Let's get to it . . . Jeff from Simpsonville, SC:
Is Daryl Smith destined to be the next London Fletcher, making loads of plays, but not making a Pro Bowl, nor getting the recognition he deserves? Just wondering what your take is.
John: I'm not sure how Daryl Smith is destined to be remembered or honored. I do know from talking to people around the Jaguars there are few players past or present as respected and valued. Because Smith plays outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense – and because he does so for a team that hasn't been high-profile the past three or four seasons – he has been relatively anonymous and post-season honors have eluded him. That's not right, but Smith never has let it affect his demeanor or play. In the season I have been around him he has carried himself as a professional whatever recognition he is or isn't receiving at the time.
Bob from Middleburg, FL:
I attended last night's Ready to Rise rally at the stadium and had a great time and heard a lot of stuff I needed to hear. But where was Jaxson de Ville? He's always a crowd pleaser and the kids love him.
John: I received several emails about Jaxson's absence, with one even asking if he had been "Cat Scratched" by new owner Shad Khan. Absolutely not. Jaxson had a previous commitment at another event that was scheduled long in advance of the Ready to Rise rally. He's one popular cat.
Terry from Palm Valley, FL:
Football is said to be a young man's game. With that being said, is coaching a football team a younger man's game, as well? With all the young players on the Jaguars' roster shouldn't we have a few up-and-coming "smart, young coaches" that can relate to the young players on the team? I am getting a little concerned about the offensive coaching staff, which is starting to look like a Mularkey Good Old Boys Home.
John: Mularkey has hired one offensive assistant. That's Bob Bratkowski, the offensive coordinator. Has there been some run of geriatric coaches storming EverBank with their walkers I don't know about? Good coaches are good teachers, and I've found that when it comes to players, if they have a coach they respect they can barely tell you the guy's age.
John from Jacksonville:
Let me piggy back on Dave's question. If Team A receives the overtime kick and Team B scores a safety. Does the game end once Team B receives the post-safety kick without needing to run any plays?
John: Yes. Once Team A received the overtime kick it had possession or the "opportunity to possess." Therefore, once the other team scored, the other team won.
Alex from Orange, CA:
At what point does a player's off-field issues outweigh his on-field talent and performance?
John: Whenever a general manager decides it does. That sounds like a sarcastic response, but it's not. The decision depends on the general manager's tolerance for whatever risk he believes a player represents versus the potential reward of the talent. Some teams will view players drastically different from other teams, so it's impossible to give you a specific answer.
Mike from Savannah (Sec 147 Row Q & Row 4 Tkts):
Shouldn't John Elway be concerned that he is on record as saying he was going to work with Tebow in the off season? This seems like a violation of CBA Rules.
John: He can work with him beginning in April. That's still the off-season.
Mike from Pensacola, FL:
I think it says a lot about Mularkey's character and confidence that he would ask so many coaches to remain on the staff of the former regime. Is this common practice in the NFL?
John: I'd say it depends on the situation. When Tony Dungy took over in Indianapolis in 2002, he kept coaches such as Howard Mudd and Tom Moore, coaches who were considered critical to the building of what was then a developing offense. They also were veterans who had proven themselves and in the case of Moore, Dungy knew him personally. As I said, each case is different, and in this case, Mularkey knew Duffner and Tucker and Cullen clearly had done a good enough job to make keeping them a priority. The best coaches – and best executives, for that matter – don't hire based on Dos and Don'ts. They assess a situation and make the moves that make the most sense given the circumstances.
Carl from Jacksonville:
Speaking of job titles, what's with Mel Tucker's new title of "Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator?" Does he have any added responsibilities this year? I had only heard him referred to as the DC or the Interim HC until recently.
John: That's because until recently he only had been the defensive coordinator or interim head coach. Yes, he has added responsibility. Mularkey made him the Assistant Head Coach upon retaining him, and made clear last week that he will lean on Tucker more heavily in a lot of situations than he would other assistants.
GGP from Savannah, GA:
Who the heck is Rob Parker!!!!!
Brian from Staten Island, NY:
What's your opinion on Russell Allen? I've watched the guy play, and he looks like he could be a very good starter. What are your thoughts on the Jaguars keeping him?
John: I spoke to linebackers coach Mark Duffner Tuesday morning for a story for jaguars.com, and during that interview, I asked about several of the Jaguars' linebackers. I was struck by Duffner's enthusiasm for Allen, and he mentioned that Allen had played a total of 13 different positions when you accounted for different linebacker spots – weakside, strongside and middle – in different situations. Allen is exactly the kind of guy teams must have – versatile players who can play at a high level when needed and who don't break the bank when it comes to the salary cap.
Art from Westside:
Ten years ago, Tom Brady took over as the starter in New England in the third game of the season, went on to make 14 starts and throw 413 passes – same as Gabbert this past season. Even to the extent of coming on to play at the end of the second regular-season game and completing five passes. Brady had a much better season, overall, but he was three years older than Gabbert at the time.
John: We obviously can't compare Brady and Gabbert, but the point you make about Gabbert's age is one that often is brushed too easily aside. Gabbert this past season was one of the youngest full-time starting quarterbacks in NFL history, and while some view that as unimportant, maturity can do remarkable things for a player. Also, don't forget: Brady in his rookie season was far from the throw-it-all-over-the-field guy he is now. He took time to develop and had the good fortune of playing on a team with a very good defense and strong coaching staff. Players develop. They grow. Gabbert's time to do that is at hand.
Daniel from Johnston, IA:
Does the GM (in our case, Gene) have complete authority to spend up to the salary cap each year or does he have to clear that with the owner? What would be the benefit of not spending up to the salary cap max each year other than obviously saving a little bit of green?
John: On just about every NFL team, any spending must be approved by the owner. There wouldn't be much on-field benefit to not spending to the cap, but there are instances when teams just don't have the cash on hand to spend as much in free agency as teams might like. Teams signing four or five free agents in one off-season might spend $50, $60 or $70 million in the span of a week or two. NFL teams have a lot of money, but $60, $70 million . . . well, it's still a lot of cash.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Isn't it bologna and not baloney? Since you don't answer my good questions.
John: Maybe your questions are just a lot of . . . I'm not sure the word I'm looking for.
Tom from Jacksonville:
You got too much into the Harbaugh/big-name coach and almost sounded like a fan with how this coach came in and changed the culture to win. Now that I have you back in the O-Zone, 49ers only beat four playoff teams and one was with Big Ben and one leg. About two years ago 49ers drafted two very talented offensive line guys and everybody thought they were going to make an immediate impact, which was false. Secondly, they signed Whitner out of Buffalo and Rogers out of Washington. Both had good years and shored up a less desirable secondary. Once again, players make plays. The thing the 49ers and Jags have in common is it takes time to develop young player and key free agents, not big-name guys – just guys that fit the scheme.
John: Yes, you have to have players, and yes, the guys you mentioned developed, but I believe to my core that a head coach can be critical to establishing a culture. My answer had nothing to do with Harbaugh's name and everything to do with how the 49ers played this season. A coach's name doesn't change the culture of the building; how he carries himself and the framework he establishes does. I think of it as a framework in which to work. Simply having a framework and the direction it provides without players won't guarantee success, but having a poor framework and atmosphere around an organization can cause teams to lose. The NFL is a league in which most teams have a huge percentage of games decided by four-to-six points. Having a coach capable of getting the entire organization moving in one direction absolutely can sway games in that four-to-six point range. Can I quantify it? Can I prove it? No and no, but I absolutely believe it to be the case.
You say bologna; I say . . .
Let's get to it . . . Jeff from Simpsonville, SC: