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O-Zone: A season of improvement

Posted Sep 8, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Regular-season opener. Sunday.

This is the day for which Jaguars players, coaches, front-office types and fans have waited for months – since the hiring of David Caldwell and Gus Bradley in January, really.

We’ve speculated, argued, pontificated, worried and made it through offseason, the dead zone, training camp and preseason. All that’s over. At last.

It’s real now. Starting Sunday. Time to get started.

Let’s get to it . . .

Vincent from Jacksonville Beach:
Randy is the exact problem with Jaguars fans. It's guys like Randy who accept mediocrity. This is the kind of fan that sprays on Axe, goes to the game, hangs out in the Bud Zone and couldn't even tell you the score of the game. It's also obvious Randy can't read and comprehend because my email clearly states in what I suspect is his Randy's native language that I support competition but think it's weak of the coach to use it as a way to motivate players. If his players don't already respect him, then we have the wrong guy.
John: I think Randy reads pretty well, and don’t get me wrong: you read well, too. You should probably read a little more about Bradley, though, and Pete Carroll of Seattle, too, for that matter. They both use that “competition” thing as a core of their coaching philosophy, and I haven’t talked to or heard too many players who thought they had trouble motivating. I don’t know how good or bad the Jaguars will be this season, but I’m still having trouble getting my head around competition making Bradley weak. I probably won’t get it, which is weird, because I actually reed and rite pretty OK.
Amar from Clifton, AZ:
Do you enjoy your job? I feel like you go to work and it's not work at all. It's a lot of fun. I feel the same way, and along those lines I'd qualify a 'bonus' as every paycheck I receive. Go Jaguars, have fun this season! 'DO YOUR JOB', earn those paychecks and earn the win today!
John: This is weird. You have completely, perfectly pegged my outlook on life. Every day is like a bonus.
Andrea from Mobile, AL:
Well, I like you John! . . .
John: Ladies do love the O-Zone.
Clarence from Jacksonville:
So Lonnie Pryor and Matt Scott on the practice squad . . . ah, big OOOOOOOOOO.
John: Yes, Pryor and Scott – two of the most-hyped players in the Jaguars’ class of free agent rookies – wound up on the practice squad to start the regular season. And you know what? That’s OK. That’s probably where they should have been, and it’s where they’ll have a real chance to develop. Scott showed talent in the offseason and preseason, but didn’t appear ready yet to play quarterback in the regular season in the NFL. The Jaguars like a lot about Pryor, but he didn’t beat Will Ta’ufo’ou for the job, and he may need a year or seasoning before being a contributing NFL fullback. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Pryor active this season and Scott on the roster next season, but for now, the practice squad is a good fit.
Dave from Jacksonville:
At Ruth's Chris, I got up to wash my hands. Upon returning, I found my steak had a bite missing and noticed a sly-looking gentleman wearing a Stetson hurriedly making his way to the door. #shadricksightings
John: I know that guy.
Joe from Jacksonville, NC:
Decided to pay it forward at the Starbucks drive thru. Received a $150 charge to my Visa. #Shadricksightings
John: Yes. Yes.
Steve from Denver, CO:
If little O Jr. is good at tennis, did he get his athletic ability from his Mom?
John: Yes.
Trevor from Jacksonville:
I considered picking up Allen Reisner for my fantasy football squad on NFL.com. Unfortunately, it appears they don't know he exists. Starting tight end in the NFL (at least for one game), and he's not available because they've never heard of him. I know they have zero respect for the Jaguars, but for the love of God, Aaron Hernandez is still on there! This, above everything else, shows how ridiculously little they know about our team.
John: Yeah, I could go on and on about Allen Reisner, and how he showed enough in the preseason to be noticed by whoever at NFL.com does whatever it is you’re trying to find. As for respect and how it relates to fantasy football and Aaron Hernandez – apologies, but I just don’t have the time or inclination to get upset.
Joe from Section 101:
I had a dream that the Jags went undefeated and won the Super Bowl this season. Gabbert was proclaimed the best quarterback in the league and Bradley and Caldwell were praised for their awesomeness. I hope that was me getting my Nostradamus on. #moodachay
