JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Marcus from Jacksonville:
John, I'm wondering why the determination of "hit" versus "miss" in terms of draft picks and free-agent signings is skewed. It seems as if, in your estimation, a guy can be deemed a "hit" after just one good season (Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue, etc). On the other hand, a guy like Blake Bortles can't be determined a "miss" after three seasons because he needs more of a chance. I feel the same was true about Luke Joeckel, who was often deemed a question mark (not a hit or miss) until the day he left town. Is there a reason you feel like it takes three-plus years to prove you're bad but only one to prove you're good?
John: First, I don't know that your assessment of my assessment is accurate. Yes, I think Jalen Ramsey is unquestionably a hit; the plays he made last season and the way he performed consistently leads me to believe he will be a multiyear Pro Bowl section in this league. If it were possible, I'd probably sign him to a second contract right now; he's that sort of talent. As for Ngakoue and Jack, I wouldn't put them anywhere close to that level. I think Ngakoue showed some seriously good signs as a rookie, but he in no way firmly established himself as a difference-making pass rusher. That's not to say he can't or won't, but more time is needed to know. As for Jack, I have no idea the level he will reach and he absolutely has a long way to go to fulfill his talent. I wouldn't remotely call him a hit yet, though he obviously has the talent to be just that. As for it taking a while to know if players are going to be good … that's just a matter of learning from experience. I have seen too many cases of players developing in their third and fourth seasons to believe a few seasons at the beginning of careers necessarily define all players.
Brandon from Duval:
Hey John, do you foresee any dark horses coming out of nowhere to make the 53-man roster this year? Also, thanks for all you and the staff do for us fans!
John: This annually is a tricky question, because it's difficult to know the definition of a "dark horse." Is it an undrafted free-agent rookie? Do people consider veteran player such as guard Earl Watford or defensive tackle Stefan Charles "dark horses" because they weren't the highest-profile free agents? The last two sentences might serve as a hint about my answer, because I see players such as Watford and Charles making the team. The other area to watch is collegiate free agency. It's way early, obviously, but players such as Hunter Dimick and Amba Etta-Tawo have college credentials that make you think they have a chance to stick.
Mike from Orlando, FL:
Do you think Jalen Ramsey has given up on the Jags after last season being so bad? I feel like if he takes a step back this year it will be the end of him ever being elite. Losing can ruin teams and players.
John: Are you serious, Clark?
Sam from Orlando, FL:
You mentioned something interesting and just for fun, here's a question. Take this exact team. Add Tom Brady. Where do you see the record and what is the season expectation?
John: This answer perhaps isn't quite so simple as it seems. Are the Jaguars running the Patriots' offense in your scenario? Is Brady as comfortable in the offense as he is in the one he has been running more than a decade and a half in New England? If all of that is the case, then I think adding Brady would get the Jaguars to the playoffs in the 10-to-11 victory range.
Terez from Illinois:
Who do you think will be the Jaguars' leading receiver this season. And what will his stats be?
John: Allen Robinson, who I believe will put up good numbers – though probably not on par with his 1,400-yard, 14-touchdown season of 2015. It's not that Robinson can't have a very big year; it's just that even if he does those numbers will be tough to duplicate.
Cliff from Washington, DC:
So, if Gus was not a bad coach, what makes a coach bad? I'm pretty sure wins and losses are what determines if a coach is considered good or bad. I know you have talked about it a bunch before but I'm still baffled by your response. I guess it's just your opinion but this in fact isn't even up for debate. He was a bad coach because he lost way more than he won.
John: I'm sorry you're baffled. Being baffled can be … well, baffling. That's true with or without debate. It's also absolutely true that wins and losses are "considered" what makes a coach good or bad, but in fact that's not always the case. Yes, Bradley lost far more than he won here, and yes … people are well within their rights to believe to their core he was a bad coach. And perhaps he was. Shoot, I probably would have believed the same thing in my younger days when I followed the game with a fan's unbridled passion. But I try to see things in a somewhat objective way. Objectively, I know that coaches throughout NFL history have been fired after losing in one stop and gone on to far greater success at their next stop because the circumstances were right.
Dreamweaver from Section 241:
My theory on coaches and player relations is this: Players believe in a coach at first, but they truly buy into his message after they win a tough game that, in their hearts, they were more than 50 percent sure they would lose. Every tough win after that compounds the effect. Which makes the Texans opener a big game for Doug Marrone, although it already is one. What say you Zone?
John: There's a lot to this theory, though I don't know the exact percentages. Though my experience is that NFL players rarely believe in their heart of hearts they will lose, I do believe a team needs some measure of success to continue buying into a coach. That's a psychological element that can't be ignored. History tells me a coach can overcome a Week 1 loss, so I'm not going to overplay the regular-season opener. It would be big for the Jaguars to win it. Absolutely. But how big was it if they lose the next two?
Preston from Oakville:
O-man, what do you make of the new rule to eliminate the first roster cut? Will it help players more, teams more, or both, to have just one roster cut from 90 to 53?
John: This is a positive change for teams because it allows them to keep 15 additional players for the final preseason game that normally would have been released the previous week. That gives the teams far more options in a game in which they are typically not playing starters and front-line players. The benefit to players is that it gives borderline players one more game to audition for their current and other teams. The teams probably benefit more, but it's good for all parties.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
Any real reason to even start Chad Henne in preseason? Shouldn't we be grooming Brandon Allen to be the No. 2? We know what we got in Henne, and he won't be competing with Blake Bortles for the top quarterback position. But Allen is still young and could and should.
John: Brandon Allen started the preseason final against Atlanta last season. I see little reason why he wouldn't do so again. I also think he'll play in the other three games. As for who gets how many reps and when, I imagine we'll know a lot more about that come training camp.
Matt from Easton, PA:
This question may be better suited for once training camp starts, but what impact (if any) do you think Coach McCardell will have with the receivers? Will there be any noticeable differences in how the receivers play this year?
John: I don't know that you'll look at the Jaguars' receivers as a group next season and think, "My goodness … this is a Keenan McCardell-coached group." That's in part because while players such as Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee aren't necessarily completed products, they are experienced enough to have their own style already developed. One thing you might see from a McCardell-coached group is grit, toughness and professionalism. He displayed that as a player and I can't imagine he won't demand it from his receivers.
Chris from Jacksonville:
This is the time of year when I become consumed with childlike optimism for the Jaguars' 2017 season. Despite our lack of success, I do this to myself every year. Am I a diehard fan or just a chump?
John: You're not just a chump.
O-Zone: Diehard fan
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Marcus from Jacksonville: