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O-Zone: Fighting words

Posted May 13, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Organized Team Activities begin Monday. Less than four months until the regular-season opener. Where does the time go?

Let’s get to it . . .

Joe from Jacksonville:
If you mention THREE overtime games one more time I’m going to vomit. You do realize those games we won were because of blind luck, right? We COULD have won six games last year. We also COULD easily have gone 0-16. Not to mention those teams came back and stomped us later on. Face it man, the previous general manager and coaching was, for lack of a better term, a clown car.
John: Vomit all you want, Joe; just don’t get it on my seats. I believe in my answer Sunday I said more than once the three overtime losses didn’t make the Jaguars good last season. And sure, the Jaguars easily could have gone 0-16. That’s well-covered territory. My point (and if I didn’t make this clear Sunday, my apologies) is when discussing the Jaguars’ potential record next season it’s not absurd to think they could win far more games than most people are projecting. The Jaguars weren’t very good last season, yet were close to winning six games. That’s not a defense of the former general manager or the coach. It’s simply pointing out if that team under those circumstance could have a chance to win six, a team with better coaching, a team that believes in its direction and a team that’s improved in some areas also would have a hope to win at least that many games. Now, if you’re feeling queasy, Joe, do what my mother always did for me when my tummy hurt – get a cold cloth and a garbage can and stay up late to watch “The Tonight Show.”
Silly Max from Tucson, AZ:
John, please for the love of all that's teal, gold & black, PLEASE remember to wear socks when you wear a sports coat. You're working in Florida, not on vacation south of the equator.
John: I never forget to wear socks.
Matthew from Jacksonville:
I'm curious as to why, aside from fear of retaliation, you chose Tony Boselli over Mark Brunell for the Jags’ Mt. Rushmore.
John: The well-documented personal animosity between Boselli and myself aside, that wasn’t a difficult decision. In fact, if the Jaguars’ Mount Rushmore were to have but one face instead of four, I still would have selected Boselli. When he played, he perhaps the best player at his position for a stretch of three-to-five seasons, something no other player in franchise history can claim. I consider Boselli, Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith the three best players to play for the Jaguars, in that order. Many favor Taylor over Boselli, an argument I can understand but with which I don’t agree. I covered Brunell from 1995 through 2000 and consider him easily the best quarterback in franchise history. I just wouldn’t put him ahead of Boselli, Taylor, Smith or Jones-Drew.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
Isn't predicting next season's record premature? There are still acquisitions to be made (June 1 cuts, roster cuts to make final rosters, etc.) and positions to be determined by competition. We don't even know who will be on the field and in many positions, if they will be that good, especially at the beginning of the year when so many are going to be so young (rookies).
John: Of course it’s premature.
Zach from Knoxville, TN:
Would you consider Jordan Rodgers in the mix?
John: I believe either Jordan Rodgers or Matt Scott has a very real chance of making the roster. I don’t consider either a guarantee to make it. I’d like to let at least an OTA practice or two pass before I consider either a candidate to start at quarterback for the Jaguars this season. There is an understandable urgency among fans to push either Scott or Rodgers into the conversation about the Jaguars’ starting quarterback position next season. The odds are against that, significantly so, so my answer continues to be to let one of those players prove they belong on the team before I consider their chances to take over the starting quarterback position.
Richard from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Don't your readers have jobs? No matter what your job the best time to ask for a raise is after you've had a great year. MJD had a great year!! He asked for a raise. Big deal! Hopefully he'll have another and can negotiate again.
John: People get raises?
Jon from Durham, NC:
Every major professional sport besides the NFL has some sort of developmental league. While football players benefit from more college time, plenty could use more experience. Quarterbacks are frequently given spots on the roster and allowed to develop, but it seems like many other positions are sink or swim or need to contribute somehow (usually on special teams). My understanding of the practice squad is that they can be signed by other teams. Has there ever been thought to expanding rosters to allow for more developmental players or to have some sort of "minor league"?
John: NFL Europe was designed with this in mind but proved too costly, and the risk of injury was too great for most teams to assign non-quarterbacks that they believed had a chance to develop. Quarterbacks at times did develop in Europe, but for the most part, few other players did. I don’t sense a big push in this area. For the most part, college football has proven a pretty reliable and – for the NFL, at least – inexpensive developmental league.
Michael from Orlando, FL:
With the Jags' new found need at wide receiver, do you think it's possible we'll sign Titus Young? He was quoted recently with saying he's better than Calvin Johnson.
John: Well, if Titus Young says it . . .
Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Maurice Jones-Drew is still my favorite Jaguar. He's still likely the team's best player. No one up to now has ever proven to be a harder worker than him. He is the consummate professional. Whether the Jaguars have him for one more season under contract, two seasons with a franchise tag or whether he gets a contract extension, we are so dang lucky to have been able to watch him excel for as long as he has. That's all I wanted to say.
John: And now you have. I think most fans feel that way. I get emails now and then from fans telling me that their feelings about Jones-Drew changed when he held out last offseason, and that they believed he showed his “true colors” when he did so. I can’t control how people felt or feel, but to dislike Jones-Drew because of what he did is to be somewhat naïve about how the NFL works. A player signs a contract. He gets to keep the signing bonus from that contract, but except for that, he can be released at any time. He can ask for more money, and if he’s willing to accept the risk of fines, he can hold out to make a point. Jones-Drew accepted that risk and was fined. That’s the business side of the NFL and that’s completely separate from the on-field side. On the field, Jones-Drew has been nothing but a hard worker, a productive player and until last season, as reliable and durable player as the team had for more than a half decade. I think most fans think of him that way, and those that don’t likely will as time goes on.
Matt from Norfolk, VA:
I don't write in often (hardly ever) but I read the O-Zone every day. Thank you for the extensive coverage and the hard work. Without my morning coffee and midday O-Zone, I don't know where I'd be.
John: You’d probably be tired in Norfolk.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
I'm having a hard time with your theories on how this team could have a better record than last year's team because of three overtime games and a loss to the Jets they could have won. With the incredible amount of turnover, including 5/6ths of our secondary, an undrafted rookie free-agent fullback for what was a Pro Bowler at that position, our star tailback coming off a season-ending foot injury and now a year older, a young quarterback learning yet another new system, and not having our No. 1 receiver for the first month of the season, I'm not feeling the analogy.
John: People are struggling with this one, so I’ll put it another way. The Jaguars weren’t very good last season, and I’m not one who believes they’ve gotten worse since last season. Yes, familiar names are gone, but they’re mostly gone because of age or because they weren’t on the field enough, weren’t consistent enough or because they just weren’t very good. Also, the Jaguars won two games last season. I firmly believe that a team going in the right direction with its players on the same page and believing in the direction will win more than two games. We’ll see if I’m right.
Moi from Jacksonville:
John, you and JP in a cage match. NOW!
John: He knows where to find me.

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