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O-Zone: Identity crisis

Posted Dec 11, 2013

Jacksonville – Let’s get to it . . .

Chad from Section 140:
You know what? I enjoy reading about the possibility of the Jags going to the playoffs. I know it's a long shot, but it beats reading about London speculation or about the Jaguars being in the debate as the worst team in NFL history. It's fun to think about the "what-ifs." Football is a sport, intended to entertain. The team is starting to do its part in the entertainment category, and from what I witnessed last Thursday night, the fans were starting to enjoy the entertainment.
John: I’ll admit to spending more than a few minutes figuring playoff scenarios over the weekend, and yes, I followed the Miami and Baltimore games with more than a passing interest. And though the outcome of those games significantly hurt the Jaguars’ already small playoff hopes, you’re right – it was fun. That’s what December is supposed to be about – following your team and others, and hoping against hope yours wins while the others lose. There’s a fairly good chance the Jaguars could be eliminated from the postseason this weekend. All that needs to happen is for Baltimore or Miami to win, but fans over the last couple of weeks got their first taste of that talk in a long time. Even if the talk had sort of a fantastical feel, it was still neat to hear the talk. I sense there will be more than a taste very soon.
Oscar from Palm Coast, FL:
I ran into Paul Posluszny and his fiancée at a local restaurant over the weekend. Not only is he a beast on the field, he is also the classiest guy I ever met in pro sports. Hats off to the Jags for having a stud player on the field and a class act of the field.
John: Posluszny indeed is a class act, one of the most gracious, well-spoken and professional players I’ve been around.
Andrew from Crawfordville:
Practice squads of all teams are available sources of year-end talent for building for the future. What is likelihood that Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley might raid another team by signing a player to a contract? How long after last game of regular season are practice squad players available to add to your 53-man roster? Merry Christmas, O'man. #Moodachay.
John: Sure, the Jaguars very well could sign a player from another team’s practice squad in the coming weeks, but there’s not much more likelihood than at any point in the season. The Jaguars have spent the season trying to improve the roster in any way they can. That won’t change in the coming weeks. Practice squad players become free agents at the end of the season and are often signed to that team’s offseason roster fairly quickly.
Chad from Yulee, FL:
Not questioning the effort, but is Denard Robinson not successfully competing in practice? Is it ball security? Is he having problems picking up the blitz? Why is he not involved more?
John: Ball security has been an issue for Robinson and consistency has been, too. Mostly, it’s a matter of the Jaguars sticking with what is working. The Jaguars recently went to a running back rotation of Maurice Jones-Drew and Jordan Todman, with Todman getting a few more carries than had been the case previously and Jones-Drew overall getting a few less. Since then, the Jaguars have rushed for more than 100 yards in each game, a significant improvement from the first 10 games of the season. As importantly, they have run well enough to get into more manageable down-and-distance situations more often, which has helped the offense overall. The Jaguars spent most of the first half of the season searching for a formula that would work offensively, and they have found the beginnings of one. Robinson almost certainly fits into the future, and if Jones-Drew can’t play Sunday, he’ll figure into the game plan much more on Sunday. But if Jones-Drew is healthy, look for the MJD/Todman combination to continue for now.
Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Looking forward to Sunday's game and to see Mark Brunell inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars. Do you think that there will be any negativity surrounding his comments that the Jags will eventually move to London?
John: I think most of that has subsided. Brunell’s being inducted for his play on the field and what he meant to the organization. His inability to see into the future or to accurately portray the organization’s current intentions had nothing to do with the honor.
Terry from Jacksonville:
John, I am beginning to think Dwayne Gratz could be a very good safety. He has run-stopping pop as well as good cover and recovery speed. Would it be a surprise if he transitioned?
John: Yes, Gratz had a rough game against Andre Johnson Thursday, but for the most part he has played well for a rookie who has started comparatively few games. He has given up some plays, but he also has shown a knack for the ball and has certainly done nothing to indicate he won’t be a very good corner – particularly in a scheme such as Gus Bradley’s that favors physical corners who tackle and play press coverage.
Robert from Jacksonville:
Watching the players develop this season, it seems to me that pass rush and quarterback are our most pressing needs. Thoughts?
John: Those are areas of need – though in truth, there are many. The Jaguars have won four of five games and that’s terrific. Still, there aren’t many areas where they couldn’t improve. This team is still early in the building process.
Kevin from Jagsonville:
In one of the post-game speeches by Coach Gus, he mentioned "once we win, they'll come in bunches." I thought he meant next year :)
John: He didn’t.
Keith from Tallahassee, FL:
The other circumstance you forgot about when Scobee would get a chance for a 65 yarder....playing in Denver!
John: I didn’t forget, but thank you for the help. Like any kicker, would benefit from the thinner air in Denver, but Scobee is capable of hitting from 65 in lower altitudes as well.
Joe from Aurora, IL:
John, what would your Heisman ballot look like, were you credible enough to earn a vote?
John: I voted for the Heisman for five or six years in the 1990s, and I assure you, I was no more credible then than I am now. When I voted, I returned it in hard copy by mail. I understand now it is done via computer, so it probably would look like some sort of computerized submission form.
William from Jacksonville:
Have you seen an influx of people at first complaining about the lack of wins and then switching to complaining about winning too much and losing a high draft pick? Doesn't make much sense, huh?
John: If you have much experience reading people who write to me, it actually makes perfect sense.
Bill from Jacksonville:
Now that it appears the Matt Schaub era is over, was he worth the two second-round picks the Texans traded for him? Go Jags!
John: I would say yes, because Schaub gave the Texans five decent seasons, and good enough play for two division titles. He wasn’t an elite-level guy, perhaps, but he made two Pro Bowls and helped the team be competitive for a while. That’s not Top 10, franchise-player stuff, but two second-rounders? Sure, why not?
Ryan from Orlando, FL:
The team is playing great and can’t wait for next year. I think one thing everyone is forgetting is we are doing this with our Justin Blackmon and Luke Joeckel. How much better can this team really be in year two with both of those guys back and another first-round pick? Playoffs next year?
John: Blackmon, Joeckel and another draft class certainly should help. The Jaguars also certainly will add a few free agents. But probably the biggest way the Jaguars will improve is the players currently on the roster having another year to improve. Players such as Johnathan Cyprien, Josh Evans, Winston Guy, Dwayne Gratz, Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Austin Pasztor, Andre Branch and even Cecil Shorts III are still at an age at which significant strides can be made from one year to the next. A year more in the offseason program conditioning, studying and attending OTAs and minicamps can produce dramatic results. It’s way too early to predict playoffs. But will the Jaguars be improved next season? Yes, they certainly should be.
Brian from Charlottesville:
I find it curious McCown has left the Jags and went on to have a great season with the Bears. Remember McCown for us? He wasn't good by any means. That goes to show you how two great wide receivers, a great running back and a very good offensive line can make a decent quarterback look great. I'm not sure I believe McCown has suddenly become a more talented player than two-thirds of the quarterbacks in this league. Not sure what I'm asking, more of an observation. What are your thoughts on this situation?
John: My thoughts are that Josh McCown is playing pretty well for the Bears. His brother, Luke, didn’t play as well when he was with the Jaguars.

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