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O-Zone: Salt in the wound

Posted May 14, 2013

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

Jamey from Pensacola, FL:
It made me sad to see the news regarding Jimmy Smith. He was arguably the best wide receiver in his heyday. I hope he can get the help he needs. Blackmon, you better read and heed the writing on the wall. If you needed negative motivation; you got it, buddy.
John: The news Monday that Smith is in prison is indeed sad. I covered Smith from 1995-2000, and enjoyed watching him on the field and dealing with him off of it. I hope he someday finds peace and finds his way out of his troubles. At the same time, I hesitate to draw a correlation between Smith and Blackmon. I don’t know the details of Smith’s path, and I don’t know the details of Blackmon’s issue. I suspect the same is true for most people commenting on the matter. Blackmon needs to mature and he needs to make better decisions, but to say he’s automatically headed for Smith’s situation is to draw too easy a conclusion to a complicated, uncertain situation.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Since OTAs have begun, can you give us an idea of who was there? Since it's voluntary I was just curious who showed up.
John: No way can I tell you that, Marcus. That’s top-secret information that you can only get by reading . . . well, jaguars.com!
Les from Jacksonville:
The QB job will be established through competition. Assuming Blaine Gabbert wins the starting job, should Matt Scott or Jordan Rodgers make the final 53-man roster, can you envision David Caldwell releasing Chad Henne or maybe even trading him for a 2014 draft pick?
John: That could happen, though to be fair I won’t be assuming much of anything about the roster until at least, say, the second day of OTAs. Seriously, if I had to project now I wouldn’t project the Jaguars making a move with either Henne or Gabbert this offseason or in training camp. As excited as people are to watch Scott or Rodgers develop, a day into OTAs they’re still very much young, inexperienced quarterbacks who likely are a long way from being ready for an NFL regular season game. That could change, but until it does, the Jaguars probably don’t want be in a rush to release experienced quarterbacks.
James from Stillwater, MN:
With MJD coming off his foot injury but missing most of the year, could this actually benefit him since he had a year off without as much wear and tear on the rest of his body that he would normally have sustained? Or is that too far-fetched?
John: It’s not far-fetched, and yes, Jones-Drew could benefit from the year off. At the same time, he is entering his eighth season and is not only coming off a serious foot injury, he had knee surgery in the offseason before the 2011 season. This is not to say Jones-Drew won’t have a big year. I believe he’ll be very productive this season, but he has had a significant number of career carries and a lot of wear and tear. It’s probably not right to think he’s going to be particularly fresh in this season or in the future.
Daniel from Johnston, IA:
I'm feeling better about the Jaguars in May than at the beginning of the year. I was perplexed when the Jags were letting players leave (like Cox) but your answer in the O-Zone really crystallized it for me. When a team goes 2-14, should I really be that upset when they leave or get cut?
John: The Jaguars needed a change, and this was not going to be a change about adding a piece or two. There were things that needed to be changed on a fundamental level. One of those fundamentals was an effort to get reliable, young players around whom to build. The reliable part was critical, and while there’s a chance a player or two who have left could flourish elsewhere, it’s reasonable to expect the players added to the roster to be on the field as much and playing more consistently than the players who left.
Shane from Jacksonville:
At the end of last season, people were angry in the streets for change. Then they got a lot of change. Now, they're angry over uncertainty and the prospect of another bad season. The catch-22 of human existence is when there are troubles people recognize the need for something different, but it doesn't mean that they're not still afraid of change. Just give them time John, they will figure it out.
John: I always thought the catch-22 of human existence was that as much as I like Mrs. O-zone’s enchiladas, I always have horrible dreams that night, followed by a regrettable morning. But who knows? Maybe you’re right.
Vallen from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Since Rodgers and Scott are injured, do you think the Jaguars will add Collin Klein (or any other QB) to their roster? I am wondering why Klein was not signed by the Texans; is he that bad?
John: I don’t know how good or bad Klein was in his tryout with the Texans, though Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak spoke highly of the former Kansas State quarterback. Either way, I don’t foresee the Jaguars adding a quarterback in the short-term. Though Rodgers was not at practice, Scott threw some on Monday, and again showed good arm strength. I don’t know that there’s the urgency and rush here some believe. Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne were working with front-line units, and as hard as this may be to believe, there’s probably not a quarterback out there – Klein or anyone else – who’s going to come in and change that dynamic.
Jessie from Gun Barrel, TX:
How many injuries will we have when the non-contact OTAs are over?
John: Since most people doubt my all-seeing, future-predicting powers, I must assume that you’re facetiously talking about the Jaguars being likely to sustain injuries during OTAs. I get that people hate reading about players being injured, and I also get that Jaguars fans believe somehow this team is more susceptible to injuries than others. My only response is that the NFL is a physical game, and players get hurt. That’s true of the Jaguars and it’s true of every team. Here, also is a news flash: players will get injured in organized team activities. That’s because players get hurt in situations in which there is no contact. Players are often running and cutting at full speed, so injuries happen. So, to answer your question, the Jaguars will have some injuries, perhaps more than a few. It’s part of the deal.
Joshua from Pittsburgh, PA:
For the people saying "I don't see how we can go better than 2-14 with all the changes and the rookies,” I want them to take a look at the Philadelphia Eagles. YOU gotta tell them John, it's not all about the talent...Look at what Harbaugh did with the 49ers with basically the same roster the first year HE coached them...It comes down to the coaching and if do the players believe in it...TELL THEM JOHN!!!
John: OK . . . wait . . . what was the question?
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
John, don't despair: for every angry person out there, there are at least five of us like me that appreciate you. Thanks for everything you do. Keep up the great work, O-Man.
John: I appreciate the words, Greg, but while my life is pretty much defined by despair, it has nothing to do with O-Zone emails, I assure you.
Alex from Austin, TX:
I don't understand why people keep referring to Blackmon as our No. 1 wide receiver. Didn't Shorts have more touchdown and yards in two less games? CSIII also was FAR more consistent throughout the year. Could Blackmon develop into the No. 1 guy? Sure, he definitely could. To say that he is, based on last season, just seems false to me.
John: It is false. This is no knock on Blackmon, but Shorts was the most consistent receiver on the Jaguars’ roster and the most-consistent big-play threat. Blackmon has the bigger name, but right now, Shorts looks like the No. 1 receiver.
Jim from Jacksonville:
Organized team activities start with 90 men. Any good reason? Why not 80 or 100? Final rosters go to 53. Why not 50 or 55? Any logic there, or did some guys just sit around a campfire one night and dream up the magic number 53?
John: Organized team activities start with 90 because league rules state that that’s the offseason roster limit. Final rosters are at 53, again, because league rules say that’s the limit. There has to be some limit; otherwise teams would carry a ridiculous number of players, and the costs would be ridiculous. As for the logic, it’s not guys around the campfire, but it’s the next best thing – guys in suits and ties at NFL owners meetings sitting around long tables with white tablecloths waiting until they are let out for lunch.
Michael from Jacksonville:
John, I got better today. #TellCoach
John: I didn’t, and I haven’t in a long, long time. #Stoprubbingitin

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