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O-Zone: Double trouble

Posted May 28, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
With all the love fest going around, I wonder if Shad, Gus and Dave know just how fickle this fan base is also? All these people who keep writing in about the love are the same ones who will be calling for heads to roll if we are 4-12 in 2015. Love only lasts so long in the NFL; you gotta win and win a lot.
John: The ‘F’ in fan stands for fickle, too – and the Jaguars’ fan base is no more fickle than any other. But know this, too: if the Jaguars are 4-12 in 2015 I think it’s safe to say Dave Caldwell, Shad Khan and Gus Bradley will be far more disappointed and surprised than any fan.
Matt from Jacksonville:
Ugh. Come on, O-Zone, what gives? Every morning for the past year when I lived on the West Coast I would wake up to a freshly minted column. Now that I'm living in Jacksonville again I have to wait like... three hours! Are you doing this to spite me?
John: Yes.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
You answered a question concerning Jerry Rice's modest 40-yard dash time and what made him great. That is a good reminder the 40 time can be misleading. The 40 is only a measurement of one run, and it does not factor in endurance and four quarters of football. I believe Rice was able to stay in great shape, which gave him the ability to stay at the same speed while everyone else was dropping off due to fatigue.
John: I believe you’re right, and that’s a point I probably didn’t get into as much in the answer as would have been ideal. Rice indeed was able to play at the same level throughout games and seasons, and that meant running routes as well and as fast late in games and seasons. His conditioning was legendary in NFL circles, nearly as legendary as his performance. And while we could go on about his speed and what made him great, the correct answer to, “how fast was Jerry Rice?” always was, “Fast enough.”
Kevin from Starkville, MS:
Do you think the NFL will ever develop a minor league-like system? With as popular as football is in the United States, I think it would make financial sense as well as make it easier for teams to deal with injuries.
John: I doubt it, because it doesn’t make much financial sense. Football is expensive, and while the NFL and college football are very popular it would be difficult for a minor league to make it financially. Besides, the NFL already has a developmental system: college football. The issue of having players available in event of injury is pretty much solved by the practice squad – and a nation of free-agent players being motivated by wanting to take advantage of the next opportunity.
Keith from DUUVALL!!!:
Do you believe Cecil Shorts’ starting job is in trouble now that we have playmakers at his position? Also, do you believe Storm Johnson will start over Toby G.? Because I do!
John: I don’t believe Shorts’ starting job is in trouble this season. While the Jaguars drafted Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second round, it takes time for wide receivers to develop into consistent NFL players – and that’s even true of players selected early in the draft. As for Johnson, let’s let him make the final roster before penciling him in as a starter.
Nick from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I don't understand O-Man! How can there be no football questions being sent to you? I have tons. For instance, how intense is the battle for the 5-6 wide receiver going to be in camp? Also, if Bortles comes out swinging and shows a vast amount of progress in camp can he realistically take the starting job as a rookie? Is Poz going to grow his hair back out? Is Josh Evans or Guy Winston going to be starting beside Cyp? Can we possibly keep all four running backs if they show they can all be playmakers? Does the fact that you follow me on Instagram make us friends now? Does that mean you'll buy me a beer if you see me out? Also Duuvaallll and Moodachay. All day.
John: No. We are not friends.
Justin from Athens, OH:
Mr. O, I'm confused about playoff expansion and need some clarity. If the league expands the playoffs from 12 teams to a 14-team format (one additional team in each conference) that creates an uneven number of seven teams, right? A two-team expansion will not work mathematically. The NFL would have to expand to a 16-team playoff by adding an even number of two teams to each conference. This may blow revenue through the roof, but also create parity. Your thoughts?
John: I’m sorry you’re confused. Confusion can be … well, confusing. If the NFL were to expand, it almost certainly would be to a 14-team format in which the top seed in each conference would get a bye. There is a feeling among many in the league that the team with the best record in each conference should be rewarded, and the bye is a significant reward.
Bill from Jacksonville:
No question. Just a THANK YOU, O-MAN.
John: Don’t thank me. Thank Raul. He does most of the work.
Garrison from Baton Rouge, LA:
I love the fact we deepened our receiving corps, but is it bad I feel sorry for Ace Sanders? Even though I feel he gets the nod over Mike Brown, I feel like his development and play time will slow because of the arrival of Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. I guess Jedd Fisch can throw him in some more backfield schemes, or Punt Returns, but then again we signed Tandon Doss
John: Don’t feel bad for Sanders. He certainly isn’t feeling bad for himself. He’ll have a role here, and he knows what most receivers know – that the more good players you have at the receiver position, the better it is for everyone.
Mikey from Tallahassee, FL:
Regarding Joseph from Bali's comment, that is precisely why I love watching preseason football. It's great to see first and second-rounders learning the ropes, but we all know their roster spots are fairly secure. I love to watch the "bubble guys" at the tail of the roster earn their way onto the squad.
John: Preseason is cool. I like it, and it’s indeed cool for the very reason you state. This actually dovetails into something equally cool that Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley is implementing this offseason: a period at the end of each practice he’s calling the Opportunity Period. It’s for players who didn’t get as many repetitions as starters and front-line players in practice. Bradley sees it as a chance to get a specific look at players in some specific roles. It was pretty intense on Tuesday, and I’d expect it to get even more so in training camp.
Mike from Middleburgh, FL:
Telvin Smith is going to be a Pro Bowler – a.k.a., the Grapler. What do you think Sir, Ozone?
John: I think he has the right athleticism, speed, attitude and desire. He’s a fun kid to talk to, and he seems to have the drive to be great. The Jaguars want him to add weight and if he can do that, he has a chance to contribute and perhaps start. I’ll probably wait for him to do that before making Pro Bowl predictions.
Steven from Fernandina Beach, FL:
While the enthusiasm of the fans need not be tempered, the expectations should be. This is a very young team, building a solid base for the long term. Coach Gus' goal of, "getting better every day" needs to be how the fans approach the season, and the definition of success. Playoffs? Fans want to talk about playoffs? Are ya kiddin' me? How about consistently being within seven points at the two-minute warning. That would be a huge improvement!
John: I can’t argue many of those points, and I’ve actually been pretty consistent in assessing next season. It’s hard to imagine the Jaguars won’t be improved next season, but improving doesn’t necessarily mean making a realistic playoff push. If the Jaguars are competitive in most of their games next season – legitimately competitive deep into the fourth quarter – that indeed would show marked improvement. As for the fans’ expectations, there’s nothing we can do to temper those, so I won’t lose sleep if it doesn’t happen.
Andy from St. John’s, FL:
John, if you could switch roles for the day with anyone else in the Jaguars organization, who would it be with, and why? And if you came down with a severe case of writer’s cramp and couldn't type out answers to the O-Zone, who would you select to fill in for you for the day?
John: I wouldn’t want to switch roles with anyone, though I’d love to make Patrick Kavanagh Money and I do envy @DigitalJag’s work schedule. As for who would fill in, that’s tough … I can’t say I’d wish you all on anyone.
lan from Jacksonville:
Do you think any of the players drafted this year will not make the roster? Also do you think any of them will be put on the practice squad?
John: No. No.

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