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O-Zone: Sound plan of action

Posted May 2, 2013

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . .

Ryan from Clyde, OH:
This year is going to be the make-or-break year for Blaine Gabbert. There are no more excuses, and while I believe he is better than people think, if there isn't improvement, I would say it's time to move on.
John: It’s hard to argue any of that. Gabbert needs to play better. No question. The general belief around the Jaguars is that he has a very real chance to do that for a number of reasons. If he doesn’t, then the leash will be rather short.
Colette from Wapwallopen, PA:
You sir, are a funny guy. You're welcome.
John: You, Colette, are absolutely and undeniably brilliant. Thank you.
Larry from Section 118:
Why do young players not drafted in the first round get overlooked? It seems weird Cecil Shorts was drafted late, and has become has a big-play threat, but he gets zero attention. When speaking about our wide receivers, the media mentions Blackmon, but never mentions Shorts. Shorts made just about every big play we had last season. Does that not seem odd and unfair?
John: I assume you’re talking about the national media, because locally most people mention Shorts and Blackmon pretty much in the same breath. Is it fair? The national media doesn’t care about fair. They care about talking about things that interest people. Blackmon was a megastar in college and people nationally know his name. Shorts played at Mount Union. If you’re a national guy, then who moves the needle more? If Shorts plays like he did last season, he’ll get more mention. It just takes time.
Cliff from Orange Park, FL:
If we just signed Tebow to a one-day deal, placed him in the Pride of the Jaguars, do you think that would stop the talk?
John: I don’t even know why, but I laughed at this.
John from Jacksonville:
Since Boselli played the majority of his career protecting a left-handed quarterback, wouldn't he have been more like a right tackle is to a right-handed quarterback? Wouldn't the impact of a left or right tackle pivot on whether the quarterback is right- or left-handed?
John: Somewhat, but not entirely. Protecting the blindside is important for a tackle, but more important is who he is blocking. When Boselli played, as is the case now, the best pass rushers usually lined up on the right side of the defense. That means Boselli usually was blocking the other team’s best pass rusher. By definition that made him the most valuable player on the offensive line.
Rob from Fleming Island, FL:
Please tell J.T. from Augusta if he stops pulling for the Jaguars I will never go to Augusta again.
John: If you write an email like this again, I’ll drive to Fleming Island and key your car.
Gerry from Elkton:
Based on the Jaguars missing a shutdown corner, quality defensive end and quarterback, doesn't that place our chances for a playoff at about two or three years away?
John: No. It’s great to have those things, but you can improve at other areas and compete. First, few teams have a true “shutdown” corner. Second, you may be able to get increased pass rush out of Andre Branch/Jason Babin. Third, the team is watching to see if Gabbert can develop. But all of that first, second and third stuff, you can improve from 2-14 and get competitive in a hurry by improving around the roster. But, if the Jaguars are going to reach elite status, then yes, some elite core players probably will be necessary.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Batting left when you're right-handed is the same as switching from left tackle to right tackle? Really? Where do these people get this stuff from? I'm convinced you put some of these questions on here just to show everybody else what you deal with on a daily basis.
John: Ya think?
Eric from Boise, ID:
Justin Blackmon should be traded for either a mid- or low- first-round selection next year, or a star defensive end.
John: What team would give the Jaguars either one? Not a slight on Blackmon, but teams typically don’t trade a “star” defensive end for a second-year wide receiver, particularly if the second-year wide receiver already has been suspended in the substance abuse program. And a first-round selection? Same story. Remember that the issue with trades is finding someone who wants what you’re trading.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
So why doesn't the NFL let us know just why Blackmon is getting suspended? Don't say it doesn't matter. It matters to me and my kid who has a Blackmon jersey and looks up to the guy.
John: Privacy issues. Under the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the league doesn’t release the specifics of players who are suspended.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Whom do you see being the sack leader on this team at the end of the season?
John: Jason Babin. The Jaguars believe Andre Branch has a chance to flourish in the team’s new defensive system, but if you had to guess, you’d think Babin in the Leo pass-rusher role would lead the team in sacks if he remains healthy.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
I don’t think David Caldwell could have handled his first off-field issue any better. So many times you hear coaches and general managers hide behind the CBA and not have much to say regarding failed drug tests, but Caldwell just took it head on. "At some point these players have to take care of themselves. They represent this team and this community. We will not take this lightly." From the Tebow situation, to the draft, and now with Justin Blackmon, starting to feel like the Jags are in good hands!
John: Agreed. Caldwell handled the Blackmon situation pitch-perfectly, particularly when he said Blackmon is at a crossroads in his career and his life. He sent the message pretty clearly without being over the top or without being too forgiving.
Michael from Jacksonville:
Justin Blackmon is no doubt the hot topic of your inbox. Receiver looks to become an area of need. Blackmon has not proven that he can be responsible while Cecil Shorts has had a couple of concussions. Will this passing game ever be good again?
John: Yes.
Phil from Fort Collins, CO:
What did you think about Adam Scott's tweet that he was coming in here to take someone's job? A bit brash for an undrafted rookie QB. There's nothing wrong with being confident but I don't see Blaine Gabbert inviting him on any fishing trips in the near future.
John: If you think Gabbert didn’t like the tweet, imagine how undrafted quarterback Matt Scott felt when he read your email.
Malosi from Santa Clarita, CA:
Have you heard/seen if the offense is up-tempo like a no-huddle (not necessarily a hurry-up) or a ball-control scheme like last year's? I like certain things about both theories and personnel and execution are obviously the important part, but I was just curious?
John: We haven’t seen the details of Jedd Fisch’s offense, and I don’t imagine we’ll know the whole package until the regular season. But it’s safe to say it’s a lot more up-tempo and no-huddle than it is ball control.
Jack from Jacksonville:
If Blackmon were the 53rd man on the roster or even just an average player, would he still be on the roster now?
John: That's what I thought, too. Probably not, but your question is worded like that’s some sort of a surprise – or as if the Jaguars are somehow breaking some sort of moral code by treating a talented player differently than they might an average player. This is not a democracy or a morality play or some scientific laboratory in which everyone must be treated equally. Blackmon got paid more than a lot of players because he is perceived to be better than a lot of players. He is still on the Jaguars’ roster in a situation where a lesser player may not be because he is perceived as being better than a lot of players. The idea of the NFL is to within reason have players on your roster that can help you win. While it would be great to have all players have a pristine, clean backgrounds who never have made errors, that’s not reality.
Johnny from East Palatka, FL:
Okay, one more time: "[not]Even if he's released." Any questions? Why is this so hard for people?
John: It just is, Johnny. It just is.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
Do you feel we have enough depth on our roster at running back right now?
John: The Jaguars have four running backs - -Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Forsett, Montell Owens and recently-drafted Denard Robinson, who the Jaguars selected as a running back after playing quarterback at Michigan. Four is probably about right, and remember – if there is a position on the offense that is learnable quickly it is running back. I imagine you might see the Jaguars add a running back before training camp, but it’s probably not keeping the coaches up nights.
Brooks from Jacksonville:
I sent you three questions today because I want to get in the O-Zone. And to ensure I get in, I thought I'd talk about how you're the best writer ever and beer.
John: Well done.

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