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O-Zone: Picking sides

Posted Oct 27, 2013

London – Hacking away from downtown London. It’s game day.

Let’s get to it . . .

Jim from St. Augustine, FL:
In the last three games the Jags’ offense has averaged 359 net yards a game. When compared to the NFL for the season that would put the Jag offense in 13th place! That is improvement. Now let’s work on the red zone. What say you, John?
John: I say this is a point that Gus Bradley made this week, and there’s a lot of truth in it. The Jaguars struggled in a big way offensively early in the season, but in the last three weeks they have moved effectively at times. Players this week talked a lot about finishing, and that means being more effective in the red zone. That’s sometimes the hardest step for an offense, because the field tightens and quarterbacks must be much more precise. If skill guys such as Justin Blackmon, Marcedes Lewis and Cecil Shorts III can stay healthy, the red-zone offense should get better in the second half of the season.
Clay from Raleigh, NC:
Since this is a question that requires a definitive answer minus your usual spin, I'm sure this won't get published, but here goes. Assuming the Jags go 0-16 (which I think they have an excellent shot), who gets the crown of worse NFL team ever - 1976 Bucs, 2008 Lions, or 2013 Jags?
John: You seem to know a lot. You tell me.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
Please explain your claim of tangible improvement in the future under Caldwell. I'm confident you understand the meaning of tangible. I think you mistyped. I would believe the termination of Caldwell would qualify as tangible since he is the obvious cause of the team’s complete and total failure. Maybe you could give us an example of how the Caldwell philosophy has succeeded with a different NFL team? I'm not aware of any similar situation ever succeeding before. The Jaguars will not begin to improve until after Caldwell is gone based on previous similar situations.
John: I didn’t mistype, though I almost did as I laughed while reading your question. What your email lacks in accuracy it makes up for with boldness, and that’s cute, too. The Caldwell philosophy is building through the draft, with free agency supplementing that build once a draft class or two is in place. No two building situations are exactly the same, but philosophically, there couldn’t be a more sound approach. And it has been used a lot by teams that have won a lot of games. The Colts with Peyton Manning, the Falcons with Matt Ryan, come to mind, though there are many, many others.
Dennis from Orange Park, FL:
I go to games to watch the best at what they do. Visiting teams are that chance. It is certainly NOT entertaining to watch the home team play. I'm sure no one inside the organization cares but the last of my money and support over the last ten years will be leaving the building. I have a feeling many others will be feeling the same way.
John: The Jaguars do care. A great deal. The entire staff works every day not only to show the team cares, but to give fans a quality game-day product on and off the field. The off-field game-day product is off-the-charts good. The on-field is a longer-term fix, but that work eventually will yield the results people want. The Jaguars are working to make it more entertaining to watch the home team play. To do that, they’ve put in place a long-term plan. Within that plan, the short-term is difficult. If that isn’t enough, then I apologize. But if the Jaguars were to do anything else, it would be patchwork stuff and it wouldn’t be about long-term winning, and that would be sort of silly.
Winston Churchill:
Get out.
John: Just finished Part One of “The History of English Speaking Peoples. I read it in the bathroom each morning. Thank you. Good stuff.
David from Teecula, CA:
Why are you so disrespectful to anyone who brings up Tim Tebow? I thought writers were supposed to be objective! Do you despise this young man so much for wanting to succeed?
John: I don’t despise Tebow. Not remotely. I do at times poke fun at the furor around him. Poking fun happens a lot here in the O-Zone. I probably poke more fun at myself than I do Tebow fans. I’m sure they can handle it.
Tanner from Utah:
All of the comments I have read coming from the Jaguars about Evans and Cyprien make it clear that the coaching staff really likes them, but when I look at their numbers on Pro Football Focus, they are struggling. In fact, Cyprien is one of the lowest rated DBs in the league. I trust Bradley a lot, so I am wondering if you could shed some light on what the coaching staff is seeing that makes them speak so highly of these kids? A little behind-the-scenes insight would be appreciated.
John: Pro Football Focus’ grades are a helpful tool, and they do shed light on how a player is playing. They don’t always tell the whole story. Cyprien and Evans are struggling at times, and they do miss tackles and miss plays. That’s fairly common for rookie defensive backs. What the coaches like is their potential and their improvement. They play with an energy and – to borrow a Gus Bradley term – a spirit that Bradley and the staff like. As they gain experience, I’d look for their analytical grades to improve accordingly.
Steve from Denver, CO:
If the Jags are trying to hide the game plan are you implying they have been holding back a secret set of plays to shock the Brits? If we are only scoring 11 points in 3 home games, our game plans have been inept at best up till now.
John: I’m not implying anything. I was asked why the Jaguars don’t open practices in London. I answered that the reason is that they don’t want to reveal their game plan. There’s really not much more to the answer than that.
Bruce from Jacksonville:
Complaining to the Queen in her box at Wembley that the beer is warm and "those aren't biscuits." #Shadricksighting
John: Mmm-hmm.
Joe from Jacksonville:
John: Do you see any chance for Scott or Stanzi to see any action if we continue to underperform? If we are, say, 1 and 12 what's wrong with taking a look?
John: That’s probably not out of the realm of possibility. The Jaguars aren’t there yet.
JT from Columbus, MS:
To Eric and other Caldwell distrusters, Gene Smith said "more draft picks," but traded up every draft. Caldwell is saying "more draft picks," and is actively trading now and collecting draft picks. The two may be saying the same things, but actions speak louder than words. I'm behind Caldwell.
John: Caldwell has said since his hiring he wants to build through the draft with younger players, and supplement with free agents when it’s appropriate. That will include higher-priced longer-term guys when the time is right. So far, he has done what he has said.
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
Does drafting a quarterback high in the first round make him a "top-tier" quarterback? I only ask since apparently we HAVE to spend our top draft pick on one, and yet I feel that when you need to address the quarterback situation, it might be a little more important to find the right guy than the popular one. Sometimes you get (Andrew) Lucky, but prioritizing the pick to the position just seems absurd unless it's one of those once in a generation quarterbacks that fall into your lap...know what I mean?
John: I do, and general managers do, too. But the quarterback position is so important that you want to get the right guy. That means making sure you get him and that means not wanting to risk letting other teams move up past you. That often means taking him in the first round and not waiting.
Rob from Jacksonville:
I don't know a lot about Pro Football Focus and their grading system, but can you shed some light on how the offense graded positively against San Diego while only scoring 6 points. Doesn't seem like a score that would beat a lot of teams.
John: You make a good point. The PFF grading system adds individual player grades to get overall unit grades. It’s not a perfect system for grading how an offense played as a whole, because a team overall could grade pretty well and miss scoring opportunities after driving effectively much of the game. That’s not a knock on PFF’s system. It doesn’t really claim to grade offenses or defenses as a whole as much as players.
Kyle from Pensacola, FL:
You hate me, John. You never pick me. I'm THAT kid in the pickup game. :(
John: Hate is such a strong word. By the way, I saw Dwight Clark at the Fan Rally in Trafalgar Square. I told him nice catch. He just kept talking to someone else.

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