John: We ain’t promising the Super Bowl. Let’s just see about getting better and building a foundation. That’s what this season is about, but dreams are a good thing. A very good thing.
Lance from Jacksonville:
"Premier run blocker"? BWAAAAAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
John: This is in reference to Marcedes Lewis, I guess. It bothers people when people say he’s an elite run-blocker. I never have understood it, but it does. But whatever the feeling of fans toward Lewis, the team is better with him on the field than not, and his loss hurts Sunday – yes, in the passing game and running game.
Frank from Jacksonville:
Bradley and the front office seem more interested in proving a point this year with Gabbert than winning games. That's not how the NFL works and I'd like to know why fans should have to pay huge prices for tickets in order to see a bust quarterback play? At least Henne gives the Jags a shot to win each week. Gabbert has not shown any ability to do that yet.
John: I don’t argue much with fans who want to see Henne over Gabbert. Fans have a right to that opinion, and it’s difficult based on the first two years of Gabbert’s career to offer fire-and-brimstone, pound-the-table defense of Gabbert. He has a lot to prove. What I do find odd is people who think Bradley and Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell have an agenda or something to prove playing Gabbert. Neither drafted Gabbert. Neither knew him personally under less than a year ago. Why would they risk anything to prove a point to prove a point about him? Now, do they want to see what he can bring? Do they believe he gives them the best chance to win? Yes, both of things are true, but this isn’t about proving anything to anyone.
Steve from Elk River, MN:
Do you see Blaine throwing for seven touchdowns? It seems to be pretty easy.
John: It does seem that way when it’s done right.
Alex from New York, NY:
Where does this rank in the Silliest Sentences of All Time Hall of Fame? "He has thrown well enough in practice that Gus Bradley hasn’t ruled it out and well enough that Bradley believes there still is a chance he will play.”
John: Not very high, and not as silly as, “There is carpeting on the grass in the hills out yonder and dogs are in the attic wearing blue blazers, cheap sunglasses and party hats.”
Kevin from Belsen, ND:
Doesn't order fries with his burger to "cut calories" but eats all of mine off my plate #shadricksightings
John: Of course.
Earl from Las Cruces:
How is our depth at the center position? My perception from preseason games is that our starter is "adequate"# and the talent falls off dramatically from there#
John: The depth at center probably isn’t ideal. Brad Meester probably isn’t the player he was five or six years ago, but he is valuable because he knows what the heck he’s doing making line calls and getting the line in and out of plays. The Jaguars need to get better behind him, and they don’t want Meester to get hurt. That’s a big reason the team signed him back in the offseason. They felt like they needed him on the offensive line.
Owen from Waycross, GA:
Ok, so what did they name the baby jaguar at the zoo?
John: Khan.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
Waiting until the usher at a Suns game has their back turned, then sneaking down to the seats behind home plate. #shadricksightings .
John: There’s no need for that. Shadrick used to be the radio play-by-play man at the Suns, and knows plenty of people in that organization. He’s a likeable sort, and when he calls, they usually sigh and say, “Yes, we can comp you – yes, box seats behind home.” When he presses on, they say, “Yes, food, too.” After a silence, there is a sigh. “Yes, JP . . . beer, too.” There often is another silence, but that usually means Shadrick is sleeping.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
This year feels like we just got a brand new team awarded to Jacksonville. I think that watching all of our young players develop will make all of the games exciting weather they win or not. If they develop as the coach and general manager expect, the Jags should become regular postseason contenders for years to come.
John: It is. It’s not always easy for fans to see growth. They sit in the stands and watch the game and understandably want success to come now. Right now. That’s not always realistic, but you should see improvement, and that’s what the season is about.

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