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O-Zone: Urgent task at hand

Posted May 24, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it...

Bo from Dresden, NC:
What have you noticed about the O-line, other than they are big and eat a lot?
John: The main thing you have noticed in organized team activities is what you’d expect to notice – with Eugene Monroe and Luke Joeckel on the outside, this should be an improved unit. Monroe looks like you’d expect a fifth-year left tackle to look – very good and capable of being one of the best at his position in the NFL if he can be consistent through the entire season. While Joeckel is a rookie with rookie things to learn, he doesn’t look like he’ll have a problem adjusting to the right side. The interior remains the unknown, with guard Uche Nwaneri needing to reach full health and guard Will Rackley needing to show he’s ready to make a jump. That’s an area to watch in training camp.
Sonny from Melbourne, FL:
Do you think Mark Sanchez is a good QB? Not for the Jaguars, but a QB in the NFL?
John: He hasn’t been yet, at least not consistently. At the same time, the talent around him has waned in the last few years. He looked like he had potential more than a few times early in his career, so it may be a case of needing to get into a good system.
Carson from Jacksonville:
You've noted that it's really early on – likely too early to make an accurate assumption about what guy is best for the quarterback position in 2013. I like Matt Scott and think when he put on the pads he's going to show our coaching staff why he's the guy: it's his elusiveness and ability to throw on the run accurately. Have any inside news on Scott and what are your thoughts on his chances to win the starting job?
John: The only inside news is that Scott is working extensively as the third quarterback in OTAs. When Gus Bradley discussed the quarterback competition this week, he used the word “both,” referring to Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert. That indicates what most observers close to the team have said since the draft – that Henne and Gabbert are pretty much the competition at quarterback for now. As rookie free agents, Scott and Jordan Rodgers will be in the position to try to make the team. Now, could that change once the pads go on? Yes, that’s what competition is about and stranger things have happened. But as I’ve said often in recent weeks, the chances of either Scott or Rodgers winning the starting job are remote. If the Jaguars thought they were going to be starters, they almost certainly would have been drafted.
Tommy from Nashville, TN:
Could you elaborate a bit in terms of your concern at backup running back?
John: I don’t know that there’s tremendous concern yet, but it’s an area to watch. There’s no reason at this stage to believe Maurice Jones-Drew won’t be healthy. He is confident in his rehabilitation, and history suggests he will be ready by the regular-season opener. If that’s the case, Justin Forsett should be an upgrade from Rashad Jennings and Denard Robinson could give the Jaguars a big-play element they haven’t had at the position in a while. If Jones-Drew isn’t healthy, then the area would become a concern. The positive on that front is that running back is a position where you should be able to pick up a veteran late in training camp and/or early in the season and get production, so it’s not a crisis, just a concern.
Dave from Section 410:
You don't climb all the way to the middle by being a bum-slacker.
John: Just ask J.P. Shadrick.
Dan from Ormond Beach, FL:
You may consider this a ridiculous question. If the 49ers call and offer us their No. 1 draft pick next year for Cecil Shorts, do you think the front office jumps at the offer? I am sure you are laughing so hard coffee is coming out of your nose, but remember the Niners have double-digit draft picks again next year and their first round pick will likely be between 28-32 overall and not anywhere near the top of the draft. I guess this will also give me some perspective on your assessment of the Cecil.
John: I didn’t laugh at all, which made the coffee coming out of my nose somewhat disturbing. Still, I wouldn’t take the trade. I think Shorts will be a 1,000-yard receiver pretty consistently over the next four or five years, and I think he has a chance to be a Pro Bowl player. You’d be ecstatic if you got that from a No. 28-to-32 selection.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Keep up the good work! I saw you in Aardwolf the other day. Hope you like it; I surely do. Would you send some Aardwolf love throughout the Jag Nation?
John: Let’s see...Aardwolf is a place where they sell craft beer. They have chairs you can sit in, places to stand and glasses to drink from. They also have people who will bring you one of those beers if you ask them to and pay them. Nah, I don’t like it. Not one bit.
Scott from Jacksonville:
Great! Now, "Maneater" is stuck in my head.
John: ...and you know it don’t matter anyway...
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I have never owned a Jaguars football jersey. I am considering buying a Cyprien one since I am a FIU alumnus. In your opinion, do you think he'll start and shine?
John: Yes. Cyprien is one of those rookies who looks from Day 1 as if belongs. We harped on this pretty heavily on jaguars.com during rookie minicamp, and nothing has changed. As much as you can gauge from practices without pads, it appears Cyprien will be very, very good.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Re: Robert from Grayson: With the focus on competition, could our Coach potentially be naming "the" starting quarterback each and every Thurs. throughout the season?
John: You certainly hope not. Once you decide on a starter, he’s your starter until he’s not.
Greg from St. Johns, FL:
You often insert one or two of the ridiculous, asinine and or clueless questions from your inbox into your column. Let's have some fun. How about an O-Zone devoted only to the best of the worst questions/comments from your inbox?
John: You know that lane you’re in, Greg? Stay in it.
Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Yes, you ask players to be productive and give all they have. Last offseason, rather than working hard every day with his teammates, being a leader to young players on the roster and getting familiar with the new coaching staff, MJD decided to take an extended vacation because he felt he wasn't being compensated enough (despite having signed an extremely lucrative contract just a few years earlier). I happen to feel I'm underpaid in my job and like MJD I have the right to make that known. But I don't stop coming to work every day because of it. In this instance MJD undoubtedly gave less than he should have. And to think otherwise, I feel, is a little ridiculous.
John: Rob, you had the right to hold out just as MJD did, and the quickest way to miss the point of a discussion regarding how NFL teams and players relate is to try to compare the relationship to “a normal job.” These players do not have normal jobs. They have a unique skill set and are in a profession in which careers are startlingly short. MJD had every right to do what he did just as the Jaguars would have had every right to release him had they been inclined. Neither did, but to compare your situation – or mine, for that matter – to MJD’s just doesn’t work. The situations aren’t the same.
Dave from Jacksonville:
The quarterback decision is already made Chad from Palatka! And what ding dong really cares what anybody looks like in "underwear practices?" R.J. Soward looked phenomenal in "underwear practices." Oh and John, an unrestricted free agent is a guy off the street. I'm not deaf or blind but I'm sure you boys down yonder in Welaka suuuuurrrreee doooooooo taaaaaaallllkkk ssssllllloooooowwwww!
John: Yeah, I’m not sure I understood much about your email, but typically when people refer to “guys off the street” around the NFL what they mean are free agents who are available during the season for minimal or no signing bonuses.
Michael from Orange Park, FL:
The starting quarterback in Week 1 is good offseason fodder, but is not relevant. Who the starting quarterback is or is not in Week 17 will tell us much more than who starts Week 1.
John: Thank you for that, Michael.
Steven from Fernandina Beach, FL:
The discussion about moving the draft to May brings up a situation that has irked me for a long time. Why isn't there a college all-star game which includes underclassmen who have declared "eligible" for the draft? Only seniors get this valuable exposure. The underclassmen, scouts and the fans get shortchanged. Please see if you can solicit the NFL to fix this, John. Many thanks.
John: I’ll get on it, but like most of my endeavors, I’ll probably lose interest. It should be noted that

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