrard only briefly in training camp and saw him play personally as someone covering the Jaguars only three games this preseason. He seemed like a fine person, and I have no doubt he gave the Jaguars the best he had while playing for them. What I have written again and again is there was little sentiment inside the building that he was playing well during the preseason and there was little indication that would change. People also have asked if I thought the Jaguars would be significantly better with Garrard at quarterback. I have written that I believe they would not. People desperately want to blame someone or a specific incident for the Jaguars being 2-6 and not 4-4 or 5-3. The release of Garrard is an easy target, though him being on the roster was no guarantee the record would be different.
Lawrence from Omaha, NE:
It might help to soothe your mailbox if you were to inform your readers that T.O. didn't even run a 40 in his shirtless practice because he wasn't ready to yet. So that whole "run routes and catch" thing... Yeah, he can't really run yet, and clearly nobody watched how many balls he dropped in Buffalo and Dallas the last few years.
John: Do you really think that would soothe the mailbox? I mean, the man worked out WITHOUT A SHIRT!
James from Jacksonville:
"I'm not saying, Draft a wide receiver high. I'm saying, I believe the Jaguars will take a wide receiver early if there is a player available they believe will be a productive, long-term player." That's nonsense, John. The only receiver worth taking the first round is Justin Blackmon. As far I am concerned, you are saying the Jags will select Blackmon if he is available and if he is not then the Jags will select another bust and blame it on Blackmon not being there.
John: Interpret it how you want. That's not what I'm saying. In fact, it's not even close. I am saying I believe the Jaguars will take a wide receiver in the first round if a receiver is worth taking there. If not, they will take a player at another position who merits the selection. That's how you give yourself the best chance of avoiding busts.
Frank from Fernandina Beach, FL:
"The NFL is not the NBA. It's much harder for one player – even a quarterback – to make an immediate difference so drastic." I could not disagree more with this one. The right player, especially a quarterback, can make an immediate impact and totally turn around a franchise. See Sam Bradford, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton (not so much wins with Cam, but respectability at least). So, given the Colts have talent and just sorely need a QB there's no reason at all to think Andy Luck would make them a playoff contender again next year. If I'm the Jags I'd much rather face an iffy Peyton the next three or four years rather than an up-and-coming Luck and if losing a game or two this year means that to be the case, then so be it.
John: The Rams are 1-7. The Panthers are 2-6.
Maximus from Tuscon, AZ:
Would Wade Philips have been an example of great coaching if he was in charge of last year's defense without JJ Watt and Brooks Reed? Football is the ULTIMATE team sport, and that includes coaches. Put the right coach with the right players at the right time in their careers and things work out. The best jockey has to have a pretty fast horse if he wants to win the race.
John: I'm not going to turn this into a Praise Wade Phillips Day, but his track record is pretty impressive when it comes to improving defenses as a coordinator. Watt and Reed have helped, but the Texans also lost Mario Williams and have played well. A coach isn't going to make bad personnel good, but a coach can help units improve by putting people in the right spots and allowing them to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
Justin from Jacksonville:
Here is the word for the second half of the season; "fun". With the playoffs no longer a realistic goal, I hope our players can just go out and have some fun playing a game they love. We all need to lighten up and remember that life is too short. Have fun and stop letting anger, negativity, disappointment and resentment ruin your day.
John: My word for the second half of the season is "peenge" –the act of complaining in a whiny voice. As you indicate, peenging should be banned in the O-Zone.
Christer from Copenhagen, Denmark:
I've been wondering about one thing in the draft. Let's say you grow up a Packers fan and hate all things Bears. You then get drafted by the Bears. Can you say no??
John: Only if you're an idiot.
Rick from Pinellas Park, FL:
You say receiver needs to be fixed...I say didn't Gene draft some? Are you saying that he failed on the offensive side? I say he got lucky on free agents and isn't anything special.
John: I say he did draft wide receivers – in the later rounds. Late-round selections miss. Sometimes players in any round miss. I also say there's a process to building a roster that takes longer than three drafts. I say if you're saying he got lucky on free agents then sometimes you run across people who it's not worth trying to have a discussion with, so I say we're done for now.
The Final Word from DUUVAAALLL!!:
Jaguars win 34-10 at Indy. Then beat the Browns 24-12, lose to Houston 17-13, beat San Diego 21-18, beat Tampa 20-3, lose to Atlanta 37-34, beat the Titans 16-14 and beat the Colts again 13-3; finally finishing the season 9-7. Realistic?
John: Absolutely not. The Jaguars could easily do what you're talking about. But if they do, they'll finish 8-8.
Ken from Jacksonville:
Should the Jags pursue Albert? Why or why not?
John: How does he look without a shirt?

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