JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Jay from Charleston, SC:
John, why does it seem like every offseason, or at least these past two, at least one of our big-name rookies get seriously hurt? What are our coaches or trainers missing? Last year with Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee getting hurt … now Fowler. Something really needs to be looked into. Maybe it's a conspiracy against us. I think the Colts are sabotaging us trying to keep us down.
John: Let me preface this answer by saying I am not angry with you, per se, Jay. But this line of questioning always irritates me, perhaps because I have great respect for athletic trainers – particularly those with the Jaguars – and grow quickly irritated when fans blame them for players becoming injured in a physically taxing endeavor such as professional football. I understand the frustration of fans. I really, really do. But let's back up a minute and consider your question and the theory within it. Your question implies that there is a trend of the Jaguars rookies' getting hurt and that therefore the athletic trainers are missing something or doing something wrong. Rookies by definition have just begun working with the Jaguars' athletic trainers. In the case of Lee and Robinson, they sustained hamstring injuries within a few weeks of joining the Jaguars last offseason. You can make the argument that those players may have been worn down by playing a college football season and following it immediately with months of pre-draft training. Would I listen to that as a possible connection and reason for hamstring injuries? Yeah, I could discuss that. Would I think the Jaguars' athletic trainers are supposed to prevent that and magically get these athletes' bodies correct within weeks? I'd have a tougher time listening to that. Finally, your question loops Fowler's torn anterior cruciate ligament with two hamstring injuries a year ago. Forget for a minute that there is very little an athletic trainer can do to prevent a torn ACL; simply consider that you're asking an athletic trainer to prevent an injury in a player he literally may have met the day before. You'll see why, although I get this line of questioning every time a Jaguars rookie gets hurt, I have little patience for the premise.
John from Jacksonville:
My initial reaction to Fowler's season-ending injury was, "Here we go again." However, a few hours later and with new perspective, rising to the surface of my sadness was new hope because – now hear this – it's a "team" sport and one man doesn't make a team. We will miss what could have been this season but there will be a bunch of players on the roster playing their hearts out to make this a winning team. Go Jags!
John: Your despair-recovery-reason curve sounds pretty normal and also sounds pretty close to that experienced by many within the Jaguars. It's natural to be shocked, disappointed, stunned and sent temporarily reeling by such an unexpected incident. But injuries happen in pro football. This one happened in stunning, angering fashion, but outside quarterback, there shouldn't be any one injury that completely wrecks an NFL season. That's particularly true with a rookie.
James from Jacksonville:
Fowler going down hurts. But this is not a season-killer as everyone is moaning about. We can't be defined as a winning or losing team by the loss of just one player (except quarterback). Everyone relax. We will be ok. #keepbelieving
John: Wish I'd said that.
Mark from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Will the team use Toby Gerhart as a blocking fullback for T.J. Yeldon in the same way Greg Jones was used for MJD?
Scott from Section 137 and Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I don't want to sound overly pessimistic, but has there ever been a defensive end return to his form after an ACL injury? In my limited research I have not found any such individuals. If this is the case and Joeckel doesn't pan out either, does this mean we are jinxed in our first round picks or should we be picking differently.
John: First off … differently how? They drafted the highest-rated offensive tackle and one of the highest-rated players in the draft in Luke Joeckel in 2013. He didn't play as well as he wanted last season, but the people writing him off as a bust are wa-a-a-a-y ahead of themselves and not very accurate, either. Fowler got hurt. How do you pick differently to avoid that? As far as pass rushers to return from ACL surgery, Von Miller tore his ACL in 2013 and had 14 sacks in 2014. That's not bad.
Richard from Myrtle Beach, SC:
Gabbert, Blackmon, Joeckel, Bortles and now Fowler Jr. I still have faith in Bortles but, wow, what a waste of No. 1 picks.
John: It has become vogue to lump the Jaguars' last five first-round selections together and point and say, "Yes, they are all alike." That's understandable. It's an easy, short story to write. It's an easy graphic to flash behind a talking head on ESPN. You probably even can get the concept into a 140-character tweet. But it doesn't really accurately assess what's going on. First, this regime didn't draft Blaine Gabbert or Justin Blackmon. That doesn't keep those selections from hurting the Jaguars, but it's not fair to link those players in with the people running this franchise. It also writes Joeckel off, and that's not something that's remotely correct at this point. Mostly, it calls three players – Bortles, Joeckel and Fowler – wastes who have yet to have time to show whether that's the case or not.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Compensatory picks are handed out through some well-kept secret formula, but once thing I noticed scouring through previous drafts is that some teams forfeit regular draft picks because of a previous year's compensatory picks. Does that happen if the compensatory pick works out for the team, or is it an automatic loss?
John: You may have "compensatory" selections confused with "supplemental" selections. Compensatory selections are awarded based on the previous offseason's free-agency gains and losses; using one does not cause forfeiture of a future draft selection. Supplemental selections are used in a supplementary draft, which takes place later in the offseason than a regular draft for players who were not in the regular draft for various reasons. Using a selection in that draft does require you forfeit a selection in the following offseason's regular draft.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
I love all the offseason moves this year with the exception of one. Is it too late to revisit the offensive coordinator hire? My fear is that this year Blake turns a corner and the team is left with a sub-par OC for the next decade during the team's prime. Go Jags!
John: There hardly could be less of a chance of that happening, and there's no reason it should.
Peter from Maribor, Slovenia:
My family had a great vacation on Malta during the 2015 NFL draft. Fortunately, our apartment had an excellent wi-fi connection so I could follow the whole process. I was flashing my Jaguars gear all over the islands and felt proud being a Jaguars fan. Oh, that rather expensive 2015 Draft Hat came yesterday - my wife still doesn't know anything about it - and then I saw @jagsbethany wearing a light grey one ... Is New Era trying to getting me divorced?
John: If you wanted to brag about your vacation in Malta you could have just said, "I went on vacation in Malta."
Jim from the Villages:
Saw some of your back posts about Lynyrd Skynyrd. Went to Lee High School with Ronnie back in the day. Great guy, great group. All DTWD. Read a great book all new signees should be interested in. New Money Staying Rich by Phillip Buchanon, formerly The U and Raiders fame. Doing a great job, brother.
John from Ramsey, NJ:
Johnny O... I'm sorry to hear about the injury to Dante Fowler. I hope he heals fully and quickly. I've heard he's gone for the season. I lobbied for Leonard Williams before the draft, and screamed my head off in a bar in New England when the Jags took Fowler over Williams in the first round. We are now 0-for-3 on UF defensive players. Will we ever learn?
John: I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that this appears to be a serious question.
John from Cape May, NJ:
You know what's funny? If Bortles becomes the quarterback the team envisions, it won't matter what Fowler does or does not do. This year is about Bortles, people … that's who we need to stay healthy and that's who we need to succeed.
John: I didn't laugh when I read it, but the same might be said of this column. It also might be said that there's a whole lot of truth in what you wrote.
Rob from Jacksonville:
ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Boston, Mötley Crue, Ozzy, Pearl Jam, Steve Miller, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, Guns N' Roses, Jane's Addiction, Heart, Eric Clapton, Cinderella, Whitesnake, Buck Cherry, Black Keys, including Zeppelin and Hendrix tribute bands. Man card! Your favorites from the bunch?
John: You get your man card. You might even be president of the club. As far as my favorites go, I don't know that we would have hung out all that much, but I do know the best thing about that shack outside La Grange is they gotta a lot of nice girls out there.
O-Zone: Rumor spreadin' round
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Jay from Charleston, SC: