JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... David from My Happy Place:
I'm happy to see my team on the rise. After so many years rebuilding through bad free-agent picks, poor drafting and just bad luck, it looks like we are STARTING to build a good foundation. The team is now exciting to watch, and only getting better. Through the good and not-so-good times it has been a bright spot to visit the O-Zone. Dave, Gus and staff … keep it up. I could ramble on all day like this because I'm so HAPPY ... Do you think you can make everyone this happy, O-Man and Jags staff?
John: Wow, you are in a happy place. I can tell, because I'm generally an upbeat, happy person. We have received quite a few emails along these lines in recent days, actually, and that's great, because it's fun to win two of three games and it's fun to see tangible evidence of improvement. People like winning. It makes them happy. But the reality is had the Jaguars lost close games to Tennessee and Houston instead of winning them, the future would look just as bright – even though people probably wouldn't feel quite as good. My point is the rest of the season may not be as giddy. It's possible the Jaguars won't win the rest of their games, and it's possible there may be ups and downs with discouraging downs. That won't mean things are off the rails and it won't mean the team's not improving. It will just mean that the Jaguars are what we knew they were coming into this season – a young, imperfect team that's on its way to better things … but perhaps isn't quite there yet. As for me and the staff making everyone this happy, I don't know, David … I fear you may be into the holiday egg nog a bit early, but hey, good for you.
Steven from Milwaukee, WI:
We all face a scarlet conclusion, but we spend our time in a dream.
Sam from Orlando, FL:
You say players were let go for a reason and Caldwell wouldn't be regretting too many choices. But geez, he has to be at least wondering why he let Daryl Smith walk. He is having a monster year.
John:I would never diminish what Daryl Smith meant to the Jaguars for nearly a decade, and within the context of this season, he probably would make the Jaguars better on some level. Within the context of building a competitive roster for the long-term, however, his absence probably isn't one about which Caldwell is worrying too, too much.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Maurice Jones-Drew sharing touches is a great idea. He may have been at his best when sharing the backfield with Fred Taylor. This will possibly extend his career and allow him to get more touches in the passing game. This is smart; you improve the team just by managing the players you have more efficiently. This team is in good hands.
John: The team is in good hands for more reasons than you cite, but Jones-Drew sharing carries with Jordan Todman indeed is a good idea. This is a different situation than when he shared carries with Taylor, though; at that time, the combination gave the Jaguars an overpowering backfield combination that defined the franchise. The current situation is more about the Jaguars trying to find wrinkles that work offensively. Adding Todman's speed and emphasizing Jones-Drew's pass-catching ability helped against Houston toward that end. But probably the most important part of this story has been Jones-Drew's willingness to accept the situation without complaint. He has been the main back with the majority of the carries pretty much since 2009, and there may have been a time he might have responded differently. That he accepted this situation – one he said this week likely will continue – shows a great deal about how Jones-Drew feels about this coaching staff and the direction of the franchise.
Sean from Candler, NC:
In a perfect world, you would draft both your superstars and good role players. Do you see Dave Caldwell trying to get superstars in the draft and adding good role players such as he did with Alan Ball and Sen'Derrick Marks this year and not trying to land a super star in free agency? I for one would like that approach since it leaves you with good young superstars and good role players and doesn't 'cash strap' the team moving forward.
John: I think the Jaguars will be more active with so-called "top-tier" free agents in the 2014 offseason than they were this past spring. That won't mean signing an entire side of the ball, and it won't mean signing every player the fans have heard of. It could mean addressing, say, the interior of the offensive line – and perhaps a linebacker and/or wide receiver depending on what the team believes about the draft. But whatever free agents are signed, they likely will be within a target age and they won't be signed in a manner that interferes with the long-term approach of building a roster primarily through the draft.
Nick from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada:
Why does there need to be a guarantee that an earlier pick will result in getting the quarterback that will help win for a decade? There are no guarantees with player acquisition. There is evidence that picking earlier gives teams an edge, and since there are no guarantees, an edge is all you can ask for. Besides, what does it matter to the team going forward if they finish 2-14 or 4-12? Is there any "guarantee" that the team will be better in the future simply because of those two extra wins? I think not. Give me the higher pick and choice of player.
John: Even if you were right, Nick, and even if there was nothing to be gained from players gaining confidence and belief in what the organization is building toward, the question becomes, "How?" How do try to lose? Do you tell the players to lie down? Do you tell the coaches to not try to motivate? Do you call bad plays on purpose? It doesn't work that way. The Jaguars will do what they can to win every game. They probably won't win every game. At the end of the season, they will have the record they have and they will pick wherever they pick.
Tommy from Newark, DE:
And why is the carpet all wet, Todd?
John: Is Rusty still in the Navy?
Scott from Jacksonville:
Hey, why isn't "get on a plane and fly to Cleveland" one of your ten things? We have NO chance of winning if we don't show up!
Ty from Duval, FL:
I enjoy reading the submissions condemning Justin Blackmon for drug, and/or alcohol "infractions." I don't see how the NFL as a league is allowed to encroach on a person's right to earn a living for non -work related misdemeanors – CBA or not. The guy got a DUI, paid his price to society; where does the NFL figure they are owed anything more than these players health, lives, blood, and sweat? Their personal lives are just that – their lives. These are grown adults who play a child's game; they aren't role models.
John: I very much agree that these players aren't role models and that they have no responsibility to be so. When they are, that's great – and I have known many athletes considered terrific role models. At the same time, those who aren't role models have every right to behave as they choose so long as they don't break laws or bother others. In terms of the league being allowed to "encroach" on the player, though, your answer is right there within your question. You can't say, "CBA or not," because it is the Collective Bargaining Agreement that absolutely allows the league to hand out such discipline. The players as a union agreed to the system, so you really don't hear much complaining from them when it's used.
Patrick from Glorious Merced, CA:
Those helmets look better when we have victories. I still miss the chrome black, though. Any chance will have them back next season?
John: I wouldn't expect any changes for at least four more seasons. NFL rules state that unless a franchise changes ownership, teams can only change designs of helmet or uniforms every five years.
Shawn from the Pleasant Streets of Arlington:
Mr. O, Players often visit children's hospitals to brighten up the spirits of the youngsters; do children ever get to visit their favorite players while their rehabbing to wish them well? It would be an awesome experience for kids to feel they were in some way part of a players rehab.
John: I've never heard of this, but it's not a bad idea.
Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington:
Sampling off of everyone else's plate while his is still full. #shadricksightings
Shawn from the Mean Streets or Arlington:
Is this considered spam?
John: Yeah, pretty much.
O-Zone: Sir Spamalot
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... David from My Happy Place: