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O-Zone: No room for debate

Posted Dec 1, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it...

Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Please, please, please draft two quarterbacks. This team needs a quarterback and drafting two quarterbacks in the same draft doubles the chance of finding the right guy. With the rookie pay scale, it makes all the sense in the world.
John: This daily worry and debate over who the Jaguars are going to draft at quarterback next offseason is gripping the O-Zone these days like a stranglehold – and I get it. It’s a huge issue, and these questions are no doubt going to reach a fever pitch as May approaches. I’m not going to counsel anyone not to worry about it. The team needs a franchise quarterback. The team has needed one for a while. But I would say to not overstress about whether the Jaguars pick one or two quarterbacks in the draft. I don’t see them taking one in the first round and another in the second. I don’t see them taking one in the first round and another in the third, either. There are a lot of needs and the players picked in the second and/or third rounds could help in other areas. Could they take a quarterback in the first and another in the fourth or fifth? Sure, but either way, the first-rounder – if that is indeed the route they take – would be the player they expect to start for the foreseeable future and the later-round guy would be a backup. Whatever route they go, there are unfortunately no guarantees. There’s no fail-safe approach. They’ll pick a guy, they’ll do whatever is possible to develop him and put players around him to help him succeed. But taking two quarterbacks on the first two days – that’s just not something that’s likely to happen.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Another high-profile opponent for the Jaguars in London next year in the Dallas Cowboys and now three games scheduled for 2014 across the pond. The NFL seems to be committed to a strong UK footprint going forward.
John: Well, yes. That’s pretty obvious.
David from Durban, South Africa:
You play to win the game! It's the Madden generation that just wants to skip to the draft. I like to watch the development of guys such as Andre Branch, Dwayne Gratz, Johnathan Cyprien, Josh Evans, Ryan Davis, Cecil Shorts III and Ace Sanders. It gets me even more excited about next year. The draft will just add to that when the appropriate time arrives to cogitate about all things draft-related.
John: Yeah, Madden generation or not, you can’t skip to the draft, and fortunately for the Jaguars, David Caldwell and Gus Bradley don’t want to skip to the draft. The Jaguars are a young team that obviously is still developing. Part of that development is players learning how to play within the schemes Bradley wants used. That’s what has made the past few games important and it’s why the rest of the season matters. The defensive improvement in recent weeks is partly due to players starting to get the scheme, and starting to play better in it. That needs to keep happening, and it needs to keep happening on offense, too. There are five games left. The team will try to win as many of those as possible, and then begin preparing for the draft. Simple.
Chris from Mandarin:
If you want to lose on purpose, move to France. Go Jags.
John: Wow. I mean…wow.
Sonny from Melbourne:
JaMarcus Russell (No. 1 overall), Vince Young (No. 3), David Carr (No. 1), Joey Harrington (No. 3), Tim Couch (No. 1), AkiliSmith (No. 3), Ryan Leaf (No. 2), Health Shuler (No. 3), Rick Mirer (No. 2) and our own Byron Leftwich and Blaine Gabbert. This is why you would need a guarantee and you do not lose for a better draft pick.
John: Good list – time well spent, I suppose. Quarterbacks hit and they miss, just like every other position. When it comes to selecting a quarterback, you can’t worry about the past. It has no bearing on the present. Target a guy, pick a guy and develop a guy. You can go crazy overanalyzing – and I suspect we’ll do just that in the coming months.
Troy from Orange Park, FL:
I heard on the radio that Maurice Jones-Drew will get a contract extension at the end of the season. Have you heard anything about that and any other people whose contracts ends after this season?
John: Caldwell has said there is a possibility Jones-Drew could return next season, which would mean Jones-Drew signing a new contract – probably at a reduced base salary with incentives. But yes, I’d say that’s a possibility if Jones-Drew sees it as something he wants do to. As far as other players such as tight end Marcedes Lewis, quarterback Chad Henne, defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks … stay tuned. That’s what the last few weeks of the season and early January will be about.
Mike from Jagsonville:
I sense that I've somehow irritated you, judging by the responses to several of my questions. I apologize, and ask that I be put in the box for funny AND serious answers.
John: I think he’s playing really good football right now. I think the Jaguars waited for a long time for him to do that here. I think based on how he played last season it would have been difficult to project that would happen this season.
Bob from Orange Park, FL:
Can you provide any stats on Jaguar penalties the last few games compared to the beginning of the season? I think that reflects a lot on coaching and would be interested in a comparison and any thoughts you have on the topic.
John: The Jaguars averaged about six penalties for 61 yards through the first eight games of the season. They are averaging about six penalties for about 40 yards since the bye, so there’s a slight difference. You also get a pretty strong sense watching the games that there aren’t as many momentum-killers at crucial times. Penalties hurt the Jaguars early in the season. From the eye test, they don’t seem to be hurting them quite as much right now. We’ll see if that continues.
Talha from Holly Springs, NC:
Do you think Denard Robinson will ever get over his fumbling problem?
John: I have no idea. Robinson did have ball security issues early in the season, and that makes it tough to play him. That will be a focus of his in the offseason and next season, to be sure. The Jaguars haven’t given up on Robinson as a guy who can contribute, but that issue must be solved.
Len from Jacksonville:
Stephen Burton must have really got his bell rung. How many weeks has he missed now?
John: As of Sunday, he will have missed the last three games with a concussion sustained against Tennessee. He missed five games earlier this season.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
I know it's none of my business but, how bad is the financial hit the Jaguars are taking for Blackmon's suspension? Did his contract originally have clauses in it for these types of incidents?
John: Yes, it had clauses for this situation. The Jaguars did pay him a signing bonus when he signed his rookie contract in 2012, and because he was suspended without pay – and because they are not paying him a weekly salary – the financial hit is pretty minimal.
Kristi from St. Augustine Beach, FL:
The Mincey issue leads me to ask: “Do players on the inactive list get a game check? Or is it a reduced amount?”
John: Yes, players who are inactive get a game check. No, it’s not reduced when they are inactive.
Aaron from Fremont, CA:
There's no one way to make a good football team, and this steady, let's-just-focus-on-improving-everyday mentality is really great, really ideal, really true to life. It was exciting to be a fan when the Jags got their first win, and it should be even more fun to be a Jags fan in the future if we follow this path.
John: Did you know there’s a Fremont, Calif., song?
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
Rashad Jennings’ backstory inspired me to believe in the kid. I was disappointed to see him go elsewhere, but I'm ecstatic that he's having success. Some would say his on-field performance didn't deserve a spot on the roster, but I imagine the poor offensive line play clouded the picture. I know he hasn't won an MVP award or anything, but he's playing some really good football right now. Your thoughts?
John: I think he’s playing really good football right now. I think the Jaguars waited for a long time for him to do that here. I think based on how he played last season it would have been difficult to project that would happen this season.
James from Jacksonville:
As the debate rolls on, I think most are missing the actual point. Losing on purpose is just wrong. Integrity matters above all else.
John: The debate is actually pretty meaningless. Fans can kick it around all they want, but the Jaguars are going to win as many games as they can and draft where they draft. That’s going to be true whatever the public sentiment or discussion.

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