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O-Zone: Far from alone

Posted Nov 4, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Richard from Atlantic Beach, FL:
A history lesson might be worth the space. As I remember, Tom Coughlin did not build with the draft. The 1995 Jaguars were for the most part selected from the other teams, then the Jaguars got Tony Boselli with the No. 2 overall pick. Brunell was later acquired from Green Bay by trade.
John: Brunell actually was acquired from Green Bay before Boselli was drafted, but your point is correct – that the early Jaguars teams were built with a combination of good draft selections and unrestricted free agents. Acquiring quality UFAs is much tougher in today’s NFL, because teams do a much better job retaining their own free agents than was the case in the mid-1990s. Right tackle Leon Searcy, for example, may not have been available in this market but was a critical part of those teams. A case can be made, too, that while the Jaguars of that era indeed built a powerful team using free agents their formula was not sustainable and once the run was over, the team fell apart quickly. David Caldwell repeatedly has said the idea is to build a “sustainable” contender, and the best way to do that is to focus on the draft with free agency as a supplement.
Keith from Forest Hill, MD:
I know Jags played a bad game last week, and that Blackmon won't play the rest the year. But I am actually really excited about the rest of this season for one reason: Denard Robinson. He was looking like CJ2K against the 49ers and I am hoping to see him more as the season goes on.
John: I expect you will see more of Denard Robinson at running back. The Jaguars moved him into the No. 2 role against the 49ers because they wanted to see what he could do there, and he indeed turned in a couple of his best runs of the year. I can’t say he quite was playing at the level of Chris Johnson, and Robinson still has a ways to go before he is a feature running back, but it seems the Jaguars want to give him a more extensive look.
William from Palm Coast, FL:
Four years is way more than a semblance of continuity. That is how long we've gotten to enjoy watching Gabbert lose. It’s time to give Stanzi a chance.
John: Blaine Gabbert has been in the NFL two and a half seasons.
Greg from Section 122:
Justin Blackmon, fights in London by players, blatant personal fouls for fighting repeatedly. This team is showing history-making lows in the discipline department. Is Gus actually leading this team? Because from the outside looking in there doesn't seem to be much leading. Leadership instills and expects discipline by people. I am concerned with gross displays of poor judgment that this team may have made the wrong choice to lead. What do you think is the problem?
John: Not that the incidents you list are ideal, but I would hardly put them in the “history-making” category. Blackmon indeed clearly has a problem that he must address, but Bradley has spent extensive time with Blackmon. Thus far, Blackmon clearly is still having issues, but I’m hard-pressed to blame Bradley. The London fights from all reports were minor, and while the situation again wasn’t ideal, I don’t know that a couple of players involved in a minor altercation while out following a game is unusual or indicative of a lack of discipline. Your final points – the personal fouls – are more concerning. There have been too many this season. Some have been inexcusable. I’m not a big believer that those sorts of penalties are always about coaching, or that a coach can prevent every penalty. Sometimes there is responsibility on the part of the player, but in the long run Bradley would tell you he needs to get them stopped.
Matt from Orlando, FL:
Hey, John, just say it already: we do not have a sound playmaking team. One day we will, but there is no need to hear you fluff things up every week.
John: Hey, Matt! Thanks for the help!
Ryan from Duville:
I don't understand how people can compare Gene and Caldwell just because they both believe in building through the draft, which is a philosophy held by many teams. The difference is Gene drafted a punter, who is struggling, with the third-round pick. Since this was Caldwell's first year I'll give him three years for his picks to develop. Just like you should do with rookies.
John: Yep.
Rob in Section 205 from Jacksonville:
Mark Brunell was exactly right. Adios!
John: Yes, except that every action of Shad Khan in the last two years says Brunell wasn’t right!
Marcus from New York City via Jacksonville:
O-Man, could you give us an update on the health status of our remaining receivers? How is Williams? Will we see a Shorts/ Brown/ Sanders/ Burton lineup in Nashville?
John: Shorts said the day after the London game he expected to be significantly healthier after a week without contact. Williams’ Achilles will be updated Monday, but you’ll likely see Shorts and Brown start outside, with Sanders playing the slot.
Todd from Detroit, MI:
You guys have been selling Kool-Aid for the last five years. I’m sick of Kool-Aid. You got any Liquor? It's much needed.
John: A Kool-Aid reference! Way to bring it, Todd.
Dan from Jacksonville:
So John, Jeff Tuel, undrafted rookie free agent, is looking better than Blaine. How was Blaine realistically considered one of the top quarterbacks in his draft? He looks worse in his third year than an undrafted rookie against the Chiefs. I can't wait to never have to see his name on the roster.
John: Looks like the Bills were on television locally Sunday. And it looks like someone emailed early in the game.
John from Jacksonville:
The build-through-the-draft-concept is overrated and more balance or better variables need to be considered. The draft doesn't provide much bang for the buck with evidence of Monroe (traded too soon), Gabbert (abandoned too soon), Blackmon (suspended too soon), Joeckel (season ending injury too soon), and on and on. We then wait for yet another draft and have more disappointments, injuries, cut players only to wait for another draft. Then, we trade away players we've been working with for two-to-three years only to get more picks for another draft. The strategy goes on and on into the 0-16 black hole. The good players have to keep waiting and letting seasons pass by until things get competitive again (possible after their career ends).
John: Yes, from a fan’s perspective, that’s exactly how it seems right now. What makes building through the draft difficult – and why so many teams abandon the approach – are exactly the factors you cite. There isn’t a lot of immediate “bang for the buck” because rookies rarely have an impact that changes the direction of the franchise. And you must be patient with the players you draft. Remember: as difficult as it is for fans frustrated with years of struggling, David Caldwell and Gus Bradley are in Year One. That’s what you get when you fire one regime and hire another – when you “blow it up,” as fans like to say. The Jaguars are in the first year of a building plan, and the real results of that plan won’t be seen in Week Eight. A franchise has two choices: It can abandon the plan and depend too heavily on free agency and therefore restart the repeated short-term patchwork pattern, or it can stay strong through difficult times and develop a solid core. The second is difficult because fans want results now, but if you can stick to it, you can come out on the other end much better than where you began.
Zeleznoc:
Fans aren't just "scarred" by Blackmon and others that preceded him; they're royally P.O.'d! This is the last of the legacy of Shack & Gene. Fans saw what happened when we kept waiting for prior players to recover from their addiction - NO Change! Time to move on from Blackmon despite the high pick. Time for Khan & Caldwell to stand up, take responsibility, do the right thing and move on. While they're at it they need to apologize to all the ticket-purchasers for the debacle we've watched this year and do something to encourage ticket purchases for future years. Fans have supported Jags but support is wearing very thin.
John: Fans should be angry. The organization understands that. Rather than apologize, the team is doing what professional sports teams should do – continue working to ensure they earn the fans’ support in the future.
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
A mentor once told me that before you could get out of a hole, you had to quit digging. You have to hit bottom so you can starting climbing out of the hole. Call me crazy, but the first thing I thought when I read about the Blackmon suspension was "OK, that's it. We've hit bottom." Don't get me wrong, we are in a deep hole. There is a lot of tough climbing to find sunlight. I just think we may look back to this point in a couple years and see this was that low point. Are we done digging, O-Man?
John: Let’s hope so.
AAAGGGGHHHH!!!!! From AAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHH!!:
AAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is how I feel about the Jaguars right now.
John: Judging by the inbox over the weekend, you are not alone.

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