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O-Zone: The sad truth

Posted Oct 11, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get truth

Bo from Dresden, NC:
Rebuilding . . . it ain't that bad. We are playing hard and it's good to see the young players stepping up.
John: I can’t say it’s not bad. It is bad. Being 0-5 is difficult and frustrating, and no one around the Jaguars is accepting it. But this is where the team is now, and there’s a plan in place to not be here. The Jaguars are playing hard, and this season is a chance to see young players such as Johnathan Cyprien, Ace Sanders and Josh Evans develop. You would have liked to have seen Luke Joeckel develop this season, but it didn’t work out. You want to see strides from those guys, and then you want to see them make a serious strides next offseason. That won’t make this season any more enjoyable, but it will make the future a little brighter.
Jerry from Nottingham, UK:
Have you ever been to London before, and what are you looking forward to most about visiting Wembley?
John: The SeaBest Fish and Chips.
Kevin from Melbourne, FL:
There is parity in the NFL. Large-market teams are on enough equal footing with small-market teams that they both have to live with their bad decisions. If you find a franchise quarterback, the amount of salary cap they require will start you on your decline, correct? But I'd sure like to have one.
John: We have different definitions of parity. What you call parity, I think of as equal opportunity. When I think of parity, I think of any team in a given year having a realistic chance to beat another, and no team standing out significantly from the rest. Teams almost routinely have rolled off eye-catching winning streaks. From 2008-2009 the Colts won 23 consecutive regular-season games. The Colts teams of those same years won their first 13 games one season and their first 14 in another. The Patriots in 2007 went unbeaten in the regular season. The Broncos have won 16 consecutive regular-season games. When so many teams can run off so many consecutive games, that’s not a case of “any team being able to beat another on any given Sunday.” Now, it is true that teams have equal opportunity and finding a quarterback keys long-term success. And it’s not a coincidence that the three teams I just cited as dominant had Peyton Manning and Tom Brady at quarterback, but that has nothing to do with the parity argument. As for your final point about a franchise quarterback starting a decline, evidence doesn’t support it. Manning and Brady quarterbacked in Super Bowls deep into their tenures with their original teams, so the cap can be managed around those players well enough to keep the team playing at a high level.
John Schiefen from Jacksonville:
When the Jags move guy like Jacques McClendon on and off the practice squad how is he paid - as a practice squad or active player (or some combination)?
John: Any player on the active roster after Tuesday is paid their salary, meaning they make 1/17th of their agreed-upon annual salary.
Mike from Section 441 and the Jungle:
Perhaps you've already covered this, but now at 0-5, and staring 0-16 right in the face (seriously), I think it deserves another look. Why not let Denard Robinson, our much heralded drafted "OW" - Offensive Weapon – who has been anything but, sling it around some? He was a fairly decent quarterback in college. In fact, his statistics at Michigan are very similar to Blaine's at Missouri, who played in a much less-heralded Big 12 most of that time. Short of that, why not use him MORE as that "OW"? They really haven't tried much at all with him. Why?
John: He’s not an NFL quarterback. He’s not ready to play more.
Franl from Estero, FL:
Why won't you be honest with the fans and tell them how bad the Jaguars are? The team is being compared to the 0-16 Detroit Lions on Mike@Mike show this morning. The point spread against Denver is the largest ever in the NFL. Your opinion.
John: I’m always tickled by fans wanting me to be “honest” about the Jaguars, then mentioning that someone else said this or that about the team. The Jaguars are 0-5. They’ve lost by double digits every game. That’s not good. What is there to add to that? As for Mike & Mike, they can talk about what they want. The way the Jaguars have played, it’s perfectly logical they talk about the team in that vein. If the show was called Mike & Mike and the Ozone, that’s probably what I would talk about, too. My job is at jaguars.com, and there’s no reason for me to make defiant, panicky statements about how many games the team might lose. Or win for that matter. If they don’t improve, they could lose a lot of games. If they get better, they will have a chance to win games this season. The record speaks for itself. Nothing’s going to change by me getting on top of a car and saying how awful things are. I’ll continue to talk about where the team is right now, why it’s doing the things it’s doing and where it’s headed from here. There are plenty of places to find people more extreme than that. You don’t need me there swinging, too.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
Pulling the plug at the Super Bowl. #shadricksightings
John: Now that you mention it . . .
Lee from Jacksonville:
OK, I figured it out. The Jaguars have decided to be the Houston Astros of the NFL. Trade away your veterans for draft picks and prospects, and build your team through the draft. Oh, in the meantime lose 100 games a season, alienate your fan base, and take as much revenue-sharing money as possible. But eventually, you'll have a winning ball club.
John: I don’t know the details of how the Houston Astros do it, but the goal is not to lose an inordinate amount of games per season here. That’s how it worked out last season, and at 0-5, there’s a chance it could be the case this season. But the Jaguars have no desire to alienate the fan base, and the on-field decisions aren’t with a notion of making as much money as possible. The idea is to build through the draft and begin using free agency to complement that once the build has begun. I’d expect that time to be next offseason, and I’d expect people to have a much clearer idea of the plan at that point.
Joseph from Jacksonville:
Dwight Lowery being released is not a surprise with the direction of going young, but why was he released and not Blaine Gabbert? There are NO future plans with him so why keep him on the roster? He is not awful as a quarterback. He is atrocious. He seems like a nice, good mature young man but the more the Jags show "commitment" to him, but more dissentful I feel towards him.
John: I think the word you’re looking for is “resentful,” but I’m not sure. This has become a theme in recent days – that this regime is “committed” to Gabbert. I guess it depends on your definition of commitment. He was drafted by the previous regime, and while he hadn’t played well, he was young enough and had enough potential that without franchise-type quarterback in last year’s draft, it made sense to go with Gabbert and see what was there. This fit the approach of building through the draft and not eating up long-term salary-cap space with long-term contracts. As far as this regime is concerned, they’ve seen Gabbert play well in training camp and preseason and struggle in three regular-season games. For these decision-makers, that’s not enough of a sample size to move forward and release Gabbert. And there’s no hurry in that regard. This story will play out soon enough. Either he will play again and play well or he will play again and struggle. If it’s the latter, it will take care of itself.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
The Jaguars are the only Eastern team to play four of the first six games west of the Mississippi - tack on a London trip in a few weeks and you have a lot of travel that can wear on you and affect your play.
John: Absolutely.
Ben from Conover, WI:
Do you think there is any chance the Jags will go back to the all-black helmets in the near future? Those two tone helmets look bad and make them look like an AFL or UFL team.
John: The helmets are cool. I like them. And there are no plans for a change any time soon. Not for at least five seasons.
Nick from Ottawa, Canada:
Can you give us some analysis on the team's struggles against the run? It must be a number of things, but do you think the biggest issue is with the defensive line or the linebackers? If it is the defensive line, how does Roy Miller's presence not help? He goes from a stud against the run his whole career to a dud this season?
John: Trying to pinpoint overall problems against the run can be difficult because it’s rarely one thing. Most of the Jaguars’ problems this season have been run fits, and while overall the area has improved there have been enough instances of a wrong fit here or there to cause problems against the run. Miller has graded out negatively against the run according to Pro Football Focus, but so has pretty much the entire front seven.
Hunter from Orlando, FL:
Why are you being that way?
John: I can’t help it. If I could change, I would. Believe me, it’s no fun being like this.

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