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Proof of special ability

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Let's get to it . . . Ron from Orlando, FL:
One of my biggest criticisms of Gene Smith is the fact that he drafts Division 1-AA players too early, as opposed to D1 players that have played against much better competition. Just look at the last three draft classes: D'Anthony Smith, Larry Hart, Cecil Shorts, Rackley, Lane, Issac from small schools while Alualu, Gabbert, Monroe, Britton, Knighton, and Mike Thomas are all much better contributors who played a higher level of college football. We're wasting third- and fourth-round draft picks on small-school "talent" while there are still great D1 players out there. Could someone PLEASE open Gene Smith's eyes before next year's draft, so we all don't have to sit in front of the TV and ask "who?" during the Jags second- and third-round selections? There's a reason these guys are playing for small schools.
John: The 2008 draft class featured five players from Division I schools. None are on the roster. You find football players where you find football players.
Evan from Ponte Vedra, FL:
How does the play of our first- and second-round picks compare to those of comparable ones drafted over the last three years by Gene Smith? I think with the exception of Blaine Gabbert, if you compare our picks to those picked just below ours by other teams for the same years, you will see that their picks have been more productive for their teams. How do you explain that?
John: Not sure I agree with the premise. You excepted Gabbert, so we'll throw out 2011. The Jaguars drafted Tyson Alualu No. 10 overall in 2010, and while his knee issue is keeping him from being as explosive as he could have been, he's a huge part of a defensive tackle tandem that is arguably the strongest area on a defense that is playing very, very well. The 49ers took offensive tackle Anthony Davis No. 11 in 2010, and while he seems to be improving after an up-and-down rookie season, he's playing right tackle – and most people would consider No. 11 too high for a right tackle. The Chargers took running back Ryan Matthews No. 12 that year. He's playing very well, but no way were the Jaguars taking a running back at 12 that season. The 13th selection was defensive end Brandon Thomas by the Eagles. He's on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The player chosen just before Alualu, C.J. Spiller, is the backup running back in Buffalo. Are there players later in the draft performing better than Alualu? Sure. Are there players before him performing worse? You could make that argument, too. My point is not to say that Smith's drafts have been perfect. My point is there's no such thing as a perfect draft class.
Fred from Palm Coast, FL:
Do you think our team has lost its passion to play the game? I've watched the Jags for a long time and with the exception of a few players that perform individually, I don't see a team playing together with passion! I'm almost wondering if they're not all feeling a little lost after what this team did to Garrard! Money's not as much of an incentive as the intrinsic value of playing for a coach who appreciates the effort. Letting Garrard go after all he's done, five days before the season and right after a big ticket sales luncheon, had to put a bad taste in the players' mouth. I know you think it's a business and everyone should understand, but do you think this could be a reason we've lost our spark?
John: I don't believe it has lost its spark, and if it did, I don't believe that would be the reason.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
I think part of what's frustrating this fan base is the fact that we have enough under the cap to sign Tom Brady, Sidney Rice and Lee Evans with the $38 million we have to spend, but they're electing to not spend money.
John: Lee Evans has two receptions for 45 yards. Sidney Rice has 15 receptions for 226 yards and a touchdown, so I'll grant that he's being productive, but he also had an injury that scared many teams off. One thing to remember is a lot of the fans who wanted a wide receiver in free agency were also craving cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who is struggling with the Eagles. The Jaguars were very productive in free agency this off-season, but filling the entire roster is simply not the way to build a consistent winner.
Ric from Jacksonville:
I have a rules question for you. If a team is punting the ball and it is blocked and then recovered by the kicking team, does that give them a new set of downs? Or does the receiving team have to actually gain control of the ball and then fumble to the kicking team for that to happen?
John: The receiving team must gain control of the ball then fumble.
Brendan from Jacksonville:
Nine-year season ticket holder. Been to half a dozen away games, two road playoff games, thousands of dollars in apparel. I used to have to drive 200 miles round trip to make the games. I have my 30-for-30 contract in front of me, and I'm not jumping up to sign it. Talk me off the edge, John!
John: There are good things happening. The defense has improved and the quarterback is developing. There are a few key pieces missing – i.e., big-time receiver and big-time, pass-rushing defensive end – but as someone used to say: the arrow is pointing up. Sometimes the arrow's just hard to see. Hang tough. Better days ahead.
Jon from Jacksonville:
Let me get this straight. Week One against the Titans, the Jags run the ball three straight times on the goal line and didn't score. The fans complained they didn't pass the ball. Week Five against the Bengals the Jags pass the ball with the ball on the goal line. Again, fans complain about the play calling. This time they want the Jags to run the ball all three plays. Do the fans just like to complain?
John: Yes, they do.
Brian from Jacksonville:
I think Jimmie nailed it with regards to Shorts. But the same can be said for a lot of the Jags draft picks from the "smaller schools." They are getting blown away by NFL size, speed and talent. In addition to Shorts, Rackley cannot block and Prosinski looks lost in zone coverage. I know you find players everywhere, but just because they stood out against Division III competition does not mean they are going to be even average NFL players. I think Gene needs to stop trying to out-scout or out-smart other GMs in the league.
John: Out-scouting and out-smarting other GMs isn't Smith's objective. It's finding players. I don't agree with those who say small-school players can't play. I will say this: I'm a believer that as often as not a player from a small school needs a year to develop. If you expect a guy to contribute immediately, then it's often best to have him come from a large school. Some of the above-mentioned rookies may need a year to play more competitively, but it doesn't mean they're getting blown away.
Jason from Dallas, TX:
I'm tired of people thinking that the players don't care, or they aren't hungry or some other version of that complaint. It's an illogical argument. Think about it, these guys were the cream of the crop in high school to get a shot to play ball in college, then they took the cream of the crop of those thousands of players to get 1600ish current players in the NFL today. It might be their job but they've devoted more time, energy and effort to getting to this level of play than any of these "fans" have ever devoted to anything in their life.
John: You have been heard.
Andrea from Robecco Sul Naviglio, Italy:
I'm reviewing now the first drive of Sunday's game (what a great service Gamepass is, worth every penny), that I missed live. If I hadn't see anything about Gabbert before, the throw on 3rd-and-7 to Mike Thomas would tell me everything I need to know about the kid. He can flat-out play. What a magnificent ball he threw. The future is indeed bright for the Jaguars, and while we get there (and I think we will be there by the end of this season), I will enjoy the ride, watching the kid develop. Not really a question, I know, just a thought I wanted to share.
John: I made a big deal of that play on the live blog. We knew with Gabbert there would be ups and downs, and what you were looking for was progress and proof there was special ability. Progress isn't always easy to see, but the proof there is special ability – yeah, that 3rd-and-7 play was vivid proof. No doubt.
Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL:
Care to lay a wager on how many weeks Tebow will last before the fans turn on him? I give him five weeks, at which point all of Denver will realize that he is in fact, NOT cut out for this league, and they will consequently feel like a bunch of bloody idiots.
John: That would be my guess. We'll see if we're wrong.
Mac from Gainesville, FL:
If the WWE was real and not fake (scripted), would you watch it? If no, why not?
John: Because I'm sure there would be something else on.

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