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Play with instinct

Let's get to it . . . David from Jacksonville:
Why's everyone saying they feel hope with Henne at starter? I lose all hope; Henne will never win a Super Bowl as a starter, while Gabbert still has that potential. Statistically, he is on par with Eli Manning's sophomore season, and Eli had a much better team around him; in fact a great team around him. Don't give up on Gabbert.
John: It seems peoples' hope stems not so much from Gabbert not being in the game, but with what they're seeing from the team around Henne. The Jaguars for a long time had looked like a team struggling to function on offense, which made the entire roster look worse at times than it actually was. In the last two games, it has looked substantially better. That gives people hope, as well it should.
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
Hypothetical for you O-man. Henne finishes strong and works out to be the Jaguars' quarterback of the future . . . what happens to Gabbert? Would he be released as soon as it was apparent or would they keep him for the remainder of his contract? If Henne works for us, do you think Gabbert will get another chance in the NFL?
John: There's no reason to release Gabbert if Henne appears to be the long-term starter. The reason you would release Gabbert in that scenario is if you believed he had no value as a backup or if you believed he had no chance to be a long-term starter. I don't know that either is true, and I don't know if the Jaguars will come to that determination by the end of the season. I doubt they will. As I've said often, we're entering Henne's second start for the Jaguars and there are five games remaining. A lot about this issue will play out in the coming weeks.
Ray from Jacksonville:
It was interesting that the next question, after the one about the "next Smith and McCardell," was one about Blackmon fulfilling the value of a No. 5 pick. If Shorts and Blackmon come close to the other duo, I for one, will think we got full value, especially considering one was a fourth rounder. Would anyone really talk about this, if they only achieve "Smith and Boldin?"
John: Comparisons fascinate people. I get that, but here's the bottom line: Shorts has had a good first 11 games and Blackmon has looked good for two games. Smith and McCardell each rank among the most productive 25 receivers ever to play in the NFL. They produced for the Jaguars as a tandem for more than a half-decade and individually for many years more than that. If Shorts and Blackmon can come anywhere close to their productivity, it will be a major accomplishment. Right now, they're trying to prove they can start in the NFL on a long-term basis.
Andrew from Jacksonville:
You stated you were surprised by the Babin move because it's out of character from the last four years. I think it's Gene altering his philosophy a bit because his old one hadn't been effective enough and he wants to keep his job knowing a move for a well-known player like that will certainly raise Khan's eyebrow. Thoughts?
John: I think Jason Babin is a good football player who may be able to help the Jaguars and there was little risk in obtaining him. I also think people forget that when moves like this get made, there often is discussion between the general manager and owner. It's not as if Khan hops on the internet or checks his twitter timeline and says, "Goodness me, we signed Jason Babin." Major moves are discussed. Besides, Khan's not judging things based on eyebrow-raising moves. He wants to see that a plan is in place, and that the people operating that plan are the best people for it. One move in November probably isn't going to alter his decision-making process, however high-profile the move may be.
David from Newcastle, WY:
How will the Babin signing impact the status of John Chick? When in the game, John seems to be making plays. It's hard to tell with so few reps, however.
John: It might affect it somewhat, because Babin was clearly signed to play in pass-rushing situations. But Chick indeed has been effective in the pass rush and will get his opportunities. Here's the thing about players who can rush the passer: you can't have enough of them. The bottom line? The Jaguars have 13 sacks so far this season. It's not as if Jason Babin's presence is going to move a Hall of Famer to the bench.
Chris from Gulfport, FL:
The smart thing is to trade Babin now or in a couple weeks. We aren't going to the playoffs this year no matter how he plays. Babin will be 33 next season and keeping him on the roster next year would cost a lot for an old guy on the decline. Why not trade him away to a contender like the Falcons or Patriots for a couple of picks? I see zero downside. If we don't trade him, the Jags are essentially paying an aging defensive end for one year of service as a patch and simultaneously taking away snaps from the younger defensive ends we are trying to develop. What would the point of that be?
John: The point is to try to win, and to see if he can help the team next season. There's no reason he can't be an effective pass rusher at 33 or 34. Defensive end is not a position where a player necessarily slows down at that age. Concerning your trade theory, it goes back to the problem with so many suggested trades in the NFL – that is, finding a realistic trade partner. Three teams put in a claim on Babin: the Jaguars, Bills and Redskins. That means the potential partners are a bit limited, and even if they weren't, trying to get significant picks for him would be tricky. And by the way, the trading deadline for this season has passed.
Marshall from Mountain Home, ID:
I fought the law and the law won.
John: I needed money 'cuz . . . I had none.
Mason from Boudreau:
Brian from Atlanta made a very good point that the Jags record under Gene without Gabbert is 16-17. That could be used in his favor. However, Blaine Gabbert is Gene's most important pick and to be 5-20 is more of a stat against Gene. Also with Britton being outperformed by Bradfield and Brewster, Knighton being outperformed by Mosley, Parmele outperforming Jennings as well as Henne playing better than Gabbert, Gene has a lot going against him going into the off season.
John: We could break this down 10 ways to Sunday, and I'm sure we will before the end of the season. A general manager is judged on record, and whether the owner believes he is the correct man to build the roster in the future. That's what Shad Khan will be deciding in the coming months, as he will decide with his general manager and his head coach and many people at the end of each season. As for who is outperforming who, did Smith not acquire Bradfield, Mosley, Henne, Bradfield, etc?
Chris from Delray Beach, FL:
I'm sure your inbox is atwitter with Babin talk and what impact he'll have over the last five games. What I'm interested in is what happens after the season--what are his and the team's options? Can he just walk and choose another team or do the Jags have any claim to him past the last game this year? How does this all work?
John: Babin joined the Jaguars off waivers, which under the new CBA means he joins the franchise under the five-year contract he signed before the 2011 season. He will play for the Jaguars under that contract, and he then has the option of becoming a free agent after the 2013 season if he so chooses. He said Thursday it's his hope and that of the team that his stay in Jacksonville is long-term. The end of the 2013 is a long way away in NFL terms, but for now, if the Jaguars want Babin until the end of that season, they can keep him.
Ray from Jacksonville:
I read the O-zone every day. It seems that people read a lot of extra things into what you write.
John: People read what they want to read and believe what they want to believe. I sometimes believe I am the king of my own small island in the pacific with trembling, tanned biceps and long flowing, blonde hair like Fabio. It doesn't make it true, and there are times I'm glad for this.
John from Jacksonville:
I've heard reference in the past that a good running back needs to be patient and allow the hole to open up to be effective. This week with Jennings, I'm hearing that his hesitation is affecting his ability to be effective. How do you reconcile these two contradictory statements?
John: Running back is played with instinct, field vision and athletic ability. A back must be patient enough to wait for the hole, and know instinctively when it's time to hit it. It's a decision that's made in a flash, and once the time has passed it's too late.

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