JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . .
Josh from Savannah, GA:
Everywhere I read, I see analysts say that Johnathan Cyprien is going to amaze people with his play and high ceiling. I know you've said it as well, but is he really THAT good?
John: I've said he appears to have a chance to be very, very good. Cyprien's NFL career right now consists of two minicamps and a month of organized team activities. It all has been without pads, so we obviously don't know significantly more than we did immediately after he was drafted. What we do know is he appears to have NFL speed and athleticism. We know from his college career he is aggressive and likes to hit. We know the Jaguars – particularly Head Coach Gus Bradley – like him very much. He has all the signs of being good. Training camp starts three weeks from Friday. We'll know even more then.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
Is there any value to having the bye this year exactly at the midway point?
John: Teams usually like the bye there, but the reality is once the season gets started, teams generally want the bye at the spot in the season when they have the most nagging, one- or two-week injuries. Since it is impossible to predict this, there's really no best "preseason" bye week. There is, however, a significant importance to the Jaguars having a midseason bye week this season. They have five games outside the Eastern Time Zone in an eight-week stretch to start the season, including the London game. They may well need a break come early November.
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
It seems that every great defense has had at least one "name" player other teams had to game plan around and that has nationwide name recognition among fans. Who currently on the roster could fit this bill?
John: No one fits the bill right now, but the Jaguars aren't a great defense right now. Johnathan Cyprien eventually could fill the bill.
Andrew from Orange Park, FL:
Say MJD comes back better than ever, and puts up 1,800 yards rushing and 15 TDs. Is missing 10 games last year enough to be considered Comeback Player of the Year or do you have to miss the whole year to be eligible?
John: There is no hard, fast set of rules for the award, which is given separately by the Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association and the Sporting News. It is given to players who overcome adversity or injury, and sometimes to players who simply are coming off bad years. So, yes, Maurice Jones-Drew could be considered for the award following next season.
Steve from Parts Unknown:
Jaws just ranked Henne the 29th-best QB in the league and thinks Henne should start. Explain to all of us why he is wrong since you seem to know everything.
John: Who knows? Maybe he's not wrong. Maybe Henne will start, make the Pro Bowl and lead the Jaguars to a Super Bowl. That would be great. I don't think that will happen, but that's partially because I think Gabbert will win the job. He has looked better in OTAs and considering he looked better in training camp and preseason last season, I tend to think he will again. I could be wrong about that. I've been wrong a lot. Who should start? I think whoever is better in training camp should start. Neither particularly separated themselves from the other last season, and since they each played in the same messy circumstances, it's admittedly hard to rank one over the other.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
You do not draft a guy No. 10 overall to be a project or development guy. Age is just an excuse for not being good enough. It's time to stop making excuses for Blaine Gabbert. He is a grown man who needs to match up that golden arm with a skill that can win games. I hope he can turn into a Troy Aikman kind of QB. No matter, that hook reaches all the way across the stage!
John: Don's back.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
This will be Gabbert's third offensive system in three years to start off an NFL career. I think a little bit of patience is warranted.
John: Don, meet Sean; Sean, Don.
Seth from Jacksonville: The players have spoken, and they don't think the Jags have a single one of the best 97 players in the league. This is not the national media making these claims; these are the players voting. What's really crazy is 70 of those 97 were available either when Jacksonville was slated to draft, or via free-agency. You'd think with 32 teams, an average club would have 3 of those 97, a sub-par franchise would have acquired at least two, and any team with half-a-clue would have tripped over one. But, ZERO...? I appreciate your optimism regarding the upcoming season, am truly as hopeful as anyone the new regime can get it done moving forward, and I'll be at the stadium rooting for this team either way. But, there are legitimate reasons the Jags are not favored by Vegas to win any game next year, thus most logical fans with realistic expectations agree with the likelihood of either Johnny Football or Teddy B coming to J-Ville in '14, and are actually excited about the prospects of that!
John: Be excited about what you want. I think I've tried to be as realistic and up front as I can. I see why the Jaguars aren't favored. I get how these things work. I also would argue that by season's end Cecil Shorts III would be on that list, and if healthy, Maurice Jones-Drew certainly would be. Luke Joeckel has the potential to be in that group, and Justin Blackmon has a chance to develop into that level player. Is the roster as good as it should be or needs to be? Of course not. That's a reason the Jaguars were 2-14 last season. But improvement starts somewhere, and I think it will start enough this season that I'm not thinking about 2014 yet.
Brian from Bold City Brigade, Atlanta Chapter:
"You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it." - Art Buchwald. You'll be missed, Gator...
John: Indeed he will.
Alex from Jacksonville:
Five years from now Jaguars fans and the NFL are going to look back and really understand what type of visionary Shad Khan is. Combine that with forward-thinking civic leaders and you have a recipe for success for the Jaguars and the citizens of Jacksonville. The new scoreboards and renovations to EverBank Field are a far cry from as early as 2009 when we had a nameless stadium and a sea of empty seats and consistent blackouts. It's only been a few years but so much has changed but Khan has this franchise on the upswing and it looks like things are only getting better.
John: No doubt!
Joe from Deltona, FL:
Cecil Shorts had a few concussions last year. Do you think this is something that will become a problem as is it did with Laurent Robinson? Is there a different offensive approach that will help eliminate this problem?
John: I don't know how to predict if it will become a problem or not. Concussions often occur because of violent collisions, and football is a violent sport. I have seen players sustain a concussion, then not sustain another for a long time. I have seen other players sustain concussions one immediately after the other. You can't really change the offensive approach. Shorts plays wide receiver, and wide receiver means making plays when you're vulnerable. There is a risk at the position of taking hard hits whatever the offensive approach.
Bill from Hammock:
O-Man: Lots of questions about Gabbert and if he will improve this year. I recall reading a part of the analytics the team is now doing that Gabbert's success when he received more than 2.6 seconds was drastically better. It seems with our new right tackle and left guard returning, he may get that extra second to throw. Are you familiar with this statistic and do you believe it is meaningful?
John: I am familiar with the statistic. It was referenced a lot around the time of the NFL Draft to explain why the Jaguars took a right tackle even though taking a right tackle at No. 2 overall seems "against the grain." Sure, it has meaning. Gabbert has played better the more time he has had, and a storyline this season undoubtedly will be how he plays this season if he has more time. Now, the cynics among us will say, "Any quarterback will play better with time" and the cynics are probably right. Still, it doesn't mean the statistic lacks meaning, and Joeckel's presence can't hurt.
Kamal from Novi, MI:
I'm a loyal reader, and I know we are right in the dead zone...but your recent columns have been bordering on unprofessional. If you don't have enough quality questions or answers to write a football column, then just take a vacation! I know I don't have to read your column, but I want to read everything on my favorite team's website. Thanks for all you do, but honestly, you could use a break.
John: Note to self: 1. Go to library, or local bookstore. 2. Find Kamal's book on professional journalism. 3. Take notes. 4. Rethink entire career and approach to profession accordingly. 5. Thank Kamal.
O-Zone: Bound for the bookstore
JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . .
Josh from Savannah, GA: