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O-Zone: Lighting up the house

Posted Feb 1, 2013

Let's get to it . . .

Lyle from Fernandina Beach, FL:
One axiom I learned in the service is, “You can't deviate from a plan until you have one." I see the front office building with this in mind. Having a plan doesn't mean it is set in stone, but rather it is a guideline for the direction in which you want to build. Evaluate, draft, fill, play and repeat. Hopefully, somewhere in there is WIN!
John: You make a good point. Fans in recent weeks have asked to hear a specific plan from Gus Bradley and David Caldwell outlining free agents to be signed, free agents to be released and whether or not the Jaguars will draft a quarterback or sign one in free agency. You don’t need specifics yet, especially when the key decision-makers are new. What you need is an idea of where you want to go, then you need to spend February developing a short- and long-term plan. That absolutely is the sense you get from the front office and from Bradley these days – that the next few weeks will be spent formulating, then honing and executing, a plan – and that’s the sense you want. A front office and a coaching staff must have a plan and a direction, but as you said, that doesn’t mean having a list of seven players each off-season You Must Get Or the Sky Falls In. Sometimes, you must adjust and tweak the plan, but you set a general direction and work toward it. The job of Caldwell and Bradley is to set that direction. They have worked throughout their careers to understand how best to set such a direction. Now is their time to lead.
Dennis from Palm Coast, FL:
Five questions? I was thinking seven. At defensive tackle, do we re-sign Knighton or just let him go and draft Star? And at tight end, do we keep Potter and Veldmann or do we draft one of those speedy-type tight ends?
John: Thanks, Dennis. Next time I’m looking for an idea, or specifics about how many categories to include in a feature, I’ll email you first. Just for that, you’ll have to wait on your Knighton and Potter answers.
Erich from Orlando, FL:
As long as Caldwell doesn't emphasize signing/drafting high-character guys too much, right?
John: You certainly don’t want to overemphasize any one area in the scouting process. One key to building a roster is having the right mix of all elements in your evaluation/player acquisition formula. This is an area for which former General Manager Gene Smith has been roundly criticized, and considering the results under Smith, anything that occurred in his regime is ripe for criticism. Perhaps it was overemphasized at times, and perhaps a lot went wrong the last four years. All true, but character is in fact important in building a team. You don’t want a locker room of bad guys who aren’t listening to the coaches. You want guys who are committed to the cause and believe in what you’re doing. That doesn’t mean they have to be saints with pristine backgrounds, but you also don’t want bad people without drive or desire, either.
Clif from Bethesda, MD:
I have been getting into this argument with a friend. I am a Jags fan, but I know a good quarterback when I see one and Andrew Luck is good. My friend seems to think Blaine Gabbert is better and would not trade Gabbert for Luck if given the opportunity. So my question to you is, “If you could trade Gabbert for Luck, would you do it?”
John: Is there a camera here? Am I being Punk’d?
Armand from Jacksonville:
How soon can the new quarterbacks coach and Gabbert sit down and talk football?
John: Mid-April. That’s when they can talk about strategy, fundamentals, offense, etc. That’s not ideal, certainly, though from talking with new quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo, he doesn’t believe that’s a huge problem. He wants to get to know Henne and Gabbert a bit as people, and he believes there’s time for the football stuff once April rolls around.
Kevin from Millersburg, FL:
In your "Not a Likely Scenario" edition of O-Zone, did you post "Kurt from Seattle" line quoting Nirvana’s song "All Apologies" because you are a fan of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, or did the whole thing go over your head?
John: Huh?
Mike from Jagsonville:
OK, here's a new one for the conspiracy theorists. MoJo held off on surgery so rehabilitation would last past training camp, and he wouldn't have to attend. That one crazy enough for ya?
John: It’s crazy, mainly because I haven’t heard anything to the effect that the rehabilitation will keep him out of training camp. The early reports were that he would be able to return sometime in June and certainly in time for training camp in late July.
Johnny from Section 141 and Palatka:
YAYYYY!!!! Mine was the punch line. I love you, John.
John: You wouldn’t if you knew what I’d written before I changed it.
Richard from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Rebuilding should start with players who are real deserving of a high pick and who will probably be around a long time – namely, linemen. Build a strong foundation with the best available this year and decide if Blaine Gabbert is the way to go. If he's not, then better quarterback prospects may be available next year. Or we may find a hidden gem in later rounds or street free agents. Either way we know for sure what we have by draft time next year.
John: That’s certainly a scenario that could play out. The first step for the Jaguars is determining if they believe Geno Smith is worthy of the No. 2 selection. If not, then defensive or offensive linemen would appear to be a very logical choice considering the talent in this year’s draft class.
No one from Orlando, FL:
Do you own a motorized pedal bike?
John: No, but I owned a Pro-Line skateboard in the 70s. It was radical.
Aaron from Orange Park, FL:
It may be hard to find a better-informed person than Coach Bradley on the talent of both Matt Flynn and Alex Smith. Okay, maybe more Flynn than Smith, but as a defensive coordinator who played San Francisco twice a year Bradley has to know his weaknesses and strengths. I think this helps us a lot moving forward. Did we catch a serious break?
John: It depends on the actual interest the Jaguars do or do not have in either Alex Smith and/or Matt Flynn. There has been a widespread assumption and accompanying speculation about this, and indeed if their names come up in discussion, Bradley certainly would have insight and input. It might be a little presumptive to assume interest at this point.
Joe from Jacksonville:
John I could see you playing the Sax in a band named "John and the Musical Fruit." Sound good?
John: No, that would be stupid.
Lee from Duval County, FL:
I see the lack of a running game as more of a priority than most. What's your take?
John: I think that will be a major focus next season. The Jaguars long had been able to rely on the running game, and even before Maurice Jones-Drew was injured last season, that was no longer the case. Caldwell comes to the Jaguars from Atlanta and Bradley comes from Seattle. Each franchise had a strong running game. Considering Jones-Drew’s ability, I think it’s safe to think the Jaguars will emphasize returning that area to a strength.
Jonathan from Templeton, CA:
Success in the NFL is complicated. Jim Harbaugh basically took the same team that was 5-11 the season before he arrived, and in his first year took the team to 13-3. I'd say to all those impatient people out there to have confidence in Bradley and Caldwell, I don't think anyone should panic if no quarterback is taken high in the draft, especially with all the great defensive talent in this year's draft.
John: It is indeed complicated, and if the 49ers’ and the Ravens’ success can tell us anything it’s that there’s no hard, fast real blueprint for success. Neither team selected its quarterback in the Top 10, and each team had moments during the season when the Super Bowl seemed far away. Each team is coached by a strong personality whose players seem to believe in his message, and each team seems to do a good job doing things its way as opposed to responding and reacting to outside commentary or criticism. I don’t know how much of that applies to the Jaguars except that a successful team has to choose a path to follow, then trust that plan through good times or bad. How well the Jaguars do that we’ll watch play out over the coming months and years.
Danny from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Had the chance to take in a Magic game in Orlando. As we made our way down to our seats, I look up and what do I see in BIG letters light up? You got it. OZONE. Your fan base extends all the way down to Orlando.
John: I have one of those signs in my living room. It lights up every time I do something that impresses my 16-year-old son. It’s been dark around my house since Memorial Day.

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