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We love stars

Shaun from Jacksonville:
I put the failure to get Josh Scobee signed to a long-term deal solely on Gene Smith at this point. The Prater deal should have set the mark required to get a deal with Scobee done right now. It literally could take ten minutes. Give him the same deal with $5 million guaranteed. How hard is that? How is this guy going to handle a contract signing of an actual playmaker if he is being so stubborn over a kicker?
John: I must have missed the story about Scobee agreeing to take the same deal Prater received. You can "give" a player any deal, but if that player doesn't agree to that deal, it doesn't matter. I don't know exactly what the Jaguars are offering Scobee or what he wants, and I don't know that we know yet just which side is being stubborn. Remember: deadlines have a funny way of making things happen. The deadline to get a long-term deal done is in a week. If it's not done by then, start laying blame for failure. Until then, nothing's really failed anyway.
Brad from Orange Park, FL:
Not to be snide, but there's embellishment in your maintaining the Jaguars being convinced Garrard would have played at a deplorable level last year. I believe Del Rio was convinced Garrard wasn't going to save his job and out of an act of desperation, as he did with Leftwich a few years back, sent the starting quarterback packing. There's no way that McCown got swallowed by the moment like he did and was the better option. Garrard wasn't one of your media-darling quarterbacks that tossed 4,000 yards a season, but he did know how to grind out some W's - and I think there's no question that we would have fared far better last year with him under center than we did without him.
John: There's not embellishment, and while I never said "deplorable," the belief around the Jaguars was he had declined. Whether those who believed it were correct or not can be debated, but that was the belief.
Keith from Jacksonville:
How could you not root for Murray? I like Federer, but it would have been nice to see Murray win. Anyway keep up the good work and Go Jags!!!
John: How could I not root for Murray? A couple of reasons. One is I'm a diehard Federer fan. I appreciate greatness, class and drive, and I like to see it rewarded. The other reason is Mrs. O-Zone is a Federer fan, too, and the house is happy when Mrs. O-Zone is happy. Anyone who has been married for more than about a day and a half will know which reason is the more important.
Andrew from Orange Park, FL:
The excitement this offseason seems to be different. In years past as we approach training camp, there always was the new year, clean-slate excitement. But this offseason it seems to be more authentic. With that said, if we have a losing season, do you think is would be devastating to the fan base?
John: I agree the excitement is palpable. Because of the coaching change and a full offseason, there's no question there is more optimism than there was this time last year inside the organization and that seems to have extended to the fan base. I don't know that a losing season would be devastating, because you never know what circumstances a season will bring. If the Jaguars put a team on the field that seems in disarray or that seems to be going backward, that could be disappointing, but I can't see that happening.
Kevin from Jacksonville and Section 214:
My friends and I are all regular season-ticket holders (three years running since I graduated college and can afford it.) Now during the peak hours of offseason, we have taken up the tradition of getting together, setting up Madden, and letting the two computers simulate the games coming up this season: 4-0 Jags fans! I'd tell you that what I'm doing is sad and pathetic but I'm sure you have no problem recognizing it when you see it.
John: Self-awareness is a gift. Ye hath received.
Maria from Jacksonville:
Is being an NFL owner a very profitable gig, or is it more of a hobby that pays you a small bit?
John: It's certainly bigger than a hobby, but how profitable it is to be an NFL owner is a bit tricky to define. For many, it's sometimes not incredibly profitable on a year-to-year basis. However, in terms of net worth, there are few safer investments. I've never heard of an NFL team not selling for far, far more than the owner paid for it. I don't know that anyone would tell you that trend will change.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Don't you think it is a bit premature to compare this year to 1996? Mark, Jimmy and Keenan by that time were all third and fourth-year veterans. Yes, we have some good-looking players but they're still either rookies or second-year players undergoing their first NFL offseason. As of right now, Blackmon is a lot more like R. Jay Soward than Jimmy Smith. I really hope he can turn things around soon though.
John: Of course it's premature. The only comparisons I've made are to the offseason before the '96 season, when there was an excitement and a feeling among players and coaches that there was far more talent on the roster than there had been previously. That team felt it had a chance to compete, whereas on the '95 team there were glaring holes that could not be overcome. This offseason there don't seem to be glaring holes and there is an excitement and positive feeling about the future.
Andrew from Jacksonville:
"...and that some version of Mike Thomas, Cecil Shorts and Lee Evans will..." Not a fan of the Oxford comma?
John: Not in modern journalism, no.
Ryan from Section 144:
I am so tired of people blowing this MJD thing out of proportion. Last year he only took about three snaps in the entire preseason. Honestly, he can hold out until the third preseason game and not much will be different for him than last year.
John: It's not the snaps in games that are a concern for Jones-Drew. At this point, it's more about learning the offense. It is a new offensive system and because he missed the off-season, he'll be learning it essentially from Square One when he arrives. That's very doable at this point, and if Jones-Drew reports in the first week or so of training camp, I don't imagine him knowing the offense will be an issue, but if there's a concern, that's it.
Ben from Slime City:
Which positions take the most developmental time? Fans want their team to draft someone who is a star from Day One but other than QB, which positions require the most patience?
John: Different players develop at different rates, but after quarterback, a lot of NFL people believe defensive end and wide receiver are the toughest positions to learn. Wide receivers often must learn to run routes at the NFL level rather than simply being able to use superior athleticism to get open. They have played against maybe one or two NFL-caliber defensive backs in college and suddenly are playing against one every week. The same thing is true of defensive ends. Whereas in college a pass-rushing end can be successful using speed and athleticism, suddenly every left tackle is better than the best one he faced in college. It can take time to learn pass-rushing moves and how to utilize them consistently enough to beat elite tackles.
Jamie from St. Augustine, FL:
When a player gets fired who calls the shot? The GM or the coach or is it the owner?
John: Usually, it is the general manager who has say over personnel matters, though in well-run organizations there is communication and agreement between GM and head coach. The owner, of course, has the final say if he wants, but most owners leave most of the decisions up to football people.
Aaron from Orange Park, FL:
Your answer is spot on. The game has become pass-oriented through creative and constant marketing of today's NFL quarterbacks. As a result, we now of have an imbalance. It's a bit boring. I think the ratings aren't telling the whole story. The game may now appeal to more people but I don't think the quality of play has gotten any better. I think the NFL could have even better ratings if we went back to more balanced coverage of offense and defense. I feel the old game would have gone over great, it's just we didn't have the media like today. Right?
John: As a society, we love stars. In the NFL, because they have their hands on the ball every play and because their career span is longer than any other position, the quarterbacks are often the stars. There are exceptions. Ray Lewis is one. But for the most part, it's a quarterback-driven league and really always has been. John Unitas. Otto Graham. Sammy Baugh. Roger Staubach. Maybe it's more pronounced now, but it's always been that way. But as for the ratings, I definitely think you have to market stars to maximize ratings, and in this league, the quarterbacks always will be the biggest stars.

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