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Wise enough to know

Let's get to it . . . Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
The thing I love most about the season MJD had is that it wasn't a contract year for him; he still has two more to go. Tennessee can keep CJ2K; obviously he was taking notes from Haynesworth. Some of the college fans here at work think the NFL players lack heart and are just after the money. I'm sure the players think the money is nice (who wouldn't?), but I think it's obvious that guys like MJD play for something more than that.
John: Most NFL players play for more than that, and while many fans suspect players of losing desire after signing big contracts, it's my belief that it happens far less than most believe. Success in the NFL often is about what's happening around you and that changes a lot each off-season. It also is a league that is brutal on the body, and often a player that is perceived as losing heart is in fact simply going through the aging process. All of that said, you're right about Jones-Drew. He plays with heart and drive, and that makes him impressive to watch. He certainly isn't a player you have to worry about sliding after he signs a big contract.
Derek from Cincinnati, OH:
Due to a heavy night of drinking, Shad hands you the keys to the franchise John. You can pick any coach you like with no questions asked. Who's it gonna' be, O-Man, and why?
John: Tony Dungy. Here's why (sixth question in).
Jason from North Pole, AK:
What do you think of the Colts firing Bill Polian? Isn't he the one who drafted the offensive juggernaut that we haven't stopped for the last decade?
John: I refrained from answering Polian questions at first this week because we have much to discuss on the Jaguars, but since I received many more emails on the matter Tuesday, I'll address it. And because Polian is a complex, polarizing figure, the answer will take some time. On one level, it's always surprising when someone closely associated with an organization suddenly is fired, and Polian had been with the Colts since 1998. But 14 seasons is a long time in the NFL, especially for a general manager, and my sense is Colts Owner/CEO Jim Irsay felt that with the team's record this season it was time to make the break.
Spike from Jacksonville:
How should your boy, Bill Polian, be remembered? He pretty much just rode Peyton Manning's coattails in Indy, as it turned out.
John: First off, he's not my boy. Secondly, I have gotten many emails asking if I thought Polian was overrated or if he had in fact done a bad job in Indianapolis because of the team's record this season. I do not. Peyton Manning obviously was a huge reason for the team's success, but Polian in 1998 changed the culture of that building and also drafted a slew of Pro Bowl players to go around Manning. The drafting dropped off in recent seasons, but that can be partially attributed to drafting every season at the end of the first round. If I sound like a Polian apologist, I am not. When I worked with the Colts, he perhaps considered my position a necessary evil, and though he always was fair and respectful to me, we never had beyond what I would consider a courteous, professional relationship. That was fine. I never expected more and I only mention it to make the point that I have nothing to gain from defending someone who I know many Jaguars fans detest. As far as running a football team and building a winner – the things he was brought in to do – he was absolutely one of the best. Before this season, his teams had made the post-season in 17 of 23 seasons, playing in five Super Bowls.
Eric from Gainesville, FL:
I was at the game this weekend and every time Gene Smith was on the video board, or his name was announced, he was booed. This draft is a very key draft for him in my eyes as far as fan support goes. We need a top wide receiver. We have needed this for years and he has always gone with a late-round lesser-named played that gets no one excited. Do you see him going for one this year? With guys out there like Blackmon, Jeffery and Floyd it would be hard to pass on those guys. Yet when I look at some websites, they have us predicted at taking a top cornerback. What are your thoughts on the Jags first-round needs, and what Smith needs to do to solidify some trust with Jaguar fans?
John: The Jaguars need to win for Smith to solidify trust? He knows that. The team knows that. Everyone knows that. You don't win by drafting the player the fans want. You do that by drafting the best player. Let's see what happens between now and the draft to see what makes the most sense in late April. Free agency could well fill a lot of perceived needs between now and then.
Amanda from Tallahassee, FL:
I'm sure you know Mr. Polian well. Mr. Khan could make a huge impact by hiring this man who has been a proven winner with two NFL teams? This move could also show big- time coaches like Bill Cowher that the Jags mean "business" in the future. What are your thoughts?
