Let's get to it . . .
Norm from Dothan, AL:
Pro Bowl was awesome. Am curious if you would agree. Was it a for real game? Yes and no. The awesome part was watching most of the best of the best just hang out together and have fun. I loved so much the camaraderie, love for the game and respect for one another. A very cool game.
John: You have a rare, proper perspective on the Pro Bowl. Fans who get upset with the tackling and effort in the game miss the point. It is not and will not ever again be a high-effort, high-contact game and it really wasn't ever all that interesting on the field. But as a way to see the things you discussed – the camaraderie, the love the game . . . absolutely, it's a really cool event for that. I had the opportunity to cover the Pro Bowl in 2006, 2007 and 2008. I'm not sure I remember anything about the games, but absolutely I remember the camaraderie at the practices and the pride players took being there.
Randy from Jacksonville:
Superb work you're doing, O-Man. Last year the Jaguars were awarded three nationally televised games, and stunk in the majority of them. However, new owner, new coaching staff and most likely numerous new players coming soon make me wonder: How many nationally televised games do you see likely for 2012? I realize no one really knows at this point, but what's your "over-under?" I'm sure your guess is going to be closer than most of us.
John: While you're right that the Jaguars didn't fare well in most of their prime-time, nationally televised games last season, losing two of three, they actually had their biggest victory of the season on Monday Night Football – 12-7 over the Baltimore Ravens. As far as the 2012 season, I'd guess one, perhaps two at the most. The Jaguars almost certainly won't be on Sunday Night Football, but they could get one Monday and perhaps one Thursday game. The new owner, coaching staff and players likely won't have a huge impact on the Jaguars status as a national draw in 2012; they'll have to earn that on the field for future seasons.
Michael from Brunswick, GA:
Let's not get too hot and bothered with the FA WR talk this year. Remember last year's stellar free agent crop? Steve Breaston: 61 catches, 785 yards (Ranked 28th in the NFL). Plaxico Burress: 45 catches, 612 yards (52nd). Legedu Naanee: 44 catches, 467 yards (54th). Those three were the only ones to post more catches than Mike Thomas. That's it. Sidney Rice was ranked No. 79 (32 catches, 484 yards). Donte Stallworth, No. 102 (22 catches, 309 yards). Braylon Edwards (15 catches 181 yards) and the fabulous Chad Ochocinco (15 catches 276 yards) were tied for No. 116. The "other" Steve Smith and TJ Housh were ranked #125 with only 11 catches each. Oh and lest I forget, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens got the big nada. So ease up on the expectations of signing a FA WR who is going to bring down 100 passes with 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. If we get Steve Breaston next year we'll be fortunate.
John: Your point is a good one, and speaks at least in part to the reason the Jaguars didn't pursue wide receivers through free agency last off-season. It also speaks to the difficulty of finding a receiver in free agency. Teams don't want to give up productive players at the position and therefore most difference-makers are re-signed by their own teams. It will be difficult for the Jaguars to find a go-to wide receiver, and it will be expensive if they find one, but all indications that will be their intention.
Joy from Section 103:
How soon we forget. Fans screamed for Coughlin's head. They got what they wished for. Best not to listen to the fans. Sunshine will shine – just give the boy a chance. Jaguars heading up – lovin the new stuff. For the record I am also a Gator loving TBow fan. It is possible to be both.
John: Teams must try to please the fans – by winning, not by listening to them on matters of personnel. That's one of the oldest NFL adages and remains true. As for loving the Gators and Jaguars, I've said it before and will say it again that I don't know why they're mutually exclusive.
Steve from Elk River, MN:
I can't believe the folks who want to keep the best players out at the end of the year once you are out of the playoffs. When you buy a ticket, especially a season ticket, or a DirectTV package [like I do], there is an expectation that you will witness the best entertainment that you have spent a lot of money on. That includes watching MoJo and Poz when the team is 4-11 or thereabouts. If all teams pulled their stars at the end, there would be blackouts out the wazoo, and the NFL would not stand for it.
John: While pleasing the fans and giving them their money's worth is a benefit of playing players throughout the season, it's not the primary reason players play those games .The primary reason is coaches, players and franchises want to win no matter the circumstances. We saw that vividly at the end of this past season with the Colts and Jaguars. There are a limited number of opportunities for players to play the game they love professionally, and most players want to give everything possible to win no matter the record.
Dustin from Jacksonville:
With reports of the Colts ready to part ways with Manning, I hope the Jags don't jump into the fray. By the time you start seeing results, he will be ready to retire. Throw in the monumental trade he is likely to gather and I think that the short-term benefits will cripple a team in the long term. I won't deny his greatness, but the loss of picks combined with the enormous salary he's likely to demand just does not seem to be worth it for a player with three or four years left at best. I'm curious about your own opinion on this as well as the opinion of people in the organization, namely GM Gene, Coach Mularkey or Shad.
John: My sense is there isn't much inclination in the organization to pursue Manning should he come available, but draft picks won't likely be the reason. But let's clarify some other parts of your question. One, Manning likely will get released because there's really no way with the salary-cap implications for the Colts to trade him, so draft picks likely won't be a factor. As far as whether acquiring him will be worth it, if he's healthy, I think it will be. Remember, the last time he played he was playing at just about as high a level as anyone who ever has played the position. I don't know that he'll be as effective in another offensive scheme with unfamiliar players. At the same time, I don't think there's any question that if he's healthy he can help a team improve significantly.
Matt from State College, PA:
It was great to see MoJo get some well-deserved recognition in the Pro Bowl. The announcers made sure to include that he composed a huge season against the odds in a stagnant offense. He also was the leading rusher in the game too. We should be proud as Jags fans.
John: You indeed should be proud. I'm sure Jones-Drew enjoyed the Pro Bowl experience, as well he should. The Pro Bowl is an important experience for great players who love the game and to whom the respect of their peers matters a great deal. Jones-Drew absolutely fits that description. He missed last year's Pro Bowl because of his knee injury, and after the season he had this past season, he certainly deserved to experience it this year.
Justin from Section 133:
What can be done to fix the Pro Bowl?
John: I don't know that it can be fixed if what you want is a game that draws interest based on the quality of play – and some things, you don't need to fix. The Pro Bowl is a showcase when fans can tune in and see familiar names in something that sort of on the surface looks like a familiar game. It is a celebration and it is an opportunity for the players to spend time with other players and for fans to see those players interact in a relaxed environment. That's what it is and considering the injury risk all players face in a full-speed, full-contact game, that's all the Pro Bowl ever will or should be moving forward. Moving the game a week before the Super Bowl was the right start. I expect in the future it will more often than not be played at the site of the Super Bowl, and it might even be moved to perhaps the Thursday or Friday before the Super Bowl. Those sorts of cosmetic changes might add some interest, but if you're looking for full-speed, knock-down-drag out football, the NFL offers something else to give you that: the regular- and post-season.
Some things don't need fixing
Let's get to it . . .
Norm from Dothan, AL: