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Take the upside

Black Friday!!!!

Let's get to it . . . Joel from Atlanta, GA:
Colin Kaepernick is just another example in the long list of quarterbacks that sat for a year and learned the game. That has been the recipe for success for the entire history of the NFL. Guys like Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton are rare, and this kid (Blaine Gabbert) is still younger than most of the rookie quarterbacks from this year's draft. Big picture, folks.
John: This is an ongoing theme this week, and I expect it will keep ongoing the final six weeks of the regular season and into the offseason. With Chad Henne appearing to have a chance to solidify his starting quarterback position, the accompanying storyline is the future of Blaine Gabbert. Speculation about that at this point is just that – speculation – and your point is certainly one side of it: Gabbert is still very young and NFL history is indeed littered with quarterbacks who have taken more than 24 games to develop. At the same time, there are examples right now such as Andrew Luck, RGIII and Dalton who have been more effective than Gabbert far more quickly. Gabbert appears to have improved from 2011 to 2012, but it wasn't the dramatic improvement for which many hoped. Does that mean he's developing at his own pace? Does it mean he won't develop? Those are the questions that must be answered. You don't find the answer by pointing to other examples. You don't even necessarily find it by looking at tape. The reality is there's no definitive answer; it's a gut decision based on instincts and that's why it's as difficult as it is critical.
Andrew from Section 232:
Happy Thanksgiving, John. Did you get everything you wanted from Wal-Mart?
John: Black Friday!!!!!!
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Mike Mularkey either failed to develop Gabbert (part of the reason he was hired) or failed to see what he had in Henne; combine that with all the poor performances, why should he remain as the head coach? I can't see a reason.
John: Let's see . . . failed to develop Gabbert . . . in seven months. That's certainly reasonable. And failed to see what he had in Henne . . . when the reality is no one yet knows what the Jaguars have in Henne. Look, it remains to be seen how Mularkey's time as Jaguars head coach is going to play out, but we can at least let him get to the end of the first season before the drumbeat begins.
Steve from Elk River, MN:
What's so hard about finding a good starting QB? The Broncos traded Tebow, and hired some old guy that nobody wanted - and he seems to be working out pretty good.
John: Yes, that seems to be sort of "working out."
Michael from Austin, TX:
Can drops by wide receivers be attributed as much to a quarterback as a wide receiver? It seems if a wide receiver does not believe a quarterback can get him the ball that may be a cause for more drops.
John: Drops can be attributed to quarterbacks at times, but in your scenario, it doesn't matter what the receiver "believes;" he needs to catch the ball. There are quarterbacks who throw the ball hard enough to make it difficult to catch, and Gabbert's passes certainly have more zip than many quarterbacks. But you know what? There have been plenty of successful quarterbacks with zip. John Elway used to throw so hard his receivers had Xs on their hands from the stitching on the nose of the football. Receivers can catch hard passes. Here's the other thing to remember: It's not as if the drop issues disappeared with Gabbert's absence. They had been averaging about four drops per game; against Houston Sunday, they had five, according to Mularkey.
Chuck from Summerville, SC:
It seems to me like Blaine and Chad are/will be competing for the backup QB roll for next year. What say you, Mr. O?
John: I say on Thursday I won the competition for the crescent roll.
Brennan from Jacksonville:
Is Brad Meester a possible Jaguars Hall of Fame candidate?
John: Yes. I wouldn't say he's a lock, but it certainly would be appropriate to have a player of Meester's class, longevity and production in the Pride of the Jaguars.
Will from Section 8:
You da man, John. The way you make fun of the spelling and grammar of the people who criticise. You da man.
John: I have know idea what you're talking about.
Charles from Orange Park, FL:
Shouldn't we face reality and realize Session is done and Mathis is done, also? There is no way they'll be back next year. Lowery will only give you about seven or eight games and milk rest of season. Matter of fact, that could apply to couple of other players as well.
John: Answering questions about injuries is always difficult, because injuries involve unknowns and time, and people want definite answers now. Obviously with Session not having played in a year, his future is uncertain and because his issue is concussions, there is doubt if he'll play again. With Mathis, the uncertainty is age and recovery from the ACL reconstruction. He had his surgery about a year ago and that's usually an injury that takes a year and change to return to pre-injury form. If you mix that factor with his age, it's hard to project his future, but it's not fair to write him off just yet. I'm more curious about the assessment of Lowery, because it always fascinates me that people accuse players of "milking" an injury. He has played at least 13 games in every one of his NFL seasons until this season. He sustained an ankle injury earlier this season and while he has missed five games, he is working to get back and play for a team that is now 1-9. I don't know that that's milking the injury, but whatever.
Sandro from El Paso, TX:
Do you see the Jaguars giving Palmer a chance at the starting job if Henne does not produce?
John: I doubt Palmer will get a chance to start unless Henne is injured. From what Mularkey said this week, he seems to want to see if Henne can play well enough to make a case for himself as the starter entering next season. If Henne is a complete train wreck for two or three games I suppose there would be a chance Palmer would get a chance to start, but no one's anticipating that. If Henne is good, average or even up and down, my guess is he gets the final six games of the season to show what he can do.
Carlos from Jacksonville:
No question today, John. Just a thank you. I was an Ask Vic reader since 2002, and I've read every O-zone since you took over. I have to say you have done an excellent job. Congratulations. Have a good holiday and best regards from Mexico City.
John: Thank you. Check's in the mail.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
I'm a big believer in letting talent develop, especially for younger players at tough positions – quarterback especially. I can't help but think if Blaine hadn't been thrust in so early last year under a disintegrating coaching staff that his struggles this year would be a little more tolerated. I mean – the kid is way too young to give up on and if you think about it, this is like his rookie year all over again with the new coach and system. So to give up on him now seems awful premature. Chalk me up as one concerned fan who would like to see him given a fair shake next year with better blocking and run game production. Get well soon, Blaine.
John: Consider yourself chalked, and that was the lens through which I tried to view Gabbert much of the season. A faction of readers hated it when I wrote that Gabbert should largely be judged as a rookie this season because of the lack of offseason before his true rookie season, not to mention his age, the coaching situation and the fact that he played in a spread offense. Gabbert indeed improved this year from last season; I think most people would admit that. The question is, "Did he improve enough to make you believe he can keep improving enough?" For many, the answer has been no. For others, the answer has been yes, and it remains to be seen what that will mean moving forward.
Jason from Houston, TX:
Cecil Shorts - 642 yards Larry Fitzgerald - 596 yards. Something to be thankful for other than just turkey.
John: Knew it all along. Honest.
Mark from Beaufort, TX:
Why Shipley when we could have signed P. Burris? Gene Smith strikes again.
John: Burris is a known quantity who appears at the end of his career. Shipley is a young player who could have upside. At 1-9, the latter is preferable to the former.

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