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O-Zone: Satisfying stuff

Posted Feb 28, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

John from St. Augustine, FL:
Jadeveon Clowney is being lambasted by fans who don't understand professional sports. He gave poor effort last season because he was trying to protect himself. Once he gets paid, he'll perform up to his physical abilities. I have no problem with that whatsoever. This is professional sports. It's about the money.
John: Indeed it is. I honestly didn’t watch enough of Clowney as a sophomore or a junior to know in detail how much more effort he did or didn’t give in either year. I know if I had been in his position this past season – and if I had seen Marcus Lattimore’s injuries up close – I, too, might have had an urge to protect myself to protect my future. The bottom line is this: we can talk the Clowney-effort issue until we’re blue, pink or red in the face and it’s all great. But he’s going to get drafted early and he’s going to get plenty of chances to show effort in the next few seasons.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
In rugby, extra points after a try are by no means automatic. You have to kick from the point of the field you scored. So imagine if Henne completes a pass to Shorts and Shorts has to dive over a pylon to score in the corner, the extra point would be from the edge of the field AND from the 20-30 yard line. That would make things more interesting.
John: It would indeed. I doubt the NFL is prepared for anything quite so radical. It might well be ready for moving the extra point back quite a ways, and I suspect that’s going to happen at some point in the future.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
Fans should not be holding accountable the current owner, general manager and head coach for all the botched drafts of yesteryear. There is no magic wand Caldwell can wave to make us forget about Harvey, Nelson and Jones - to name but a few. I think what will happen is the impact of last year’s draft - with one year of NFL experience to build on along with the benefit of professional coaching – will shine through in Year 2.
John: Perhaps you’re right. I don’t get the idea that most fans blame David Caldwell, Gus Bradley or Shad Khan for past drafts. Most understand the NFL and reality far better than that. Some fans are a bit gun-shy about taking a quarterback or drafting early because some early draft selections haven’t lived up to expectations. Again, the Jaguars’ current staff doesn’t share that feeling. Remember, these guys have no connection in terms of experience or emotion to what happened in the past. They’ll make decisions based on their own experience and on the information at hand, which is exactly what they should do.
Rick from Jacksonville:
I watched jags.com live. When you had Mark Lamping on, JP did not look comfy; he kept tilting to the right and burping. Was Taco Bell a good thing?
John: Apparently it was for him.
Mark from Middletown, CT:
Do you know if Shadrick reads this mailbag on a daily basis? If so, has he ever mentioned anything about any of the shady/questionable ventures he has engaged in?
John: I am sure Shadrick reads the O-Zone on a daily basis, but he rarely mentions the shady ventures. He likes to keep his private life sort of quiet. Understandably so.
Jeff from Starke, FL:
Your response about getting "serviceable running backs" in later rounds probably goes against the grain for Jags fans. We are used to MJD being our only real weapon and many probably put too much emphasis on the position because of that. As long as we have Shorts, Blackmon (hopefully), Robinson becomes the weapon we all want him to be and maybe another one added in this draft... a "serviceable" running back will be fine. Now the question - the draft last year had a theme... SPEED. Do you see any theme being at the heart of this draft?
John: Speed, depth and talent.
Zain from Nashville, TN:
I agree with you about the combine - that athletic performances put on by guys like Clowney and Mack likely didn't change the Jaguars' draft board. But how about the athletic performances put on by less-heralded players? How big is the combine for third-day prospects - for example Michael Sam?
John: The combine was big for Sam because he didn’t perform particularly well. It’s never good to not perform well when being judged by NFL scouts. In general, the combine is pretty big for third-day prospects, but it’s still not usually a game-changer. Fans get very excited about the combine because for a lot of fans it’s the first time they have seen these names “up close” (through the power of television) in a competitive setting. Most teams have at least one scout who already is familiar with nearly every player and that scout has pretty detailed information on even late-round players, which helps minimize surprises. That being said, the combine can be a place where a later-round player can perform well enough to merit a team giving him a second look.
Rob from Middleburg, FL:
Here's the dilemma I see... No matter how you slice it, a scenario will play out in this year’s draft that leaves at least one "top-tier" quarterback available to the Jaguars at No. 3. If the team isn't completely sold on whichever of those quarterbacks falls to them, David Caldwell will have an excruciatingly tough decision. For a team and town starving for a star quarterback for as long as this one has, it would either be extremely gutsy or extremely foolish to pass on the chance to fill that void. Caldwell passed on quarterbacks in last year’s draft and didn't receive much backlash from the fan base because most were pretty confident there wasn't an elite quarterback to be had. I think that overall feeling is different this year, and if the Jags go somewhere besides quarterback at No. 3, they better be very, very sure they’re making the right decision. I guess that's why Mr. Caldwell gets paid the big bucks...
John: Your question is based on a commonly believed premise that a team sees the draft in the same way as a fan base. While that sometimes is true, it is my no means always the case. It also is not always the case that what fans crave influences what general managers do. Caldwell’s decision indeed is a difficult one – but only if he believes a quarterback is warranted so high. If not, it won’t be nearly as difficult as the public believes. Shad Khan didn’t hire David Caldwell to sell tickets; he hired him to win. When he gave him that mandate, he did so with the intent of not making fan backlash a worry when making football-related decisions.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Since the experts say this draft is deep, is there a possibility the Jaguars could trade their third pick for all of another team’s picks?
John: Sure … if another team wanted to do that. I can’t imagine why that would be the case.
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
I think it’s important to note that Johnny Manziel ALWAYS had tremendous protection in Jake Matthews and Luke. Does that worry you, because his tackles can't be nearly THAT dominant on the next level?
John: Not really. What worries me about Manziel is that so much of his college production came from spectacular, improvisational plays. That’s what made up a lot of what I think of as his, “Johnny Football Magic.” NFL players are faster, stronger and quicker, which could make doing spectacular, improvisational things far more difficult.
Walter from Yulee, FL:
I'm not buying Sammy Watkins at No. 3. Why should I expect any more production from him than from Cecil? Also, was he not suspended in college for drugs? I'm not fer any more of that.
John: From your logic why should you expect more production from any player than any other? Why should you expect Jadeveon Clowney to be more productive than Ryan Davis? Maybe he will be or maybe he won’t be. And yes, Watkins did serve a two-game, drug-related suspension, which I’m sure will be taken into consideration by all NFL teams.
Tucker from New York, NY:
Heading into last year's draft, Geno Smith was widely regarded as the top quarterback prospect and was thought to be a potential Top 10 selection. Although many teams needed a franchise quarterback, Smith fell out of the first round and no quarterback was taken until the 16th pick. What are the odds that one (or all) of the perceived Top-3 quarterbacks fall out of the first round? (Especially in light of Jaws' remarks about Manziel being a 4th round value.)
John: I doubt all will fall out of the first round. Remember, while there was much made of Smith’s fall last April, there were plenty of people saying he could slip out of the first round. That was particularly true by the time the draft arrived. I don’t get the sense nearly as many people think that about all three quarterbacks this season.
JB from Jacksonville:
Over the past year, I have frequently looked at other teams’ website content to see what they were saying about the Jaguars. I have to say, after comparing web content, there is no comparison. Thanks! And great job, John!
John: Thanks. Doing all of this by myself is taxing, but very satisfying.

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