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Winning would better

LookAhead Wednesday. Time to move on.

Let's get to it . . . Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
This is the second week in a row our opponent has acquired one of our former players right before the game. Last week, it was running back DuJuan Harris going to the Packers' practice squad. This week, we trade wide receiver Mike Thomas to the Lions five days before we play them? Is it me, or does this sound a little unethical? Do the players sign a nondisclosure agreement before leaving a team? If so, can they be punished for breaking that?
John: You know the phrase, "All's Fair in Love and War?" All's fair in the NFL, too. No nondisclosure agreement. No nothing. Thomas is free to share whatever he knows about the Jaguars with the Lions, just as Harris was free to say whatever he knew to the Packers. It's frowned upon by some to acquire a team's former player days before you play that team then soon thereafter release that player, but that's an unwritten rule that gets broken quite a bit. As for Thomas, the Jaguars chose to trade him to the Lions this week. Whatever he says is fine. Besides, I've never been convinced a former player can give a new team THAT much of a competitive advantage. Teams watch film of other teams and game plan off of that. Talking to a player about it might help, but usually not significantly.
Josh from Zephyrhills, FL:
With nine games left we are a mere three games back from the playoff contenders (outside of the division winners). If we win out we can find our way into the playoffs. Anything is possible. Just look at the 1996 season. Everybody wrote us off that year! GET YOUR RALLY CAP OUT! It's time to start BELIEVING, John! Let's rally the troops!
John: I like the way you think.
Scott from Ponte Vedra, FL and Section 139:
How do you explain all of the drops by Jaguars receivers? This has been a problem for two straight years now and you can't just say, "Because they are rookies."
John: This has been a problem that has perplexed Mike Mularkey since training camp, and he spent some time talking about it in his press conference Monday. One theory he had was that the receivers are pressing to make plays, and therefore dropping too many passes. He talked about the need for receivers to "white out" everything else – particularly what's going to happen after the catch – and focus on catching the ball. Like most things, it's probably not one thing. Lack of concentration, pressing too much – whatever it is, there's no question it's hurting. A drop doesn't just hurt on that play. It puts the offense in difficult down-and-distance situations, and hurts on the next play. When it kills a drive, it can hurt on the next drive if the opponent scores. Drops build on each other and crush you as an offense.
Steve from Homosassa, FL:
If Shorts struggled last year and showed he could be great, how much more should we take that into consideration with Blackmon? I am a fan...a die hard fan at that. Watching young players develop stinks when you want wins but there is not denying he has talent. Is it fair to compare Blackmon to Shorts?
John: In the sense that he can improve in his second year, yes. Players can make dramatic leaps in their second season, and the dedicated ones often do. I expect Blackmon to improve accordingly.
Daniel from Section 146:
If Mularkey wants to criticize Blackmon he will do it in person, or he might discuss it with Gene, Bratkowski, Sullivan etc. I can't imagine any benefit to discussing it with US. And if the fans need to hear someone criticize the players, there is no shortage of others who are dying to show off their skills at it. Also, Dierdorf is a buffoon and always has been. What a waste of air time...
John: Mularkey certainly would discuss it with Blackmon, and the others you mentioned, but Mularkey also has been remarkably up front publicly on a lot of issues since he took over as coach. That includes several instances when he has discussed Blackmon's on- and off-field approach. If he thought Blackmon's effort was a problem, his history suggests that he would say so.
John from Jacksonville:
In watching the replay of the Blackmon catch on the sideline that was overturned by replay, Blackmon didn't change his stride while making the catch in an effort to get two feet in. Other elite receivers have a sixth sense to know where the sideline chalk is and to tip toe, when needed, to stay in bounds. Is this something easy to teach to a receiver and for the receiver to adjust to quickly or is this a talent that takes quite some time to develop?
John: Blackmon perhaps could have changed his stride, but he was moving pretty darned quickly pursuing the ball on that play, and the catch was what is known in scientific circles as a "bang-bang" play. While Blackmon perhaps has strides to make as a route runner and in being consistent in a lot of areas, body control and knowing where he is in the field are things I see as being his strengths. I watched Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison make remarkable body-control catches for years in Indianapolis, and they were two of the best I've seen at it. At the same time, they each had a bunch of "almost" catches along the sidelines because you don't always get the foot down exactly. Blackmon made a darned good reception, and it missed by inches. It happens.
David from Durban, South Africa:
What did Vic say?
John: "Hi, John."
Todd from Panama City, FL:
Why is it that Jags fans get mad when the national media bashes the Jags, but also in return get mad at you when you try to point out positives on the team? I feel like Jags fans are all FOX news employees, so much negativity!!!
John: Fans get mad because they're fans. They get mad at the national media because they're fans and they protect their team and that's great. They get mad at me for pointing out positives, because the Jaguars are 1-6 and being 1-6 stinks and that makes fans mad.
Pat from Jacksonville:
You didn't see the Colts ending up with the No. 1 pick in last year's draft either. Sometimes it's hard to except, but we're playing for the No. 1 overall pick in 2013.
John: I can except it – except I don't see it happening.
Dave from St. Johns, FL:
I knew when MJD held out before the season that there would be an injury and he would sit out even more time. Do you expect him to milk the injury since he didn't get more money? I bet he plays big next year to get a big deal somewhere else.
John: You can say you knew, and perhaps you have that power, but the injury Jones-Drew sustained wasn't the sort of soft-tissue injury usually associated with a return from a holdout. It was a foot sprain, and considering it happened more than a month into the season, I don't know that there was a connection. I don't expect Jones-Drew to milk the injury. I expect him to miss time with a sprained foot. And finally, I bet he plays as big as he can next year because that's what Jones-Drew does. Is he motivated by money? Sure. Most players are, but this is a guy who has performed at a high level consistently, so I don't know that it's fair to paint quite so greedy a picture as yours.
Ted from Orange Park, FL:
Was it just me or did the D-linemen seem to be working more as a unit against the Packers? It seemed like the pass rush was effective and there was good cooperation between the D-Linemen. I wouldn't have expected it with this being George Selvie's second week back and John Chick's first week off PUP, but Chick was in on both sacks and several scrambles/hurries. That's encouraging.
John: The play of the line was encouraging, though I don't know that I'd attribute it to cooperation as much as players getting healthy. Austen Lane and George Selvie weren't playing at the beginning of the season, and neither was John Chick. All are good players, with Selvie and Lane strong against the run and Chick strong as a pass rusher. Having all of your players available helps, and that makes it look like they're cooperating, but really, they're just good players playing well.
Jim from Nottingham, UK:
What would be better right now, somehow getting to 8-8 and having a mid pick or finishing up 3-13 and ending up with a top three pick, then having the option to trade or use that pick?
John: Winning would be better. It would be a lot better.

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