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On necessary risks

Let's get to it . . . TJ from Cocoa, FL:
Defensive end John Chick played some good football in his first season before he got injured. Could you see the Canadian being a starter for us in the future? He looks a little undersized, but knows how to use his speed, which I think could be a great advantage.
John: Chick indeed played very well when healthy last season. I certainly think he'll have a chance to be part of the defensive end rotation moving forward, though he may be better suited for a reserve, pass-rushing role.
Chris from Tuscaloosa, AL:
What is the head-to-head record of the Manning brothers?
John: Peyton Manning and the Colts are 2-0 against Eli Manning and the Giants. The Colts won the 2006 regular-season opener and the second game of the 2010 regular season.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
Since Mojo was a second-round pick, maybe he doesn't quite qualify as coming out of nowhere. But as I recall, he made some plays in his first year that had a lot of people going: 'Who is that little guy knocking down those star football players . . ." Mojo-sanity!!! He was certainly the most-talked about new Jaguar that I can ever recall.
John: Jones-Drew certainly made an impact, and while he uses his second-round status as motivation, there were a lot of people who thought he could make it in the NFL. First-round selections at the running back position – as we're going to see again this season – are getting rarer and rarer. Still, that doesn't take away from your point – that as a rookie and throughout his career Jones-Drew has overcome whatever adversity he faced on draft day. I don't know about being the most-talked about new Jaguar, though. Fred Taylor in 1998 made a similar push for rookie-of-the-year honors, and did so with a propensity for big plays that was hard to match.
Alex from Raleigh, NC:
Why were the Chiefs able to sign Routt? I thought teams would have to wait until free agency to sign players.
John: Routt was released recently by Oakland, meaning he was free to sign with other teams. Most of the other players we're talking about as "free agents" are still under contract with their teams and won't become free agents until the start of the new league year, March 13.
Mark from Jacksonville and Section 223:
Thanks for the link to the website for Sarcastic Font. Love it. Hope we will all be able to use it soon.
John: It sure wouldn't hurt. I make the mistake here sometimes of assuming people can see sarcasm. I'm wrong on that, but I'm not sure if an O-Zone without sarcasm is quite the same.
Andrew from Orange Park, FL:
I for one believe in Gabbert, but do you think his struggles last season will weigh heavily on whether an unrestricted free agent receiver chooses to come here compared to a team with an established quarterback? Or do you think the contract they're offered will be the biggest factor?
John: The contract ab$olutely will be the bigge$t factor. As for the worries about Gabbert, that may be a discussion for many free agent receivers. There is a conception among some that Gabbert is somehow beyond being able to improve, but there are also many – particularly around the Jaguars – who believe that is a misconception and that will be something the Jaguars emphasize on any free-agent visits.
Nathan from Springville, UT:
OK O-Man, you've either done really well at ignoring posts like this one, or... here goes...Do you see Peyton Manning someone the Jags would pursue if released by the Colts?
John: I've gotten the question a few times and actually thought I'd answered it. Or maybe it was because I didn't want to fuel speculation about something not likely to happen. Personally, I don't think signing Manning would be a bad idea. If the contract is reasonable and based on him playing and producing, there wouldn't be much harm. Normally, I'm not big on veteran, big-splash signings, but Manning isn't a usual circumstance. He also would have the obvious positive impact on ticket sales, notoriety, public interest, etc. All that said, the answer is no, I don't see it happening. The Jaguars are in the process of building the roster, and there are needs at receiver and defensive end that will fill holes, with the general belief in the organization that filling those holes will go a long way toward making the franchise competitive.
Sam from Jacksonville:
Any chance we trade down or up?
John: Sure.
Ron from Asheville, NC:
If the Jaguars were to sign Mario Williams, I would think the contract would exceed what Julius Peppers got. It would take probably more than an average of 15 million per year with over 40 million in guaranteed money. There is no doubting the immense talent of Mario Williams, but would this be a wise move to invest so much into one player? Especially on a team that hasn't been contending, and needs more than just Mario Williams to make that happen? Would this put the Jaguars tight against future caps preventing the ability of the Jaguars from signing their own big time players, and future free agents? What do you believe the Jaguars are thinking, and their rationale for such a possible signing?
