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O-Zone: Nightmare scenario

Posted May 29, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

David from Monterrey, Mexico:
I understand about tempering expectations and I understand that you – as the senior writer – can't write stuff like, "This is a season in which the Jaguars are overdue to make the playoffs.” I also understand that getting better every day is the goal, as Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said it. But in the end, you play to win the game. You play to get Super Bowls. The Jaguars haven't made the postseason in six seasons and there's nothing wrong with calling a season a failure if it indeed was one; you just have to get better next year. I am excited to see some football but I just hope the season is not over in Week 5 like it has been in the past few years. I know you're against it, but which would you take if the line is at 4.5 games won this year, over or under?
John: This apparently is a theme that’s not going away. That’s understandable, I suppose. I have written that the Jaguars could be very improved next season and still not be .500. I, in fact, have written that pretty consistently. Here’s the thing: I have written that not to temper expectations, but because that is the reality. This team had a long way to go entering the 2013 season. A looooong way to go. They played like it early in the season. They then exceeded the expectations of many by winning four games, but they were not competitive in too many games other than that. If they are competitive more consistently next season and win five or six games, that would be a significant improvement. In that light, I can’t in good conscience write that the Jaguars missing the playoffs next season would be a failure. Is there a season in the future in which that will be the case? No question, but we’re not there yet. As for your last question, I think the Jaguars will win more than five games and I continue to say it would be a major accomplishment were they to win more than seven.
Mark from Brazil:
Has Gus said anything in regards to liking/disliking the idea of Hard Knocks coming to Jacksonville? I just started stealing my sisters' HBO so I'd be beyond excited to see the Jags on Hard Knocks this year.
John: He has discussed it, but has been fairly noncommittal about it. Gus Bradley, like most NFL coaches, would prefer to not have to deal with the distraction – and whenever there are cameras following a team on the detailed level of Hard Knocks, it’s absolutely a distraction. At the same time, if the Jaguars are chosen for Hard Knocks, then there’s not much the front office can do about it. I’m sure Bradley and David Caldwell would deal with it without it bothering preparation for the season too much.
Ryan from Boynton Beach, FL:
So are you and JP that tall in real life or is Mike (DiRocco) that short?
John: Yes.
Marquis from Little Rock, AR:
It seems as if Ryan Davis has been completely forgotten about. The guy made some huge plays last year. I know it's incredibly early, but what do you think of his chances to make the squad? Is he a Leo?
John: Davis is indeed a Leo, and his task is difficult. It’s also true that he has been a bit overlooked this offseason. That happens when teams bring in a lot of new players via free agency and the draft. I talked to Davis for a few minutes in the locker room Wednesday, and you get the feeling he understands the difficulty of his situation. With six LEOs on the roster now, there’s a lot of competition at that spot. At the same time, he’s a player who has earned a chance to be on the roster the past two seasons and he has shown enough to merit mention entering training camp. I don’t know that he’ll make roster, but I get the idea he’s going to be in the NFL, whether that be in Jacksonville or somewhere else.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
Who will be the starting center Game 1 versus the Eagles?
John: I sense you want a definitive answer, which will be difficult considering my inability to see the future or time travel. Mike Brewster is first right now, but Patrick Lewis and perhaps Jacques McClendon could have a chance, too. I’d guess Brewster starts, but we’ll see.
Bill from Jacksonville:
As I understand it, players are not supposed to engage one another in OTAs. Sean Lee and his teammate did, and now Lee has a torn ACL and will miss the whole season. I know a lot of fans don't like the offseason restrictions on contact, but isn't Lee's injury a prime example of why the NFL and the NFLPA is so rigid when it comes to the rules?
John: Yes. To be fair, injuries can occur in non-contact drills. That’s particularly true of torn ACLs, but the NFLPA and NFL do have a common interest to minimize contact as much as possible in the offseason.
Strnbiker from Dothan, AL:
A player is arrested, found guilty and pays the fine or whatever for substance abuse, etc. The NFL then comes in and suspends the player for X number of games for the offense. How is this not violating the double jeopardy law whether agreed upon by the players association or not?
John: The NFL is not a court of law and a court of law is not the NFL.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
I heard recently how Bortles looks really calm and confident in OTAs, and it was mentioned how different that is from when Gabbert came in. I seem to remember everyone raving over Gabbert in the early practices, about his demeanor and his talent. I know he didn't turn out to be a great player in Jacksonville, but why does everyone's memory seem to change after the fact? Why does everyone pretend like Gabbert was awful from the first practice? The fans and media where in love with Gabbert from the first practice so why say now that he was bad from the moment he stepped on the field for his first practice?
John: Memory changes after the fact because that’s what memories do. It’s easy in retrospect for people to say they disliked the Gabbert selection from the start and to say that Gabbert was awful in practice from the start for a simple reason: because it didn’t work out for Gabbert in Jacksonville. Gabbert indeed looked really good in practice in the beginning and actually, he continued to look really good in practice. It doesn’t change what happened on the field, but no question: to say he didn’t look calm or confident early indeed is just incorrect.
Jesse from Panama City, FL:
O, I like the fact that Gus is letting some of the players become "coaches" later in practice. Do you think that he's going about this approach to make the player more accountable?
John: What you’re talking about is what Bradley calls the Opportunity Period. It’s a period at the end of each practice in which players who perhaps didn’t get as many repetitions in practice get a … wait for it … opportunity! Starters and players who got more reps are encouraged to play a role encouraging participating players in the drill. I don’t know if it will make players more accountable, but it should encourage players to be engaged and supportive of one another.
Aaron from Jacksonville:
Why are people concerned about when Bortles will supplant Henne if Henne is successful? It is a great "problem" to have. Look at the 49ers, who had both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. The coach pulled the trigger on the change at what he felt was the right time. Gus will, too.
John: I must have missed something, and believe me – that wouldn’t be unprecedented. But I hadn’t heard a whole lot of concern over this matter, and there’s certainly not much concern inside the organization. When Bortles has developed enough to supplant Henne as the starter, it will happen. There are certainly things about which to gnash teeth around any organization. I don’t know that people following the Jaguars need to do too much gnashing on this front.
Mike from St. Mary’s, GA:
I don't know if you deliberately spelled damping as "dampering" to get the point of not "putting a damper on excitement across" or maybe you were going for dampening? I dunno. Sorry for the nitpicking.
John: When you work with words, words are your work.
Kevin from Ponte Vedra, FL:
How are OTAs different from training camp other than OTAs are voluntary (not really) and training camp is not?
John: There are no pads allowed in OTAs and there is no one-on-one work allowed, either.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
First-round draft pick. Pro Bowler. Pride of the Jaguars member. Radio Host and Color Commentator. Now, College Hall of Fame inductee. With this impressive resume, does Tony Boselli run for President in 2016?
John: Goodness gracious … of what?

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