Let's get to it . . . Richard from Atlantic Beach, FL:
We have 53 players on the active roster and practice squad. We can draft seven or eight, then maybe sign three or four free agents and maybe sign 15 or 20 street free agents and/or undrafted rookies. That leaves about 20 on the roster. I see about 12 or 13 of them sure to be retained. That still leaves eight more off our present squad that will stay. It doesn't appear to be an easy job no matter who the general manager will be. Your thoughts?
John: The Jaguars actually have 52 on the active roster and eight on the practice squad, but I get your point – that overturning the roster is a daunting task. That is indeed true, and that's why roster turnover often is something of a myth. It's also why the whole notion of "blowing things up" isn't quite accurate. Absolutely, changes can be made to a franchise, but even in cases where there is a philosophical change of direction, it often takes more than one season to overhaul a roster. Many players remain under contract and there are cap ramifications to many potential moves. There also are cases where a team must keep veteran players who likely don't fit into the future simply because you can't draft eight players and sign 45 others. Will the Jaguars' roster look different next year? Very probably. Will every player with whom fans are dissatisfied be replaced? I wouldn't bet on that.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
The good news is the world ends on Friday (according to the Mayans), so that was the last Jaguars loss we'll have to suffer through for a while. Also, how do you think the apocalypse will affect the team's rebuilding for next season?
John: I suppose it might mean that everyone's starting in the same place.
Alan from Jacksonville:
I keep hearing from the coach how one of the issues is some players trying to do more than their job. So, how does a coach correct this with the players? A friend says it is a coaching issue, but I say it is a player issue. So what is a coaching staff to do when you keep having the same issue game to game?
John: It's a combination of coaching and players. Coaches have to say it and the players have to hear it and execute it. The main area where this has been an issue has been gap responsibility on defense. When an opponent starts running effectively, it is tempting for many players to overpursue to assist a teammate to get the run stopped. It is an understandable instinct, and at a lower level of football it doesn't necessarily lead to huge gains because you're often playing runners who can't exploit it. In the NFL, most backs can turn one unfilled gap into a big gain and that has happened a lot to the Jaguars. It usually happens when a team starts feeling the game get away, and that has contributed to some of the big second halves against the Jaguars this season.
Sandro from El Paso, TX:
It's hard out here for a Jags fan.
John: It's not exactly nirvana over here.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
What culpability do you think the coaching staff takes in the season, the way it is playing out?
John: It's difficult to assign percentages. This was a new staff with a lot of young players, so there were going to be times when things looked disjointed. I think the coaches would agree that has happened too often this season. As far as culpability, when you're 2-12, there's a lot to go around.
Mike from Jacksonville:
I remember reading you at the Times Union. I was at the stadium in the middle of the night after that win in Denver. It has been over a decade since the Jaguars have been relevant. When did I get old?
John: Around the same time I did, from what I can tell.
Loftur from Reykjavic, Iceland:
If I was Shad Khan I would give Mularkey/Smith/Gabbert at least one more year. There is no way he will fire Mularkey after just one year and if next season is similar to this one he will clean house and get a general manager and a coach who will be joined by the hip. If Gabbert starts next season and doesn't progress enough, it would probably be time to move on to another quarterback. If, however, things start to come together next year, I see no reason to fire Mularkey or Smith, but Gabbert could be gone if he doesn't develop by the end of next season. What do you think about this assessment?
John: I think as assessments go, it's one of many I have heard. Right now, there's a different assessment every day and as many scenarios. Yours is one based on patience and based on the idea that a general manager and head coach should be joined at the hip. There are many who believe that, and many who believe it best that those two positions be on the same timetable. There are also many who believe one has little to do with the other, and that it is the job of the general manager to procure talent and the job of a head coach to coach it and that the two jobs can be done very separately while leading to a positive result on the field. It has been done successfully both ways. Shad Khan to my knowledge has not expressed a belief on the topic one way or the other, and it may well be that that is something he is trying to determine in this, his first year as an NFL owner.
Matt from Simpsonville, SC:
Fortunately for this team, our owner is a mechanical engineer by trade. In my experience, engineers are not intimidated by systems that are broken. They delve into debris, salvage what they can, discard the obsolete, and rebuild.
John: That's at the crux of a lot of Khan's public comments about how he will approach the current situation. He believes in having good people, but he also believes in understanding the process in which those people will work. He also seems to believe that the process and people are both of pretty much equal importance. My understanding is he has spent a lot of this year trying to better evaluate each of those when it comes to the Jaguars' football operation.
Dave from Section 410:
Fourth and one and the Owens gets tackled from behind, how is that possible.
John: When you're 2-12, you find that anything's possible.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
So at the beginning of the year, we were told Cam Bradfield has a chance to be a very good right tackle for a very long time. You surely can't still feel that way. He has looked awful most of the year.
John: Cam Bradfield still has a chance to be good. He has the talent and the size and all the physical tools you need. He also doesn't seem to be playing as well at the end of the year as he did at the beginning. And stop calling me Shirley.
Michael from Columbus, OH:
Tom Brady gets upset that the 49ers defense calls time out before he gets the snap from the center. An enraged Brady then spikes the ball in the direction of the official, and yells something. Any other player in the league would have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Why the free-pass for Brady?
John: Different ru-u-u-ules for different fo-o-o-o-ols.
Joe from Fleming Island, FL and Section 104:
It seems to me the units that have underperformed the most have been offensive line, quarterback and defensive line. The only two groups that have had an acceptable year are the kickers and the wide receiver. Is this the way you see it, and is there any other group has hasn't been a significant disappointment from the pre season expectations?
John: I agree that the two lines have failed to meet expectations. The quarterbacks have struggled, but it's hard to judge how much has been on the position and how much has been because so much has gone wrong around them. The linebackers have struggled, but much of that has been because of injuries, while running back has struggled for much the same reason. But no, overall, there has been a lot of disappointment. It has been that kind of season.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I'm taking my 4½-year-old grandbaby to his first game this Sunday. It will be my highlight of 2012 season.
John: I'd say that would be the highlight of a lot of seasons.
James from Starkville, MS:
I think this season is just what this franchise needed. We've floundered as a middle-road team for a number of seasons, giving the impression that the team was in a better position, personnel-wise, than was perhaps true. Instead of holding out weak hope that next year "we'll find that piece," we know exactly where we stand as a team, and a new (better?) direction can be pursued.
John: It is true that the Jaguars never have bottomed out. Until this season, even in their tougher seasons, they have been able to squeeze out victories and for the most part, to stay competitive. We don't know yet the direction moving forward, but if you truly believe this franchise needed a very difficult season . . . well, you got it.