JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Steve from Atlanta, GA:
Andrew Luck wakes up the happiest guy on the planet Thursday morning; Blake can't be far behind. Dude is going to get PAID.
John: Indeed, Blake Bortles should be happy with the Andrew Luck contract – and that's the nature of being a young quarterback who looks like a potential elite, franchise-level quarterback. Luck on Wednesday signed a league-altering second contract with the Colts worth nearly $140 million over six seasons. Bortles is probably two offseasons from negotiating a second contract, so he needs to continue developing – and he needs to take some significant steps in some important areas over the next two seasons. He's showing signs, but he's not there yet. The steps he must take are real steps and they're difficult steps. Still, judging by what we saw last season – and by his approach to improving – it is reasonable to assume that when Bortles gets paid it indeed will happen in UPPER-CASE letters, the use of which obviously means this is very serious stuff.
David from Ada, OK:
When I was a young 'un, slow-hand gave me some advice about what often happens after midnight. He said, after midnight, we're gonna let it all hang down. After midnight, we're gonna chug-a-lug and shout. We're gonna stimulate some action. We're gonna get some satisfaction. We're gonna find out what it is all about.
John: Yes, and at some point I'm figuring it's going to be all peaches and cream. Maybe not now … maybe not tomorrow, but someday, David. Someday.
James from New York, NY:
I have lived in New York for 10 years now, but was born in Jacksonville. Always been a Jags fan and when I got to New York I could never find any Jags gear at the sports stores. Well, after trying seven different sports stores my girlfriend finally found a Jaguars hat at a Modell's for my birthday this year! The word of Duval is spreading; I can feel it this year! Although she did get a discount because it was dusty. Maybe I'm just being optimistic #dtwd!
John: Gotta go to Mo's. #DTWD
Raymond from Jacksonville:
John: Let's assume Luke Joeckel plays left guard the entire year. If the Jaguars then place the franchise tag on him, would the salary be based on guards or left tackles? I would think there is something in the Collective Bargaining Agreement to protect players in this situation.
John: There is no difference in the franchise-tag value between tackles, guards or centers. They are all classified as offensive linemen.
Alan from Ellington, CT:
Is there a cap teams can spend on coaching? Does it come out of the salary cap?
John: No. There is no limit to what teams can spend on coaches.
Shane from Pensacola, FL:
Andrew Luck has done well for the Colts so far. Is he really that good or has the AFC South been that weak to allow him to win the Division all years he was healthy? He has some competition in the division now.
John: The Colts have won games since 2012 against teams not in the AFC South, and the Colts played in the AFC Championship Game following the 2014 season. The AFC South has been weaker than most divisions in recent seasons and Luck struggled even when healthy last season, but until he proves differently over an extended stretch I think it's safe to assume he is good.
Chris from Mandarin:
David from Oviedo is either referring to your dismissal of baseball as a passion, or your turning away of fandom from the NFL after becoming employed as a writer for the NFL. Many sportswriters continue to be fans of teams while remaining objective in the press box and type. Did you feel that you did not have the integrity (I'm joking) to remain a fan and be objective, or did you legitimately lose casual interest?
John: My NFL fandom waned long before I became employed by an NFL team – and actually before I began covering the NFL for the Florida Times-Union in the mid-1990s. It actually began waning when I began covering the University of Florida and started writing more about people my own closer to my own age or younger. When I was a fan, I was emotional and irrational and single-minded – all of the things that make being a fan fun. It's difficult to be those things when trying to cover a sport, so I just legitimately lost casual interest.
Al from Celina, OH:
The huge Andrew Luck deal revamps the discussions about the insane amounts of money made by professional athletes. My simple take about why the money is so astronomical hinges on the Cleveland Cavaliers victory parade. There were over 1.4 million people in the area to be a part of the victory parade. They get big-time money because people are willing to spend big-time money to see them do their job. As much as I love my dad, nobody is going to his job and cheering him on. I don't think it is fair that sports athletes make more than teachers, but in reality they are valued more. It's just the way it is. I mean, you see 50,000 people willing to spend $200-plus to watch you do your job, you are going to get paid. Relatively easy concept to me.
Scott from Section 432:
O-Man, the Jags were only blown out in one game last year and were 4-5 in games decided by six points or less. In several losses missed tackles were the issue. Do the Jags practice tackling in camp? Is it allowed? If so the defensive backs need to practice, practice, practice.
John: The Jaguars were actually blown out two or three times last season, but yes, missed tackles were an issue. Yes, they practice tackling in training camp. No, they don't practice it as much as would be ideal because of the risk of injury involved. Yes, it needs to get better. It appears they have better players this year. That should help.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
A couple of dead zones ago we discussed who is the greatest quarterback of all time. I am pretty sure we unanimously decided on Dan Marino. If you had to pick a defender from any era to build your defense, who would you take? I probably would go with Lawrence Taylor, although I am tempted by Deion Sanders. I watched him make quarterbacks think they couldn't use his half of the field.
John: I don't know that the Marino-as-best-ever decision was unanimous, though I certainly consider him as good as any ever to play. Choosing a defensive player is infinitely more difficult because the greatest defensive players need good players around him to be effective. That was even true of Taylor – and that's indeed who I would choose. While Sanders indeed took away a side of the field, Taylor dominated to a point that for a brief time it became vogue to say he had reinvented defensive football to the point of making three-four outside linebacker the most important position in the NFL. The position indeed became important and it remains important, but Taylor didn't spawn a generation of players who played like him because as it turned out there was only one Lawrence Taylor.
Brian from Duval County:
Do you believe Myles Jack will have the type of impact that Telvin Smith had his rookie year? Or do you think he see more playing time early?
John: I think Myles Jack will be on the field in a pivotal role early and I would be surprised if his impact as a rookie isn't bigger than Smith's.
Gary from Centerville, Ohio:
Thirty-eight seasons without a losing record. Eighteen Final Fours. Eight National Championships. Twenty 30-win seasons. Forty-five players who are now coaches. And a 100 percent graduation rate. I'm not a fan of women's college basketball, but I'm a fan of what Pat Summitt did. I'll even go as far as say, "Good Ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee" for her. (I'm not a UT fan either, but I know when respect has been earned).
John: Indeed. I've never followed women's basketball incredibly closely, and covered only one or two games when covering the University of Florida from 1993-1995. One of those games was against the University of Tennessee. I don't remember much about the game other than that Tennessee won and that you couldn't help but be struck by the overwhelming presence of Summitt. I obviously never knew her to have any personal insight, but in reading and listening to people speak of her in recent days she was the rarest of rare people. She truly not only transcended her sport, but in a very real sense helped redefine it and transform it. She did this while also transforming and redefining the lives of her players and countless others with whom she came in contact. That's an incredible coaching life and also an incredible life, period. Respect earned? Absolutely.
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Steve from Atlanta, GA: