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O-Zone: Brain power

Posted Dec 30, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Logan from Wichita, KS:
After doing some research, I have come to a conclusion. The Jaguars simply do not have the money to ever be a playoff team. Rookies are good and all, but once they get good enough to win games they will leave for more money, which we don't have. Free-agent pickups will continue to be mediocre at best with some rarely turning into good players. As fans all we can do is ignore win/loss records and watch each game hoping for a rare win against slumping teams or other terrible teams.
John: I am fascinated by your “research.” First, the problem with many of this team’s past forays into free agency hasn’t been an inability to spend money; rather, it has been those players not performing once signed. That is a common occurrence in the NFL and it is the reason most competitive teams stay away from free agency as a way of building a foundation and use it only as an occasional supplement. The Jaguars under Shad Khan, David Caldwell and Gus Bradley plan to draft and develop their own players, then re-sign the players that have played well enough to be part of the core. This again is a sound strategy. Financially, this should be doable. There are salary rules in place that ensure teams spend money, and as of last September, Forbes magazine estimated Shad Khan’s net worth at $3.8 billion.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
With so many holes to fill this offseason, it looks like the Jags will almost start off with a 95 percent new roster at the start of next season. Besides a new quarterback, they need more talent up front on the offensive line. So how do you see the direction they go?
John: Wow: 95 percent. It sounds as if you and Logan are research partners. There without a doubt will be turnover in the offseason, but it won’t be anywhere close to 95 percent. The interior of the offensive line likely will change pretty significantly, and I’d expect that to happen through a combination of free agency and the draft. I’d also expect to see additions on the defensive front and outside linebacker. That’s not to say the players there will be automatically gone, but you can look for some pretty stiff competition at those spots.
Eric from Yulee:
So what news can we look forward to finding on jaguars.com for the next four months? Or should I just come back around draft time? Any word on the renovations, new contracts, new coaches, new players, new rules? Any deadlines or important dates we should look at? Any dates for pick-your-seat days or Jaguars rallies around Northeast Florida? Come on, O-man: It only has been four hours since last season and I'm already freaking out.
John: Huh? What?
James from Austin, TX:
Even after being told by peers not to sign with Jacksonville, Marks went and had his best season under Gus Bradley and Co. Do you think players’ view of this team has changed and do you think it can influence free agency this year?
John: I think it will help. Players around the league talk and Gus Bradley’s reputation will help in free agency. That’s not to say there’s going to be a line of unrestricted free agents at the Florida-Georgia border, but you don’t need that. You need to target players who can help you and sell a percentage of those players on your program and approach – and then you gotta pay the men. Bradley without question can do the selling part.
The Trey from Fruit Cove, FL:
John, are you up yet?
John: What?
Bryce from Algona, IA:
John, what I meant by "full scoop" was not a suggestion that you were not doing your job in reporting news, but rather an attempt to get a more "inside perspective" of what has been going on with Blaine and his teammates. Thanks, as always, for posting my question.
John: I didn’t take your use of “full scoop” as an insult. There’s not an incredible amount of inside perspective needed here. Gabbert not playing at the end of the season wasn’t about his teammates. It was about the organization believing Chad Henne gave the team the best chance to win.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
It's pretty reasonable to expect Peyton Manning to break all the records, and based on his history he will probably lose in the first or second round of the playoffs. Will you still think he's the best quarterback of the year?
John: Yes.
Dan from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Happy, healthy New Year to you and your family. One nagging thought I have after Leftwich and Gabbert, is if we draft another high rated quarterback and he also doesn't make the grade, how long would it set the back the Jags rebuilding plan?
John: Ah, quarterback fear. It’s pretty rampant among the fan base. To answer your question, missing on a quarterback would set the plan back. Because of the rookie wage scale, it wouldn’t set the franchise back as far as possible, but it sure wouldn’t help.
Bryan from Tampa, FL:
Could you please provide an assessment of Cam Bradfield’s play at left tackle? Living in Tampa, I really didn’t have many opportunities to see my Jags play and I am curious about his future. Is it safe to say he was better as left tackle than he was a right tackle last season?
John: He was OK. Ideally, he wouldn’t have been starting, because ideally Luke Joeckel would have been healthy all season, which would have meant Joeckel on one side and Austin Pasztor at right tackle with Bradfield as the swing tackle. If that’s how next season starts, the Jaguars quite possibly will be OK with that.
Charles from Midlothian, CA:
Couldn't an 18-game season be a 20-week season with two byes..? Both byes could come between Weeks 6 and 16. Wouldn't that possibly help with injuries and wear and tear? Especially if you ended preseason games, and replaced them with organized scrimmages?
John: I don’t see a two-bye-week schedule happening. The league did that once, in 1993, and it was pretty much unanimously unpopular and confusing. The season dragged and the approach was scrapped immediately.
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
Now that the season is over can you answer a draft question? When teams finish with the same record, the team with the easiest schedule gets the earlier pick. The teams then rotate in the later rounds. When three or more teams tie how is that rotation determined?
John: The same way. The team with the easiest schedule gets the earlier pick and so on. In the next round, the team with the easiest record goes to the back of the line and it goes on like that.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
A few years ago the NFL changed its scheduling strategy so that all teams would play division games in Week 17. With two division title games Sunday and similar important games in previous seasons' finales - I am assuming this change has been beneficial for the game and its fans?
John: It appears that way. There likely will be seasons in the future when it doesn’t work out that way, but you did have fewer teams resting starters this season than in many years past.
Michael from Fruit Cove, FL:
Did you say Peyton rarely has the better team in the playoffs?!?!?! You specifically mentioned 2005 when his Colts team started 13-0 (I think?). You can't possibly believe that Steelers team that beat them (in the Colts first playoff game!!!) then won the Super Bowl was actually better than those Colts. Peyton has often had a highly seeded team in the playoffs that lost earlier than they should have. You like to cite "match ups" and "injuries". You know as well as anyone that if he could even remotely match his regular season level of performance, then he would certainly have more than one ring. Fairly or unfairly, quarterbacks do get judged on postseason performance. Sorry Peyton. I'm looking forward to again enjoying my favorite holiday of the year: the annual game when Peyton gets UPSET in the playoffs.
John: Rarely means rarely, not never. That’s why I wrote “rarely,” not “never.”
Garrison from Baton Rouge, LA:
MJD sure didn't make a case to be brought back next year by his performance. Goodbye MJD, hello Jordan Todman and Andre Williams.
John: Yes, they’ll probably base the decision on that one game. #Sarcasmfont
Jim from Bondi Beach, Australia:
Clearly what killed us this game was lack of Meester in the passing game wouldn't you agree?
John: Clearly. On a serious note, it’s going to be weird seeing a Jaguars game in the future and going into a Jaguars locker room without Meester there. He was the last active Jaguars player to have played for Tom Coughlin, and he truly did set an example for younger players. He was a pleasure to cover, and a pleasure to be around for many in the organization. He will indeed be missed.
Steve from Nashville:
What would it take to get Eli Manning into a Jag uniform in 2014?
John: A complete and unprecedented brain lock by the New York Giants.

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