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At long last

Posted Mar 26, 2012

Let's get to it . . .

Evan from Section 138:
I've been a season-ticket holder since 1995 and have seen a lot of different quarterbacks here, including backups. None since Mark Brunell really stayed productive long-term. If Blaine Gabbert is not ready to take up the starting reins as it might take him a couple more years like Aaron Rodgers at Green Bay, will that seriously set us behind in our post-season progress? Or can Chad Henne step in here like Brunell did behind Steve Beuerlein or David Garrard behind Byron Leftwich?
John: I don’t expect it to take Gabbert a couple of years, and realistically, I don’t think that’s what anyone around the Jaguars wants or expects, either. It’s obvious with Hennes’s experience and potential that he’s an option – a legitimate one, at that – if Gabbert is injured and/or struggles. But Gabbert will and should get every opportunity to develop next season. If he shows progress in training camp he in all likelihood will be the starter when the regular season opens and if he continues to show progress after that he in all likelihood will retain the job. That is as it should be. The goal is to develop Gabbert and as long as he develops, he should continue to get every chance to do so. Can Henne do as Brunell or Garrard did? He seems to have that capability, but we’ll see how it plays out. Finally, the answer to the biggest question is, Yes, if Gabbert isn’t ready that will set the Jaguars back. He’s the key. He must develop.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Contrastingly speaking, if emails were to start "I know you're going to post this so...," would you be more likely to post them? You've got to admire and respect brash speaking confidence, don't you?
John: This is the first of that ilk. The O-Zone is not generally a place to which people come full of confident, feel-good bravado. It would be nice if that were the case, though.
Adam from Orange Park, FL:
I came to the O-zone expecting to waste a few minutes before bed. Instead I got sucked into watching Seinfeld clips for an hour and a half. I was late for church, thanks a lot John.
John: You’re welcome.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
There should be a statistic for catchable and uncatchable passes. I think if this was distinguished in Blaine Mane's stats his completion percentage would have been closer to 70 percent than 50 percent.
John: It certainly would have been better, and there’s no question dropped passes hurt the Jaguars’ offense last season. I hesitate to put all of Gabbert’s struggles last season on the wide receivers just as I hesitate to put all of the wide receivers’ problems on a rookie quarterback. The problems in those areas hurt the offensive line, too, and vice-versa. What I’m getting at is every part of the Jaguars’ passing game struggled last season for a multitude of reasons. As I wrote often last season, what was needed was a restart – i.e., get back to Square One and get everyone on the same page. The receivers will start in April working with an experienced wide receivers coach and Gabbert will have an off-season for the first time. The offensive staff will have been working together since February to get things moving in one direction. There will be no uncertainty and no concern about the next job and what you hope is that leads to the continuity, discipline and cohesiveness needed for everyone to start improving and moving in one direction.
Justin from Jacksonville:
JOHN! Where do you sit on game day for the Jaguars? Do you go to the away games too?
John: I sit in the press box, wherever Ryan Robinson lets me sit. And yes, I go to the away games.
Terrance from Jacksonville:
It pains me when people use teams as the Patriots, Steelers, Packers, etc. in the defense of the Jags not spending big in free agency. The Jags have nothing in common with any of those teams. The Jags won FIVE games last year, two of them coming against the hapless Colts. With pretty much the same players returning this season, we’re just supposed to believe that all of a sudden the wide receivers are going to get open and catch the ball, and the defense will get more than 30 sacks in the season with a different coaching staff? Is this is what you’ve been telling us?
John: What I’ve been telling you is the best way to build a consistent winner is through the draft. It’s difficult to stick to that plan and you have to use free agency when the circumstances dictate. Last off-season, Paul Posluszny was available, as was Clint Session and Dawan Landry, with Drew Coleman also available. Dwight Lowery was available via trade. The Jaguars, by any measure, spent wisely for the most part, taking advantage of who was available and getting stronger. This off-season, there appeared to be one premier pass rusher available, Mario Williams, and he went for a huge price – too huge, in the opinion of many teams. At wide receiver, there were players available, but I’m still skeptical about any of the names being offense-changing players. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong. It’s far worse – albeit tempting and fan-pleasing – to be foolishly active in free agency than to pull back and make smart choices. You say the Jaguars have nothing in common with those teams. When looked at last year, no. But those teams built through the draft for the most part and that’s still the best way to do it.
Jamie from Anchorage, AL:
John, for all those blasting the signing of Laurent Robinson...seems that I can remember the questionable signing of the Cowboys’ third option at wideout several years ago who turned out to be the best receiver Jacksonville has ever had. Might we have a repeat of that with Robinson?
John: It’s not fair to expect Laurent Robinson to be Jimmy Smith, who incidentally had been released not only by Dallas but by Philadelphia when the Jaguars signed him. Robinson is a player who is being brought in to improve a struggling receiving corps and he’s a player with skills the Jaguars need – i.e., the ability to get deep and to make plays on the ball. I don’t expect Robinson to be Smith. I expect him to be an improvement over what was there last season. If he’s the latter, that’s a successful signing.
Jerry Rice from Crestview, FL:
For the life of me, I don't understand why most fans agree with you and don't think player popularity has anything to do with ticket sales. If someone like Tebow (if there is such a player in the NFL) or Like a Brett Favre show up people want to see them play. I don't live in JAX anymore and I’m tired of BLACKOUTS ! When the Jags play the Jets I bet you it will be a sellout and viewership will be huge... Look at PITT vs Denver in the playoffs. HUGE !!! Your thoughts ? Money makes the world go 'round – not wins !!! Players play harder with fan support !!!
John: My thought is if you were in your prime, I’d definitely sign you no matter how popular you were with the fans.
Michael from Jacksonville:
John, our fans don't listen. Gene Smith Radio Show stated, "We're going to target defense in free-agency. " He did that with Session, Poz, Landry, Roth and even traded for Lowery. Gene Smith stated at the Rally, "Our guys will be our first priority." He did this off-season and added three more quality players. Our fans say we were lied to. Khan stated money isn't an issue. ANY person with a good enough IQ would understand you don't overpay your budget for 1 player. Mario Williams is an elite player. However, he's not worth 16m/96 million dollars. That's what you pay a guy like Peyton Manning. Through all of this, the Jaguars were involved with Mario Williams. Please tell the cry baby fans to wake up and listen for once. Gene Smith gave these people hint this draft. "There's a wide receiver in every draft." We're going to address the WR position this off-season. “ I'm sorry John, this man has been doing everything he promised to the fans. If they would listen, things would be much better.
John: Fans don’t listen. They’re not supposed to. They’re supposed to want their team to sign every available player, and they’re supposed to want to get excited about every big name in free agency. It’s the fan’s job to criticize and boo when things don’t go their way and to cheer and say, “I always knew those guys in the front office knew what they were doing” when unpopular off-season moves yield positive results. It’s the job of the front office to shut out the off-season noise and do what’s best for the team. We’ll see come fall if the front office did that.
Stan from Jacksonville:
What is one question you've wanted to answer but has never been asked?
John: This one. FINA-A-A-LLLLLLLLYY!!!!!!!

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