Let's get to it . . . Marco from Lima, Peru:
I think that it is both, plays and player; but I believe the right coach can make the difference. Just look at the 49ers. An awful coach can also make a good team bad. Just look at the Chargers. They would go 14-2 or 13-3 with Marty Schottenheimer, then fired him and hired Norv 'The Franchise Excecutioner' Turner and can't even make the playoffs.
John: Coaches can't win without good players, but there's no question that coaching can make a huge difference in terms of creating an atmosphere in which standards are set. Position coaches can also have enormous effects positive and negative.
Richard from Jacksonville:
What were Colts fans saying when Manning led them to just three wins his rookie year?
John: I wasn't there, but I was told it was, "We wish they had won more than three games."
Steve from Doctors Inlet, FL:
Would you agree that fans were pleased that someone had the audacity to draft these small-school receivers? Jerry Rice - Miss. Valley St; Terrell Owens - UT Chattanooga; Randy Moss – Marshall; Issac Bruce – Memphis; Rod Smith - Missouri Southern; Andre Reed – Kutztown University; Antonio Gates - Kent St; Donald Driver - Alcorn St; Shannon Sharpe - Savannah St; Greg Jennings - Western Michigan. Just freakin' sayin'.
John: Flukes. All flukes.
Todd from Philadelphia, PA:
I love the Jags, and will continue to watch, but I don't want them to win. At this point winning is bad. And don't tell me that I am wrong because management is putting anyone they can on IR, cutting players they don't see here in the future and giving guys tryouts on Sundays. I'm not angry about it but don't tell me I'm wrong to be planning for the draft.
John: There is certainly benefit to having an early draft selection, but to say management is "putting anyone they can on IR" isn't quite right. They certainly could have put Terrance Knighton on injured reserve, and at this point in the season they could have put many players there because right now, everyone's injured on some level. They have put players on injured reserve with serious injuries that were going to keep them out an extended period, perhaps until the final week or two of the regular season. They released wide receiver Jason Hill not only because he's not going to be here in the future, but because he wasn't aggressive to the ball and despite his numbers being a touch better than some of the other receivers, they didn't believe he was helping. Had the backups played as extensively as Hill, there was little reason to think the backups wouldn't have had the same numbers or better. Make all the jokes you want about, "Well, none of the receivers" are helping, but that was the reasoning. As far as the "tryouts" on Sunday, I see your point, but really the only area where the Jaguars are playing guys well down the depth chart is at cornerback, and injuries forced that issue. I'm not angry, either. I just wanted to make that part of the argument clear. The Jaguars aren't trying not to win and they're not playing for an early draft choice. It might work out that way, but don't question the effort.
John from Jacksonville:
John from Jacksonville There is a lot of focus on the offensive woes and the injuries on defense lately. However, it might be my perception, but our special teams seems to be below the level of each team we play lately and this difference is often enough to determine a win versus loss. It seems the opponents punt returns are usually an event when ours are usually a non-event. Field position is key and we seem to be having significant issues with special teams play. I thought it would be sparked by the return of Owens and Osgood but apparently not. Is help on the way?
John: There have been sparks, but overall, you're right. Special teams has not been as strong this season overall as in the past. Some of that can be attributed to injuries. While the Jaguars' first-team offense and defense wasn't hit particularly hard until the last month, injuries hit backups and special teams players early. Later, when injuries spread to the starting defense, that hit the special teams again when special teams players moved into starting roles. Injuries always hit special teams hard, and that contributed a bit to the special teams issues this season.
Andrew from Kadena AB, Okinawa:
It seems the Jags offense has four successful plays: run MJD left, run MJD right, run MJD up the middle, and dump the ball off to MJD. Those plays accounted for 188 of our 306 offensive yards.
John: Jones-Drew is having a remarkable year. It's not ideal and you hope there's far more balance in the future, but that doesn't take away that what he has done this season is, again, remarkable.
Tony from Palm Coast, FL:
I saw on ESPN that Justin Blackmon is coming out this year. What chance do the Jags have of getting him? Do you think they should get him in the 1st round?
John: Blackmon is a guy who obviously will generate a lot of interest, and considering where the Jaguars are drafting, they'll obviously scout him as thoroughly as it is possible to scout a player. How it plays out will obviously depend on many things. There is early buzz that perhaps Blackmon should go quite as high as the Top 3 or 4, and there is early buzz the other way. Such is the nature of draft buzz. We'll obviously have more than enough time for Blackmon talk, but sure, he's a guy the Jaguars likely will strongly consider.
Jim from Orange Park, FL:
Besides being in the Hall of Fame, what do these QBs have in common? Aikman, Bradshaw, Fouts, Griese, Namath, Young, Tarkenton, Starr, Elway, Dawson, Jurgensen, Unitas and Layne. They all somewhat struggled in their rookie season. Shouldn't we give Gabbert at least an entire season before he is labeled a bust? Shouldn't we at least see what he can do with an improved receiving corps?
John: Yes. Yes.
Chris from South Orange, NJ:
What are the rules on coordinators accepting positions or negotiating jobs on other teams while the under contract? I'm not implying anything about our coordinators but I'm just curious about what the rules are in the NFL.
John: NFL rules require teams to allow assistants to interview for head coaching jobs, but they are not required to allow assistants to interview any other assistant job, including coordinator.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Do you see Gabbert calling his own plays next year or sometime in the future? I think it's a lost art for QB's and Gabbert, to me, has the intelligence to run an offense and call his own plays, what's your take?
John: I believe that Gabbert absolutely has the intelligence to call his own plays. For all of his struggles at times this season, no one questions his football intelligence, or his ability to see what's going on and stay a step ahead of the defense intellectually. As for actually calling the plays, I think we're a ways off. You'd think you'd want to see the foundation laid before adding the trim.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Do you think that Gene Smith's background as a scout makes him more likely to draft raw players with potential over "finished products"? He chose a raw, big-armed QB over a couple of others that were more NFL-ready (Ponder, Dalton). The same goes for the oft-criticized small school picks. Any personnel guy can tell that an All-American from LSU is good, but it takes a great scout to find an NFL starter from a DII school. Is Gene Smith's strategy for building the team a talent scout's way of showing off, always looking for value where he thinks others don't see it?
John: You're on the right track in one sense, and it's true of any general manager, not just Smith. Good GMs draft with an eye for how a player will develop over the long term more than how they will play as rookies. That's because it's a GM's job to stockpile as much talent over as long a period of time as possible. A coach is typically going to be more about winning every game every week. While the GM obviously wants that, he also has to have a sense for how a player will develop in the long haul. As for a scout's way of showing off, I don't see that. Smith doesn't want to show off, and if you've been around him, you know that's not his nature. He wants to put as much talent in as many places on the Jaguars' roster as possible.
Matt from Jacksonville:
Why does it seem so many are clamoring for Jeff Fisher as the next coach? Do you fans not remember 1999, when he called Alltel Stadium his second home or whatever? The guy is a jerk and he is overrated. He's never really won anything with his 142-120 overall record.
John: I'm not clamoring for Fisher to be the head coach, but he's a very good coach. Perception aside, he's not a jerk, either.
Aaron from Jacksonville:
So earlier this week was the anniversary of Jim Mora, Sr.'s "Playoffs" rant. Were you there? How did you react? Do you think it's been overdone by now?
John: Yes. Wow. No – still pretty funny.
Still pretty funny
Let's get to it . . . Marco from Lima, Peru: