Let's get to it . . .
James from Orange Park, FL:
What do you think of the Jason Babin signing?
John: I admit I was a bit surprised when the Jaguars made a claim for Babin. It hasn't been the team's normal mode of operation in recent seasons to sign veterans off the waiver wire or to go after "big names." But it in fact makes perfect sense. He had 36 sacks since the beginning of the 2010 season and had 5.5 in the first 11 games this season. That last number disappointed many in Philadelphia, but it still translates to eight for the season. Jeremy Mincey got a big contract from the Jaguars after having that many last season, so it stands to reason Babin can help the pass rush. At the very least, it's a move with essentially no risk, and it could end up helping what long has been a problem area.
Clyde from Jacksonville:
Hey, what's going on with Greg Jones? We could sure use him back in the game!!
John: Jones has a thigh injury and has been out four games. He was limited in practice Wednesday, and although Mike Mularkey is hoping he can practice later in the week, Jones has been trying unsuccessfully to get back the last several weeks. Yes, the Jaguars absolutely could use Jones, though I don't know that I'd hold my breath for him to play this week.
Ben from Los Angeles, CA:
First, the Jaguars finally won. Second, I finished everything needed to buy my new gun. Third, I'm watching my six-hour old daughter right now! Now all I need is to get an honorable mention from the O-Man to complete my week!
John: Be careful with that gun.
Jon from St. Johns, FL and Section 124:
Can you explain the waiver process? I thought that it only applied to players that have been in the league less than four years. How were we able to get a 32-year-old player on waivers?
John: Because he was waived after the trading deadline, the waiver system is used regardless of years of service. However, because he has four years, Babin can opt to become a free agent after the 2013 season if he so chooses.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
So Andre Branch is the next Jason Pierre Paul? You know you are going to get a lot of emails saying Vic used to do the same thing with Zach Miller being the next Dallas Clark and Mike Thomas the next Steve Smith.
John: I have no idea what my predecessor wrote. I do know that I've never written that Andre Branch was the next Jason Pierre-Paul and I do know I've never written anything close to that. I did write that pass rushers often take time to develop and I wrote that Pierre-Paul got his first sack in his 11th game. That's not remotely the same thing, so I assume you're referencing something else.
David from Lincoln, NE:
I have been telling all my friends that Blackmon and Shorts could be the next Smith and McCardell. I know it's a quick judgment after a small sample size, but do you see any similarities between our current tandem with Smith and McCardell?
John: Yes, in the sense that Smith and McCardell played wide receiver and Blackmon and Shorts do, too. Aside from that, there aren't too, too many similarities. McCardell was the classic possession receiver and Smith was a receiver with an uncommon combination of size, strength and speed that made him practically uncoverable at times. Neither Shorts nor Blackmon appear to have quite Smith's athleticism, though Blackmon has special hands and body control and Shorts is developing into a very, very good route runner with speed to make the big play. Also remember, Smith and McCardell rank among the top NFL receiving tandems of all-time; Blackmon/Shorts have done this for two games.
Kamal from San Francisco, CA:
I believe Blackmon will develop into a Boldin-type of receiver: tough, physical, great hands and a smart, team player. However, Boldin has never been considered a Top 10 player at his position, and the pessimist in me doesn't see a Top 10 game-breaking type of player in Blackmon. Would an Anquan Boldin-type of career be a disappointment for picking a wide receiver No. 5 overall?
John: It depends who you ask. Anquan Boldin has more receiving yards than all but 39 players ever to play. Ask me, I wouldn't be disappointed in that.
Justin from Jacksonville:
Do you think we'll see any trick plays in these last 5 weeks?
John: Yes. I think we'll see two. No, wait: three.
Kevin from Atlantic Beach, FL and Section 218:
What are the expectations of players that are placed on injured reserve? Do IR players still attend meetings, go to games, etc., or do they stay home and rehab?
John: It's unusual for players on injured reserve to travel to road games, and how much time they spend around the facility or how many home games they attend depend on the circumstance. Some players choose to rehab with their specialists of their own choosing and some choose to do so at the team facility. Some IR players you might see around the facility every day, while some you see only occasionally when they return to check in with doctors and team officials.
Chad from Palatka, FL:
My recent ex-wife's first name is the same as the last name of one particular Jaguar defensive end. Can you simply refer to all defensive ends by their first name only? And for those who don't know which defensive end you are referring to then they are not real Jag fans and should study up before reading your column! Thanks for soothing my heartache!
John: You were married to a girl named "Selvie?"
John from Jacksonville:
If they do change the penalty on the offside situations we have had this year, how will that affect the free play for the offense? Part of the reason the quarterback is allowed to be hit, is because he has just as much opportunity to throw a TD if players quit on the play.
John: I'd guess there's a chance that the whole free-play thing might be taken away or altered somehow. It's a shame, because taking advantage of the so-called free play provides a lot of opportunities for big plays. But these days, if player safety – particularly quarterback safety – is the tradeoff, then the trade likely will get made.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
I know Gene Smith is not popular around Jacksonville, but in four years with GM Gene, the Jaguars are 22-37. With Gabbert at quarterback, the Jaguars are 5-20; with any quarterback NOT named Gabbert, they are 16-17. Isn't it possible that bad quarterbacking has skewed our view of Gene's roster?
John: Quarterback play skews everything in one direction or the other. Always has; always will.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
If the Jags continue to progress down the stretch and the offense we've seen the last two weeks keeps showing up, is it feasible that this offense could be one defenses fear coming into next year? What happens when MJD is back and healthy and defenses have to worry about both? This could be the first time in a while that defenses will have to focus on more than one guy in their game planning.
John: That's a major reason why you'd love to get Maurice Jones-Drew back for a few games this season. You'd love to see how this offense with Henne, Blackmon, Lewis and Shorts playing well could function with Jones-Drew. Get a few games with balance by the end of the season and yes, it might be an offense capable of worrying some people entering next season.
David from Neptune Beach, FL:
Henne took two sacks that pushed us out of field-goal range that likely cost us six points. Would you expect more running near the edge of field goal range going forward?
John: I expect Henne will be more aware of that situation going forward, and I'd expect the Jaguars to call whatever plays give them the best chance to get a first down.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
How is the rookie corner Mike Harris coming along? We saw him play a pretty solid game in Green Bay and at times he has looked impressive to me. He had an explosive sack against the Titans last week and came close to blocking a punt as well. What are your thoughts on his play thus far?
John: I think he has played well, is contributing as a rookie and is showing signs he can be a starter/contributor in his second and/or third seasons. That's what you want out of any rookie drafted after the first round.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Despite the high hopes for Henne, remember there is probably a bad game coming before the end of the season. Even the "great ones" have off days and teams now have some good film on our latest quarterback so if and when Henne does have that bad day I sure hope we fans don't swing the pendulum wildly in the other direction and call for everyone to be burned at the stake again. It's what he does after that stinker that will matter the most to me.
John: You're right, and no question what's important regarding Henne is how he performs over the entire second half of the season. But as for that pendulum swinging wildly, it will. In the NFL, wild is the only way pendulums swing.
Pendulums will swing
Let's get to it . . .