Let's get to it . . . Jimmicane from Cardiff, CA and Section 245:
Goodell talking about the possibility of expanding to 34 NFL teams is crazy. How would they split that up into divisions? Doesn't make sense.
John: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was pretty clear Friday that the talk of expansion is very, very premature – so premature that it's not really even talk yet. But if expansion happens, the league could figure out a way to align and schedule. The league played for years with 26 teams, 28 teams and 30 teams. It even played for a time with 31. It played a few seasons with six teams in one division – the AFC Central with the Jaguars, Browns, Ravens, Steelers, Titans and Bengals. It wouldn't be symmetrical, exactly, and there would be complaints about unfair scheduling, but there would be a way to make it work.
Branden from Staten Island, NY:
Here's an article about the Top 5 scouting departments in the NFL. It's based off of other personnel people and their opinions. This might help some doubters understand.
John: Funny. Here people thought I was just waking up every day writin' lies and drinkin'.
Frank from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Help me understand something about the process of creating a playbook. As you've mentioned in some articles, the playbook is being assembled right now and it is intended to cater to the personnel the Jags have. My question is this. With free agency and the draft still to come and the amount of turnover at key skill positions to be included in both of those processes, won't the playbook need to be changed to account for the new talent? Why not wait until the talent procurement phase is over to get deep into the playbook creation? Thanks.
John: You can't wait forever. Certainly there will be changes after free agency and the draft – in the same sense that any team alters the playbook after free agency and the draft. Because of nearly an entirely new offensive staff, what the Jaguars are doing now is getting the basic structure of the playbook built. That involves taking Mike Mularkey's core beliefs/principles and adding and altering based on ideas and input from the assistants. You have to get that in place before you can adjust the details.
John from Jacksonville:
So who's going to be calling the plays for next season, Bratkowski or Olson?
John: Bratkowski. He's the offensive coordinator.
Josh from Lynchburg, VA:
I think Thursday night games cheapen the product. When one team is at a severe disadvantage due to lack of preparation time, it leads to poor performances and blow-outs. Sure, this is a game played by exceptional men, but slanting the odds one way or the other more often than not leads to an inferior performance.
John: I agree and many football people do, too. The Thursday night games are not the most popular concept among players, coaches and personnel officials, but the NFL is wildly popular and you could put a game on at 4:30 a.m. on a Tuesday and it would draw ratings. Ratings mean money and in professional sports, it's hard to win an argument if you're arguing against money.
David from Charlotte, NC:
Will Kampman play defensive end for the Jaguars next season?
John: I believe the Jaguars would like him to. I see the team going after a defensive end in free agency, and if that happens, I think it's likely Kampman will be given a chance to prove in training camp that he is ready to play a contributing role at perhaps a reduced salary. A lot more on this situation likely will be known in late February and early March as the league year and free agency approaches. That's usually when you get a better idea about how the team is going to approach situations involving different players.
Roy from St. Augustine, FL:
Take judgment out of field goals by having an upper cross bar as well- fit "the box" with a soft net and it's either in the net or not! Also the kicker must adjust for distance much like a golfer must -you can't just blast the ball every time the same way, but must adjust the velocity as well.
John: My sense is we'll need many, many, many – did I say, "many?" – more missed field-goal calls before it moves toward anything like that.
Desmond from Hampton, VA:
What's going on, O-Man? I was a season- ticket owner for the first time last year, but this year, it's time to renew and I don't think I can. I have the money for the tickets, but not for the travel. If I can only afford to go to games as I can afford to travel, does that make me any less of a fan?
John: Absolutely not.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
Bryan from Jacksonville I just happened to hear that Tom Brady didn't even make a single completion until after he turned 24. Hmmm, makes you think that maybe we should let Blaine have some time to develop before we write him off.
John: IT must have ignored my calls. The perspective filter is down again.
Steve from Orange Park, FL and Section 215:
Isn't the reduced home-field advantage simple proof that the NFL is actually accomplishing its goal of parity? The home-field advantage and bye used to go to the teams that were actually a good bit better than the other in the playoffs.
John: To a degree, yes, although I'm not a big believer that there is as much parity in the NFL as many people think. When teams routinely run off 14-2, 13-3 and 15-1 seasons – and when three teams in three seasons (New Orleans, Indianapolis and Green Bay) flirt with unbeaten seasons – it's hard for me to call that balanced. The emphasis on quality quarterback play has ensured that teams with one have a pretty steep advantage over those that don't and that has caused long runs of certain teams being pretty regular playoff participants every year, too. At the same time, maybe I'm talking about regular-season imbalance, because you're right. The post-season the last five years has been increasingly hard to project.
Bonnie from Jacksonville and Section 412:
I hope YOUR wife doesn't read the O-Zone!!!!!!
John: My wife has a sense of humor. (There's your lob. Make up your own punch line.)
Brad from Orange Park, FL:
I don't know how exactly, but I've been Jedi mind-tricked to where all I can see happening Sunday is Tom Brady going off, especially with the prayer request blast. Not to discount Coughlin's coaching, but I also feel like Belichick is going to have the Pats very, very prepared. Plus, could the Giants have mouthed-off any more than they already have? I feel like if the game was played this past Sunday, Giants all the way. With all that's transpired since actual football has been played though, if I had to bet, my $$$ would be on New England. Not that he hasn't been before, but I Just can't picture Brady getting out-dueled on this one.
John: It's always hard to see Brady and the Patriots losing in the playoffs, yet in the postseason following the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 seasons they have done just that. My point is the Patriots' postseason mystique has been something of a myth since they beat the Eagles in Jacksonville following the 2004 season. That coincided with their defense getting old and them becoming an offensive-oriented team. I'm not discounting the Patriots, but in 2003-2004 they had an unbeatable aura in the postseason and since then that hasn't been the case. The Giants certainly don't see them as unbeatable and with a quarterback playing at Eli Manning's level, you have to think this is a pretty even match-up.
Kamen from Bethel, CT:
I don't know, John. I think it's very important to pressure Brady, but I also think the idea that rattling Brady will cause him to implode is way overblown. I don't remember the exact statistic, but Brady is something like 22-4 since 2003, including playoffs, when sacked three or more times. To put that in perspective, the next-closest percentage-wise is Peyton Manning, who is 6-5.
John: That's an impressive number, but when the Patriots have been vulnerable in recent seasons it has been when Brady has been uncomfortable enough to make mistakes. Sacking him is one thing; pressuring him with four linemen and being able to have enough players to cover behind that rush is another. The Giants typically can pressure with four and that gives any quarterback/offense problems.
Dave from 412:
O-man, Andrew must be a newly-wed. It's been 23 years for me. I'm a season-ticket holder and my wife asks me every day if the Jags have a home game and always looks disappointed when I say they don't – What's up with that?
John: My wife always looks disappointed, too – and she knows the schedule.
Let's get to it . . . Jimmicane from Cardiff, CA and Section 245: