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O-Zone: Rosy outlook

Posted Mar 30, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Terry from Jacksonville:
What do you think of Maurice Jones-Drew complaining that the Jags didn't treat him right? These athletes are such freaking babies. They gave you steady employment for eight years and made you richer than any of us could possibly dream … to say anything negative about an employer that did those things is a slap in the face to the rest of us who actually work all year.
John: What do I think? Well, I suppose I am at an age when things players say when changing teams don’t bother me as they once did – or as much as they bother fans. I have seen a lot of players say a lot of things, and the things said when leaving teams usually are swept away with time. When a player leaves a team, feelings are raw and things get said that usually don’t mean a whole lot as time goes on. The quote I saw from Jones-Drew was this: “I feel like I got done wrong” by the Jaguars. Right now, perhaps he does feel that way, and that’s in character. Anyone who has been around Jones-Drew at all knows he is motivated by wanting to prove his doubters wrong. That’s his fuel and it has served him well during his playing career. Jones-Drew also understands that the NFL is a business and I believe while he was sincere last season when he said he liked the direction the franchise was taking, he also can grasp that there was a limit on what the team would pay him. I believe the Jaguars and their fans will treasure their memories of Jones-Drew’s career and I think over the long-term, Jones-Drew will treasure his time Jacksonville, and I don’t think a tiny quote in an introductory conference call really changes that.
Jarred from Las Vegas, NV:
I can still remember jumping up and down when we drafted the player with the biggest chip on his shoulder in the 2006 Draft. I am looking forward to seeing MoJo in the pride. He was a great Jaguar.
John: Yes, he was.
Scott from Woodland Park, CO:
Dave Caldwell says he is open to trading the No. 3 pick. Why would you do that? You do not get many chances to get one of the best three players in the draft and if the Jags continue to get better it may be some time before they draft in the Top 10 again. Taking the No. 3 guy whoever he is would be an upgrade to this team. Trading back to get two later picks (when you already have 11) who will probably not make the impact of the third-best player makes no sense to me when we need impact players not average players. Your thoughts?
John: My thoughts are that we have no way to know exactly what Dave Caldwell is thinking as he enters the draft, but that if he’s thinking there’s not a significant difference between No. 3 and say, Nos. 7-9 on his draft board then trading back makes sense. A general manager is wise to keep his options open on draft day, and having the option to trade back is significant at No. 3. Say the Jaguars are on the clock with Blake Bortles and Greg Robinson gone, for instance. If Caldwell likes Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, and, say, Sammy Watkins, pretty much the same and can move back to No. 5 for a second- and a seventh-round draft choice, then that would be a good trade.
Doug from Jacksonville:
The Raiders??? I understand players need to leave eventually and it is a business, but the Raiders???? So, he didn't leave for a chance for a ring, but just money. MJD was a stud on that field and I really will miss watching him.
John: Of course he followed the money. It’s professional football.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
Why is everyone so sure Johnny Manziel will get seriously injured in the NFL? I am old enough to have seen Fran Tarkenton play. Johnny Manziel is very similar to Tarkenton. I even read recently where Tarkenton said Manziel reminded him more of himself than any quarterback he had seen. Fran scrambled, but did not get seriously injured. Some would say that was a different era. Yes, they had Deacon Jones, Dick Butkus, Jack Lambert and others trying to kill quarterbacks with not nearly the rule protection as now. What impressed me during Manziel's workout was his arm strength. The only question about Manziel is his character, and I think he's fine on that front as well. So much for know-it-all pundits who never saw a scrambling quarterback like Tarkenton in person avoid great bodily injury.
John: You make a compelling point, and Tarkenton is perhaps the best comparison to Manziel. Tarkenton had a knack for scrambling and making plays in chaotic situations, and those absolutely are the traits that make Manziel so enticing. But there are those who believe that because there are far more players who are biggest, stronger and faster than there were in Tarkenton’s era that it will be difficult to avoid injury playing that style now. Count me among the latter, because it’s just hard to believe that if a player as fast as Michael Vick couldn’t avoid injury in the modern era that anyone could do it. At the same time, I will once again confess to having a little spot deep down that wonders if Manziel isn’t the exception to all of the rules. He has a magic about him, and if that magic translates then it will be special.
Richard from Jacksonville:
I will try this question again...Chad Henne had numerous passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. Is that a statistic that the league or the Jaguars keep? If a veteran like Henne has so many, what are the chances someone like Manziel who needs to be a pocket passer would be more successful?
John: Keep your head up, Richard; not all questions get answered in the O-Zone. As for your question, Henne indeed had more passes batted at the line – 20 – than any other quarterback in the NFL last season. Though Henne during his career typically has had a lot of passes deflected at the line, which can be a quirky statistic with a lot of circumstance – offensive line play included – factoring into it. Either way, Henne’s numbers really don’t have much to do with how Manziel might fare in this area. Manziel’s size could be an issue in this area in the NFL, but there are cases of shorter quarterbacks who can move enough within the pocket that it’s not a major issue.
John from Brunswick, GA:
I read where it was said that Coach Bradley feels comfortable with Henne being "The Guy." I know many fans who would rather see him as a backup to a new rookie. If that became the case, who do you think would get the job?
John: I think Bradley will still be the Jaguars’ Head Coach next season.
Marty from Jacksonville:
Why would Houston negotiate with its first-round pick prior to the draft? I know teams used to do this in the past, but now, isn't the salary pretty much set by formula? And wouldn't entering into negotiations tip their hand as to whom they intend to pick, thus negating some trade possibilities? If some team wants to trade up to the No. 1 pick to get Clowney, for example, and Houston comes to terms with Bortles, then Houston would lose the possibility of trading with the team that wanted Clowney.
John: You’re right that negotiating with the No. 1 selection would make it obvious who the Texans were considering picking. Teams holding the No. 1 selection typically only negotiate with a player if they’re very, very sure they are taking the player. But it has less to do with the salary formula and more about franchises being sure who they’re planning to take.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
I bet Shad calls you "Jon."
John: Usually, he just laughs and sneers derisively.
Paul from Grimsby, England:
There have been several comments about Pro Days not influencing the draft stock for the top quarterbacks. Is it the case that Pro Days have little relevance for the draft stock of all players or just the high-profile ones?
John: They can get a lower-profile player noticed, certainly, much the way a good performance at the NFL Scouting Combine can cause teams to go back and double-check information on a player. It’s not that a Pro Day has *no* influence on draft stock; it’s just that it’s a very small piece of the puzzle. It absolutely can cause a team to go back and re-look at a player if something stands out that didn’t before, and that’s why for the high-profile players a bad day usually hurts more than a good day helps. The bad day may cause teams to reassess something they were willing to overlook before. But even in that case, if everything else checks out – measurable, game performance, character, fit, etc. – the Pro Day isn’t going to have a disastrous effect.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
If MJD is happy then I am happy!
John: Is that a personal philosophy, or does it just apply to, like, this weekend?

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