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That awkward feeling

Let's get to it . . . James from Bossier City, LA:
I read on MJD was "hopeful" for a new contract, despite the Jaguars stating they will not renegotiate. Why is he hopeful when the team has declared it will not renegotiate? All he's going to do is cost himself money he would have earned on the current contract.
John: Clearly Maurice Jones-Drew is hopeful for a new contract. If he wasn't, he wouldn't have told the team he wants to renegotiate, and if he wasn't hopeful, he wouldn't have missed minicamp. Now, as for what will become of that hope in this situation, I have no idea.
Buddy from Jacksonville:
T.O. gave this town some of the highest ratings it has ever seen. Why not get T.O. signed for a year and boost those ratings again – not to mention give the team a chance on offense? If Gabbert has hidden potential we didn't see last year, why not get him T.O. to throw to? Why did they pick up a fifth-round, no-name quarterback? I'd rather have Donovan McNabb, Pro Bowler, with veteran experience.
John: Oh, Buddy. Oh, Buddy, Buddy, Buddy, Buddy, Buddy . . .
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
It's really great to see so many Jaguars I used to love watching sign one-day deals. It shows the players who play here really like the organization and truthfully want to be a part of it. Whatever the national media thinks, we can all rest easy knowing the people who matter the most respect the team: The players.
John: I didn't cover Marcus Stroud with the Jaguars, so I don't have much to share on his time here, but he certainly was a key figure on some very good teams and a lot of fans were very happy to see him retire as a member of the team earlier this week. It is indeed a neat thing, this idea of players signing the one-day deal to retire. In an era in which the game is obviously a business, it is a refreshing thing to see players and teams care enough about one another – and the fans – to take the time to make this sort of gesture.
Chris from Jacksonville:
O-Man! How do you think the media will respond next year if Gabbert has an awesome season?
John: Probably by saying and writing things such as, "Wow, that was an awesome season."
Gary from DeBary, FL:
No. 12 Player in the entire NFL – voted by his peers, the people who have to play against him every week. I understand and have agreed with the stance Gene Smith and the Jaguars have taken on this issue, but clearly this situation is an exception to the 'rule.' It is now time for the Jaguars to make some kind of 'peace offering' and get Maurice Jones Drew in for the beginning of training camp. Get the 2012 season started on the right track on all fronts! At the end of the day, that IS what is best for the Jaguars moving forward. Your thoughts on MJD's ranking and how it could or should affect his – and future players' –status as Jaguars?
John: My thought on Jones-Drew's ranking is it was well-deserved. He had a magnificent, memorable year. My thought on how it should affect this situation or his status with the Jaguars is . . . are you kidding me? A list? You want them to negotiate based on a list?
Joy from Section 103:
Power ranking for 2190? Really? I don't know what is sillier. Writing it, reading it or actually commenting in O-Zone about it.
John: Joy, believing one actually exists is pretty silly, too.
Don from Ponte Vedra, FL:
It's not business when you have two years left on your current deal! Really, I hope Gene Smith holds firm. This team won before he was here and they will win after he is gone. Trade him for Percy Harvin!
John: Exclamation points aside, the trade obviously is not happening. First, the Vikings and Harvin appear to have worked out whatever was going on, and second, you just don't see those sorts of trades involving two premier players. Either way, I don't think you have to worry about Smith not holding firm on this one.
Steve from Atlanta, GA:
How much leverage does MJD really have here? Seems like he is under contract for two years and after that, could the Jaguars not franchise him for a year or two? At that point, he is past his prime and probably ready to move on or be moved. Is there something in his current contract that would prevent the franchise tag at the end of the contract? If not, then he is kind of stuck, huh? If that is the reality, why hold out?
John: Jones-Drew's leverage is he was overwhelmingly the team's best player a year ago, and the team likely wouldn't be as good without him as with him next season. The team's leverage is it went 5-11 with Jones-Drew rushing for more than 1,600 yards last season, and really, how much worse would they have been without him? Each point has merit, but the problem here for Jones-Drew is the Jaguars don't seem inclined to pay based on past performance. Rather, they seem inclined to take the approach that he has two years left on his deal and that he's a running back entering his seventh season. Leverage is only leverage if the other party is worried about it enough to be affected by it. We'll how much each side really has in the coming weeks.
Kevin from Section 106:
John, I like to imagine after ,"Let's get to it..." there is a painful sigh. Is this true or is it more like "alright, here we go!"
John: It's sort of like when Anthony Dufresne busts out of Shawkshank and lifts his arms in the air to bask in the sweet bath of rainy freedom. Yeah, it's sort of like that.
Joel from Atlanta, GA:
In your time in Indy, did you ever meet Nate Dunleavy? If so, can you please explain why he dismisses everything about the Jags and why he has started a campaign for everyone to hate Blaine?
John: I never met Nate Dunlevy, but we corresponded on occasion while I was in Indianapolis and while he was running his Colts-related blog, I've read his Bleacher Report work only occasionally, but I don't see him as particularly biased one way or the other – certainly not considering he once wrote exclusively about the Colts. His job now is to write about the entire AFC South, and it takes time to learn the entire division. My understanding is he's not a huge believer in Blaine Gabbert, but that doesn't make him alone among national media. Fortunately for Gabbert, that doesn't matter a bit moving forward. My advice: if you don't like what Dunlevy or anyone else writes, take a deep breath, surf away from the page and don't read anymore.
Chad from Gulf Shores, AL:
Your comment about "no roster is going to be as strong in the backup positions as it is in the starting lineup" made me remember and appreciate what we had in Ben Coleman. I remember the few occasions when Tony Boselli got injured and everyone thought the world was going to end. Coleman shifted over to left tackle and played at a very high level, surprising a lot of people. What do you remember most about Ben Coleman?
John: I remember Coleman doing exactly what you remember – playing left tackle at a very high level when needed. He also was a very good guard on those early Jaguars teams, not to mention a guy who always was helpful and professional with the media. He was one of the people who made those years memorable and pleasant to cover.
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
John Oehser: "The Jaguars' public relations department, led by Dan Edwards and Ryan Robinson, handles that. They are among the best I ever have been around." You must know a different Ryan than I do.
John: This was in response to a question in O-Zone live Wednesday, and while my respect level for Ryan varies by the day and is indeed low regarding many of his attributes, I can't denigrate what he and Dan Edwards do in the area of public relations. I have known each of them for many years, and they are indeed among the best I have known at what they do. I wouldn't be senior writer if they weren't here, so well, you can blame them for that.
Glenn and April from Savannah, GA:
We bought a life-sized MJD wall ornament for our dining room. We feel a bit awkward putting it up and having company over until his contract dispute is settled. One of those, "what will the neighbors think" issues. Your thoughts?
John: I think it's not the contract dispute that should make you feel awkward.

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