The starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars took part in a Q&A session with fans from the UK this week. Here are his answers to a select number of questions....
Great to see the Jags passing game explode into life since you've taken over at QB - how difficult was it to develop that chemistry with guys like Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon when you haven't been throwing to them for the majority of the year? Joe, Pontypridd
I have been here the entire offseason and had a chance to work with those guys a little bit. Once the regular season started I didn’t get many reps at all with the starters. It’s an adjustment but hopefully I can keep improving and give the offense a spark and some leadership and excitement.
We often hear that competition for your position (a 'quarterback controversy') harms an offense. Based on your experiences with the Jags and the Dolphins, what are the positives you take from this competition and how do you feel will help improve you, Blaine and the Jags offence going into next season? Tom, Birmingham
First of all, Blaine and I have a great relationship. He’s been really helpful these last couple of weeks. He has a bright future in the NFL and has a ton of talent. You are always looking over your shoulder in this league. ou always want to keep the starting position. You want to play well and you can only do that by yourself, how you prepare and how you play. There’s younger guys, older guys, everybody is trying to take your spot. You just have to learn to deal with it and worry about what you can control first and foremost.
Do you follow English sport at all? If so what is your favourite and do you have a favourite team? Colin, London
I will tend to watch a good soccer matchup if it’s on in the states. Also, I got to see my first Polo match here in Florida this past year and really enjoyed it. As for favorite teams, I do not have one but just like seeing good matches played.
Which NFL game have you enjoyed playing in the most? Gary, Manchester
My first Monday night game in 2009 against the New York Jets. It was my second start in the NFL and we came out with a victory against a rival opponent.
Did you have an opportunity to pursue a career in another sport whilst at college? Steve, Cardiff
I actually had some track scholarships and interest coming out of high school. My best event was in Javelin. I did not pursue it in college though.
I've been a Jags fan for about 5 years now and have enjoyed watching the team play with you at quarterback these last few weeks. You've been picking out CSIII, Marcedes and Blackmon really well but my question is, who in your opinion is the most talented wideout you've played with in your NFL career? Thanks and good luck in the future. Dan, Blackpool
Thank you...the best wideout I've played with in my opinion is Brandon Marshall. He now plays with the Chicago Bears. His size, speed, and talent are among the best in the NFL.
What's your nickname in the Jags locker room, and what was it in High School? Rich, Kildare
I don’t have a nickname. The guys just call me, ‘Chad.’
As you were Blaine Gabbert's back up before his injury. How much practice did you get with the offense to prepare you to step in when the starting QB gets hurt? PS Hope your big plays with CS3 continue to flourish!! Gareth Lewis, Wrexham
Not much with the starters but every backup knows that going in. You have to really focus on the mental reps. Even though you’re not taking the snap, you have to think about the play and where you would go in that situation. I have been in this league five years and understand. You must prepare well, play well and prepare like you are a starter and practice like you are a starter if you want to stay in this league.
Your NFL career so far has had a lot of ups and downs. What was the biggest lesson you took after leaving the Dolphins and did you use that experience to help motivate you to turn it around and experience the type of success you are now having in Jacksonville? Micah, Leeds
What I’ve learned is surround yourself with people that care about you the most first of all. That is always hopefully your teammates and coaches and people within the building that care about you and should care about you. Your family is important. Stay away from distractions is the biggest key but surround yourself with people that really care about you and have your best interest at heart.
How do you feel about the Jags giving up four home games to play at Wembley for four seasons? And on a personal level, how much are you looking forward to coming London, to be part of the NFL International Series? Gary, London
I’m excited about the opportunity next year to play in London. I think all the guys in the locker room are looking forward to the trip and the experience. Our owner, Shad Khan, has made some great moves on and off the field since taking over. I’m hoping the fans will be excited to see us play.
I was wondering what was the bigger step up: High school to college ball or college ball to the pros? Which did you enjoy playing in the most? Andrew, Liverpool
I have enjoyed every step of my career. Each step is different in its own way. The major difference from high school to college is you are now facing every high school’s best player and you are living on your own for the first time. Your parents aren’t around to do your laundry and cook you dinner. Going from college to the NFL is an adjustment because the game is so much faster. All of the players are good, strong, fast and physical. You have to really prepare each week to play well because it’s tough to win in the NFL on any given week.
What's your most memorable game to date? Including college? Dave, Ipswich
My most memorable game was in college, 2008 at the Capital One Bowl game against the Florida Gators. It was my senior year in college and we were going against a very good Florida team. It was our Head Coach, Lloyd Carr's last season as well and we came out with a great victory. I threw for a career high 373 yards and 3 Td's and was named the MVP.
What's been the biggest highlight of your career so far? Matt, Okehampton
Honestly, being drafted in the 2nd round and being named the starting quarterback for both of the teams I've played for. Another one that stands out is being named "Captain" of the 2011 Miami Dolphins. As a quarterback, leadership is one of the most important attributes you bring to the table.
With you at the helm, what are the chances of the Jags reaching the playoffs next year? Dare I say a playoff run? Oli, London
Right now we are focusing on our final four games and want to really finish strong. That’s important to all the guys in the locker room because we have put in a lot of work. I’m sure there will be some decisions made in the offseason like there are every year. The focus every year is to win the Super Bowl and I know that will be our goal in 2013.
What, in your opinion, is the most difficult aspect of being an NFL starting QB? Dean, Southampton
It’s a business and the sooner or later you learn that the better off you will be. The quarterback and head coach are the only two people that get a win-loss record attached to their resume. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I would like to know how you will handle the defensive Line of the San Francisco 49ers next year at Wembley? What expectations do you have of your offensive-line protecting you from the Smith brothers and Patrick Willis? I would start planning now. I wish you a good game! Lisa Lawrence, London
The 49ers are an excellent defense. I'm sure we will have a great protection plan on how to handle their defensive line. As a quarterback, you must understand your progression, timing and rhythm of each play. So staying the course in that aspect will help eliminate quarterback hits and pressures.