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O-Zone: All quiet, for now

Posted Jan 28, 2013

Let's get to it . . .

Artis from Hampton, VA:
It seems as if everyone is ready to move on with Blaine Gabbert after only two years. Do you think Blaine will be cut this year?
John: I’ll preface this by saying that until Gus Bradley and David Caldwell get through the evaluation process, which is to begin this week, it’s difficult to project specific scenarios on the roster. That’s because until they have immersed themselves in the roster, and determined how the personnel fits into what they want to do – and vice versa – we won’t know what they’re envisioning because *they* don’t know what they’re envisioning. That means there is uncertainly all around the roster, and there likely will be players in something like a “fresh-start” scenario, meaning they will get the opportunity to show this new group how they fit into the future plans. Judging by what Caldwell said in his introductory press conference about Gabbert, he sees Gabbert as a player with potential who is worth giving a serious look. I’d anticipate Gabbert being part of a quarterback competition through the offseason and the preseason, and likely being on the roster, perhaps as the starter. I’d expect him to be given a chance to learn with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. I wouldn’t expect there to be any notion of, “Well, we need to play this guy because we selected him No. 10 overall.” If Gabbert performs well and earns time, I’d think he’d get it. If he doesn’t, I’d think he won’t.
Rashon from Nashville, TN:
O' man, you have truly hurt my feelings. The last question you answered from me was before the start of the season.
John: Whatever.
Tommy from Shalimar, FL:
Staying with the 4-3 seems smart. With more and more teams switching to a 3-4 defense, we should see more 4-3 suited players fall to us in the draft and become available in free agency, no?
John: That could benefit the Jaguars. Without question if more teams select 3-4 ends and outside linebackers, it means more players available for the teams that run a 4-3 scheme. But that’s not the biggest reason you stick with it. You stick with it because it’s a sound, time-proven scheme, one that Gus Bradley believes in – and one Bradley has run with success. I would expect Bradley’s schemes to have more wrinkles – such as the so-called “Leo” linebacker utilized in Seattle, with the Leo being sort of a combination outside linebacker/end who plays at times similarly to a 3-4 outside backer. Remember, as trendy as the 3-4 is right now, Bradley’s 4-3 was as effective as any defense in the NFL for long stretches of this past season. The scheme doesn’t matter nearly as much as having good players playing well.
Duran from Rapid City, SD:
Jordan Palmer almost never gets mentioned in any quarterback discussion. Is he a jar on the shelf or is he just filling a slot in a situation where things get hairy, such as when two quarterbacks get injured? I'm just curious because the only comments I hear about him are how dreadful he is.
John: I wouldn’t say Palmer is dreadful, but there’s probably not a high percentage chance he will be back with the Jaguars. He is an unrestricted free agent, and because the coaching staff will be mostly new with a new general manager, there are no real ties between Palmer and the decision-makers in the organization. That’s not to say there is no scenario in which he wouldn’t be around, but with the team moving in a new direction, the chances are probably pretty slim.
Scott from Plant City, FL:
I am in no way saying the Jags should or would make a bid for Flacco, but if the Ravens use the franchise tag on him in the offseason, and since this is now a quarterback-driven league, do you feel the Jaguars would potentially offer all of the picks to get a potential franchise quarterback in his prime? What really would stop a team from offering him a contract? What would this ultimately cost?
John: First, it’s unlikely this scenario would ever be possible. There are two franchise tags – the exclusive and the non-exclusive. The exclusive prevents any other team from negotiating with Flacco, and considering his importance to the organization and his success in the postseason, that’s likely the tag the Ravens would use in this situation. *IF,* that is, the situation gets to that point at all. Just because Flacco has not agreed to a long-term extension now doesn’t mean it won’t happen before free agency begins in six weeks. While some teams make it a point to get contracts done before a player’s contract is scheduled to run out, many teams tend to have a key player or two come down to the final days before free agency. It is a calculated risk that allows teams to make sure they are signing the right players to long-term deals. In the case of Flacco, it would seem the risk has given the player more bargaining power. In the case of say, former Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas, in retrospect it would have been better to let the player play out his contract. Those are obviously two extremes, but it shows each side. As for what would stop a team from offering a contract for Flacco, that would only happen if the Ravens put the non-exclusive tag on Flacco. In that scenario, a team could negotiate with Flacco, but the Ravens would have the right to match the offer and if they didn’t, it would cost the signing team two first-round draft selections. It’s rare to have that happen and it would be very unusual if it ever happened in a scenario not involving a quarterback.
Will from Cumberland:
Can we just get a franchise quarterback? Gabbert SUCKS!!!
John: I hear this sentiment a lot, and it makes sense because the Jaguars have struggled the last two seasons. Gabbert has struggled, too, and as a result has taken a lot of heat from fans. I have longed believed there is a potential scenario in which Gabbert can still succeed. It involves getting into a situation in which the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach can work with him to establish the fundamentals and an offense that suits his skill set. I don’t know that he is a plug-and-play quarterback like Andrew Luck who was ready-made for the NFL, but I think he’s a guy who in the right environment could succeed a few years into his career. At times last year, it seemed there was progress being made toward that. It clearly wasn’t made fast enough to make a difference on a struggling team. The NFL doesn’t always continue providing developing players an opportunity, so that’s where Gabbert’s challenge will be – getting better at a faster pace and finding the right environment to do it.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
When discussing the offensive line, you neglected to mention Estes or Brewster in regard to taking over for Meester. I've never seen anything from Estes to warrant the respect he has gotten from the coaching staff, but Brewster has done nothing but impress me when on the field. How likely is it that we see Brewster starting at center next season?
John: Well, not many people have seen much from Estes, but that’s because he has missed two of his three seasons with injuries and played just two games in 2011. He is a restricted free agent, which means the Jaguars must extend him a qualifying offer before free agency if they plan to retain him. That’s something the team likely will determine following the evaluation process. He, like most Jaguars players, has no ties to the new decision-makers, so that decision will be made based on limited film, perhaps some practice film and what Caldwell and the scouts thought of him coming out of college. Brewster seems likely to be a part of the offensive line group entering the offseason, though whether the new decision-makers believe he is the long-term answer at center – like most things involving the roster – remains to be seen.
Wayne from Brunswick, GA:
I think we should trade MJD to the 49ers and get Alex Smith for quarterback and then get a running back from Alabama, Eddie Lacy, with our first-round pick. Your thoughts.
John: I think it’s the offseason, and it’s after the Senior Bowl, so I think this is the time we’re going to get a whole lot of questions like this, and that’s understandable. So, off we go . . . I think the 49ers will be able to get a lot more value for Alex Smith this offseason than Maurice Jones-Drew. That’s because there is more value at the quarterback position than the running back position, not because in any way is Maurice Jones-Drew an inferior player to Alex Smith. As for Lacy, a running back these days has to be off-the-charts special in the eyes of NFL scouts to go in the Top 10, much less No. 2 overall. Most people around the NFL believe you can get quality running backs outside the Top 10 and prefer to use Top 10 selections on quarterback, left tackle, defensive end, defensive tackle and cornerback – sometimes, receiver. Adrian Peterson was a Top 10 selection, but among the elite backs in the NFL right now, he is the exception.
Michael from New Orleans, LA:
I like the new coaching hires. Is it time to fire them all and blow up the roster yet?
John: Not until the offense looks a bit ahead of the defense in the first intrasquad scrimmage.

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