John: I absolutely don't think they would or should. As highly as I regard Polian as a football mind and as someone who can establish a solid organizational structure, I consider Jaguars General Gene Smith in that same vein. With Smith around, the Jaguars don't need to find someone with the vision to run a team. They already have him.
Ray from Jacksonville:
It seems like everyone is assuming that the coaching candidates from you mentioned Tuesday are the only ones. Both Gene and Shad Khan have shown the ability to be tight-lipped about some things. Could it be that they are quietly investigating the possibility of hiring someone they don't need to ask permission to interview.
John: I'd be surprised if they're not.
Kyle from Washington, D.C.:
For all those people who wished the Jaguars would have lost Sunday, last year the 49ers won their regular-season finale, it bumped them back to the seven pick in the 2010 draft. They selected Aldon Smith, who notched 14 sacks and may be defensive rookie of the year. When you play to win the game, it always is better. Ask the 49ers.
John: Ask them, or shoot, ask anyone. I can't even say I'm glad the Jaguars played to win Sunday. I never expected them to do anything different. I don't even know how you would do anything different. The whole topic is tired, and while I know it will come up as we move closer to the draft, I don't know that we'll bother addressing it. The Jaguars didn't make a mistake by winning Sunday, just as the Colts wouldn't have been making a mistake had they won. You play to win. There's no other way.
Steve from Jacksonville:
In the second half of Sunday's game, Blaine Gabbert threw a pass at the feet of what appeared to be a check-down receiver and there was a smattering of boos in the stadium. It appeared to me that no one was open and the check down was blanketed so he threw at the ground intentionally. If that was the case, the fans booing were not very observant.
John: That was the case, and the fans were not observant. He was coached to do what he did on that play.
Bharat from Montgomery, NJ:
How would you like the Jags to address wide receiver in the off-season?
John: I'd like it very much.
Carol from Jacksonville:
I realize the Jags are interviewing offensive coaches for the head coach position but as a long time season ticket holder I really hope they seriously consider Mel Tucker - if not here, he will be a terrific head coach somewhere else in the near future - why not keep him and hire a very strong long time assistant offensive coach.
John: I believe Tucker will receive strong consideration, and I believe that's not just lip service.
Laurie from Neptune Beach, FL:
Since 1998 when the Colts selected Peyton Manning with the number one pick, nine QBs have been selected first overall. Tim Couch, David Carr and JaMarcus Russell were complete busts. Alex Smith was considered a bust, but has learned to be a game manager under Harbaugh. Palmer has had limited success. Vick has been inconsistent at best, and the jury is still out on Bradford. Of the nine, only Peyton's brother, Eli, and Matthew Stafford are showing themselves to be elite, but even they are nowhere near what Peyton Manning has been. So what if the Colts get Luck. Odds and history show that he has a greater chance of sucking than he does of being the next Peyton Manning.
John: You make my point in most eloquent fashion.
Kenney from Jacksonville:
I feel as though the Rams' and Bucs' respective coaches got raw deals. When they took over, these franchises were in shambles. Aging and in salary cap array. After three years some improvement is apparent but they are still such young teams. Why isn't there more patience with coaches anymore? I understand Del Rio, after nearly a decade, but is it really fair to fire a guy when his first contract isn't even up?
John: No, it's not. But the NFL isn't fair and in recent years, patience has become rarer and rarer. A decade ago, you almost never saw coaches fired after a season or two and it was so rare it really wasn't even considered a possibility. Now, you see second-year coaches routinely on the "hot seat" and there's rarely much surprise when they're gone two years or less into their tenures.
William from Jacksonville:
Will the new head coach be required to grow a mustache? How about you?
John: I don't know about the head coach, but I can tell you Shad Khan is a savvy businessman. As far as a mustachioed senior writer, I don't know all that much about Khan, but I know he is wise enough to know that's not something that would be good for anyone involved.

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