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O-Zone: Character-building

Posted Jan 30, 2013

Let's get to it . . .

Micah from Springfield, MO:
If David Caldwell pursues a quarterback such as Matt Flynn or Alex Smith in free agency or a trade, obviously that says something about his comfort level with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. But suppose they decide to draft one. Would you say it is just getting value at the pick or something more indicative of the team’s stance on quarterbacks on the roster?
John: That very much depends on the quarterback, and where they would draft him. I’ve been getting variations on this question for weeks now, and they certainly will keep coming. It is human nature to seek a definitive, all-defining answer to questions, and Jaguars fans very much want an answer to the quarterback situation that sums up all of the theories and answers all of the arguments that have surrounded the position for two years. Is Blaine Gabbert the answer? Is Chad Henne the answer? Can Gabbert start? Was Gene Smith wrong to pick him? These questions have hovered over this fan base for what seems like an eternity, and readers want Caldwell to stand on high and give a final, all-defining edict – and do so immediately. I don’t know that such an edict is coming, at least not immediately. Caldwell and Gus Bradley are analyzing the roster. When they finish, they’ll have a better idea about the futures of Henne and Gabbert. In March, there may be a chance to explore trades or free agency. Depending on interest and/or outcome, there may or may not be someone else in the mix. After that, they will decide if there is a quarterback in the draft worth pursuing and if there is, in what round and with what goal in mind – i.e., would that player be an immediate factor in the competition or a long-term project? Those questions simply can’t be answered yet. As frustrating as that may be, it’s just too soon.
Randy from Jacksonville:
John, I just checked my backyard, and the Franchise Quarterback Tree still isn’t growing. When I see one ready to pick, I'll give Shad a call.
John: Do that.
Cliff from Las Vegas, NV:
Do new general managers typically take into account aging players like Rashean Mathis and Greg Jones who are getting older and wish to continue being a part of the Jaguars? Do they typically want them to finish their careers here for the sake of the fans and the players?
John: If all else is equal, general managers likely wouldn’t stand in the way of that happening, but with a new general manager and a head coach, the decisions made must be about building the team in the best way possible to be competitive. Sentimentality on the part of the fans or player can’t come into play. The players understand this, and the two players you mention are veteran enough to know that there are no real ties between them and the front office and coaching staff. I’d say the odds of Mathis returning are fairly slim, with the chances of Jones returning perhaps better, but those decisions like so many are still to come.
Harry from Jonesboro, AR:
To my mind, Alex Smith is the NFL equivalent of a college "system" quarterback, in that he didn't really blossom until Harbaugh came along. That may be difficult to replicate somewhere else. Smith made more sense back when it looked like Roman was in the hunt for head coach here.
John: That is indeed the ultimate question about Smith. Can he replicate the success he had last season and this season without Harbaugh and Greg Roman? And without a rock-solid defense and effective running game? That’s a very difficult question to answer in advance, and it makes the acquisition of Smith – particularly if you give up draft selections – a very high-risk proposition.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
The Jags have retained their strength and conditioning staff. Am I wrong to think that was a bad move? They've been bad on both lines of scrimmage, which has a lot to do with strength and conditioning, and they've been decimated by injury for the last few years. I know that all injuries don't point to conditioning, but the sheer quantity of injuries and the length of time it's taking players to come back from them leads me to believe that staff hasn't done the best job possible. Plus, the team has faded late in games. Several games were close at the half and they still got beaten soundly...that tells me they either lack passion or they lack conditioning. I'm leaning toward the latter. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe they just lack depth and no amount of conditioning will make up for it. Please enlighten me.
John: I’d almost – almost – be inclined to see a bit of your point except for the fact that the Jaguars had completely different strength and conditioning staffs the past two seasons with strikingly similar results. Struggling on each line of scrimmage could have something to do with strength and conditioning. It also could have to do with talent, coaching or scheme. As for being decimated by injuries the past two seasons, that is true. And again, the strength and conditioning staffs were completely different each year. Football is a violent sport. Injuries occur. People dislike that answer, because people crave simple answers that can be solved by simple if-then scenarios. The job of the strength and conditioning staff is to ensure the players are as conditioned as possible and as strong as possible. They do not have a magic elixir that prevents injury.
Fancboy from Beverly Hills, CA:
John, these boots were made for walking...
John: So that’s just what they’ll do.
Taylor from Baltimore, MD:
Jim Harbaugh was quoted as saying to the effect that Alex Smith coaches Colin Kaepernick as much as he does. While I doubt that is truly accurate, it does throw a wrench in your 'players play and coaches coach' axiom. You've preached that a veteran player would be of little coaching value to younger players at his position, but Jim Harbaugh (Super Bowl coach) seems to disagree.
John: He can disagree all he wants, and only he knows the 49ers’ situation. I have no doubt that in this situation – knowing that Kaepernick is the future and that Smith is likely moving on – Smith assisted Kaepernick. In most situations, certainly in training camp and in the offseason, players at most positions should be and are far more concerned about earning starting positions than helping young players.
Matt from State College, PA:
What happened to, "You have been heard?"
John: Huh?
Tucker from New York, NY:
I'm not sure why you believe "You can’t turn an entire roster over in one year, or even two." Especially after seeing the 2012 Indianapolis Colts. Why not follow their gutsy model?
John: The Colts turned over much of their roster. I believe Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, Donald Brown, Jerraud Powers, Adam Vinatieri and many other players from 2011 played for the team last year. I never said there wouldn’t be turnover next season. My point has been that there will be more players from the last several years on the Jaguars in the next several seasons than people might initially think.
JP from Augusta, GA:
My question is, “What is Caldwell's deal?” He's taking over a team that went a miserable 2-14 last season, and he's not even entertaining the notion of signing Tim Tebow. Tebow is not only a hero in the Jacksonville area for his Heisman trophy and two national championships, he took a 1-4 team and got them into the playoffs. Is Caldwell going to use his No. 2 overall pick for a quarterback? If he doesn't, he's going to need to look elsewhere in the NFL for a good quarterback who wants a new team. With seven teams wanting new quarterbacks and Alex Smith and Matt Flynn being two of the only good options, Tebow should be given some thought.
John: And the beat goes on . . .
Ralph from Wise, VA:
John, would you remind Chris from Orlando/San Antonio that Tim Tebow had his chance to play in Jacksonville for the Jaguars and he turned them down? Also remind Chris, at this point in Tim Tebow career and his current position, he would "love" to play anywhere in the NFL next year.
John: Don’t tell that to JP.
Chris from Jacksonville:
What exactly does an Offensive Quality Control Coach do? Does he actually coach the Offensive Quality Control?
John: A quality control coach can be on either side of the ball. They typically are something close to entry level coaches who serve as an assistant at some position on the staff. They are rarely solely responsible for any specific position, and instead are essentially learning the business with the hope of someday being promoted to a position coach. They often do preliminary game planning and scouting for future opponents and whatever else falls outside the realm of position coaches and coordinators.
Jamie from St. Augustine, FL:
Would a cornerback who doesn't have the speed for that position be moved to a safety?
John: Potentially. He also could be moved to, “Waiter” or “Financial Advisor Trainee.”
Steve from Nashville, TN:
You routinely take shots at your family and home life through the O-Zone. Surely there has to be consequences of such a public display of affection?
John: Nah, it’s good for them. Builds character.

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