Let's get to it . . .
Tucker from Gallatin, TN:
Hey John, Laurent Robinson
was most productive in the slot with the Cowboys. Why not put him in the slot and have Shorts and Blackmon stay on the outside? I know we paid him to be a No. 1, but I want production. Your thoughts?
I’ve never been as caught up as a lot of people with who gets paid how much to do what position. Once the regular season begins, you put players where they are most productive. That’s what the Jaguars are doing right now at wide receiver. Cecil Shorts is starting at the X because his productivity in recent games merits that. The Jaguars have worked their other wide receivers – Justin Blackmon
and Laurent Robinson among them – on the other side and in the slot in practice this week. Whatever lineup gives the team the best chance to be productive will play, and that’s OK. Once the games begin, salary has to be an afterthought and you have to try to win.
Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
You and many others believe resigning Derek Cox
will be a top priority during the off season. I think Derek is one of the few above-average players on our team, but it seems like he's only on the field about six games a season. If he's expecting a big payout, his injury history would sure give me pause for concern if I was general manager.
John: It would give any general manager pause, because the best ability is “availability.” I never said signing Cox to a megadeal would be a priority, because I don’t know how much Cox’s injuries will influence what teams will pay him. I’d put it like this: figuring out a way to keep Cox at what is an acceptable contract almost certainly will be a priority.
Chris from Jacksonville:
I just want to say thanks for your hard work. I'm nearing the end of another three-and-a-half-month deployment to the Arctic aboard the USCGC HEALY and reading the Ozone every day has helped me stay semi-sane.
John: I have the opposite effect on my wife, but in your case, I’m glad to help.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
In your opinion, when the final whistle blows in the last game this year, what needs to have happened for this to be deemed a successful year?
Ideally, the Jaguars will have won the final nine games of the season and be 10-6. More realistically, they will have played the final nine games over .500, or at the least, played very competitively and shown progress in terms of being a productive offense. If the Jaguars can do the latter, and if Blaine Gabbert
can build on these last two weeks and show he’s on the path to being a winning quarterback, then I don’t know if you’d call the year “successful,” but you certainly would have gotten something from the last half of the season.
Sid from Pittsburgh, PA:
This team, the coaches, the owner and the city needs TEBOW!!!!
John: The Jaguars have a backup quarterback.
Blake from Jacksonville:
One thing I find interesting is how many national guys, like Michael Lombardi for example, perceive Blaine as a total bust, yet they all are ready to proclaim Luck a Hall of Famer. Statistically, Blaine is better than Luck in almost every category this year other than yards – and that is because Luck has thrown 80 more passes. Also, Luck is still older than Blaine and has been in a pocket system for five years. Not an argument against Luck, but an example of how for a lot of the pundits there is an element of “Perception is Reality.”
John: I haven’t spent that much time breaking down Luck, and I haven’t compared him to Gabbert. I get that fans, media and just about everyone else obsess constantly about who compares to who, but I just don’t worry about it that much. From what I saw of Andrew Luck in Indianapolis earlier this season, it seems obvious he has what it takes to be a very good NFL quarterback. Others have seen it, too, and that’s the consensus among analysts. And that’s fine. It just doesn’t have anything to do with the Jaguars. In the first 20 games of his career, Gabbert didn’t look as good as many other young quarterbacks have looked. There are many reasons for that. We’ve discussed them ad nauseam here, but we’re sort of past the point of that discussion. Gabbert in the last couple of games appears to be getting his feet under him and he’s going to get every chance the rest of the season to show he can be a franchise quarterback. During that stretch, he needs to keep improving and keep showing the things he has begun to show. If he does that, there’s plenty of time for proving the pundits wrong.
Chad from Jacksonville:
A lot of people have been saying that the offense is better without MJD because he's not running every play. But am I the only one who realizes he really hasn't been getting many carries this year and the only real coincidence is the only game MJD ran 20 or more times was the only game the Jags won? Also, Jennings had more carries last week than MJD had in three games so I really don't see how he could be holding Gabbert back.
John: We live in an instant-reaction media age, and partly because of that, everyone wants instant answers and instant explanations. Because the NFL plays games once a week, there are six days between games, and that leaves a lot of time for coming up with issues and reasons for things going on. Sometimes, these factors lead to overthinking things, and that could be the case with the whole “Jones-Drew holding back the offense” theory. There’s no reason the Jaguars can’t pass effectively with Jones-Drew in the lineup. Will his absence force the Jaguars to open things up more? Perhaps. And can Gabbert benefit from that? Certainly. The guess here is that the offense could be more balanced and more effective when Jones-Drew returns.
Craig from Raleigh, NC:
I have a quick comment after watching the game Thursday. The Jaguars have a reason for optimism knowing how tough Gabbert is, and the skill set he has to make all the throws. Nothing against Cassel, but I watched him Thursday playing with grit and determination – he just cannot make certain throws. Physically, he doesn’t have what a guy like Gabbert has. For this, it makes me a bit excited.
John: Gabbert’s ability to make all the throws made him a Top 10 selection, and it’s one reason the Jaguars have believed in him from the start. A lot of things have to come together to make a quarterback. Now is the time for Gabbert to keep putting those other things together.
Mark from High Springs, FL:
There's no way to know for sure, but now that the cat's out of the bag for Shorts, and No. 14's draft buzz has completely died down, do you think Detroit will double team No. 84 and give Blackmon some breathing room on Sunday?
John: Teams will certainly double team the receiver they believe has the best chance to hurt them, and judging from the last two games, that would be Shorts. To be honest, though, I can’t say Blackmon’s struggles this season have been because teams have been constantly rolling coverages his way. Defenses really won’t do much of that until a player earns it. That said, if teams focus on Shorts it absolutely should help Blackmon. The less teams are focusing on a receiver, the better for that receiver.
Greg from St. Johns, FL:
One time, out of frustration and anger, I slammed my keyboard against the corner of my desk and the keys exploded in every direction (not my proudest moment). How many computers have you ruined either intentionally or by accident, as a result of reading your O-Zone inbox?
John: None, and not just because Shad Khan told me he’d pay for one computer and the rest are coming out of my pocket. The biggest reason is while I joke in an effort to keep levity prominent in what has been a 365-day endeavor now for a while, I understand the fans’ frustration. Along with many around the organization, I have the benefit of being able to talk to players, coaches and personnel people about the state of the team, and I therefore have an idea of what they’re trying to do. I also have the benefit of not being over-the-top emotionally attached to what happens. I care about it, but in a professional way of a journalist more than the quick-trigger emotion of a fan. Fans don’t have the same perspective, so it’s my job to share mine. Fans are passionate. And after years of losing, they’re frustrated by losing. They see other teams winning and are angry the Jaguars are not. They should be angry, so I don’t break computers when reading emails. I simply try to answer questions, keep it a little fun at times and entertain. It’s my job, and even in difficult times, it’s more than enjoyable enough to keep me from breaking keyboards.