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O-Zone: Numbers game

Posted Oct 16, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Looking ahead is awesome.

Let’s get to it . . .

Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX:
Watching Monday Night Football, I heard the announcers say the Chargers avoided the blackout by ESPN and other companies buying tickets at the last moment. Doesn't that mean they should be considered for London or Los Angeles instead of Jacksonville?
John: That’s not as easy for national-media types – and it also doesn’t fit the national narrative. Seriously, there are plenty of people nationally who project the Chargers moving to Los Angeles. It’s mentioned a lot and Chargers fans are probably as sensitive to that talk as Jaguars fans are of chatter around this franchise.
Dirk from Neptune Beach, FL:
I noticed a lot of two-deep safety sets. Are they used to try and protect this young secondary? I thought it worked really well with press coverage. Also, do you think we will see a lot more of it to stop big-mistake plays by our cornerbacks?
John: The Jaguars did play a lot of two-deep against the Broncos for exactly that reason. The Jaguars wanted to do that against Manning and the Broncos because that offense had been hitting big play after big play and the Jaguars had to do something with a young secondary to slow that offense. That approach really isn’t what Gus Bradley wants to do on a long-term basis. His philosophy is to play man press coverage with a single-high safety. That’s what Bradley thinks of as aggressive defense. He also wanted to bring some Cover Two into this system, which was a reason for the hiring of Bob Babich as defensive coordinator, but in the long run I doubt Bradley strays completely from where he came.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Is it me, or does Mike Florio just make stuff up? His article about the Jaguars trading Jones-Drew "at the right price" was nonsense. Isn't every player available at the right price? If you were the GM of the Broncos and I offered you my first and second picks for the next three years, I think you'd give up Peyton Manning. Agree?
John: I don’t know the details of how Florio operates. I do know he runs a very successful website that I read sometimes and other times I don’t. I did see the Maurice Jones-Drew report, and it’s true that most players are available at the right price. In fairness to Florio, he did say the same thing in the text of his story. As for giving up Manning for those draft selections, I don’t know. The Broncos are trying to win the Super Bowl this season. That will be harder to do without Manning.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
You said the Jags have only played once on Sunday Night Football, but I vividly recall two other times. One was a Sunday night game at the Giants 10-15 years ago; the Jags wore black pants for the first time, and Brunell was still playing quarterback. The other time I think you will also recall was during the playoff run of 1996: we had the Seahawks at home late in the year, and I remember Tony Brackens making either a huge interception or huge sack and the place went NUTS.
John: The Jaguars played many times on Sunday night when the series was on ESPN. My answer referred to NBC’s Sunday Night Football package.
Brian from Jacksonville and Section 230:
Outside of the stadium grilling hot dogs in jean shorts on an early Monday evening. #shadricksightings
John: Perhaps.
Adam from Dallas, TX:
I've heard it said that a good quarterback can make an offensive line look good. Is that the case here? Seems that the offensive line has played better since Henne started. But maybe that's just me.
John: Yes, a good quarterback with good pocket presence can make a line look good. The Colts for the last several years of Peyton Manning’s career there did not have the offensive line they had in the early part of the 2000s. Yet, the Colts usually were among the league leaders in fewest sacks allowed because he got rid of the ball quickly and avoided pressure better than most quarterbacks. Henne seems to have better pocket presence than Gabbert, so that could partly be why the line has looked better.
Adam from Jacksonville:
It's very frustrating to hear the false contention that Gabbert has played "relatively few games at quarterback." He's now started more than a season-and-a-half of games, which is far more chances than most quarterbacks get when they STINK. Jimmy Clausen played better than Gabbert and was jettisoned after a year. Chris Weinke played better than Gabbert and was jettisoned after a year. Henne played better than Gabbert when he was in Miami, and he was still jettisoned after roughly the same number of starts. The point is that when you play HORRIBLY you should not be given several SEASONS to somehow show that you can play better.
John: I understand the frustration. And I understand your view that it’s a false contention. I also understand that many NFL people share your view. I also understand that there are other NFL people who view a case such as that of Alex Smith as a cautionary tale when it comes to completely writing off young quarterbacks who struggle. I understand that the Jaguars continuing to play Gabbert is not about doing Gabbert any favor, or out of stubbornness, but about making sure you are absolutely making the right decision about a player at the game’s most important position. I also understand that you like to use the word, “jettison.” This is understandable. It’s a pretty cool word.
Mark from Brownsburg, IN:
The more Gus Bradley stares into the camera with a straight face and affirms Gabbert as the starter, the more I like him. It has an "I'm-reading-the Great-Gatsby-to-you-no-matter- how-badly-you-want-to-see-Elvis-or-the-bongos" Andy Kaufman vibe to it and shows he is not afraid to face down unhappy fans.
John: It took a second to put your Andy Kaufman reference together, and when I did, I liked it. Not that that’s what Bradley is doing. I just liked Kaufman. But remember: as hard as it may be for fans to grasp this, a coach’s job isn’t and cannot be to acquiesce to unhappy fans. Yes, that’s true even at 0-6 when the team is struggling. In fact, it’s particularly true at 0-6 when the team is struggling. A coach’s job, as well as that of the general manager, is to make decisions for the overall betterment of the team. A lot of times that doesn’t flow with fans’ short-term expectations.
Emily from Boulder, CO:
All the quarterbacks in Gabbert's draft class (Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Mallet, Ricky Stanzi, TJ Yates, Nathan Enderle, Tyrod Taylor and Greg McElroy) have struggled to the point where people have questioned their viability as starters at times this season or they have not played. Do you think we have started judge young quarterbacks too quickly? Can we back off on anointing young quarterbacks as saviors?
John: There indeed has been a mad rush in recent seasons to anoint some quarterbacks. As you say, many players, once anointed perhaps, haven’t been quite the saviors many once thought. It’s difficult to accurately judge a quarterback in the span of a year or even two. That’s because lesser quarterbacks can be protected by good systems around them, and you only see the true measure of the position over the long-term. Quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and now even Aaron Rodgers have proven effective with a variety of players in a variety of circumstances. Andrew Luck has the feel of such a player. Russell Wilson is probably the closest to that out of the quarterbacks entering in the last two seasons. Beyond that, it’s a stretch.
Tommy from Newark, DE:
Not to kill the love-fest over a respectable loss but the Jags scored 19 points on a defense that gave up 48 points the week prior. Lots of work left to be done before the wins start piling up.
John: And when did someone say there wasn’t?
Scott from Jacksonville:
Johnny O! Thanks for the good work. What is the purpose of 'activating' a player or making them 'inactive?’ Is this only related to injury? Or can a team make a healthy player 'inactive'. And why would they do that? Once on the 53 man roster I thought they would always be good to go?
John: A team can make a healthy player inactive. Under NFL rules, 45 players may be active on game day. A lot of times those players are injured, but whatever the health of the players, eight players of 53 must be inactive.
Scott from Jacksonville:
I have another perspective that makes general manager a very tough job. You can make all the best decisions in the world, but if your players are injured and can't play, then what good are they? Just seems to me that staying healthy is perhaps the most important item, and this is very hard to control.
John: You have landed upon perhaps the ultimate truth for a general manager. You can indeed have a plan, and make well-thought-out, wise decisions. In the end, much depends on chance such as injuries, proper scheme fit, maturity of a players, etc. You can build a lot of things well, and if you don’t have a quarterback it’s hard to maximize what you have built. You can build things poorly and a quarterback can cover a lot of mistakes. It’s a difficult job in which hard work and well-calculated decisions often aren’t rewarded.
Sherick from Jacksonville:
How many good questions/comments have you ignored in exchange for bad ones?
John: Three. No, wait. Four.

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