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O-Zone: Secret weapon

Posted Aug 30, 2014

JACKSONVILLE—Let’s get to it …

Scott from Jacksonville:
Though this gets mentioned, it would seem the single greatest factor that frustrates a general manager is injuries. Even if you acquire and draft the best players, if they get injured and can't play, then one can look like an incompetent general manager. It makes me think of our rebuilding process. If we rebuild the right way but our key players can't stay healthy, then the rebuild will be unsuccessful and this won't be David Caldwell's fault.
John: Injuries no question are the most frustrating thing to general managers, and they’re what general managers fear most, particularly in the preseason. You can go from a ferocious pass rush or a dynamic wide receiver corps to average at the spots with one injury, and that one injury can weaken a unit even further by forcing other players out of position. This dynamic is also why many general managers prefer quarterbacks who stay in the pocket. A pocket passer, the theory goes, is often more durable and having a healthy, effective quarterback can negate the impact of a lot of injuries elsewhere. But yes, key players must stay healthy during a rebuild. That’s a reason teams spend so much time and money researching medical history. It’s great to draft a really good player, but if that player’s injury history indicates he won’t be on the field much then how much does it really help you to draft him?
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Realistically, if you look at the top half of the NFL, how many of our starters could start on one of those 16 teams? Not many. That is why I'm confused in hearing the Jags will not be active in picking up players specifically from these teams. O-Man what is your take?
John: Dwayne Gratz, Johnathan Cyprien, Paul Posluszny, Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Sen’Derrick Marks, Roy Miller, Toby Gerhart, Cecil Shorts III, Marcedes Lewis, Zane Beadles, Luke Joeckel, Brandon Linder. Those are the players who would easily start for one of the top 16 teams in the NFL. I didn’t include Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, or a few others players I think could. My take is the Jaguars want to draft and develop as they grow as a team, and they’re a year further along in that process than this time last August. That’s why there’s not much inclination to scour the waiver wire similar to last season.
Trevor from St. Johns, FL:
I know you said you'd play Bortles. I know Gus is starting Henne. I really don't understand why he's so set on this. Seattle had the same company line, but when Russell Wilson clearly outplayed Whitehurst he was given the job. Seattle was rewarded for their boldness, greatly. Why would they want to postpone that?
John: Seattle as an organization was further along in terms of talent and experience in 2012 than the Jaguars are now. All circumstances are different, and as the Jaguars see it, that’s a significant difference. Another difference is that Charlie Whitehurst wasn’t with the Seahawks when they drafted Wilson.
Kenny from Congers, NY:
I believe if you draft a player in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft you think highly of that player. I believe Blake Bortles was the right pick and believe he'll be a great quarterback, but my question is why draft a quarterback No. 3 overall to open the regular season with him on the bench?
John: You don’t draft a quarterback No. 3 overall for September of his rookie season. You draft him for the Septembers/Octobers/Novembers/Decembers/Januarys/Februarys for many years after that.
Renay from Macclenny, FL:
With Allen Hurns most probably making the team (an unexpected blessing at the receiver position), does this affect the salary he was making as an undrafted rookie? Would he be eligible for a new contract similar with drafted rookies?
John: No, Hurns will play for the contract he signed, which was something very close to or at the rookie minimum. If he plays well early in his career, he’ll get a bigger contract later.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Every time I read about an NFL team's "areas of biggest needs," the O-line is always there. Would you say there a single team in the NFL without O-line issues?
John: Probably not.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Given the restricted in-season practice time allowed by the CBA, is Allen Robinson likely to be "behind the curve" for most of the 2014 season and result in more playing time for Allen Hurns?
John: Robinson missed much of the on-field offseason work and much of training camp, so whatever the restrictions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement happened to be, he was going to be behind. And yes, that almost certainly will mean more time for Allen Hurns, particularly early in the season.
Leroy from 32224:
John, I have seen more stories about the Jags on the NFL Facebook page in a week (story about Hurns’ performance and Davis selfie) than what I saw for three years.....we are getting noticed. I like it.
John: Well, if it’s on the NFL’s *Facebook* page …
Steve from Jacksonville:
Why did Bortles play so little? If he is the No. 2 guy, and needs game experience, why not take advantage of the game time as other teams did?
John: Bortles could have played longer Thursday, but he got a quality quarter or so. The more I look at this, the more I think the biggest reason for Henne starting over Bortles early is the inexperience everywhere on the Jaguars’ offense. Bortles playing another quarter Thursday wasn’t going to make Luke Bowanko and Brandon Linder experienced overnight, and it wasn’t going to magically give the Jaguars three experienced wide receivers instead of three rookies. Bortles played plenty in the preseason. I don’t think they’ll look back at the four games and regret not playing him more.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Are you ready for some football?
John: Yep.
Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
How is the penalties-for-yards ratio calculated? What factors are involved? More specifically, if a team gets penalized for 5-, 10- and/or 15-yard penalties, how do they have a random ratio of 6 penalties for 51 yards?
John: Penalties for defensive pass interference are often for yards that don’t end in zero or five. Also, teams can be penalized odd distances if they are near a goal line.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Will Marcedes Lewis again be limited in passing situations due to the inconsistencies and youth of the offensive line? I know he's a good blocker but this offense could really use his size advantage.
John: The more the offensive line – particularly the tackle position – struggles, then indeed the more Lewis must be utilized as a blocker. I do know Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch really wants to use Lewis in the passing game, so whatever he can design to avoid Lewis having to stay in to focus on blocking I’m certain he will do that.
Ross from Jacksonville:
If I were someone who chuckled or just smiled every time I read someone complain about the non-round table at the Jags of the Round table, would we have similar senses of humor?
John: Shhh.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
To me, the thing that shows the most progress in the organization is the fact that there will be some good players cut this week to finalize the 53 man roster. That hasn't been the case over the last few years.
John: Yup.
Greg from Memphis, TN:
Any chance the change in the way our receivers coach teaches running routes (correctly) could cause all the hamstring issues? Seems like that has been consistent for a while. Not blaming him, just maybe something different in the way they run routes.
John: You’re overthinking it, Greg. Receivers run a lot. Sometimes people who run a lot get hamstring injuries and sometimes they don’t, but running correct routes doesn’t make you more susceptible to hamstring injuries.
Preston from Waterbury, CT:
I agree with you that 8-8 is a lofty goal and that this team is PROBABLY not a playoff team. But if we can get to 8-8, or maybe steal a game and go 9-7, playoffs aren't out of the question.
John: You’re right, and not only should that be the Jaguars’ goal this season, it absolutely is the goal.
Mike from section 146:
How did Matt Flynn look in training camp and the preseason the year Seattle decided to give Russell Wilson the starting job?
John: Wilson outplayed Flynn that preseason, just as you could make a case that Bortles outplayed Henne. Certainly, a case could be made that Bortles was statistically better. A case also could be made that the Seahawks were a more mature team, particularly offensively, in 2012 than the Jaguars are this season. That maturity made starting a rookie quarterback a little more palpable.
JB from Cincinnati, OH:
How is Aaron Colvin expected to be an immediate starter in the future over a player like Demetrius McCray or Jeremy Evans – two players who have been here longer and are proving that they can also play opposite Dwayne Gratz?
John: Good question. A better question is whether Colvin can beat out Jeremy Harris.

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