JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dan from Jacksonville:
Why are people still asking questions and complaining about London? It must be a little aggravating to continually have to answer this question. You should just post one of your links where you already explained in great detail the significance of London and how it benefits Jacksonville. By the way, you do an awesome job and I love your writing.
John: If your last sentence had been your first sentence you perhaps could have stopped there; its clarity and wisdom were that … well, clear and wise! But it's OK you didn't stop, because your question raises a point about the O-Zone – that's that I try not to assume readers have seen previous explanations, and that I don't believe answering a question once makes the topic taboo from that point forward. Fans who take time to write are passionate and involved, and I try to answer their questions/acknowledge their concerns as best as possible. As for London, it's not aggravating to re-address the topic. The fact that a presence in London makes the Jaguars stronger in Jacksonville is counterintuitive unless you really think it through and seriously consider the reasoning. At first glance, it's understandable to think, "Why isn't my team playing at 'home?" Once you consider other issues such as market challenges, the NFL's changing dynamics and technology's impact on the in-game experience, you realize a home game a year in an international market may become the norm for many teams – and that it certainly makes sense in the Jacksonville market. And once you understand the impact of the game on the team's revenue, it really makes sense. But to think people will see those things without having the nuances adequately – and perhaps repeatedly – explained … no, you've got to be following really closely and persistently to completely grasp that. Repeated discussion of the issue doesn't seem ridiculous at all.
Bryan from Yulee, FL:
Although Blaine Gabbert was a terrible pick, I'd definitely have to say R.J. Soward was the worst, closely followed by Justin Blackmon and Matt Jones.
John: Yeah, I'm not arguing too vehemently.
Kevin from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada:
If you had an above-average mid-30s quarterback with three-to-five good years remaining, what would be your draft philosophy to target a new quarterback? Wait until he retires/moves on, then draft one in the first or second round, anticipate that moment by using a first-round pick one-to-three years in advance or begin taking quarterbacks in later rounds earlier in the process and hope to catch lightning in a bottle with one of them?
John: I'd be hard-pressed to use a first-round selection on a quarterback a year or three in advance, because there's a good chance you would be wasting the selection. Aaron Rodgers is obviously an argument for taking this approach, but he was a rare case of an elite talent slipping to a team that could allow him to develop in a backup role. That's great if it happens, but it's a difficult model to mimic. Realistically, I'd probably take quarterback in the later rounds every other year while realizing that I'm probably going to do what most teams do – wait until I need a quarterback, then hope like heck I get fortunate and find one.
Matt from Jacksonville:
Mark me down in the whelmed column.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
I'm not a fan of the London thing either, but honestly: I'd rather lose a home meeting with the Titans to London rather than a home meeting with the Packers.
John: Some fans prefer division games be at EverBank Field while others want to see "new" teams. It's not an issue on which everyone will agree. Overall, the big picture is it's better to have one less game at EverBank Field and a stable franchise than have eight regular-season home games with an uncertain financial future.
Bernard from Tucson, AZ:
Many believe Dave fell flat in his efforts to get a legitimate-threat defensive end in free agency, and it has caused major concerns for everyone. However, we also fell flat last year in getting Randall Cobb - the wide receiver we wanted to make the offense better. Look how that turned out. It allowed the Allens to show their worth and elevated our offense to record-breaking numbers. Maybe, just maybe, we already have in our possession people who will also step up and make the defense better. Not to mention the possibility of adding Ramsey, Bosa or Jack.
John: The reality of free agency is there is a hit-or-miss element that people don't want to consider. I think there's a good chance the Jaguars will not regret "missing" on Olivier Vernon, and there's no doubt he would have been overpaid. At the same time, I also believe the team needed an edge rusher in free agency. He was the best of a thin lot and missing him puts a lot of pressure on Dante Fowler Jr. That's not to say he can't flourish, but there is pressure for him to do so.
John from Edmonton, Alberta:
Every year leading up to the draft, analysts refer to the premiere left tackles as "10 year starter" and "plug and play pro-bowler". More so than I notice at any other position. Yet, top picks at the position haven't had huge success. Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson, Taylor Lewan, Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel, etc. I agree some of them aren't as bad as people make them out to be, but I think it's unproven yet if any of them will be 10 year starters, and none of them have made a Pro Bowl. Is this just analysts being analysts, or is there something about the skill set of position that people think translates readily to the next level?
John: I believe a lot of the analyst jargon about left tackles is left over from the era of Tony Boselli, Orlando Pace, Jonathan Ogden and Walter Jones. During that historically great left-tackle era, it often was the case that you could draft a player at the position, plug him in and watch him dominate during a Hall-of-Fame career. That isn't the case anymore, though there is a tendency among analysts to still act and speak as it were.
Trae from Jacksonville:
All this talk about fanning got me to thinking, unfortunately. Have you ever fanned? Did you enjoy it? What was it like?
John: Have I ever fanned? Yeah, Trae, I've fanned. At various times in my life I have Seattle SuperSonics fanned, Oakland A's fanned and North Carolina basketball fanned. But mostly, I "Washington Redskins fanned" from 1972 or so until 1993 or so. What was it like?, you ask? I'll tell you what it was like. My emotions and day-to-day outlook on life ridiculously rose and fell on the outcome of games. If the game Sunday was big, I was an emotional mess. My stomach churned all week and got worse on Sunday. I scribbled, statistics and records in notebooks when I should have been listening to professors. I skipped or found myself distracted during significant life events if they happened to occur on fall Sunday afternoons. I wore Redskins pajamas. I wore Hogs T-Shirts. I wore Fun Bunch T-Shirts. I had a Hogs nose. I had a "We Want Dallas" bumper sticker. I walked into my wedding reception to "Hail to the Redskins." I cried when the refs got the Mel Gray call wrong in '75. I waited hours in a Tampa Holiday Inn lobby for Mike Thomas' autograph in '77. I kicked a hole in a wall following a loss to Dallas in '79 in Roger Staubach's last comeback. I fell backwards over a sofa at Tommy Donahoo's lake house when they beat Dallas to go to their first Super Bowl in January '83. I honked the horn in the driveway when the Diesel went 43 yards on 4th-and-1 against Miami on the greatest play in NFL history the following week. I knocked a Venetian blind down at my soon-to-be wife's apartment during a loss to the Giants in '90. I put my wallet and keys in the same spot on the coffee table and my father put his glasses on the same spot at the other end of that same coffee every Sunday for 10 weeks in '91 because we put them there in Week 2 and they still hadn't lost in Week 12. I yelled "Die, dog, die" at Troy Aikman in '92. I cussed Buddy Ryan. I cussed Staubach when I was too young to cuss but it didn't matter – because I was right, after all, and dad was saying worse. I cussed Tom Landry. I cussed Bill Parcells. I cussed Phil Simms. I cussed "our guys," too, of course, because that's what fans do when they fan. I cussed Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark and Theismann and Ryp and Doug Williams, but never Riggo because Riggo was Riggo. I hugged dad after Super Bowls in January '83, '88 and '92 and those are hugs you never forget. I wept. I yelled. I was irrational, immature, illogical, ill-behaved, idiotic and people who ordinarily loved me (yes, these people actually exist) quite often and quite understandably refused to be near when the 'Skins were playing. I let it rule my life; I allowed it to alienate those I loved. I reached unreasonable, emotional highs and equally unreasonable lows. So yeah, Trae, I feel what you're saying … it was awesome.
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dan from Jacksonville: