Let's get to it . . .
Jesse from Jacksonville:
Your answer on the lineup for 2012 reminded me that when healthy we are better than many think. I still want that new wide receiver or defensive end with our first-round round pick. If we get better talent in these areas in this draft we will have as good a chance as anyone in the AFC South. Hey...maybe Gene’s pic will come off a few dart boards (LOL).
John: I was thinking the same thing when going over that answer Monday. I don’t know that my answer was spot on in terms of the lineup top to bottom, but I do know that as I wrote down the potential starters I was thinking that this lineup is pretty good – providing the passing offense improves. While that is understandably an area of off-season concern among observers and fans, I’m of the belief you’re going to see improvement from that area – and no, not just because it would be hard to get worse. The Jaguars were in a perfect storm that made it very difficult to function as a passing offense – a quarterback change five days before the season, a rookie quarterback transitioning from a shotgun offense in college to a pro-style offense in the NFL, a lame-duck coaching staff, no off-season, etc. I get that people are tired of hearing those things, and that they sound like excuses, but I also believe that considering those factors and the improvements made in those areas there’s every reason the Jaguars’ passing offense should be improved next season. If that’s the case, this team has a chance to be improved pretty quickly.
Daniel from Johnston, IA:
Given that the game has evolved recently, does it make sense to eliminate the fullback position (in the traditional sense)? Would it be better to have two halfback-type players in the backfield? (I'm not talking about for doing stupid trick plays, I mean mostly for catching passes out of the backfield).
John: There are plenty of people who believe it does make sense to eliminate the fullback. And a few teams essentially have eliminated it. The Jaguars aren’t one of those teams. They have used the fullback extensively in recent seasons, and Head Coach Mike Mularkey said last week that while the fullback won’t be used on every offensive play, it will be used about 35 percent of the time. And Mularkey said on the plays the fullback is us used the position is key to the offense.
Aaron from Narrows, VA:
I recently moved to this sleepy little town in southwest Virginia. In one local restaurant – amid a host of football memorabilia from local high schools, VT, and WVU--I noticed a lone Jaguars pendant hanging on the wall. I'm normally too shy for this, but I was excited enough to find who put it up there. Turns out one of the waitresses was also a displaced J-ville person. We bonded for a moment over the Jaguars, but then she started talking about Tebow...I think I'll just go back to being shy!
John: There are a few things that are dangerous to bring up to someone you don’t know. Religion and politics have long been among them. Tebow is certainly on that list now.
Josh from Jacksonville:
I see you think Mathis will start over Ross. What makes you think Mathis will even be able to compete going into training camp?
John: I don’t know that he will, but based on a nine-month recovery he would be able to play sometime in mid-August. I have a feeling if he’s healthy he will start. Obviously with an ACL there are no guarantees – hence, the presence of
Aaron Ross on the roster.
Cheapseat from Section 432:
I think you should give us all "the shocker" and take your O-Zone break on an unannounced Tuesday. It would be better than preparing us for it. Just rip the band-aid.
John: Not a bad idea.
Eric from Orlando and Section 216:
When I read Jason's question yesterday, I couldn't help but laugh. Elite quarterbacks are so hard to come by, and the Colts could possibly be coming across their second in a row. Do you think that Luck can really fill the void that Manning clearly left last season? No one can argue he doesn't have the skills and knowledge, but he has some big shoes to fill, I am not convinced he can just step in and pick up where Manning left off.
John: Luck won’t step in and pick up where Manning left off because he’ll come in as a rookie and Manning left off as four-time Most Valuable Player who was still playing at as high a level as he ever had at the end of his 13th season. I don’t doubt that Luck will eventually be a very good player and maybe even a Pro Bowl quarterback. But the odds are low that he reaches Manning’s level simply because that’s a level very, very few ever have reached.
Scott from Newcastle, PA:
Can you explain the reasoning behind allowing teams with new head coaches to start conditioning two weeks earlier than teams that kept their head coach? I understand the aspect of meeting with coaches in classrooms, but it seems like we will have a strength-and-conditioning advantage over other teams because of the rule.
John: The league gave teams with new head coaches the two-week head start because the conditioning program is the biggest reason players come back for this voluntary phase of the off-season. That allows more players to get back and allows the program to truly get started. Some would come back for the classroom work, but if you’re going to ask them to be in town for classroom work it’s only fair to let them work out at your facility, too.
Tim from Andros, Bahamas:
Do the players have any say in rules changes approved last week or do the owners just vote and the players must obey?
John: The players pretty much have to obey, although in the cases involving player safety the league in most cases consults with the players association about the best direction in that area.
Jim from Edgewater, FL:
O-man, isn't driving you crazy considered a short trip?
John: Well, yes. There is that.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
Could you elaborate on how the expansion draft works? How do teams choose who the two-to-three players are that will become available to the expansion team? Do they have to be at the end of their contract? What's to stop every team from putting up 2-3 bottom feeders from their roster?
John: As I wrote this weekend, there are no set rules when it comes to expansion drafts because each expansion process is slightly different. Yes, they must be players under contract. And as for what is stopping every team from putting up 2-or-3 bottom feeders? Nothing. That’s the whole idea.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
On what grounds could the Saints appeal Sean Payton's suspension? While we certainly don't have all the information as fans, it seems like the information we do have warrants punishment. And a stiff one. Wouldn't they need a pretty big wild card to have the appeal play out any different than it already has?
John: They likely can find some grounds for appeal, but no one believes it will do much good. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell likely won’t take much time to decide, and I can’t possibly foresee him overturning the appeal or even shortening it. The commissioner made his decision on this matter, and Payton or anyone else will have to come up with something pretty precedent-shaking for the league to reconsider the punishment.
Cameron from Concord, NH:
When is the 2012 schedule released for the Jags? I’m dying to know.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
I feel like you're setting me up for another jaw-dropping speechless draft-day shocker. And I don't mean this in a good way. All of the draft questions that you answer seem to have the tone that you're already trying to justify Gene Smith taking (insert any player graded as a second-rounder by everyone else) and passing over incredibly talented players like Blackmon, Coples, Ingram. I'd much rather Gene take a safer approach and draft DeCastro or some lineman than to take a player that everyone else has graded as the No. 6 defensive end.
John: I’m sorry you feel like I’m trying to justify something. You listed three players that many people have connected with the Jaguars for obvious reasons. There is also something notable about each player that makes them not an automatic selection for the Jaguars if they’re available to them. I can’t control what your jaw does in late April, but I can tell you there are questions about each of those players that many teams are asking despite what you see as their incredible talent. You also seem to indicate that Smith has taken second-round talents in previous first-rounds, which he has not.
Justin from Jacksonville:
If being the best senior writer in the world wasn't your job, what would you do?
John: Florist. No wait, flutist. Yes, flutist.