Let's get to it . . . Clay from Jacksonville:
Please remind me again - when Posluszny was hurt against the Colts, what was he playing for? If teams that are doing well sit their stars for meaningless games, for fear of injury, why wouldn't teams that are not doing well?
John: He was playing because he's a football player and there was a game on Sunday. That's not snide or sarcastic; just the truth. Under your theory, once a team is eliminated from the playoffs, anyone the team deems an important player for the future should be taken out of the game. The basic notion for any team in the NFL is this: you do everything you can in every season to have as good a season as possible. For a team that has clinched its playoff positioning, that often means resting starters at the end of the season to perform better and reach and win the Super Bowl. For a team not in postseason contention, that means playing players who are comparatively healthy and doing whatever it takes to win even if the team is out of the playoffs. The cynical among us may discount that notion, but it's essentially how the league works.
Miguel from Jacksonville:
Is GM Gene in charge of hiring and firing scouts or does the coach have a say in that? What can you tell us about the scouts since this is their time to shine?
John: Smith is in charge of hiring and firing scouts. We'll be talking more about the scouts in the coming months, but the short version is the Jaguars have one of the NFL's best scouting departments. They are, like Smith, well-respected in the league and widely considered some of the best in their profession.
Paul from Section 141:
O Man! Heard BTO's 'Takin Care of Business' while reading The Ozone and thought to myself that's your song. You cover like a shutdown corner. Thanx!
John: I indeed love to work at nothing all day.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
Can you tell me why you keep referring to Jeff Fisher as a "splashy" hire. He has a career winning percentage that barely hovers over .500? In fact, in his 17 seasons as an NFL coach he has only produced a winning season in six of those. That's not exactly what I would call a splashy hire.
John: Fisher was the biggest, most-familiar name to be hired as a head coach this off-season. For many, that's the equivalent of splash.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Recently moved to other city from Jacksonville and realize that when a city only has one professional sports team all the focus, emotion and energy of that city comes to bear on that team, good and bad. When there are multiple teams (even hockey) the area's anger or joy can be spread around.
John: There are definitely positives and negatives to being by far the biggest game in town. One of the positives is you're the focal point in the good times and you're not competing with another very expensive ticket for fan interest and fan dollars. That's particularly important in the current economy. A negative is as you say – every mistake, misstep, loss or tough season is focused upon that much more intently. Another negative is a loss of perspective. Not having another professional sports team sometimes means fans forget that it's really hard to win in professional sports, and sometimes there are extended periods of frustration. Winning records are hard-earned in the NFL. There are no homecoming opponents.
Aaron from Section 434 Row N:
Is JDR at the Senior Bowl? Do you expect him to be coaching next year or take a year off? I kinda expected him to be signed as a DC somewhere. If you do see him - please tell him that some in Jax thank him for his tenure here.
John: Del Rio was at the Senior Bowl. We spoke briefly and he says he's happy and feeling good about moving forward. There were reports that he has spoken to Denver about the defensive coordinator position, though we didn't speak about that. I expect him to get back into coaching if not this season the next.
Tucker from Jacksonville:
Agreeing with Paul. If you're looking for a bad receiver signing, look at Porter.
John: In the NFL, you don't have to look far – or far back – to find one. The recent landscape is littered with receivers who have signed big contracts only to not fit and/or not produce at their next stop. Free agency is a tough proposition at any position, but it's particularly tough at wide receiver. One reason may be that it's the free-agent position perhaps most judged on statistics. Big-name quarterbacks switch teams relatively rarely, and elite running backs aren't often signed as high-impact free agents because their career spans are relatively short. But bigger-name receivers get signed as free agents a lot and are judged as busts if they don't catch 1,000 yards worth of passes and 10 touchdowns. I'm not married to that theory, but it's something worth considering. Either way, history tells us getting a big hit at wide receiver in free agency is tough. It's why the events of mid-March will be so critical for the Jaguars and so interesting to watch.
Justin from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Is the Senior Bowl a highly controlled, invitation only, behind-closed-doors type of event? The reason I ask is due to the recent explosion of sports blogging, how many bloggers were allowed to attend and were there many in Mobile this year?
John: The Senior Bowl is not behind-closed-doors, and the people running the event have done a nice job opening the event to bloggers and draft sites. Overall, the bloggers and draft sites also have done a nice job using the Senior Bowl as a way of building their readership and establishing themselves as pertinent sources of information. The NFL Scouting Combine has a similar dynamic. I had the chance this week, for example, to run into and speak with Big Cat country's Alfie Crow, who spent much of the week in Mobile and was able to file reports on the details of practice and which teams were talking to which players after practices. This isn't necessarily an area on which the so-called "mainstream" media is going to focus, but fans are interested and Crowe always does a good job in those areas. It's a good example of many different media having different legitimate roles at an event. This year's Senior Bowl was my first in 10 years, and having covered four or five before that, I was struck by the large number of draft sites and bloggers in attendance. I also was struck by the amount of information and – for lack of a better word – the energy their presence brought to the event, particularly on social media. It's kind of a neat thing to see, and certainly benefits the event and fans.
Jordan from San Antonio, TX:
Maybe you could help me understand something. On ESPN's "any era" team, they featured a number of great players. At No. 14 they listed Ray Rice. It would seem to me that MJD would be a better selection than Ray Rice. They're seemingly the same player and MJD personifies everything the Hall of Fame panel said about Ray, but more so. MJD has done it longer, and better than Ray Rice in my opinion. Do you see any glaring differences in the two that might warrant this decision? Aside from the fact that Rice plays in a bigger market?
John: I don't know enough about the "any era" team to know why Rice was chosen over Jones-Drew. Honestly, I view such teams differently than many fans in that on the occasions when I watch them I don't worry much about who does and doesn't make them. They're entertaining and they serve their purpose – which is to occupy the mind and fill air time on television, but they're often put together by producers or other workers who rarely if ever talk to people who truly know the NFL. I think Jones-Drew is a better player than Rice and he certainly has done it for longer. Quite likely Ray Rice being in the postseason the last four seasons and on national television more has given him a higher profile. Perhaps Jones-Drew can use not being included as motivation. Beyond that, I wouldn't worry much about it.
Hunter from Duval, FL:
O-Manius Maximus, A certain national sports media site recently released a list of the top twenty players currently in the NFL who could play in any era. The two running backs were Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Really? Ray Rice over MO-JO? The man who knocked Shawn Merriman to the ground. Where is the love?
John: O-Hunterius Minimus, worry not about the esteemed certain national sports media site. As the previous answer indicates, they often knoweth not about which they speaketh. Sometimes, they're even a bit lazieth.
Worry not about the national media
Let's get to it . . . Clay from Jacksonville: