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Time left to evaluate

Let's get to it . . . John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Is it that important to set a tone for the offseason and next season? I suspect there will be significant roster moves by next season, so how will setting the tone be a factor in the performance of players to be added to the roster in nine months? Also, I do not understand why there is any consideration to playing MJD or Daryl Smith in any of the final games of a lost season. Why possibly play either of these two players and risk an ACL tear or worse?
John: I agree that winning or losing the final four games doesn't make a huge difference when players are walking the hallway in the offseason getting ready to get a lift in. And it's not as if two victories in the final four games will dictate the record next September. But many of these players will be here next year, and the coaching staff can't just ignore a quarter of the season. That's four games of development, and four games for the offensive line to improve, or for first- and second-year players to develop and show what roles they might play next season. Four games ago, people were ready to write off Justin Blackmon as a bust. He has played better in the last four games and at the same time, has shown the need to continue improving. He has used that month to improve, and at the same time, the Jaguars have a better idea about what they have in him. That's happening at various levels and various positions all over the roster. It needs to continue to happen, and while it does, the Jaguars need to continue to try to win. As for playing Smith and Jones-Drew, there is certainly a risk, but each player seems to want to get back, and the team wants them to play as well. It's a situation in which you must weigh risk versus reward.
Tim from Jacksonville and Section 213:
You can safely tell your readers no way Shad Khan will "blow up" the organization. He hired everyone in the organization right now except Gene, and he approved of keeping Gene. Why would he "clean house" when he built it? Engineers have patience and attention to detail. They don't make emotional, fire-everybody decisions. He will analyze, then make surgical alterations where he believes personnel are underperforming. Then he will observe what happens. That's the engineering approach and that's the approach that Khan will make.
John: Hmm. It's almost as if Khan said something like that himself. Ah, yes . . .
Sampson from Bronx, NY:
Khan is an excellent businessman, but I assume he lacks a background in football. So when it comes to football decisions, who are his advisors? Wouldn't the opinion of those people be the ones swaying the decisions he makes? I can only imagine it would be tough for Khan to make these important calls if he wasn't privy to the industry.
John: Under your hypothetical situation, Khan would do what anyone running a business would do. You would talk to other people running similar businesses, and perhaps use people with experience in the business as consultants – either in an official or unofficial capacity. Khan during his years leading to purchasing the team and the year since has not only attended NFL Owners meetings he has met with other owners and NFL front-office people on many occasions. During those meetings, he almost certainly has discussed this topic and developed short lists for positions that could potentially come open. The NFL, while competitive, also is a tight-knit organization, and Khan certainly has developed a number of people he trusts enough to begin the process of finding someone to run a team if that's necessary.
Lee from Duval County, FL:
The combination of a high draft pick and trading MJD for picks or players could instantaneously turn this thing around! Don't answer this, I want to bask in this fantasy for the rest of this season...
John: Bask away.
RK from Duval County, FL:
I hope the Jaguars don't neglect the running back position the way they did quarterback. This team needs new blood at running back, especially with MJD looking to go elsewhere . . .
John: The Jaguars don't need to neglect any position, though it's far more critical – and more difficult – to find a quarterback than a running back. Jones-Drew is under contract for one more season, so you may not necessarily need to find a starter for next year, but there certainly seems a need to find another contributor at the spot.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
When I think of you and your job this year, this is what comes to mind: Stay strong.
John: I'd just like to know where Bud Light got my home videos.
John from Jacksonville:
I'm sure you received some grief in your very important power rankings about not placing the Jags at the bottom this week, but here is why I think the Jaguars are doing a "great" job at staying No. 31 instead of No. 32. The strength of schedule for the Jags so far is 83-61 (the combined record of teams they played against so far) compared to Kansas City being 73-71. We played a tougher schedule and deserve to stay out of the esteemed bottom slot for now.
John: Strength of schedule is a huge reason for keeping the Jaguars at No. 31. The other is that the Jaguars have lost three overtime games. That, to be honest, is about as much research as has gone into the situation, which is ironic considering the importance of the rankings.
Trey from Jacksonville:
How bad do you feel for being wrong about 99 percent of the things you have said this year?
John: One percent better than if I was the one keeping score.
Dave from Panama City, FL:
I saw this morning that the Raiders had signed a player off of another team's practice squad. How does that work? I thought players on your practice squad were protected as members of the team. Is there compensation involved between the teams for something like that?
John: Players on practice squads are very close to being free agents in the sense of how the NFL views their contracts. They are paid by the team with which they are practicing and they go to meetings, but they can sign to the active roster of any NFL team at any time. If a team signs a player from another team's practice squad, that player must stay on the team's active roster for a minimum of three games. But no, they are not protected and there is no compensation between the teams.
Jack from Jacksonville:
Some of our players say the Jags are better than their record would indicate. Do you believe that's the case or do you think our 2-10 record is more or less accurate?
John: It's accurate. The Jaguars are 2-10, and as the well-worn cliché goes, "You are what your record says you are." Could the Jaguars be 5-7? Yes, because they lost three overtime games, they easily could be 5-7, but are they in the top half of the NFL? No, they are not.
Stephen from Glorieta, NM:
As the season has progressed I've noticed a certain saltiness and sarcasm working its way into your responses. Works for me! Good job, John.
John: I have no idea what you're talking about, but shut up.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Any chance that we're in one of those "two steps forward and one step back" processes?
John: That's what we'll see the final four games of the season, beginning Sunday. The NFL by its nature is a sport in which each game is overanalyzed. That's because there usually is a week between games. If the Jaguars win three of their last four, then the loss to Buffalo will be written off as a tough game in difficult conditions. If they lose three of four, then it will be considered part of a generally difficult season. The players and coaches felt very good about Tennessee/Houston and believed they were putting some positives together. The feeling was far different after Buffalo, but a victory over the Jets absolutely would give them the feeling that they had taken three steps forward in the last month.
John from Ramsey, NJ:
I'm tired of this love for Henne. He's a good backup, period. Doesn't anyone remember his performance in Miami? He had some good games and some bad ones. Becoming a Jaguar has not changed his performance. He's had two good games, two bad ones. His arrow is flat. I see consistency with Henne, and hope with Gabbert.
John: Players improve, and the hope around the Jaguars is that Henne has matured and grown since his time as the Dolphins' starter. That happens, and through three games this season, Henne overall has played a little better than probably most people expected. With four games remaining, there's time to see if he's closer to the Tennessee/Houston version or the Buffalo/Oakland version.

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