John: The impact of the contract would be huge. Still, defensive end is one of the core positions that are hard to find and to find one with special, franchise-defining ability you often have to spend either early draft picks or major free-agent money. It's distasteful, in a sense, but that's how it is.
Charles from Jacksonville:
I saw in the paper where the new president (Mark Lamping) says that the Jaguars have to become a regional team and there was the mention of moving training facilities away from Jacksonville. I agree that the training facilities should be moved. Now, the big question is, will they rename the Jaguars as the North Florida Jaguars of Jacksonville, to make outlying areas to feel as though it is their team also?
John: I don't know that renaming the team is necessary. A franchise can develop into a regional draw whatever the name of the team. I would say the Jaguars need to do a better job focusing on drawing fans from around the region. That's something the St. Louis Cardinals emphasized when Lamping was the president from 1994-2008, and it was a reason Shad Khan considered him a good fit for the position. Among the things I'm curious to see is how the Jaguars will move in that direction under Lamping. Tapping into the regional market is certainly something that will be emphasized moving forward.
Brian from Jacksonville:
Why in the wide, wide, wide world of sports would the Texans pay Arian Foster and let Mario Williams walk? If the scheme doesn't fit him then they are running the wrong scheme.
John: There is some truth to that, and in almost every situation I'd agree. From the Texans' perspective, though, you have to consider that not only has Williams been hurt more than is ideal, but that they moved very successfully to a 3-4 scheme this season – and Williams is more of a 4-3 end. Williams also has a huge cap number if he is franchised – nearly $22 million – and in this rare case, parting ways with a player of Williams' talent at least makes sense on paper.
Brad from Orange Park, FL:
I get that the NFL is in the entertainment industry. But I'm watching ESPN's "Draft Lab" and Mel Kiper, Jr. proclaims that Andrew Luck is already expected to win 'multiple' Super Bowls and be inducted to the Hall of Fame. Really? Why not eradicate the planet of disease and end world hunger, too? I wasn't old enough, or maybe didn't follow football as closely as I do now, to remember if Ryan Leaf or any other player carried quite the same amount of over-hype coming in to the draft or not, but isn't that a bit much?
John: Absolutely, it's a bit much. "A bit much" is what the draft – indeed, the entire NFL off-season – and to a degree ESPN are all about. I'll repeat again my oft-cited advice: watch ESPN, and enjoy, but get not overworried about what you're watching and enjoying. This is fun. Have fun.
Scott from Jacksonville:
I don't get the fascination with Vincent Jackson. He foolishly held out for a new contract while he was scheduled to serve a suspension for a couple DUIs. He may be a good player, but he is an idiot! And correct me if I am wrong, but if he screws up again, he's suspended for a year. How can you be convinced that GM Gene is interested in aggressively pursuing such a tool?
John: I'm not convinced of anything, but the Jaguars need wide receivers and with the market dwindling as free agency approaches, Jackson is a player just about any team with a need at the position has to consider. I'm always cautious before writing off a player as an idiot or a bad guy. Yes, Jackson has made some bad decisions and yes, he is a mistake away from a one-year suspension. But there were a lot of teams who liked his character coming out of college and mistakes don't always define the player. Here's the great truth of free agency: if a player is available there are almost always reasons that's true, and sometimes the reason involves character. It's why free-agency generally is considered a risky way to build a roster.
Richard from Woonsocket, RI:
On Fox, there's an article about 10 teams who made coaching staff changes that will make a major impact this season. The Jags are not mentioned once! No respect, or does he think our changes were not good?
John: I didn't see the article, but I'll say what I always say about such lists. Don't worry about them. The Jaguars hired a good coaching staff and there are plenty in the NFL who know it. How major its impact will be will be determined when it matters – next season.

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