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The nature of analysis

Post-Super Bowl O-zone. On the off-season.

Let's get to it . . . Cody from Jacksonville:
Now that Eli has two world championships under his belt with the possibility of more in his future do you think that he will go down in history as the better Manning brother?
John: As I watched the post-game coverage late Sunday night, I thought about the same question. It's always hard to say in the short-term how history will judge someone in the long-term. History sometimes depends on who's talking about it, and Peyton Manning certainly has done enough to be judged as one of the greatest of all-time. For now, I still believe Peyton in his prime was as good as anyone ever, and there will be some who remember him that way. There also will be some who look at his postseason record and drop him down on the list of all-time quarterbacks. Many judge quarterbacks on Super Bowl rings, and on that basis, many will judge Eli as being better than Peyton now. I tend to think getting your teams to the post-season matters, and Peyton has done that as well as any quarterback ever. Which side you're on dictates how you judge. Without question, though, Eli his carving out a niche of his own. He has become an elite quarterback and he has established himself as one of the premier clutch quarterbacks of this era – and, in fact, a lot of eras.
Michael from Port Orange, FL and Section 122:
How many times did Monroe get beat on a third- or fourth-down play in a crucial point in the game or have a drive-killing penalty? His stats may look good but I believe they need to find a left tackle and move him to right tackle or guard. Is that a possibility?
John: No, nor should it be. Eugene Monroe is the Jaguars' left tackle. Has he played perfectly? No, but he is not a weakness on the line, and left tackle is not a position the Jaguars need to address in the off-season.
Wyatt from Jacksonville:
Fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, Patriots are driving toward the win and right at the four-minute mark the Patriots' receivers suddenly start to play like the Jaguars receivers and go from catching almost everything to dropping everything. Meanwhile, the Giants receivers are bailing Manning out yet again by making difficult catches against double coverage. Difference in the game?
John: Well, certainly. NFL players are fond of saying, "You've got to make plays," and the difference in most games is one or two plays in the final four minutes. One thing I found intriguing was your comment about Giants receivers 'bailing Manning out yet again by making difficult catches against double coverage.' It almost sounds as if you thought Manning didn't play well and the Giants' receivers carried him. I didn't see it that way at all. Manning had three or four throws in that game – the touchdown pass to Cruz and the long one on the sideline to Manningham on the game-winning drive – that were as accurate and gutsy under pressure as you'll see. But without question the difference was the Giants receivers made catches down the stretch and the Patriots receivers didn't. As my son said after Aaron Hernandez dropped a pass on the Patriots' final drive, "Pressure." My son's 15 and therefore says about three words to his parents on a given day unless forced, but in that instance, his one word summed everything up.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
The pass from Manning to Manningham managed to summarize the Jaguars 2012 offensive expectations in a 10-second span: Blaine needs to be able to hit that honey hole, and we have GOT to find a receiver that can make that catch. Regardless of what people say about "7-7, they almost missed the playoffs blah blah," THAT WAS A PLAY AN NFL CHAMPION MAKES AT CRUNCH TIME!
John: Yes, the Jaguars need guys who can make that play. So do about 28 or 29 other NFL teams.
Keith from Deleon Springs, FL:
I find it amusing that when Tom Brady throws a pass behind a WR it should have been caught, but when Gabbert puts it in both hands of his receivers somehow he threw it wrong. Do the same three guys write scripts for these "analysts?"
John: No, but you're point is a good one – not that Gabbert is on Brady's level, of course, but that the mistakes of great players are often glossed over while when a young, struggling player makes the same error it is seen as an example of why he's the worst player in the league at that particular time. Brady without question because of his three early Super Bowl victories has reached the level where analysts believe very little is his fault, perhaps deservedly so. Bill Belichick has reached the same level – i.e., because the Patriots won three Super Bowls from 2001-2004, analysts ignore that they haven't won one since. If the Patriots hadn't won those Super Bowls early in the decade, Brady and Belichick would be criticized constantly for failing in the postseason six of the last seven years; because they won them, they're considered winners and champions. Such is the nature of analysis. It's imperfect and often skewed to fit perception.
Eddie from Folkston, GA:
I think the effect of a hurt Gronkowski was too much for the Patriots to overcome in the Super Bowl. What do you think?
John: It darned sure didn't help.
Wade from Charlotte, NC:
If Coughlin stayed in Jacksonville, maybe giving up his GM duties, does he win two Super Bowls or does the fact that he was fired and spent a year outside of coaching make a change in him that causes this?
John: People always see this too simply. No sport can be seen in a vacuum, and the NFL darned sure can't. Coughlin deserves to be recognized for what he is – one of the premiere coaches of his era. But what he has done with the Giants has nothing to do with what happened in Jacksonville. Would Coughlin have won two Super Bowls in Jacksonville? Sure, if the Jaguars had had a front-line general manager and a quarterback on part with Eli Manning and a pass rush and so on and so on and so on . . . Coughlin was a very good coach in Jacksonville. He's a very good coach in New York. But in the NFL, an incredible number of circumstances have to line up to win a Super Bowl. To try to analyze and assign singular blame or credit more often than not is to miss the point.
John from Savannah, GA:
I must be old school, John, but you never, EVER let a team score the go-ahead touchdown, no matter the circumstance. The Patriots deserved to lose that game on that decision alone. Nothing is a given in the NFL. Nothing.
John: I disagree. The Patriots had a better chance to win after that than they did before.
Renee from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Is T.C. going to be the first Jaguar in the Hall of Fame?
John: There's a good chance.
Brooks from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I know running back isn't a pressing need, but with the lifespan of a running back, in the workload MOJO has had do would you take Trent Richardson? I know a lot will depend on free agent acquisitions such as CB, DE, and WR but Trent will blow scouts away with his measurables at the combine.
John: The Jaguars are selecting No. 7. I'm not big on running backs that high in the first-round anymore. Recent history has suggested that you can get running backs that are perfectly effective in today's game far, far lower.
Stuart from St. Louis, MO:
Just to add fuel to the homerun fire: my friends who play baseball tell me you never really hit a homerun when you try to. You hit homeruns when you relax and just try to make good contact with the ball.
John: Exactly.
Norm from Dothan, AL:
John, thanks for your dedication, honest responses to questions and trust you will finally take next weekend off?
John: We'll see. The streak will last so long as the circumstances merit. We'll see what that means.
Nick from New York, NY:
Curtis Martin was just elected to the Hall of Fame. I appreciate that he retired in the top-five all-time career rushing yards, but during their careers, how many GMs would've chosen Martin over Fred Taylor?
John: I thought the same thing Saturday. Curtis Martin was a very, very good player for a long time, but I wasn't sure that he fit that elite-level, must-stop-him-to-win status that the dead-solid lock Hall of Famers fit. I didn't have a problem with Martin getting in, but without question him being in gives Taylor a better argument – and his argument already was pretty good.
Kevin from Section 214:
Had our Super Bowl party. Chips, burgers, hot dogs, and just because you recommended it, all the beautiful Magic Hat #9 you could drink. We talked about inviting you but we thought you'd be busy already drinking, lying, napping, and tweeting.
John: Never assume anything. You know what that does. I was doing all four, but that's not to say I couldn't have done them on your dime in the comforts of your own home.

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