JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Mike from Jacksonville:
What can you tell us about Dante Fowler Jr.? How concerned should we be?
John: I can tell you what many people read and heard Wednesday. Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. was reportedly arrested for his actions in an incident Tuesday evening in a St. Petersburg apartment complex. According to police, Fowler exchanged words with a man who criticized his driving, then struck the man and threw his groceries in a lake. Fowler was then released early Wednesday morning on a $650 bond. The Jaguars released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that they know about the incident, that they have been in contact with Fowler and they planned no further comment "at this time." How concerned should fans be? My best answer would be "somewhat." What Fowler is reported to have done Tuesday is far from the most extreme, unforgivable off-field incident ever committed by an NFL player, and plenty of people have been involved in such altercations. At the same time, Fowler is not "plenty of people," nor is he in a normal situation. He has had off-field incidents in the past, and while none have been egregious, they do indicate at best a bothersome pattern. He also is a young player still trying to prove himself in the league and with this team. He needs a good training camp. This is an important time for him. To have this sort of off-field incident needn't be career-defining. It also doesn't mean Fowler won't be prepared for training camp or the regular season. But neither is it a remotely "good look."
Jim from Chuluota, FL:
Please send Mr. Fowler to Principal Coughlin's office.
John: No matter how short the hallway, that's a long walk.
Brian from Staten Island, NY:
Say it ain't so, O. Just wanted your thoughts on the Fowler situation. I guess we can't pass judgment until the whole story comes out, but this is looking like a major blow to the defensive line. What say you, O man?
John: I shared a lot of thoughts in the first answer, and history tells us we can't pass judgment until the whole story comes out. Time also will provide better perspective over the level of seriousness of Tuesday's incident. But this incident alone won't be a major blow to the Jaguars' defensive line. That's because I doubt it will mean an absence from preseason or training camp, and it shouldn't mean a huge chunk of regular-season time missed. If Fowler isn't productive this season that will be a blow to the line, but his productivity won't depend on this incident.
Mac from Jacksonville:
Offseason No. 1: Tears ACL. Offseason No. 2: TMZ video of him refereeing a cat fight. Offseason No. 3: Arrested for assault. The guy makes way too many headlines in the offseason and far too few on the field.
John: Well, yes.
Charles from Savannah, GA:
Why should Dante remain a Big Cat?
John: Because he's better than a player you can sign right now to replace him.
David from Maplewood, NJ:
John, felt the need to add my voice to what I am sure is an overwhelming chorus in the inbox. Fowler … really? Really, dude? C'mon, man!
John: That's a perfect reaction. This incident alone is not horrific, or career-defining. But considering the need for Fowler to show a level of maturity and professionalism this season … yeah … c'mon, man.
Old Skool from Banner Elk, NC:
Here we go!! Dante "the Bust" Fowler another bonehead incident! He's like the Justin Blackmon of DE!! Will he be disciplined? I wish the Jags would just cut ties with him and move on! He will never be more than what he showed last year, and the team doesn't need his distractions!! Kirk out!
John: I foresee Fowler being disciplined in some capacity. As for distractions, NFL teams get through relatively few seasons without them. As for your bold exclamations(!!!!), we'll see … but you don't cut ties with talented players for the level of incident with which Fowler has been involved.
Phone from Da Burg:
Well, I guess the Jags will be without Dante Fowler Jr for the first four games of the season! Just as well … he's horrible. I don't want to hear "if he could just learn some moves," " but he was injured his rookie year." Like my Granpappy always said , " If if's and but's were cookies and nuts it'd be Christmas all year long!"
John: Fowler wasn't horrible last season. He wasn't the pass-rushing force fans wanted, or that the team needs, but that didn't mean he was horrible. And I don't believe Fowler will have to miss four games.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Have you ever seen a team handle a quarterback the way the Redskins are handling "Kurt" Cousins? They could have locked him up at a cheaper contract the last two years that Cousins would have happily signed. They waited too long, Derek Carr got a deal that reset the market, and now it looks like Cousins has all but lost interest in staying there. You always say it's all about the quarterback, but it looks like that's only true for 31 of the 32 teams.
John: I don't know the Redskins' inner workings well enough to know the ways, whys and hows of their actions toward Cousins. It's intriguing, though, because the Redskins apparently think Cousins is good enough to be their starting quarterback but not good enough to commit to him long-term. Either way, Cousins has gotten wealthy lately and is likely to get wealthier next offseason. My understanding is getting wealthy is cool. My guess is Cousins likes it.
The Third from Boston, MA:
To add to your response to Rob from KC: it is true that the American impact on this era of tennis has been limited, but "Golden Era" might not be a strong enough phrase. Three of the top five men's grand slam winners all are active right now, and have amassed those grand slam records within a 14-year run. That is simply incredible, and makes me very excited that I get to watch them when I cross a trip to the US Open off my bucket list in a month.
John: First of all, you are a very, very lucky man. The tennis majors are on my bucket list as well, though the NFL schedule makes a U.S. Open something on which I must wait quite a while. To indulge my inner tennis junkie, I'll share that while I'm a huge admirer of the current Big Three – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic -- I'm also a believer that it's unfair to the great players of the past to only use Grand Slams to measure greatness. Rod Laver won 11 major titles and twice won the Grand Slam. He also didn't participate in any of the majors for five years between those two Grand Slams because the majors at the time didn't allow professional players to participate. Players such as Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe also often didn't play the Australian or the French Opens, something that would never happen today. Still, this era is phenomenal and it's quite possible we'll never see another similar era. It's cool. I like it.
Justice from Jacksonville:
So, John: What do you think will happen if Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee both ball out this year? With the acquisition of Dede Westbrook, would that mean Allen Hurns could be the odd-man out next season?
John: That's certainly possible, just as it's possible that Hurns "balling out" could mean either Robinson or Lee being the odd-man out. You have two players – Robinson and Lee – at the same position with contracts expiring after the season, and another – Hurns – whose contract is structured in a way that allows the Jaguars to get out of the contract with no dead money on the cap. It's a situation that lends itself to being decided on the field this season, which is what I expect will happen.
Robert from Oneonta:
John, is Kirk Cousins a quarterback the Jags might look at now or in the future? The issues in Washington seem ... complicated.
John: The issues in Washington with Cousins are indeed complicated, and we're going to continue to get questions about Cousins until either those sides reach a long-term deal or Blake Bortles shows himself to be a franchise quarterback. Should the Jaguars decide after this season that Bortles is not the long-term answer, it's safe to say they will look at every quarterback option. If Cousins is a free agent and appears to be a viable option, then they would look at that. They also would look at the draft. And any other option. That's not a very specific answer, but specific answers are difficult when the questions involve things eight or nine months in the future.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
I created a "slew" of follow-up questions. Such a feeling of accomplishment and celebrity. Is this how it feels to be you?
O-Zone: Quite an accomplishment
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Mike from Jacksonville: