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O-Zone: Christmas lamentations

Posted Dec 24, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

AP from Section 410:
Hey, O-man: I never, ever root for the Jags to lose. But I must confess that I'm tempted to on Sunday. Could be the difference between a Top 3 pick and a Top 8 pick. Am I an awful person?
John: You’re not awful – at least not that I know of – and I’m sure we’ll get variations on this theme all week. Should the Jaguars lose Sunday to secure a better draft selection? Is it OK for fans to root for the Jaguars to lose? Etc., etc. We’ll start off the week by reminding everyone that what they want is fine, but that the team will not or should not try to lose Sunday. For all of the debate and discussion, it simply will not happen. This should not anger anyone, just as no one should get angry at fans who root for the Jaguars to lose. It’s fine to want what you want, but the players and coaches and franchise are, as they say, in it to win it.
Sean from Middleburg, FL:
Denard Robinson looked good in space Sunday. Do you think we will get to see more of this since he held onto the ball this time?
John: It’s a good start.
Michael from Atlanta, GA:
Will MJD play this weekend? And will it be his last game with the Jaguars?
John: Maurice Jones-Drew played Sunday despite a hamstring injury that kept him out of two days of practice last week, so there’s little reason to think he won’t play Sunday against the Colts. As for the future, I think the Jaguars and Jones-Drew will reach an agreement on a deal to keep him here. Each side has indicated that’s what it wants. Now, the sides have to reach that agreement. That doesn’t have to happen for a couple of months, and I don’t expect it to happen immediately, but if both sides want to reach an agreement it’s certainly possible.
Ed from Jacksonville:
While we have seen progress from our young players, it would seem that prior to Dwayne Gratz leaving with an injury he has regressed recently. Would you agree he has seemed to struggle most among our young players.
John: No, and I really don’t know that Gratz has struggled all that much – at least not to an unusual degree. Cornerbacks in the NFL are going to get beat, and young cornerbacks often get beat often because quarterbacks are going to work on young cornerbacks. Gratz has defended a lot of passes this season and he has made the sort of aggressive, instinctive tackles and plays you want from a rookie. As he gains experience and sees different situations, he will get beat less.
Jason from Virginia Beach, VA:
"Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?" I was wondering what happened to the annual Christmas Vacation quotes.
John: His kids can fend for themselves.
Justin from Jacksonville:
With one game left and countless players on injured reserve, I think it's safe to say we can turn in a grade for Bradley & Co.'s first year. I think the average grade around the Jags' fan base would probably be a "B-“ … D for the first half, A- for the second half. What say you, O-Man?
John: Although I know they’re popular and easy conversation fodder, I’m not a big grades guy. But there’s obviously little question the second half of the season was better than the first. What was perhaps most impressive wasn’t necessarily four victories in the first five games after the bye, but that once the team got it together and started showing significant improvement after the bye, it kept showing it. Even though the Jaguars have lost their last two games, they haven’t slipped into previous patterns of letting mistakes pile onto each other and forcing games out of hand. That shows that no matter what happens during the course of a game, the team for the most part is playing as it is coached. That’s something that should carry forward. There is a clearer idea among players of what this team and coaching staff is all about than there was early in the season. That’s the foundation of which Bradley spoke in the offseason. Personnel will change in the coming offseason, but now that there’s a foundation on which to build it makes it far easier for new players to fit in and play to their potential.
Robert from Orange Park, FL:
We didn't win the game, but the pass to Brad Meester was awesome. Well done, Gus & Jedd, for fitting that in Sunday.
John: Well done, indeed.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
How is Luke Joeckel's recovery coming along? Is he rehabbing at Jaguars headquarters?
John: I spoke to Joeckel last week, in fact. He’s running now and says he has been told the process of rehabilitating his ankle is coming along fine – perhaps a bit more quickly than expected. Yes, he’s rehabilitating at the team’s facility at EverBank.
Robert from Evanston, WY:
Is Rusty still in the Navy?
John: Those little lights aren’t twinkling.
Adrian from Englewood, CA:
Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell wasn't sold on any quarterbacks in last year's draft, so he stuck to his guns and kept selecting defensive backs. Although we need a quarterback, is it possible he'll stick to his guns again for the upcoming draft if he's not sold on a quarterback? Or do you think he'll draft one because we need one?
John: It will be much more difficult to pass on a quarterback from a public-opinion standpoint, which doesn’t matter all that much because neither Caldwell nor Owner Shad Khan is the type to cave to public opinion. From a personnel standpoint, though, it is indeed an intriguing question. If the decision-makers again believed there absolutely was not a quarterback in this draft capable of being a franchise guy, would they pass on quarterback again? That would be a dilemma. But fortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case. As for whether the Jaguars will draft one in the first or second round or pursue one via trade in free agency, we’ll have to wait and see but it’s hard to imagine the quarterback situation being the same entering next season as currently.
Christina from St. Augustine and Section 123:
Am I a bad person for being so happy I will not have to sit in my seat at the stadium anymore and know that my starter is named either Henne or Gabbert? April can't come fast enough.
John: That’s not what makes you a bad person.
Ray from Jacksonville:
John: I played golf Sunday and was given a cart with number 71. The cart seemed slow and have a mind of its own. It would constantly veer in the wrong direction. Maybe it was the number.
John: Too weird. Did it also move past people to the front of long lines at restaurants and yell, “Don’t you know who I am?”
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
I didn't like the call of the offense going for it the last time they had fourth down. The Titans’ defense was playing pretty well and their offense was really struggling. Wouldn't it have made more sense to kick the field goal, force a three-and-out, and then only need a field goal instead of a touchdown at the end?
John: You’re referring to the decision to go for a first down on fourth-and-goal from the Titans 20 with 5:25 remaining. And really, the decision really depends on game circumstance. If your defense is playing well, kicking a field goal and playing defense makes sense. If your defense isn’t playing well, the chances of picking up a first down and scoring a touchdown on the current drive perhaps are greater than getting two field goals without the opponent getting points. Here’s the case for the Jaguars going for it in that situation: It was fourth-and-1, which means a fairly high chance of picking it up, and the Titans had run well enough that you figured there was a good chance of them being able to drain significant time off the clock. In most situations, I say, “Kick the field goal and play defense,” but with the way the defense had played in the second half Sunday, I probably would have gone for the first down, too.
Jesse from Panama City, FL:
My brother and I have been Jags fans since the beginning. We get together every Sunday at our local pub and watch the game. Boy, am I glad we didn't miss that one! Not only was it a memory for Meester, but it was a memory for the fans of this organization. What a way to send out a class act. Glad I witnessed one of the funnest plays in franchise history!!
John: So am I.
Dave from Ada, OK:
At the game, I overheard a few of the Roar wondering whether or not they would receive another lock of your hair from you for Christmas. So what's the answer, O?
John: They’re not getting any more of my hair. I also may have to change my cell number. I mean, at some point, when do they just leave me alone?

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