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O-Zone: A safety issue

Posted Jan 9, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Steve from Nashville, TN:
Besides the game in London versus the Cowboys and our division games, what else do we know about the 2014 Jags schedule?
John: As you say, we know the Jaguars will play the Dallas Cowboys in London next season and they will play Tennessee, Indianapolis and Houston at home and on the road. We also know they will play at home against Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, the New York Giants and Miami and on the road against Baltimore, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Washington and San Diego. Dates and times are expected to be announced in April.
Zack from Wisconsin:
Can you sum up how important it is for the Jags to look at centers in the draft? Seems like it could be nice to have a new quarterback and center learn together and get a good chemistry and lock up both positions for a long time.
John: The importance of looking at center in the draft will depend on what the team does with the position in free agency. The Jaguars likely will pursue at least one or two longer-contract players in free agency, and with Brad Meester retiring, it’s possible they could be active in free agency at the center position. As far as a center and quarterback being in synch and developing chemistry, it’s nice, but it’s not an objective that will play very significantly in decision-making.
Adam from Jacksonville:
What are your thoughts on Zach Mettenberger? He seemed like a first-round talent before the knee injury. I can't help but think a guy like him may make a lot of sense in the second round, allowing Caldwell to address the pass rush early. What do you think?
John: I think I like what I’ve seen of Zach Mettenberger, and I think I’ll get many, many questions along these lines. Here’s the dilemma facing David Caldwell on that front – and it’s a dilemma I doubt he has solved as of early January. While it’s easy on paper to say, “Draft a pass rusher early and quarterback in the second round,” in reality that means you’re taking a quarterback you expect will last into the second round. In a quarterback-hungry league that means you’re taking a player about whom many teams have doubts. That’s fine, but it raises the question, “Is this guy a franchise quarterback? Is he The Guy and not just a guy?” The answer to that question may be, “Yes,” and if it is, great. If the answer is no, then are you taking a second-round selection to play for a few games and be a backup before you draft another quarterback the next season? Again, that’s not to say you can’t find a franchise guy in the second round, but that’s what makes it a trickier route in fact rather than in theory.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
The whole organization, including you, should be concerned that fans have spent thousands of dollars.
John: I understand this sentiment, and believe me, Bryan, no one in the Jaguars’ organization discounts fans spending a lot of money to support the franchise. That is on the forefront of people’s minds who run the organization every day. At the same time, people picking players and choosing the course of the football side of the franchise can’t make decisions based on the question, “What would the fans do here?” First off, there are many, many fans and they have many, many differing opinions on what is right. Second, leadership and direction isn’t simply taking a poll and doing the thing most popular with 51 percent of those polled. It’s about using expertise and knowledge to make the best decisions. That’s what Caldwell was hired to do, and to do anything else would be irresponsible.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
A few of my co-workers are the world's biggest Tim Tebow fans. They told me they heard now that Tim is on television that all the Jaguars games next year will be shown on the SEC Network. They are happy because they love Tim and the Jags and now they get both of them together at the same time. Is there any truth to this rumor?
John: I get emails like this sometimes.
Trent from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Concerning Manziel's size, I would not be worried after watching Russell Wilson play.
John: Perhaps you wouldn’t be, but there will be personnel people who feel differently. Wilson has proven effective despite his height, but he also effectively uses the pump fake and appears to be above average in terms of shifting in the pocket to find passing lanes. What makes that notable is that it’s unusual.Manziel was very effective in college, but there will be a question about his ability to be effective in the NFL until he is … effective in the NFL. I’m starting to believe he can be, too, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be questions.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Gene Smith didn't make "popular" decisions. Maybe a bad example, John.
John: It’s not. No, Smith’s decisions didn’t work out for the most part, but having the fortitude to stick to your decisions and beliefs absolutely is a hallmark of a good general manager. You can’t run a sports franchise by popular vote.
Brad from Jacksonville:
I saw Johnny Football on ESPN College Game Day; you never would have guessed that some think he's a goofy kid with maturity issues. Judging from the few minutes he spent with Nick Saban and the usual crew, I could see him becoming the face of a franchise... What is this feeling come over me? I think I'm becoming one fer Johnny.
John: One a little more fer Johnny than before.
Kent from Jagsonville:
Hey, Mr. O. Everyone has a theory on the draft, so here's mine. If Clowney is available, no matter what quarterback is still on the board, take him. This past season notwithstanding, as the entire team and most of the student sections were double-teaming and chipping him, the guy is a beast. The most legit pass rusher to come out since Jason Pierre-Paul. If they re-sign Babin to lower his cap number, I think it would be a huge upgrade. Agree?
John: I can’t completely agree. It’s very hard to look at a pass rusher and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will be an impact player. Jason Pierre-Paul, remember, not only had tons of questions entering the draft, but he has had 13 sacks aside from his 16.5-sack season. If you need a quarterback and there is a player you believe fills that need available to you, you take him. It trumps all else.
David from the Bright Side:
Poor, poor John. Every day I see more and more drafts lists. Who should the Jags pick? With the draft being moved back, you get even more time to deal with it. Good luck my friend, you can do it.
John: My back is broad, but it’s a hurtin’.
Clayton from Jacksonville:
I'm not saying I want Justin Blackmon gone. I personally would like to see him stay in Jacksonville. BUT if Jacksonville was inclined to move on from him, I hear analysts use the term "cut" him. Why would analysts not suggest we trade him for players or picks? He still performs like a No. 5 overall pick; he just has off-the-field issues. Is there something in his contract restricting us from doing that?
John: There’s nothing in his contract preventing it, but it’s unlikely the Jaguars would get much in a trade for Blackmon. He has indeed performed very well at times when he has been on the field, but he missed 75 percent of his second season while serving suspensions. It’s hard to imagine a team giving up draft choices or players to inherit that situation.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
The biggest reason I don't want us taking Manziel at No. 3 is he seems to have major boom/bust potential. I like Dave and Gus and think they can build a winner. If you take a quarterback No. 3 and he's not a franchise-changer, the people running your franchise get changed. I'd imagine Gene Smith and Jack Del Rio will attest to the above. But hey, I'm just one guy. Thoughts?
John: I think you’re just one guy, too, but I think you’re off a bit. Every quarterback – indeed, every player, comes with an element of boom/bust potential. It’s the nature of the NFL. But as a general manager and head coach, you can’t not take a quarterback year after year after year just because there may be boom/bust potential. At some point, you have to identify a quarterback you like, draft him and develop him and your team the best you can.
James from Goedert:
All mock drafts I have been reading pick the Jags to pick one of four players. Teddy B., Blake B., Jadeveon C., or Johnny M. What are the chances of the Jags pulling another shock pick like Tyson A.? I am just curious to hear your thoughts on those top four players mocked and the chances of the Jags going outside the box.
John: As of now, nearly four months before the draft, those seem like four logical selections. A lot changes in four months. We’ll see what happens.
Mark from Green Bay, WI:
Can we get rid of the helmets...please?
John: But then what would protect players’ heads?

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