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O-Zone: Not making things up

Posted Mar 30, 2013

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . .

Casey from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I hear a lot about need of pass rushers, but I’ve not heard much about cornerback. If the event we don't trade down, do you think we entertain the second pick with Dee Milliner or do you think we can find a shutdown cornerback deeper into the draft?
John: First off, I’m not a big believer in “shutdown corners.” They’re really rare, and you better have abig-time pass-rusher no matter how good your cornerbacks are. I apparently have angered a lot of Alabama/Dee Milliner fans by saying I wouldn’t take him at No. 2 overall. I don’t have a problem with Milliner. I just believe that it’s always better to have pressure up front than to have a great cover guy. A great corner takes away one side of the field; a great pass rusher takes away the whole thing.
Dane from Jacksonville:
In no way am I trying to diminish Greg Jones' contributions to this franchise, nor his popularity amongst fans, but let's keep this in perspective: he is a fullback, a dying breed in today's game. It's regrettable to see such a stalwart leave, but I don't think any fullback will be the difference between 2-14 and 3-13, let alone a playoff-worthy record.
John: You are correct, absolutely. While restructuring the roster and reshaping the team’s approach, crucial to that process is having the correct positions making the correct money. Fullback in general is not a premium position, and to overemphasize it during the restructuring would have been counterproductive. Plus, as you said, it’s not perceived as a position that’s going to make a dramatic difference in the win-loss record.
Sascha from Cologne, Germany:
Hey O-Man, doing a great job, keep on the good work. What’s your opinion about Mike Mayock?
John: He’s the best.
Bobby from Blaine, WA:
When it comes to Blaine Gabbert, I have pretty much been neutral. In his time here, he has had more downs than ups, which is part of growing. Since his rookie year, in your opinion, in what areas has Blaine grown? And this year, what do you see different about him than you did this time last year?
John: Gabbert certainly appears to have matured in two years since being drafted. That’s to be expected, because he was very, very young when he entered the NFL and two years later, he’s just “young.” I thought he grew last season in terms of footwork and pocket presence, though he appeared to still need more game experience to make better decisions more consistently. It’s difficult to say what’s different than last year because he really hasn’t been on the field yet this offseason.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Care to guess how MJD feels seeing that Caldwell let Greg Jones go to the Texans? If I'm MJD I'm just playing out the gig in 2013 and getting as far away from Jacksonville as possible after that. I truly believe that Caldwell is angling for the 1st pick in the 2014 draft so he can draft Clowney. He'll certainly have the cap room available to pay him. Your thoughts?
John: I’m sure Jones-Drew is sorry to see Jones go. The two are close, and Jones was an important part of the rushing offense. My second thought is I’d be surprised if Jones-Drew enters the season just “playing out the gig” and thinking of the next season. He is entering his eighth season, and players – especially running backs – have only so many seasons in their prime. Jones-Drew is smart enough to know you have to focus on the task at hand and worry about the next season later. Finally, in regards to playing for Clowney, please let’s not start that. The Jaguars are in the process of establishing an organization and roster structure for the long haul. As of March 2013, they’re not making a series of roster moves conspiring for one player in one draft. They’re just not.
Jared from Wisconsin:
Hey John, what were you doing when you heard the Jaguars were formed in 1995? Also, thanks for explaining our philosophy of "younger talent."
John: The Jaguars actually were established in 1993. I was covering the University of Florida for the Florida Times-Union. I remember the day well. I was grabbing my afternoon nap in the press room when I got a call from the newsroom saying Jacksonville had gotten the team. Groggy, I called my wife to tell her the news. She told me to stop bothering her, and stop for milk on the way home.
Chris from Savannah, GA:
Buy a new black jersey last season, buy a new logo jersey this season, raise season ticket prices, fly to London for a game, buy season tickets but don't expect anything while we rebuild! Wow this organization must have some wealthy fans?
John: I’m sure there are some fans who are wealthy. It stands to reason that out of the entire fan base that would be true. As far as your points, let’s think about them a moment: yes, the Jaguars had a new black jersey last season and will have a new logo this season. Yes, I’m sure the team would love it if people bought some of those things. And yes, the team may earn revenue if that happens. Yes, the team raised a small percentage of season-ticket prices. Again, the team – which is, after all, a business – may see revenue from this concept. The London game? Again, yes, this is a money-oriented concept that the Jaguars hope will improve the bottom line. Let’s be clear: the Jaguars must make money and they must improve their local revenue streams. That is what London is about and it’s what the inevitable increases in season tickets over time will continue to be about. That’s no secret. This is not a non-profit organization. The Jaguars are indeed this offseason trying to restructure the roster. That’s no secret, either and it’s a very real possibility that that will be an extended process. As such, they’re making moves designed for the long haul as opposed to making quick-fix, headline-grabbing moves for short-term solutions. While that goes on, are they supposed to put everything on hold and not try to improve other parts of the franchise? If they did that, they would be criticized in some circles as being “the same old Jaguars” and people would ask “why Shad Khan hasn’t done anything to change things.” The business side and football side are each working to improve things. It will happen. It may not happen simultaneously, but that doesn’t mean one side or the other should stop and wait.
Stephen from Gatlinburg, TN:
There hasn't been much written about Shad Khan and his desire to win. Lots written about his drive and desire to succeed, but how patient is the Jaguars’ owner? His moves to clean house after only one season tell me that he is not fooling around and he wants to win now! He is a successful businessman and knows that great results have to be achieved. They don't happen overnight, but he isn't going to wait one second longer than necessary to have a winning team in Jacksonville. Is that the feel "inside the building?”
John: Yes, it is. Khan has been remarkably candid about his process since buying the Jaguars. He has said he had much to learn as an owner at first, and said he still has much to learn. He was patient throughout the first year, and didn’t make any quick-trigger decisions despite fans calling throughout the season for the general manager to be fired. He then decided after the season, having gained experience for a year, that it was time for a change in direction. He believes in David Caldwell and Gus Bradley, and appears to know that having reached bottom last season climbing out of that bottom will be a process. I don’t think Khan looks at the Jaguars right now and expects a Super Bowl next season. I think he expects to see a process that shows signs of building into a long-term championship contender. On that front, he expects results, as well he should.
Kevin from Jacksonville and Section 115:
John, I enjoyed the interview with Blaine and hope he's improved enough to be the starter. My question is about the anonymous comment by the assistant. Do you think it was really said? Or do you think a reporter needed a quick story and made it up? If it was true, it's just a knock on the character of the coach that said it. Not the ability of Blaine Gabbert. If you're going to say it, put your name on it.
John: Yes, I believe it was really said. Michael Silver has been covering the NFL for nearly 20 years and is well-respected as a journalist. He has absolutely no incentive to make up a quote for a story. Plus, remember this: while the Jaguars and Gabbert are a very big deal in our corner of the internet, they hardly form the most high-profile quarterback/team tandem in the NFL. The notoriety of writing that story wouldn’t come close to making such a risk or reputation and career worthwhile.

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