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Unanswered questions

Let's get to it . . . Kat from Kingsland, GA:
It may be too early to talk draft, but we're probably going to have an early pick. With many deficiencies, wouldn't we be better off trading our pick for multiple players? Defensive line, linebacker and cornerback all need addressing – and our offensive line has been less than mediocre this year. We have too many problems for a really early pick to solve anything (combined with our track record with first-round picks being a grim one). Your thoughts?
John: The decision to trade is the same for pretty much any team in the Top 5 any year. Is there a player you covet where you select? If not, is there a trading partner? If you assume – as many seem to be assuming – that the Jaguars still need a franchise quarterback, that often means wanting to be selecting in the Top 5. It remains to be seen if there is a bonafide franchise quarterback in the Top 5 this year. Is there a franchise-turning player at any position available? That is the next question that could face the Jaguars if they're picking so early. If not, then trading out of the spot would be an option. In years past, finding a trading partner when picking in the Top 5 had been difficult. Under the new CBA, that doesn't appear to be the case, so in that sense, it wouldn't be a surprise at all if the Jaguars traded down and tried to increase the speed and depth of the roster.
Paul from Jacksonville:
If Gabbert were to demonstrate the growth that Shorts has, I think fan sentiment on him would change a bit.
John: I think you're right.
Brett from Ocoee, FL:
I didn't interpret Mularkey as saying "If Henne plays well, he will be the starter for Week 1 of next season." Unless they cut Gabbert, which would make no sense, the quarterback competition starts next offseason with Henne as the incumbent starter (if he plays well enough). There is no "permanent" in the NFL. There's just what you can earn and how long you can hold on to it.
John: Good perspective, and you're correct. But realistically, if Henne plays well enough over the last six games to make this coaching staff believe he's a solid No. 1 guy, there probably isn't that much Gabbert could do in the offseason and preseason to change that. That would make Henne the guy entering next at this point, which is as permanent as it gets when you don't have a franchise quarterback. Obviously at 1-9 there are many, many decisions likely to get made in terms of the direction of the franchise, so there probably isn't a whole lot of "permanent" about much of anything football-related around the Jaguars right now.
Trace from Jacksonville:
To Scott from Atlantic Beach who thought Mularkey may have failed to see what he had in Henne: Which do you see the Jags have in Henne - the @Oakland Henne or the @Houston Henne?
John: That's what we're going to find out @Buffalo, @Miami, @Tennessee and home against New England, Tennessee and the New York Jets.
Tom from Whitesburg, KY:
Words can't express how tired I am of the national media claiming the Jaguars are one of the NFL's worst franchises. First, the Jaguars possess a 76-84 record between 2000-2009. That ranks 20th in the NFL. Most would say that era is "post-glory days." Yet, in that time period, the Jags had as many or more playoff appearances than nine teams in the NFL. Finally, in the last five years, they have recorded seven blackouts, none since '09. Teams with more in the last five include: CIN, SD, BUF, DET, and TB. Tampa nearly doubles the Jaguars blackouts with 13. I know winning cures most of the bashing but I'm obviously at my boiling point.
John: All good points. As I've said often, Jacksonville is an easy target made easier in the last year or so by the struggles on the field. The last year or so have marked a pretty clear low point, and when you're at a low point, the national media in the NFL is going to bash you and make generalizations. These generalizations are often wrong, but when you're losing, no one wants to hear your argument. The team will start to win. For a while after that, the generalizations will continue, then eventually perceptions will change.
Willis from Jacksonville:
With the number of questionable non-calls for offsides this year, do you think it makes sense that it's only a 5-yard penalty, while holding is still 10 yards? Seems like the potential for injury would make it a more egregious offense.
John: If players were penalized 10 yards for offsides, you might see fewer free shots at defenseless players. The other side of this, of course, is all officials have to do is call an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the offending player. That, and a fine, would curb the habit fairly quickly, one would think.
Shawn from Honolulu, HI:
If the average player takes four-to-six years to adjust to the NFL, we have a reason for keeping Mike Mularkey and the coaching staff intact. This roster has an average of four years of experience and players are entering that adjustment window. Changing coaches and staffs will prolong the adjustment. This past offseason was spent learning a scheme; next off season is to become consistent with the scheme. There is a reason Mike Mularkey had great teaching coaches coming seeking him to become part of this project.
John: There is some truth to the belief that the Jaguars are young and the roster absolutely could use a few more core players in the 5-to-7-year range. I'm of the belief that youth in the core receiver/quarterback trio absolutely hindered the offense to a degree earlier this season. I don't know that it's accurate that the average player takes four-to-six years to adjust to the NFL, though, and there absolutely are young players on the roster that obviously could be better. That said, your point that the core players here will benefit from another offseason is true. Young players such as wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts usually benefit from offseasons working in a scheme and with a quarterback. Still, I won't say that the only flaws on the current roster stem from inexperience. The Jaguars clearly could be better on the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary, for example, and I don't know that simply waiting a year or two will solve all of the issues.
Dave from Section 410 and Jacksonville:
Dave from PCB mentioned not many dropped passes against the Texans. I believe late in the fourth quarter on third and short a pass went right through Blackmon's hands and hit him in the face, would that qualify? Playmakers need to make plays at critical times; that's what winners do.
John: My understanding is that wasn't counted as a drop. If it's the play I think you're discussing, it went through a defender's hands first, and Blackmon barely had time to turn and get his hands to the ball. It hit off his face mask, but it would have been a heck of a catch. I'm not saying Blackmon played all that well until last week, and he has left a lot of plays on the field, but to blame him for that one is a bit extreme.
Roger from Section 204 and Cherryville, NC:
I recall someone mentioning at the beginning of the regular season that Blaine Gabbert not only needed coaching up like any young quarterback, but he also needed coaching to offset bad habits he had reinforced/learned in his rookie year when he had to go quickly from an uncoached third quarterback carrying a clipboard opening the season to STARTING NFL QB IN THE 3RD GAME OF THE SEASON having had almost no coaching and no team contact because of the strike/lockout. Seems to me he had two and a half strikes against him before he began his "on the field" NFL career. We wish him a complete and quick recovery and best wishes to compete to lead a successful season in 2013.
John: There's no arguing that Gabbert had extremely difficult circumstances entering the NFL, and in retrospect, he probably played far too soon. That is the past, and fair or unfair, that's how it played out. Now, the question has changed. Now, the question is, "Do you believe that Gabbert – starting now – can develop into a franchise quarterback?" if so, you must decide how long to wait and how best to develop that. You must decide if that's something that can happen here. You must decide if it's worth it to wait and see if happens or if there's a better option. With Shad Khan evaluating the team, and with the team currently 1-9, it's safe to say those questions will be asked, evaluated and eventually answered at some point, and it's probably just as safe to say they're not 100 percent answered right now.

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