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O-Zone: No guarantees

Posted Oct 8, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Phil from Boynton Beach, FL:
The new regime is losing credibility with the quarterback situation. Gus Bradley is sticking with Blaine Gabbert as the starter when he returns from yet another injury. Why is Bradley sold on Gabbert when Chad Henne has outplayed him? The team seems to rally around Henne, but the guy is not getting a fair shake. I'll admit we're probably not winning many more games with Henne but the team actually looks like an NFL offense when he's playing. How long do you believe the evaluation of Gabbert will go on?
John: Henne will start Sunday and Gabbert is week-to-week with a hamstring injury. Bradley indeed said again on Monday that he believes in Gabbert and that his thought for now is that Gabbert will start when healthy. I don’t know what that will mean when Gabbert is healthy. If Henne plays very, very well could he earn the starting position? Perhaps. How long will Gabbert indeed be out? That’s unknown, too. There are indeed times the team seems to rally around Henne, though this is not a situation where the offense is worlds better with one player than the other. As for your final question, I do not know. I can’t predict the future, and I don’t think the Jaguars know fully, but I do know that I don’t know.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
0-16????
John: No.
Ryan from Dearborn, MI:
So, we trade one first-round offensive tackle, and lose another first round offensive tackle to injury early in the game, and our offensive line puts on the best showing it has all year. What gives???
John: The world is a wacky, nutty place. That was my short, smart-alecky answer, but the longer answer is that the Jaguars didn’t expect to see a huge drop off after trading Eugene Monroe. There was a lot of confidence that Austin Pasztor would be a good fit at right tackle. Now, as for Cameron Bradfield playing well at left tackle – yes, he probably played a little better than expected. The line played pretty well. That’s allowed to happen. All the players are professionals. Now, the trick is to do it consistently.
JT from Port St. Lucie, FL:
Were people WATCHING the game? Gabbert isn't 100 percent a lost cause. He showed SOME promise early in the game (touchdown to Blackmon that everyone seems to have missed), but we were once again shown his turnover prowess. Is this season a bust? Probably. Should we pull the plug on Gabbert before he even gets time with the NEW REGIME that will be our future? It's a rocky stretch, but he was done wrong by the last two head coaches and the general manager.
John: There are many, many emails criticizing Gabbert. This one offers the other side, that he still needs more time and that he is not a lost cause. I’m never a believer that a player is a lost cause. There are too many cases when players struggle for various reasons, then play better when their situations change. Gabbert indeed has been through a lot, and he hasn’t had a lot of consistency around him. That has held him back. Saying all that, if he indeed returns to the starting lineup when healthy he needs to play better in a hurry.
Oscar from Palm Coast, FL:
Ace is developing into a great player. Can you shine some light on the penalty called on the runback he had? After watching the replay over and over again, there was no blocking in the back foul it was clearly a face to face hit. Why can’t we challenge those types of penalties?
John: It was a judgment call and by rule, a judgment call may not be challenged. The Jaguars have had an usual number of instances this season in which the league office informed them after the fact that a call had been incorrect. I suspect that may be the case with the penalty on LaRoy Reynolds. But as for Ace Sanders, yes, he is showing plenty of signs of becoming a player very much worth a fourth-round draft choice.
David from Maplewood, NJ:
John, "The results this season have no bearing on the long-term plan"? Really? Then what is the point? Ticket sales should then have no bearing on stability. You basically just said that they are knowingly playing for the first pick, didn't you?
John: Um, no. I simply said that this season’s results won’t cause the Jaguars to change course. Young players need time to develop, and whatever the Jaguars’ record they will continue to draft and sign free agents in the same manner that they have planned to do so since David Caldwell and Gus Bradley were hired.
Sascha from Cologne, Germany:
When I look at the games, it seems like the Jags’ players are a little bit undersized and not so strong like other teams’ players. Am I wrong?
John: It’s difficult to make a broad-brushed assessment of the overall size and strength. But size and strength is associated with talent and it’s probably accurate to say the Jaguars are not as talented in the first year of this build as many teams in the NFL. That’s a reason they are 0-5.
Nick from Ottawa:
Whenever you have been asked about 0-16, regardless of how the question was phrased, you gave a simple answer of "no." That's your right, but if you aren't going to give a more thoughtful response, don't expect readers to "read in" a better answer. Trying to wiggle out of it like you did makes me wonder if law school was ever in the cards for you.
John: The “no” response to 0-16 has sort of become a running theme, and I get that people want a more detailed answer. Part of the reason is I think the Jaguars will continue to improve, and I do see some improvement in recent weeks. Another part of it is that other teams will sustain injuries, and possibly to the quarterback position. I believe that will give the Jaguars legitimate opportunities to win in the second half of the season.
Jeff from Starke, FL:
I figured some people would say General Manager Caldwell made a bad decision to trade Monroe when Joeckel went down (which I hated to see). Glad I wasn't fired from parenting when my son broke his collar bone because I let him ride a four-wheeler.
John: The decision to trade Monroe was a long-term decision. Whether it was good or bad doesn’t change based on Joeckel’s injury.
Paolo from New York, NY:
Have we learned with Gabbert that having better pocket presence is more important than having a great arm and being to make all throws? Is pocket presence something someone can learn?
John: Pocket presence is important. It’s particularly important today, when a lot of offenses require a quarterback to make throws and improvise at least a little to get the ball to the right receiver. It’s something someone can learn and experience definitely helps. How long a quarterback gets to gain that experience is another question.
Blake from St. Augustine, FL:
Do you truly believe that Blaine got hurt or did he pull himself out of the game? I know the answer I just want to see if you will admit it.
John: Gabbert was hurt. Congratulations on your all-seeing powers. I hear having those is awesome.
Alex from Jacksonville:
If Monroe was playing left tackle Sunday and was the one injured, do you think you'd be getting lots of messages about how we should have traded him away and tried to get something for him?
John: I actually hadn’t thought about that until your email. But yes – yes, I do.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Don't players often come back from a broken bone in six or seven weeks? No "IR designated to return" for Joeckel?
John: No.
Jeremy from Andover, KS:
When Caldwell took over, he didn't really change personnel on the scouting staff. These are the same people Gene Smith relied on. If there has been one common theme over the last decade or so it is that it seems the Jaguars evaluate talent poorly overall compared to the better teams. I'm worried that we can change general managers all we want, but the staff just isn't good at talent evaluation. Is my concern valid?
John: The question is understandable, but the concern isn’t valid. The Jaguars’ scouting staff is well-respected in the NFL community. The scouting staff gathers information while the general manager makes decisions on acquiring those players. We have seen the players acquired by Caldwell play five regular-season games, and players such as Johnathan Cyprien, Ace Sanders, Josh Evans, Luke Joeckel all have performed fine for rookies. As much as people will want to judge Caldwell on the early results, we won’t know about his rookie class for a while.
Sean from Jacksonville:
Help is not on the way.
John: No, it is not.
Moshe from Mexico City, Mexico:
John, I can’t believe the Jaguars can’t stop the run. I thought Roy Miller was brought in to make a difference. This rebuilding process is going to take so much time, and the worst part is that there is no guarantee that the Jags will be a winning team again, that is why we, the Jaguars fans are sad and impatient, because there's no guarantee for success.
John: No, there is no guarantee of success. There are no guarantees in professional sports. That’s what makes them frustrating. It’s also what makes them non-scripted entertainment.

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