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Plenty of blame

Posted Dec 14, 2012

Let's get to it . . .

Lyle from Kingsland, GA:
From the venom in the inbox you would think people were losing their paycheck with each Jags loss. Disappointed? Yes. Suicidal? No. I go to the game, tailgate and enjoy time with friends and family. Finally, I root for the Jags – sometimes just for a first down. Then I go home. At no point do I lose sleep or my paycheck over it. I leave that to the coaches and players. This was an interesting day for the Ozone inbox, a day when there seemed to be as much *reaction* to the recent reaction of fans as anything else.
John: Yeah, the emails have grown angrier and more venomous lately, but that’s to be expected. When you’re 2-11, ranked No. 31 in offense and defense and nothing’s looking very good on Sundays, I don’t know what else to expect. Are people over the top? Are they finding any outlet possible to display their emotions? Sure. Is one of those outlets your humble senior writer? Sure, but you know what? So what? That’s the job. This is sports. I’m answering emails and talking football with fans. Ohmygoodnessme, do I have it tough . . . no, you won’t find me letting the venom get to me. Not a chance.
Zak from Los Angeles, CA:
John, they got you searching for the thin line between entertainment and war.
John: I’m walking that line, baby. I’m walking it.
John from Section 213:
Why couldn't the Jags have had this kind of season last year?!?!? Then we'd be writing you questions about either Luck or RGIII and all would seem much more right in the world. We can't even stink in the right year for the draft. When it rains, it pours.
John: There is indeed a certain amount of luck involved in building a team. The Colts were fortunate last season to be bad in a year in which there was a franchise quarterback available in the following draft, and the Redskins had the foresight and guts to execute a trade for RGIII when the circumstances made it possible. That said, while having an early selection in the right year makes it easier to build your roster it doesn’t preclude you from getting a franchise quarterback if you don’t have such a selection. You just have to be luckier or do a better job finding one. Peyton Manning was a No. 1 selection, as was Andrew Luck. Aaron Rodgers was outside the Top 20 and Tom Brady was a sixth-round selection. You can’t worry about not getting Luck/RGIII; you just have to figure out how to find one another way.
Cameron from Section 214 and Jacksonville:
Could you see us trying to bring in Alex Smith from San Francisco? We could use him on our team and I know he doesn't like sitting behind Kaepernick.
John: Smith has become the darling of many Jaguars fans. It’s not a ridiculous notion, but as with so many questions right now, first things first. Figure out the direction of the franchise, then figure out whether pursuing a player such as Smith is the right move.
Miguel from Jacksonville and Section 145:
I wonder where are all the fans who said Troy Aikman was a bust after his first year when the only game Dallas won he wasn't in? All these knee-jerk reactions remind me that "fan" is short for fanatic.
John: If those fans are my age, 20 years later they’re feeling old, beaten down and wondering why things don’t work like they once did. Fans are fanatics, but this isn’t new and it’s OK. It isn’t new, it’s the nature of things and it sure ain’t going to change.
Willis from Jacksonville:
And why is holding a 10-yarder? I've tried looking it up online, but only found where it used to be a 15-yarder.
John: Holding is 10 yards because of an effort to let the “punishment fit the crime” best as possible. Holding is most often called on a pass blocker, and it stands to reason a sack typically results in a 7-to-11-yard loss. While the hold is better than a sack because you don’t lose a down, the 10-yard loss does a decent job of simulating the effect of a sack. It changed from 15 yards in an effort to increase scoring. A 15-yard penalty effectively kills a drive far more than a 10-yard penalty, and you don’t want penalties that completely dictate the entire drive that frequently.
Daniel from Johnston, IA:
If a general manager truly believes in a best-available-player philosophy, you take the guard that will be a perennial Pro Bowler. Who cares what others think? We've seen enough swing and misses in this franchise to just be happy with some really guaranteed-to-be-good players. We've seen enough of Britton to know he's not going to be a good right tackle or guard. We should have just drafted the guard and not played musical chairs with our offensive line.
John: I get the point. I just have a tough time taking a guard that high and the reason isn’t what others might think. The reason is you only have so many chances at first-round talents, and you generally need to spend that sort of equity either on left tackle, pass-rushing end, quarterback and cornerback if you’re selecting in the Top 10. Effective offensive guards, while important, can usually be found in the later rounds. It’s really more of a math issue. You have ‘X’ number of chances at first- and second-round talent, and a limited amount to spend in free agency on sure-fire impact players – if such an animal even exists. If you’re going to stock your premium positions with first- and second-round talent then you better use first- and second-round selections on those positions. It’s not a hard, fast rule, but over time it has proven a hard rule for general managers to break.
Bjoern from Uppsala, Sweden:
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has as many sacks in the last six games (14) as the Jaguars have all season. That sort of stat is disappointing. Going into this season, the d-line was supposed to be a unit on the rise; instead, it appears to be regressing. Knighton and Alualu have not been very good. Also, it’s looking like paying top dollar for Mincey was a mistake.
John: Now is not the time to argue your points.
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach and Section 106:
I see a golfer who's been given too many swing thoughts, told to always hit the two-iron off the tee, and never ever shoot for the pin. In my mind, Gabbert has been shackled by Olson's over-coaching and Bratkowski's - and by extension Mularkey's - under development. "Take exactly ‘x’ steps back, stand there in the wrath of the rush, and make your reads."
John: We have reached the stage where everything’s open to criticism. At 2-11, fans are complaining about overcoaching. I understand why some people float this theory. There was much made in the offseason about Gabbert being coached to avoid the so-called “disaster” scenario of a play – i.e., the interception. Did Gabbert take that too much to heart? Perhaps, because throwing downfield effectively is something that he has yet to do consistently enough. At the same time, Olsen and Bratkowski began working with Gabbert in April, so they essentially had two months to get a whole lot done. There was improvement in mechanics and pocket presence. At some point, a player has to go play and play effectively. There’s still a chance that Gabbert will do that moving forward, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Josh from Jacksonville Beach and Section 106:
Our last first-round pick at quarterback was drafted higher overall (No. 7) than Blaine Gabbert (10).He was a starter for four years before he was cut. Now he is a backup. I think they owe BG more time.
John: Gabbert may well get more time. That’s a very good possibility, because the best option may end up being having him and Chad Henne compete for the job next year. The Jaguars don’t “owe” him anything, though. They’re paying him his contract, made him a first-round draft choice and gave him an opportunity to start in the NFL. The Jaguars certainly to this point have done their part.
Jared from Pensacola, FL:
Here is something positive....handful of young receivers that give the position hope.
John: That is a positive. For whatever else has gone wrong this season – and there has been plenty – with Cecil Shorts playing well and Justin Blackmon showing improvement, the wide receiver position is significantly better now than it was a year ago.
Andrew from Section 232:
Complain all you want about the guys Gene Smith has drafted. Players in the draft bust out all the time. If I had to put a blame on what has happened, it has to be on free agency. Aaron Kampman and Clint Session were brought in to be mainstays, and they are both no longer here.
John: There is plenty of blame to go around, but considering Kampman was brought into to be a pass rusher and Session was brought into solidify the linebacker position – and considering both of those areas are pretty glaring weaknesses . . . well, their absence sure doesn’t help.

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