Let's get to it . . . Chris from Crestview, FL:
A player in the NFL must be judged on the time he played and the players he played against. Last year, we had Cam Newton, who was supposed to be a raw prospect after playing in a rudimentary passing offense in college, throw for 4,051 yards and break almost every major rookie passing record. Andy Dalton, a second-round pick, threw for 3,400 yards, had a very respectable 20-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio and led the Bengals to the playoffs. Even Christian Ponder (13 touchdowns in 10 starts) clearly showed enough that you believe this kid can be a quality starter. The concern is a raw talent like Newton lit the league up, even if the win total didn't match his output. It's hard for fans to understand how Newton did well and Gabbert did so poorly.
John: Is it really hard to understand? A player in the NFL also must be judged on factors around him. Gabbert was 21 years old, playing for a coaching staff coaching largely on one-year contracts. He played with a group of wide receivers that struggled much of the season, and he also was switching from a spread offense to a Pro Style approach. He also did this without the benefit of an off-season, a point that I know will be received with a chorus of, "Well, no other rookie quarterback had OTAs, either," but when you mix it with the other above-mentioned factors it certainly didn't help. I'm not going to spend the rest of the off-season hashing and re-hashing this discussion. Gabbert was in a difficult situation last season. He handled things well and didn't make excuses. He also didn't discuss a lot of the things that were going wrong around him, which he could have. All indications this off-season are that he is doing what's necessary to improve, and the feeling inside the organization is he will do that. What happens on the field will be the ultimate measure, but there were certainly reasons for Gabbert's struggles last season that shouldn't be difficult to grasp.
Greg from Section 122 and The Bank:
I listened to you on Jaguars Reporters. Can you clarify the latest on Kampman's status? Is he healing and will he ever be as good as when he first arrived on the team? From what you said on the show the prognosis doesn't sound good.
John: I don't know the prognosis on Kampman and don't know that anyone does yet. He is working in organized team activities and the off-season with the idea of being ready for training camp. It wasn't my intention to make the prognosis sound good or bad on Jaguars This Week. The status is that Kampman's status is the same as it has been for some time and that means we're waiting for training camp to know more.
Michael from Kentwood, MI:
Did that guy really place Vick in a sentence between Aikman and Manning when the word elite was used? Just checking my pulse - thought I died.
John: You're not dead – just as shocked as everyone else.
Joseph from Freeport:
What can you tell me about Blaine Gabbert's progress? There are all these articles about how he's going to fail and cost him his starting job as well as Gene Smith's. Granted, he wasn't spectacular, but Gabbert had a few quarters where he did everything efficiently. Do you think he can bring that total up to a few games?
John: Yes. I believe he'll bring it up significantly. The word on Gabbert from OTA practices is he is progressing very well. He has looked good in OTAs, and is working extremely hard with coaches to improve fundamentals and footwork. He is clearly this team's starting quarterback, and at this point, I'm not sure it's as close as many observers seem to want to believe.
Marcus from Jacksonville and New York City:
Which of these scenarios do you feel is more likely? 1) The Jaguars give Maurice Jones-Drew a two-year extension that makes some adjustment to guaranteed money due to age, but adjusts his base pay to a more current number. 2) They say "We love you man, but let's do this next year."
John: They say, "We love you man, let's do this when it makes sense." Maybe that will be next year or maybe not.
Robert from West Point Gray:
My impression is the team is in no hurry to deal with MJD. They would like to get a good look at Jennings and Parmele before committing more money to Mo. It could stretch out, don't you think?
John: I don't think it will stretch out because I don't believe there will be an issue to stretch out. Jones-Drew is doing nothing wrong by not being here. Off-season workouts are voluntary. I believe he will be here in training camp and for anything mandatory, and while he may not be thrilled with his contract, not many players are thrilled with their contracts. My guess is he'll play next season with as much effort and as at as high a level as ever. Getting a look at Parmele and Jennings has nothing to do with it. Jones-Drew is the running back and I'd expect that to be the case at least through the duration of his current contract, which runs two more years.
Daniel from Kingsland, GA:
When are OTA's open to public?
John: As it stands now, they are not. There is a chance a date or two during the June 12-14 minicamp could be open, and several training camp practices are expected to be open.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
Can we take a break from Punter, Tebow and Blaine's rookie year questions? So, who you like in the upcoming Presidential Election?
John: Of the United States?
John from Mount Vernon, WA:
In the interest of assigning blame where blame is due, the comments about Alualu were written on Kuharsky's blog, but not by Kuharsky. Matt Williamson wrote that article. (He's wrong about Alualu too!)
John: I'm not surprised that Kuharsky didn't write it. Emails to the O-Zone indicated that Kuharsky had written that Alualu had had a disappointing season in 2011, and it surprised me to hear he had written that. Kuharsky typically is a little more dialed in on the Jaguars than that. Anyone who talks to anyone around the team will tell you that Alualu played well last season and has since being selected.
Stephen from Gatlinburg, TN:
Last year our defense made a quantum improvement with the introduction of a couple of new players, and an improved pass rush. It wasn't coincidence that suddenly Mathis and Cox were "better" players –much better than the year before. Would it be reasonable to expect that with an improvement in the wide receiver corps, a healthy first-string line, and the ever-present threat of MJD that a certain somebody on the offensive side of the ball will have his boat lifted with the rising tide?
John: That is the hope. I think a reasonable expectation for the Jaguars' offense is general improvement across the board. I don't know that you're going to see the Greatest Show on Turf in Week 1. Linebacker Clint Session's thoughts this week notwithstanding, it's going to take some time for the players to jell and become comfortable with the system. But as the season unfolds, I expect the entire offense to be functioning better and I expect that to bring everyone in the offense along with it.
Dino from Jacksonville:
What happens if the Super Bowl ends in a tie score?
John: I kept looking for the punch line. Not finding it, I'll answer. The world as we know it ceases to exist—then the teams go to midfield, flip a coin and play overtime until a winner is decided.
John from Gloucestershire, England:
Veteran mini-camp runs between 12 and 14 June. What do the players do between mini-camp and the start of training camp at the end of July? Are they allowed to participate in team activities or work with the coaches?
John: No, once the mini-camp is over, the rules revert to what they were before the offseason program began – no football conversation with coaches and no on-field work with footballs at the facility.
Hill from Section 214:
I have been noticing a trend of players being injured during their teams' OTA's and got to thinking who is the one player the Jaguars absolutely could not afford to lose to injury? In my opinion it's Eugene Monroe because there is no one on the roster who could come close to filling at left tackle.
John: I'd say he's the player the Jaguars could least afford to lose, though I'd stop short of saying "absolute" because Cameron Bradfield filled in at left tackle in an emergency last season against Pittsburgh and performed well. I don't know that that could be expected over a long stretch, and that's just one reason Monroe is so valuable. Actually, as I thought about this question it struck me that the Jaguars have decent enough depth at most positions that one injury shouldn't ransack the position. I'm not sure that was true this time last year. That's pretty significant depth.
Let's get to it . . . Chris from Crestview, FL: