Two days from Gabbert's debut.
Let's get to it . . . Josh from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I read an article in a Carolina paper that said if the Panthers can run for 100 yards, it would "guarantee" a win. Do you think that is a realistic assessment of this game, and do you think they can put 100 yards on our run defense?
John: Considering the Jaguars believe stopping the run is a strength and considering the Panthers haven't focused much on that area, it wouldn't be a good sign for the Jaguars if Carolina rushed for more than 100 yards. But I believe the key to this game will be the ability of the Jaguars to contain and pressure Cam Newton, and to force him into mistakes – that, and the ability of Blaine Gabbert to avoid mistakes and make a few key plays with his arm. The Jaguars almost certainly will run effectively, and the X factor could be Gabbert's ability to add an element that hasn't been there in Weeks 1 and 2.
Patrick from Atlanta, GA:
Two Patricks as the first question in a row! Can we make it three?!
Manuel from Jacksonville:
Although I think Luke should have been given a second chance, I think that by starting Gabbert now there's more hope not only to become a better all-around team but to increase ticket sales. What we need now is a good wide receiver that can get separation so that Gabbert can connect to him a couple of times per game.
John: Ticket sales will increase if and when Gabbert helps create a buzz. He's very capable of doing that, but he has to perform.
Jake from Harrisonburg, VA:
The Panthers are 0-2. Newton has thrown three touchdowns and four interceptions. Not to mention being sacked eight times. The guy has thrown 83 passes this season. While 854 yards is impressive, they mean nothing if all he does is turn it over before scoring. Am I the only one who isn't completely convinced Cam Newton is as good as everyone seems to think right now?
John: No question Newton has made some mistakes and needs time to grow. As one who wasn't a huge Newton guy during the draft, though, I have to say he has impressed me with his ability to stand in the pocket and throw downfield. A quarterback with those attributes is going to keep improving.
Steve from Jacksonville:
The best way to learn how to be a game-day NFL quarterback is to play quarterback on game day. The first two games cost Gabbert the precious snaps that should have been his to begin with . . . and I bet we'd still be 1 and 1 and improving.
John: Or maybe you'd be 0-2 because maybe Gabbert would have made awful mistakes. The Jaguars are what they are: 1-1. I don't know that those two games are going to cost the Jaguars or Gabbert very significantly over the long haul because of lost experience.
Ken from Vero Beach, FL:
It seems like every team I watch manages to get their receivers open several times in a game. The Jags seldom get open, they seem to stop their routes, turn and wait for the ball. Is it bad receivers or are the coaches telling them to do that?
John: A well-placed, well-timed pass can make a receiver look much more open than he actually is. The Jaguars' receivers are good enough to win with if the quarterback play improves.
Greg from Atlanta, GA:
Do you think the early success of Newton and Dalton played any factor in Del Rio's decision to start Gabbert?
John: I really don't. If McCown had played better and thrown just two interceptions in New York, I think he'd still be starting. After two games, the Jaguars decided the best option was Gabbert. It was really based solely on that.
Mario from Cooper City, FL:
Have you ever faked an injury in the press box or during a press conference?????
John: When you're hurt as often as I am, you don't need to fake it.
Josh from Jacksonville:
There has been a lot of talk about Gene Smith not drafting as well as originally believed. Now we find out if Gene got us what we all of been hoping for, a franchise quarterback. If Gene missed on this pick he needs to be fired. It is the single most important position on the field. Look at the other teams who have missed and what happened to their franchises and look at the ones who hit. I think we as Jag fans are a little jealous. We watch the highlight shows every week and we see great quarterback play and see those teams competing regularly.
John: I'd stop short of saying Smith needs to be fired if Gabbert doesn't work out, but that's because I've seen first-hand his building philosophy and attention to detail and believe that there are few general managers I'd hire over Smith were I an owner. I also believe that often times personnel people can do a fantastic job and have players not work out. Drafting is a percentage business and sometimes percentages play against you for reasons you can't control. That said, it's true that the fate of many people in the organization likely will rise and fall with Gabbert's success. That's not news, and everyone involved knows. It's part of the game in the NFL.
Tony from Perry, AR:
Do you know if Chastin West will be starting Sunday? Looks like he may be a good addition for us.
John: Let's let him find an apartment first.
Robert from Middleburg, FL:
I believe that a hard look needs to be done at the coaches, the scouts, and the owner. How has Jack Del Rio kept his job after nine years and a 70-69 record? How have the scouts and Gene Smith kept their jobs after not producing one impact offensive player and only three defensive players in the past three years? I think the team has regressed in the past three years and do you really think McCown gave the Jaguars a better chance than Garrard? They should have just come out and realized that it's time for Gabbert to play because we aren't going to be any better than 8-8 anyway. I glad Wayne Weaver can save 9 million dollars and toss the season away, but ask the fans to pay outrageous prices for tickets they can't afford. It's bad that Carolina had a 2-14 season last year but has considerable more talent on offense than Jacksonville does.
John: So many flaws in your email, so little time. I've gone over the Garrard deal so often I won't waste more time with it here, but the Jaguars haven't regressed and in fact have made strides that are being hidden until the production at quarterback is increased. And asking fans to pay outrageous prices for tickets? The Jaguars have incredibly reasonable prices, among the lowest in the league, and paying those prices is the price that must be paid to have an NFL franchise.
Lee from Stuart, FL:
The move to Gabbert was planned this way all along, wasn't it? They drafted Gabbert to start immediately but knew they had to clear the two roadblocks. First they cut Garrard so there was no going back since we all knew he wasn't the answer. Then, they needed McCown to fail so the pressure wouldn't be on Gabbert.
John: Sometimes things can seem planned in retrospect when they really aren't. The Jaguars released Garrard because they didn't believe him to be the same player he was from 2007-2010 and they hoped McCown could be a game manager who could be as or more effective than he had shown in his previous playing time with the team. Upon drafting Gabbert, you obviously wanted him to be ready as quickly as possible, and him working with the first team early in training camp certainly indicates the team wanted to see what he could do, and his readiness. The feeling upon releasing Garrard was that Gabbert wasn't yet ready. Now, the hope is that he is. As for the premise of needing to clear road blocks, the Jaguars selected Gabbert No. 10 overall. If they wanted to start Gabbert there never was anything preventing them from doing so.
Nathan from Springville, UT:
It's going to come down to containing Cam. If the defense can do that, and not allow Newton to scamper for the first down on third and long, I see a win. Two other things and I'll take your thoughts. 1, win the turnover battle, and 2, keep Steve Smith under 80 yards and out of the endzone. Can I get a "hire this man"? But seriously, John, how do you see it?
John: I'd say the analysis is pretty dead on.
Martin from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Put yourself in Dirk Koetter's shoes for a moment. First play from scrimmage Sunday, do you call a) handoff to MJD, b) pass play, or c) play-action?
John: I'd probably be distracted wondering why I wasn't wearing my own shoes.