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Widen the windows

Let's get to it . . . Jon from Kuwait:
This may have been asked before but why does Daryl Smith seem to be so under the radar around the NFL? Most of the guys I'm deployed with had never even heard of him, and when we got to watch the Jags on Monday night and again against the Texans they all admitted how good a linebacker he was, so why doesn't he seem to get any of the spotlight?
John: A couple of reasons. One, he plays for a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2007 and gets very little recognition when it plays well. Two, he plays a position – outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense – that doesn't get much recognition. A 3-4 outside linebacker blitzes and gets sacks and is therefore spotlighted by announcers on television. Smith isn't a blitz-oriented linebacker. He simply does a lot of things very, very well and does it with few theatrics. That makes for a good football player, but not for much publicity.
Scott from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I agree with most of what you are saying about Gene Smith and his drafting skills, but don't you think most of the non-Division I schools have been non-contributors or busts as noted in Ryan from Jacksonville's post.
John: No. You find football players where you find football players, as someone once said. Derek Cox was the fans' flavor of the week two weeks ago after the victory over Baltimore. He went to William and Mary. Will Rackley is playing better the last two weeks and there is every indication he will be a starter for years. He went to Lehigh. Rashean Mathis went to Bethune-Cookman and Brad Meester went to Northern Iowa. Terrance Knighton went to Temple, and if he wasn't playing so well, people would twist that and call him a small-school player. Derrick Harvey and Quinton Groves busted fairly heavily in Jacksonville and they were big-school players. Size of school matters very little or not at all.
Tery from Jacksonville:
So if the Jags lift the blackout for every home game, will there be an every-day ozone throughout the off-season?
John: No. It was clearly stated it would last through the Jaguars' final game this season.
Timothy from Kandahar, AB:
When did this love feast for Garrard start? Last year everyone hated and criticized him even after good games, now they treat him like he was Brett Favre.
John: It is striking how the tone of the inbox changed toward Garrard the day the Jaguars released him.
Jacob from Jacksonville:
In your opinion, what explains the tendency of good players to begin playing poorly after signing a new high-dollar contract?
John: I think there's a potential danger, but I don't think it's necessarily a tendency. Some players certainly don't work as hard and find their incentive a bit lacking after signing such a contract. Other players play well. Maurice Jones-Drew is playing on his second contract and his performance speaks for itself. Likewise, the Jaguars' opponent this week, the Colts, have multiple players who played well after signing second contracts – Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Dallas Clark, and Peyton Manning played fairly well. It depends on the player and absolutely, you have to understand his character. But good, hard-working motivated players usually aren't hurt by signing for big money.
Bill from Jacksonville:
"Players and coaches don't play and coach to draft a player who is in college now." I'd like to introduce you to the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2002-2003. Their head coach admitted they tanked games to draft LeBron James. And it worked too, they drafted him and he immediately made them one of the best teams in the game. Just lose baby! Just kidding... kinda. Go Jags.
John: The NFL is not the NBA. It's much harder for one player – even a quarterback – to make an immediate difference so drastic.
Lee from Duval County, FL:
Please do not portray this Sunday's game as a cake walk. I don't care how hard they played the first eight games, if the Jaguars lay an egg Sunday the rebuild is officially a failure and it's time for plan B!
John: I'm trying to remember when I've ever portrayed a game as a cake walk. This one's not. Not close. And you don't change plans and approaches based on one game.
Cecil from Jacksonville:
We all know that a short week hurts a team. So why does the NFL schedule any team with back-to-back short weeks? Looking ahead the Jags will play a Monday night game then a Sunday game followed by a Thursday night game. I love seeing the Jags on Primetime but that seems rough.
John: The league has to schedule 32 teams with a variety of obstacles – i.e., fairs in the parking lot, big college football games in the stadium. Ideally, the league wouldn't schedule back-to-back short weeks, but sometimes it happens.
Scott from Jacksonville :
As horrible as this receiving corps is, please don't tell me it's time to draft a wide receiver. We have a huge question mark at quarterback any way you slice it. We have "bookend tackles" that don't stay on the field. Two "playmaking" tight ends that aren't making plays. And you're saying draft a wide receiver high? They may be the worst part of the team but that still doesn't mean a guy off the street isn't the best fit for now.
John: I'm not saying, "Draft a wide receiver high." I'm saying, "I believe the Jaguars will take a wide receiver early if there is a player available they believe will be a productive, long-term player."
Tom from St. Augustine:
Harbaugh and Phillips may be making a case it is plays not players. Houston was the worst defense in the league last year. Today, they are ranked No. 1. Last year San Francisco could not get a bucket of marbles for Alex Smith. Today, he is the QB for a 7-1 SF team. Coaching COUNTS for far more than the other guy thinks.
John: Coaching does matter. It can't make terrible players good, but good coaching is necessary to provide a structure/environment for winning, and certainly bad coaching and inconsistent, quick-trigger decision-making can keep otherwise winning players from playing to the best of their ability. And there are some coordinators who simply know how to get the best from players. Wade Phillips is an example in Houston.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
The Jags wouldn't have needed to trade up to get him. Half-way through the season, do you think we missed on Andy Dalton? I've seen enough tape on him to say that this guy is for real!
John: Andy Dalton looks very, very good. Football people I respect tell me there's no reason Gabbert won't be as good or better. I've said from the beginning of this process it was going to take time, and by time, I didn't mean six games.
Chad from Las Cruces, NM:
The Eagles' fancy wide receivers had some pretty bad drops. Just goes to show that it happens. Once our quarterback turns the page in his development, he will keep putting the ball in the area of our wide receivers, and eventually they will start to look really good.
John: Drops have been a problem for the Jaguars' receivers. A bigger problem has been receivers getting open and being in the right spots. Gabbert has been getting criticized for being inaccurate, but some of that may be attributable to having to be too perfect. When quarterbacks think of passing offense, they think of throwing into windows and the windows into which Gabbert has had to throw this season too often are prohibitively small.
George from Yulee, FL:
Seeing people wearing Andrew Luck jerseys in Indy makes me laugh and reminds me of two years ago with all the custom Tebow jerseys here in Jax. I think that a lot of fans out there get way too hyped up at the idea of what they want a prospect to be for the organizations they follow. Sometimes players aren't who you thought they were. Do you think that the front office in Indy would experience the same backlash as was felt here if they either pass on Luck or don't tank the rest of the season to obtain the first overall pick? I can already picture Colts fans screaming at their televisions come Weeks 16 and 17 if they actually play good football and get some wins (hopefully not Week 17, though).
John: Yes, I think there would be backlash if the Colts don't finish with the worst record. Their fan base seems to have focused on the idea that this season will mean getting Andrew Luck and building for the future. And you're right: while it worked out for Indianapolis with Manning, a No. 1-drafted quarterback is no guarantee of success. Eight years before drafting Manning, the Colts used the No. 1 selection on Jeff George.
Steve from Gatlinburg, TN:
How much "change" and revamping of an offense can a team realistically accomplish during a bye week (two weeks)? Is the best thing the team can do is rest injuries and "recharge" batteries.
John: Not much. And yes.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
O- if you could ask John Oehser a question in the O-Zone, what would it be?
John: Whaddup with da hair?

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