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O-Zone: Still looking good

Posted Jun 14, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Eric from Yulee, FL:
What did you think about Stephen Colbert busting our chops on his show the other night? Personally, I enjoyed it. Although it was satire, it shows that even in the underground mainstream media we are being talked about. Sure, maybe we are being talked about negatively but I don't expect anyone except Jags fans to know what is truly going on around here.
John: Colbert’s bit the other night irritated a lot of Jaguars fans. It didn’t bother me, but loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know I’m not much bothered by potshots from national-media types. As you indicated, they are typically taking a small piece of a story and poking fun or misinterpreting or whatever you want to call it. Historically, the pokes or barbs have little to do with reality and have little long-term effect on what’s going on around here. When the Jaguars start to win, the barbs and pokes will wane and when the stadium upgrades have the desired effect of making the franchise stronger – and being really, really cool – then other markets and stadiums will steadily follow suit.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Jeff got me thinkin'. I'm sure it varies, but to what extent do you think players read what's written about them?
John: Less than all of it; more of it than they should.
Dakota from Dupree, SD:
Ace Sanders is like the Darren Sproles of receivers. He can do it all and can line up anywhere. Get that man some touches.
John: My, my, my – Ace Sanders has become quite the offseason topic … and all because Ryan O’Halloran from the Florida Times-Union mentioned that Sanders could possibly be on the bubble next season. The power of ‘ol Ryan O, I guess. Look, here’s the thing on Sanders: he was good in spots for the Jaguars last season and he was OK in other spots. You know who that describes? Just about every rookie – ever – in the NFL. Sanders showed enough as a rookie to make you think he can be a good player if he improves Year One to Year Two. I believe he will do that. He also showed he can be versatile and give defenses different looks from different areas of the offense. That makes him valuable in a Jedd Fisch offense that likes to give defenses different wrinkles.
Blake from Carbondale, IL:
This out-of-town fan is going to be in Jacksonville on Tuesday and Wednesday for the first time in years. What should I do? Is there anything Jaguars-related to do?
John: The Jaguars’ minicamp is Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s also free and open to the public. You have to register on this website, but that’s out there as an option, if you know, you’re into that sort of thing.
Keith from Summerville, SC:
World Cup? Is that like a food drive or something?
John: I always thought it was a multicultural athletic supporter, but that’s just me.
Ed from Mooresville, NC:
With the CBA and agreement from the players union regarding draft status, why would a player need an agent if he was drafted say Round 3 or higher??
John: If you mean Round 3 or later – and I believe you do – the answer may well be that you wouldn’t need an agent. There’s not a whole lot to negotiate there. There are some ins and outs – in the areas of, say, signing bonuses and workout bonuses and perhaps timing of payments – that an experienced agent may know enough about to get a few extra dollars or a better structure for the player. A player also may like the peace of mind of having an experienced person representing him in an unknown situation. But beyond that? There probably isn’t a lot to be gained financially in the later rounds by having an agent.
Chris from Los Angeles, CA:
My question pertains to the Jags and Daytona link. I read that season-ticket holders didn't want to lose another home game. My solution is to expand Hall-of-Fame weekend. Have games on Thursday and Friday before HOF Saturday/Sunday and some more on Monday. But none of these games would be at local home stadiums, and everyone would play a game somewhere else to expand the regions. Examples, Jags in Orlando, Buffalo in Toronto, Dallas versus Patriots in Mexico City, Colts in Germany, 49ers in Vegas, etc., etc. What do you think?
John: I think this is an idea that sounds OK on paper and would be a really tough sell in reality. The league seems headed toward reducing rather than expanding the preseason, and the NFL Players Association would be hard-pressed to support extra preseason games, which mean extra chances for injuries. Teams would dislike it for that reason, too.
Brian from New Hampshire:
Is national-media love starting to give unrealistic exceptions for the team this year? Actually read on the Bleacher Report the Jags will go above .500 this year. It’s great to see, but even 9-7 I think is a pretty lofty prediction. I would love to see it happen but with all the new additions on offense I think it’s another year before anyone should be thinking above .500 is realistic. I do believe they will be a lot closer to .500 than the last two years, though.
John: This is the unanswerable question because perceptions and expectations change daily and are impossible to quantify. I’d advise to not worry about expectations, but I’ve been in this business long enough to know that advice would go unheeded. As far as your thoughts on 9-7, I agree that it’s a lofty goal, but the prediction – while not a common one – does show there are those who are starting to respect what’s going on around here. And with reason.
Benny from Bingo:
O-Man, it's crazy in retrospect that Henne has been such a positive signing for the team and an integral piece of the puzzle that helps bridge the gap to the future and help the team remain competitive now. Who would have thought that Henne would bring stability to a position that has been so messed up for so long for the team? One fer Big Henne...
John: It may be crazy to a lot of people, but it’s not crazy to the Jaguars. They set signing Henne as a priority early in the offseason precisely for the reason you mention – that he could potentially be a solidifying presence on the field, but that he absolutely would be an ideal person to start at the position while also being willing to help a young player.
Paul from Orange Park, FL:
In a recent interview, Chad Henne mentioned being able to get in and out of plays. What exactly does that mean?
John: Getting in and out of plays is when a quarterback goes to the line of scrimmage with a play, reads the defense, then switches to another play. It’s the same as audibling.
David from Orlando, FL:
O-man, in an article about Tyson Alualu, it casually mentioned that he damaged his knee participating in an Oklahoma Drill shortly after arriving in Jacksonville. I don't believe that was common knowledge. What is your opinion of the Oklahoma Drill and are you aware of any NFL teams still using it?
John: There is a bit of mystery surrounding Alualu and the Oklahoma Drill. Alualu’s rookie year was 2010, the year before I arrived, and there are those who believe his knee issues began when he was put in an Oklahoma Drill with guard Vince Manuwai a day after arriving as a rookie that year. I have never heard Alualu say this, and I doubt Alualu would say it publicly even if it were true. He’s too classy a guy to discuss injuries much or to try to assign blame to others. As for the Oklahoma Drill, it once was a valued tradition around these parts, and having seen it once, I can see how fans got excited about it. But I always questioned its wisdom and value in the NFL when keeping players healthy in training camp is of critical importance. And no, I don’t know of any other teams using it.
Bryan from Tampa, FL:
How is Luke Joeckel's weight and conditioning level? It would stand to reason that being a year removed from playing ball and rehabbing a broken ankle could diminish one's strength and stamina. Could we see Joeckel struggle early in the season for this reason?
John: Joeckel’s weight and conditioning are no different than they would have been had he not been injured last season. He has been in the team’s conditioning program and offseason program, and he has been fairly close to 100 percent in OTAs. I don’t know how Joeckel will perform in the regular season. If he struggles early, it may well be that a lack of NFL experience at the left tackle position, but it almost certainly won’t be because of weight or conditioning.
Armand from Jacksonville:
How are the rookies and first-year players reps only looking?
John: With their eyes.

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