Adam from Louisville, KY:
Forgive me, but I feel slightly apprehensive about "spending to the cap." The Eagles tried that approach and how'd that work out for them? Heightened expectations and underperforming seem to be a dangerous combination. I never hear teams like the Patriots or Pittsburgh doing such things. Also, we've tried this before with signings like: Porter, Douglas, Florence etc. The last thing I want as a fan is to get back in salary cap trouble again. Such a thing could really set this franchise back.
John: There has been a bit of nail-biting among hardcore fans since Shad Khan talked Tuesday night about spending to the cap, and understandably so. Fans well remember the silly spending during silly season in on players such as Porter and Douglas and it did set the franchise back. But there's a difference in spending wisely in free agency and spending for the sake of spending. Gene Smith on Tuesday talked about targeting players, then pursuing those players. What he didn't mention that he surely was thinking is that those targets will be specific players that fit a certain mold – and there's every chance that those targets might not completely line up with names some fans covet. Signing every high-priced star that comes on the market – as some teams have done in the past – is not wise, target-based free agency. Wise, target-based free agency is more along the lines of what the Jaguars did this past off-season. Remember, when the Jaguars signed their free agents in July and August there was very little national buzz. That went to the Eagles. What the Jaguars did mostly was sign players who filled the needs. By doing so, they solidified the roster and all indications are there will be a similar approach to offense this off-season.
Adam from Louisville, KY:
To add on to my previous email; this appears to be a contradiction to Gene's philosophy. Are we seeing a change in approach? if so, please sell me on why?
John: I left this in two parts because the first answer was wordy and I wanted to break things up. I can't speak for Smith's philosophy before I arrived last February, but the way he has explained it to me is always that he wanted to build long-term through the draft and selected Best Available Player on Draft Day. That was one part of the approach. The other part is to fill obvious short-term needs by free agency. Without question Smith believes the best way to build a franchise for the long-term is to draft well, develop players and sign deserving players to long-term contracts. At the same time, when the player procurement system includes free agency it would be foolish to ignore that as an option to fill obvious needs in a timely fashion.
Brad from Section 140:
When will the schedule come out for next year?
John: The schedule usually is released in late March or early April.
Buddy from Jacksonville:
Don't teams have to spend to the cap beginning in 2012?
John: There is no salary floor until 2013, and even then, individual teams are required to spend 89 percent of the cap. There is a rule that league-wide teams must spend to the 99 percent of the cap in 2012.
James from Bossier City, LA:
The rules say spiking the ball to stop the clock is a legal play, but I wish they'd take it out of the books and make it intentional grounding. This would require teams to manage the time clock better.
John: There was a time when the rules were as you wish. I believe it was until about the mid-1980s. Until that time, when quarterbacks wanted to stop the clock, they had to throw it out of bounds in the direction of a receiver. The league changed it to the current system to save a few seconds – and because the play essentially had the same result. I wouldn't look for a change in the current rule. It allows teams to stop the clock and it's a play that doesn't cause a lot of confusion. It also promotes scoring in the final two minutes and makes it a bit easier for teams to rally late in games. Those are things the league generally smiles upon.
Fabian from Jacksonville:
If you were the GM for the Jaguars would you trade all of this year's draft picks for Justin Blackmon?
John: Absolutely not.
Mike from Jacksonville:
I attended the Ready to Rise rally and felt a very positive vibe from everyone in attendance. Great to hear from Mr. Khan and Coach Mularkey. Like Bob from Middleburg I also missed Jaxson but was disappointed with the limited number of players that showed up. Where was our quarterback? With his leadership position, I expected him to be there. Then again, I saw his interview on TV last week where he stated he didn't care what the fans think, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised. I'm hoping his attitude is a carryover from JDR and Coach Mularkey will have a more positive influence on him.
John: Bash Gabbert for what he does on the field if you want, but to criticize him for not being at an off-season event is a bit much. The players who attended Tuesday night's event for the most part were players who were in town. Gabbert and many other players were out of town, which is perfectly appropriate in the off-season. There are no workouts going on at the stadium and this time is designated as down time. I personally was impressed with the number of players who showed up. As for Gabbert's thoughts on the fans, would you rather he talk publicly about how crushed he is that there may be fans who criticize him? Do you want to weep on camera and wallow in self-pity? If he did, he would get ripped for that, too. Here's the reality: No player – Gabbert or any other – should be affected by what fans think, certainly not to the point where it remotely influences how they approach the game. Players must prepare and approach the game in whatever way allows them to get the most from their ability. If they are loved by the fans, it's nice, but it's not something players can control and therefore, it's absolutely not something about which they should worry.
Fred from Jacksonville:
I find the "new" overtime rule questions and your answers very interesting. Here's another. Team A kicks off to start overtime. Before Team B catches the ball it explodes in to two parts. Team B catches the bigger part and starts to return the kickoff. Meanwhile team A recovers the smaller part and scores first. Team B scores seconds later. Who wins the team that scores first or the team with most of the ball? I asked the cheerleaders at the rally but they weren't sure.
John: I started laughing out loud at "explodes."
Thomas from Jacksonville:
Why hasn't Fred Taylor been added to the "Pride?" I figured they would add him on his resigning/retirement day.
John: I don't know Shad Khan's policy on the Pride, or even if he has one yet. I personally am not a fan of putting in more than one person – or in the case of the Weavers, one couple – per season. As it worked out, this was the Weavers' season. I doubt the wait for Taylor will be much longer.
Robbie from Jacksonville:
When a QB takes a knee in from the "victory formation" is he credited with lost yardage? Since the QB is not making an attempt to advance the ball, I feel the ball should be placed back at the line of scrimmage.
John: The quarterback usually is credited with a loss of one rushing yard.
Chris from Where the Jaguars Are:
If Mel Tucker didn't know he made the right decision yet, the rally surely let him know. Wow! What a special moment that ovation must have been for a man that truly deserved the respect we the fans showed for him. He's great and that's really all I wanted to say.
John: It was a really cool moment, and though Tucker downplayed it a bit when I spoke to him later, I have no doubt he was very touched. Tucker said it was obvious to him that Jaguars fans appreciated good defense, and that that was why they cheered so loudly. I sensed, though, it was something more. Tucker not only exuded class when he was the interim coach for five games, he did the same when the Jaguars opted to hire Mike Mularkey as the head coach, a job for which Tucker interviewed and one he obviously wanted. Tucker interviewed in Minnesota, and I have no doubt had he expressed interest he could be defensive coordinator there now. Instead, Tucker agreed to return to Jacksonville. I believe the Jaguars are a better situation for Tucker than the Vikings, but I also know there are coaches in Tucker's situation who would have left out of bitterness or misplaced pride. Tucker returned, and did so with the same dignity and class that he has shown throughout his time with the team. I think fans sensed that, and I think they were acknowledging that Tuesday night. Cool moment, and one Tucker deserved.
Miguel from Jacksonville:
Hey Osh! I waited around till the very end of the rally & I waved at you...but you didn't wave back. I had the Fred Taylor jersey on. What gives? I thought we were cool?
John: If that's all you had on I know why I didn't wave back.
One very memorable moment
Adam from Louisville, KY: