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O-Zone: Mutual understanding

Posted Oct 9, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Looking ahead is a beautiful thing.

Let’s get to it . . .

Jason from Navarre Beach, FL:
The Jaguars kept Maurice Jones-Drew on the 53-man roster for most of last season, which proved to be a mistake. I know that was Gene Smith, but isn't Caldwell making the same mistake with Marcedes Lewis? I strongly feel it's time to take him off the 53-man roster. My instincts tell me he's a cancer on this team. Lewis isn't worth anything if he isn't playing. Time for him to go.
John: The Jaguars need Lewis to play. He’s important in the running game and would help the passing game. He’s having trouble getting healthy, but it’s not from a lack of effort. I think it’s fair to say that Lewis wasn’t thrilled with the coaching staff last season, but “cancer” is very strong and certainly doesn’t apply this season. He clearly is supportive of this coaching staff and wants to be on the field. Now, this isn’t to say the Jaguars wouldn’t listen to trade offers. He could have value and they’re at that stage in the building process, but Lewis’ presence on the active roster isn’t a negative.
JY from Port St. Lucie, FL:
Matt Flynn? PLEASE say we're at least TALKING to him? I'm not sold on Blaine Gabbert going the way of the dodo bird, but Flynn would have a chance to play here. Any insight as to if we're even interested in a "proven" quarterback?
John: Gus Bradley said on Monday the Jaguars have not discussed acquiring Matt Flynn. They discussed it in the offseason when he was a free agent, but not since his release from Oakland.
Stan from Jacksonville:
Do you think your job would be easier/more enjoyable if you covered the Broncos?
John: I have no idea, but I wouldn’t necessarily think so. I don’t work for the Broncos, and don’t know the people in the organization. I do know the people in the Jaguars’ organization and can honestly say while many of them – including the higher-ups – understandably find me distasteful, annoying and tiresome, I would rather work for this organization than anywhere I’ve ever worked. There is a lot more to enjoying your job than victories and losses, and while more victories would be great – and while they are obviously the goal – working for the Jaguars from my perspective is the best job I’ve had. I would also miss Alfie Crow and Uncle Chaps, not to mention Gene Frenette. They’re cool. I like them.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
Not sure if you caught the Monday Night game, but Geno Smith threw for three touchdowns with zero picks, and led a formerly bad Jets team on a game-winning drive in Atlanta. How is that not better than any of the quarterbacks the Jags have on their roster?
John: Yep, Smith looked good. He looked better than the Jaguars’ quarterbacks have looked this season. Until Monday, that hadn’t been the case. If he does that every game for the rest of his career, then history may judge the Jaguars’ decision unkindly.
Cory from Madison, WI:
Blaine realistically can't do anything over the next 11 weeks to show he is the answer. So why play him? Chad Henne isn't really any better, but he at least looks competent at times. Gabbert was given this job. It was never a competition. He has done nothing to earn this much trust, and that's why fans are ticked. They deserve an answer.
John: Each day I get emails explaining to me why fans are angry. These are appreciated, but in a sense unnecessary. I understand why fans are ticked. The Jaguars are 0-5 and a struggling quarterback isn’t playing better than he did a year ago. To your point, Gabbert did win the job. He hasn’t played as well in the regular season as he did in practice and preseason. That’s the answer. And of course, Gabbert could do something over 11 weeks to show he is the answer. He may or may not do it, but there’s no doubt that’s enough time.
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
I know your stance in relaying Gus's commitment to Gabbert. However, for the first time I can hear in tone and language from JP, Lageman and yourself that Gabbert's days are numbered.
John: I can’t speak for Lageman and Shadrick. My approach always has been to try to explain the best I can why things happen the way they do around this team. For two years, I have said that the team is giving Gabbert the opportunity to prove he can be the starter for various reasons. I have written often that a lot of things that have gone wrong for the Jaguars’ offensively can’t be laid solely on Gabbert. That remains true. I also have written that Gabbert won’t get chances forever, and that he must play better. I don’t think it’s news to anyone that the time is very definitely now.
Marco from Lima, Peru:
Is the window closing for the Texans?
John: No, but they need to get their quarterback situation solved. The window in the NFL typically stays open as long as you have a quarterback playing at a high level and typically closes when you don’t.
Jay from Camp Lejeune, NC:
After Week Two I decided to quit being a passionate fan and observe the building process. I DO see many positives moving forward: two stud receivers and a possible third slot demon (Sanders), a head-hunting secondary, and a defensive line that is starting to put pressure on the quarterback week by week (Marks is ALWAYS in the backfield). Question: Other than quarterback, what is the biggest need in the draft next year? I'd say interior line depth.
John: The needs remain many. The Jaguars must continue to get stronger on the defensive line.
Scott from Section 137 and Ponte Vedra, FL:
I have one simple question. How can you even be competitive if you do not get consistent quarterback play? Having been a season-ticket holder for 15 plus years, I have seen the least amount of quarterback consistency over the last three years than any other time period. Even Leftwich played well enough.
John: The Jaguars’ quarterbacks have struggled in recent seasons. In a league increasingly defined by the quarterback position – perhaps too much so – that’s a problem.
John from Nocatee, FL:
Please stop writing about Gabbert’s potential. He is as close to being a good quarterback as I am being a professional golfer. Sure, once or twice I can hit the ball like the pros do. Does that mean I have potential when my other 97 shots go into the woods?
John: I’m pretty sure I clarified my comments on Gabbert’s potential. It’s not enough. It has to be performance now.
Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
I have not heard much reporting on Mr. Khan lately. We heard a lot during preseason and I assume his low profile now is a way to avoid saying the obvious (we are not very good) and supporting the general manager and coach. Just wondering, has he been around the stadium lately?
John: Khan has been around as much as usual. He has attended the games and is running the team as he normally does – which is to say, allowing Mark Lamping, David Caldwell and Gus Bradley to do their jobs. Khan hasn’t talked much about this season, but he didn’t talk much during the season last season, either. He isn’t an owner who wants to be constantly talking about the team in public, and he doesn’t want each week to turn into a State of the Team address. That’s not unusual. Many owners around the NFL choose not to offer weekly updates on the team, preferring to let the players and coaches speak for the team during the season. Khan knew this season would be difficult and knew this was the beginning of a building process. He doesn’t have to be seen on TV to make that clear.
Ryan from Depths of Despair:
One person who I haven't seen receive a lot of criticism is Jason Babin. Here is a guy who was brought in to get sacks and have veteran leadership. So far, all he's done is lead the team in the most-ridiculous- rookie-mistake kind of penalties. Whether lining up offsides multiple times in a game or committing personal fouls to negate a defensive stand, he is an example of why you don't go looking for other people’s trash. You just end up with useless junk.
John: Babin has committed too many penalties. He said last week it would be an area of focus, and he was penalized again this week. Gus Bradley said last week penalties of aggression happen at times for Babin, but overall, the penalties need to be reduced. This team isn’t good enough yet to overcome a lot of them.
John from Ramsey, NJ:
I have a new favorite player. How can you not admire/like Luke Joeckel with how humble, honest, and positive he remains to be following this injury? I wish him a fast recovery so he can get back to what he enjoys most in life. I can only imagine how proud his parents are of him.
John: Joeckel indeed is easy to like. As you say, he is humble, honest and all indications are he has exactly the right attitude. He showed some rough edges in four games at right tackle, and was playing better at left tackle before the injury. He has to gain some experience and strength, but there’s little reason to think he won’t excel quickly when healthy next season.
Peter from St. Johns and Section 242:
I can’t understand why people can’t understand.
John: What do you mean?

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