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O-Zone: A crazy alternative

Posted Sep 3, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Greg from Section 122:
Does switching out players so late into the preparation process help this team? These new players only have six days to get up to speed before our first game. Could that be an issue?
John: To a small degree, yes, it will be an issue. There’s no doubt the seven new players won’t be as familiar with the Jaguars’ schemes as they will be in a few weeks. At the same time, the seven players won’t be starting Sunday and mostly will be on special teams, so there won’t be the same impact as if they had replaced five or six starters at the last minute. But these decisions weren’t made based on this week. This continues to be about getting this roster better for the long haul, and the Jaguars’ decision-makers clearly believed they needed to get more versatile with the two tight ends acquired and better at reserve safety, linebacker and defensive end.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Brutally honest is what Dave Caldwell is! If you listen to what he says you can find out the direction the team is taking. It’s spot on. No BS. It started with Tebow. Like it or not, the young man has some guts and conviction. No guts, no glory! Go Jags!
John: Caldwell without question is honest, and he has been since his hiring as general manager in January. There always will be things a general manager and head coach don’t want to reveal. For instance, Caldwell’s not going to invite the media into the draft room and say, “Hey, Vito: here’s my board!!!” but generally speaking, if you ask Caldwell a question he does his best to answer it truthfully and to help people understand his thinking about football and the Jaguars. That’s the most a fan or media member can ask from a person in his position.
Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Asked for a free water cup at McDonald’s, then filled it with soda. #shadricksightings
John: Yep.
Joe from Jacksonville:
Funny how you criticized fans last year for wanting depth in the third round instead of a punter, yet this year you say we are thin at some positions. Ya know, if this football thing doesn’t work out, you’d be one heck of a politician.
John: Yeah, I’m not sure I criticized the fans for wanting depth. I rarely criticize fans for “wanting” anything, because people are pretty much allowed to “want” what they want. I also don’t know that I ever called the Jaguars deep last season. I did write that the team drafted Bryan Anger because the front office believed that a third-round draft selection likely wouldn’t have started for that team. I wrote that because that’s how the team felt at the time, and even as poorly as the Jaguars played last season, at the time Anger was drafted, it was difficult to see where a third-rounder would have started immediately. Teams make decisions based on where they believe they are at the time. In retrospect, it’s clear that the Jaguars’ front office overestimated where it was last offseason – that much is hard to argue. As for my career in politics, good politicians are typically good-looking, toothy types who like being around people, don’t mind working hard and who are liked by more people than not. I think I’d be pretty lousy.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
Two parts: First, can I ever actually get a clear answer instead of you always side stepping every question I ask? Second, if you draft a player in the Top 10 of the draft don’t you expect them to be a Pro Bowl level player sometime during their career?
John: One, yes, you can, and I admire your diligence. You have asked about Top 10 selections in the draft a lot lately, and from what I remember of the questions, it’s regarding Tyson Alualu. This is a subject I’ve addressed already this training camp, so I didn’t feel obligated to answer immediately, but yes, when you draft a player in the Top 10 of the draft your hope is that he is a Pro Bowl level player. Alualu has not been that, and I don’t recall saying he was, but that does not mean he should be released or that releasing him would improve your roster. Quite the opposite is true.
Brian from Jacksonville:
Do you think Abry Jones and Brandon Deaderick's ability to play more than one defensive tackle position was the reason both made the roster over Kyle Love? To the common eye, it looked like Love played better in the preseason; however, he would've pretty much been relegated to the one-technique position behind Miller.
John: Jones’ versatility certainly was a factor, as well as the presence of six other players the Jaguars believe can play the interior. David Caldwell said Sunday when discussing the releases and singings that the team wanted to add players who could contribute on special teams and be active on game days, adding that he thought it would be hard to have seven defensive tackles active on game day. Love couldn’t play special teams, so the combination of that meant releasing him to sign other players at other positions.
Doug from Jacksonville:
O, read your stuff every day. What has been and will be the players' schedule from the Atlanta game to the KC game?
John: The players were off Friday through Sunday, which is common after the final preseason game. Teams often take those three days with the idea of getting back to their normal in-season schedule. The team went through a practice on Monday in which there was some game-planning for the Chiefs and will be off Tuesday, as is normal. After that, the team will get into a normal regular-season schedule, which means full practices Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with a walkthrough Saturday.
Bobby from Woodbury, NJ:
What position group are you most looking forward to seeing and why? I really want to see how the secondary plays this year. If the young guys play well, we'll be good there for a few years. What say you?
John: I’m tempted to say all of them, because there are storylines at every position. That’s the norm for a team that has undergone massive change. But the area that’s most intriguing to me is the offensive line. I get the idea the Jaguars will have to really work to rush the passer, and that there are areas of the defense that will be works in progress. But the offensive line has a chance to be at a high level quickly, and certainly should be improved from past seasons with the addition of Luke Joeckel. If it’s as good as it has a chance to be, then the offense could improve accordingly. It has to happen during the regular season, and while it may take a few weeks, I expect to see progress in the first half of the season.
Cole from Jacksonville:
It’s 2003. A grunge bar in the Bronx. At a Gwar concert. A man comes streaking across the stage in a jaguar print thong and is tatted from the neck down. Bedlam ensues. #shadricksightings
John: Certainly.
Tom from Melbourne, FL:
...and what's the city ordinance on lounging by a dumpster munching on taquitos? #shadricksightings
John: Yep.
Steve from St. Johns:
John - Will you go through specifics of practice-squad details? How many? Rules around adding/deleting players throughout the season? Compensation? Flexibility for players to join other teams? You get the idea.
John: It’s actually not too complicated. Teams can have up to eight players on the practice squad, and without going into the minutiae of eligibility, the players are usually in their first or second seasons with little or no real game action. Practice squad players are in many ways free agents, meaning they can sign elsewhere if they are offered a deal. Teams can sign eligible players at any time during the season, and a player that signs a player from another team’s practice squad must keep that player on the roster for at least three games. Practice squad players make a minimum of $6,000 a week. As a point of reference, I do not make $6,000 a week.
Mario from Jacksonville:
Hey, Mr. O: What do you think about our third quarterback? Is he any good? Better than Matt Scott?
John: The Jaguars feel Ricky Stanzi is an upgrade over Scott right now, at least partially because he’s a third-year veteran compared to a rookie. He’s also more prototypical in terms of arm strength and size than Scott. That said, I think Scott is a perfect practice-squad guy right now, and has the tools to develop into something more.
Mac from Washington, DC:
I believe we are on the right track in every way but one: our quarterback situation has been and remains awful. We are coming off our worst season ever and while the rest of our team appears to have improved ten-fold, we did nothing in the offseason to correct our quarterback problem. What's the definition of insanity? Welcome back, guys. Gabbert and Henne look exactly the same as they did last year. I guess my frustrations are coming out a bit here and I apologize, but what's the plan? Will we ever find a franchise quarterback?
John: The search for a franchise quarterback is ongoing until one is found. I get the frustration people feel over this, and at the same time, the question in response is, “Do you go get a quarterback just to change quarterbacks if you don’t *really* believe that player improves the position?” If you answer yes to that . . . well, that’s pretty crazy, too.

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