Let's get to it . . . Mark from Jacksonville:
Regarding coaches, I can share an analogy. As a golf instructor/coach, I have met other instructors I feel may have more technical knowledge, but when I see them with a student, that knowledge never seems to come out clear, and eventually has the opposite intended effect of making the player worse. Coaching well is more about being aware of how/if your student is comprehending what you're trying to communicate. The best instructors spend more time observing/listening to how their student is translating what's being taught. The best coaches/instructors then adapt their message (without compromising technique) to ensure the student is "learning" and not merely going through the motions.
John: I couldn't agree more. I've seen the same phenomenon with my son in athletics, and I'm sure many parents can say the same thing. It's not so much the knowledge of the coach, but the ability to communicate and reach the person being coached. Here's what many don't grasp about the NFL – as important as coaching is for beginners, it matters at the professional level, too. Despite NFL players being some of the best in the world at what they do, they do need coaching. I'm not a huge believer that the play-calling of offensive and defensive coordinators can make average players perform consistently better than their talent, but I do believe NFL players need good coaching, particularly at the position level – and that they can flourish with it and digress/underachieve without it.
Shaun from Mississippi:
Could Jerry Sullivan's reputation as one of the best receivers coaches in the NFL help make the Jaguars more desirable for potential free agent WRs this offseason?
John: It certainly won't hurt. Though money will be the most important factor, Sullivan's reputation certainly would weigh as a positive if a receiver was torn between Jacksonville and another team.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
If anyone thinks teams sign players to be "mentors" and not to compete for playing time, you are mistaken. Coaches get paid enough money to be teachers. Backup players are competition, not study buddies.
John: I agree almost entirely. The quarterback position is sometimes the one exception in the sense that an established starting quarterback – or a young one who is maturing into the franchise role – can be helped on some level by a veteran backup. But yes, at most positions the mentoring of younger players is overrated. Veterans at most positions can lead by example and performance, but absolutely not by being, as you say, study buddies.
Brooks from Ponte Vedra, FL:
In free agency would you rather have at end: Cliff Avril or Mario Williams and at wide receiver: Colston or Dwayne Bowe?
John: Williams and Bowe. Williams widely is considered to be the best available end scheduled to hit free agency, and Bowe is generally considered the better of the two receivers you mentioned.
Tom from Jacksonville and Section 102:
One of the possible scenarios I was envisioning was if we didn't resign Dwight Lowery, we could resign Rashean Mathis to fill the position at safety and then get one of the premier corners in the draft. But after reading your article on Mathis he seemed to be saying that he will only play corner. Do you think there is a possibility we could see Mathis at safety next season?
John: No. Mathis wants to play corner, and my guess is he'll get a chance to do that somewhere. Mathis sees himself as a corner, and the Jaguars don't really see him as a safety. If he stays in Jacksonville, it likely will be as a corner at a lower salary than he would have drawn without the season-ending ACL.
Gene from Jacksonville and Section 411 (original and still season ticket holder):
Haven't the Jaguars already upgraded the wide receivers just by hiring the coaches they have? Won't players such as Mike Thomas, Cecil Shorts, Brian Robiskie, Jarett Dillard and whoever else we pick up in free agency be much better with proper schemes, techniques and yes, coaching?
John: Yes, I'd expect the Jaguars' receivers to improve next season even if they sign no one. They without question will acquire new players, but to be as effective as the Jaguars hope to be offensively they need receivers on the roster to develop, too.
Anthony from Madison, WI:
I'm pretty sure lying and pretending to be sick are the same. Anyway, you said Britton, Knighton, Cox, and Jennings are not "core" players necessary to re-sign. I would agree. I think Knighton and Cox are essential re-signs, Britton close, and Jennings as not so much. Which ones were you actually referring to?
John: For people of low character such as myself, there are many subtle levels of lying, deception and weakness; sort of like Eskimos have many, many words for snow. As for the core list, I'd say yours and mine are pretty similar.
Chris from Where the Jaguars Are:
Tony Brackens, Daryl Smith, Rashean Mathis, Kevin Hardy and Marcus Stroud in that order. Kevin Hardy was comparable to Ray Lewis in productivity during his time in Jacksonville – at least before he caught the injury bug. His contributions to the early Jaguar defenses are sometimes overlooked and forgotten.
John: Good list. My guess is Paul Posluszny has a chance to wind up on that list, but it's going to take several seasons.
Ron from Asheville, NC:
Is it common practice when designing the playbook to involve every offensive coach? I also heard Mularkey mention they have some very creative minds on the offensive staff. Does that translate to gadget and misdirection kinda plays?
John: Yes, in this situation – a new staff, new coach and coordinator – it's common to have the entire staff involved. That's not to say every coach is analyzing and making changes on every play, but you certainly want as many eyes and minds involved in the process as makes sense. That's particularly true when you have the experience on staff as the Jaguars currently do. As for the gadget and misdirection plays, there could be some of that in the offense, but my sense is that's more because Mularkey has used it successfully at past stops than because of the assistants. Coaches can be creative without gadgetry; one does not necessarily have to do with the other.
Julian from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I would have to include at least one of the Hardy boys on my list.
John: Kevin Hardy would deserve consideration, but I don't know about Top 5.
Donny from Heathrow, FL:
I don't understand why Mark Brunell isn't in your Top 5 over McCardell and, in fact, I've noticed that his name doesn't come up as often as it should based on his play in the Jags' first seven seasons. Think about it – there are no 1996 and 1999 playoff runs without his stellar play and Thunder & Lightning don't have those nicknames without Brunell getting them the ball. Too bad he hurt his knee or who knows how much more success he would have had. What am I missing here O-meister?
John: Brunell had some very good seasons for the Jaguars. I'd put him among the better players in the franchise's history. Upon seeing my list, Mark tweeted me, said he liked the list and asked if he could be No. 6. And you know what? I think that's about right.
Ron from Jacksonville:
I'd replace Keenan with Daryl Smith. Same consistency in their respective positions but Keenan always had Jimmy to draw the coverage. Daryl finds a way to play very well on some very not so great teams and keeps his chin up like nobody else.
John: I wouldn't argue you very strongly. He certainly is in the conversation.
Daniel from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Do you think the Jags will trade their first-round pick for the Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace?
Justin from Section 133:
No love for the defense on your top 5 all time? How about some love for some of those guys.
John: It's not a matter of love or hate, just a matter of reality.
Bryan from Tampa, FL:
I am rather concerned about our cornerback situation. It does not seem wise to assume that both of our starters from last season will be 100 percent rehabilitated from their injuries and I do not think that our backups can be trusted in the long term. Has GM Gene indicated any possibility of addressing this situation or do you think he is comfortable with where the CB group is?
John: It's fine to assume Cox will be 100 percent, though obviously you can't assume that of Mathis because he had an ACL midway through last season. I believe the Jaguars will address cornerback, very possibly in the first round of the draft. That's obviously projection at this stage, but what else is the pre-draft period for?
Jon from NOLA:
I don't understand the "admiration" you and Brian feel for Hugh Douglas. Jaguar fans should hate that guy. He duped us into a big free agent contract than got fat and lazy as soon as he got paid. I have no respect for that guy. Please retract your previous comments!
John: I really need to talk to the IT guys about this.
Time to talk to IT -- again
Let's get to it . . . Mark from Jacksonville: