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O-Zone: Just holding on

Posted May 10, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – That’s it. We’re done.

I’m not retiring or taking a day off, though there are doubtless plenty who would love that idea. I’m not getting fired, either – not to my knowledge and most likely at least not this week. Not with all the higher-ups at The Players Championship.

We’re just not doing it anymore, and if you don't know what it is, you haven't been on Twitter and you're darned sure not practicing law in Central Florida. So, you won't read about it here. Not today and not this weekend, and not next week.

One-week hiatus. Minimum. Starting now. I promise.

Let’s get to it . . .

Jon from Jacksonville:
How are David Caldwell and Gus Bradley addressing the interior of the O-Line?
John: The Jaguars aren’t addressing the interior of the offensive line the way many hoped, which was to throw money at the issue and draft guards and centers. Instead, they re-signed center Brad Meester and drafted Luke Joeckel to play right tackle, the latter of whom should significantly help whoever plays next to him. The Jaguars also need Uche Nwaneri to be healthy for the entire season, and to decide who will start at left guard. You’d figure that has a chance to be Will Rackley, with Mike Brewster getting a chance to compete there and with Meester at center. The offensive line will start shaking itself out during OTAs, but it’s an area of focus and the interior will begin coming together then. Overall, there’s little reason the group can’t be better with the personnel and coaching changes made this offseason.
Hogfish from Mayport, FL and Section 441:
I'm a big fan of the Jaguars and the St. Louis Cardinals. I get on the computer this morning to check Jaguars.com and BCC and it hits me that even though my favorite baseball team is actually playing and beat their division rivals yesterday, the first thing I want to know about is my football team that is not playing and for all intents and purposes has nothing going on this week. What is it about the NFL that other sports haven't been able to capitalize on to build a rabid fan base that will follow their team every single day, even in the offseason? What makes the NFL different?
John: It may just be that you’re addicted to me and Alfie.
RJ from Cleveland, OH:
What is your honest prediction for this year's record? I'm feelin’ 9-7, but let's hear it from the best.
John: You’ll have to settle for hearing it from me. We’re a long way out, but I’d say the Jaguars have a chance to get out of the double-digit loss range. I reserve the right to feel differently after organized team activities and training camp, because realistically, this team is in such transition I don’t know that anyone – Bradley and Caldwell included – has a firm idea about record. That’s why Bradley’s approach of not emphasizing record makes a lot of sense. Get these guys to a point where they’re competing and improving and let the record take care of itself. That approach may not be as palpable in a year or two, but for now, it makes sense.
Chris from Jacksonville:
With this probably being Meester's last year, what's the ideal situation to transition to a new center? And who is the leading candidate(s)?
John: Ideally, you would have Meester play so well that Caldwell and Bradley beg him to come back for another season in 2014, and to follow that up, you would have Mike Brewster pushing him so hard in practice that there are heated arguments in the hallway about the starter. Short of the ideal, you want Brewster to develop this season. While he played well at times this season, he may not quite be prepared to step into a starting role. There’s every indication that could change and if he can step in for Meester when the latter retires, that would be a huge boost in the building process.
Steve from Nashville:
You wrote about Gabbert being a better passer when having more time in the pocket... I am pretty sure this is not unique to Gabbert.
John: And I'm pretty sure I didn’t say it was.
Donny from Jacksonville:
I too was a little miffed at the Denard Robinson pick and how he will fit into the offense. When I see that he will be used as a running back, I'm thinking Chris Johnson. Is that a good comparison or am I way off?
John: There could be elements of that, and if you get the elements of Chris Johnson that are positive, then why wouldn’t you want that? When put in situations to get into space get to the second level of the defense, Johnson is as dangerous a back as there has been the last decade. He can truly score from anywhere on the field, and while many backs are described that way, he has proven time and again that he can do it. He’s not always as effective when asked to run between the tackles or to grind it out in the interior, and I don’t know that that will be Robinson’s forte, either. But the Jaguars are going to try to get Robinson as many touches in various, defense-pressuring situations as possible. Instead of staying miffed, let’s see what Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch has in mind.
Marcus from NYC/Jacksonville:
The 'O' in LEO probably has something to do with where they line up. But you knew that, right?
John: Yep.
Steve from Atlanta:
How is Alualu's health coming into camp? I know he continues to start/play games, but he has been battling some lingering injuries. It would be good to see him playing on all cylinders.
John: From what little we’ve been able to see on the field so far this offseason, he looks healthy – healthier, at least – than he was last season when he got in just about no on-field offseason work after microfracture surgery. We'll see more from all the players once organized team activities begin Monday. When I spoke to Alualu a few weeks back, he seemed genuinely excited about Bradley’s defense and how he will fit into it, and said he felt that an offseason spent training and conditioning rather than rehabilitating will benefit him. And you’re right that Alualu has continued to start and play games. He never has missed a game and that’s to his credit, but it would be nice for him if he got a chance to play a full season healthy.
Tom from Jacksonville and Section 239:
When OTA's start next week, will it be for veterans only, or will the rookies be there as well? Also will any of it be open to the fans?
John: Organized team activities are voluntary and are for veterans and rookies. They are closed to the public.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
I am not impressed withn this draft.I believe the Jags should have drafted Shariff Floyd. I never heard of Cypien and Denard Robinson is a project at best. I believe the Jags should have trade up one spot withe Ravens and got Matt Elam and probably and extra pick. Do really think this a good draft?
John: I get e-mails like this sometimes.
Tim from Atlantic Beach, FL:
If Rashean Mathis isn’t signed by any team, I’m going to assume he’ll retire, hopefully signing a one-day contract to retire as a Jaguar. What do you think would be his chances at a spot in the Pride of the Jaguars? Also, what is the selection process for this? Do you see a future opportunity for at least the season ticket holders to have a vote for future Ring of Honor candidates? It would be nice to have that bit of empowerment, even if it’s a small percentage.
John: The selection process is pretty much what Shad Khan wants – it’s his team. Owners usually have the leeway to honor who they like for their Rings of Honors and their versions of Prides of Jaguars. That’s only right. If I paid $760 million, I’d want to get to decide whose name goes on the stadium wall. Usually that works out just fine. The Pride of the Jaguars and all such team Walls of Fame are generally pretty well done on the eye test and aren’t too controversial. Fred Taylor was a logical choice last year and it felt right; Tony Boselli, the same, though I was out of town and unavailable to protest. I see Mathis as a guy who would have a chance. I covered him just two years, but on and off the field, he embodied an awful lot of what you want your team to be about.
Nathan from Richmond, VA:
So wait... The O-Zone ISN'T a place that matters nor where football decisions get made?!?! Then what have I been doing when I come here every day?!?!
John: Sounds like you’ve got some reevaluating to do.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
Do you ever suffer from Archie Manning Syndrome, being the consummate Pro-Bowl writer for a bad team?
John: I’d say I suffer from the Driving on Ice Syndrome. I just get behind the wheel and hope not to hurt anyone.

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