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O-Zone: Staying focused

Posted Dec 19, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Steve from Waukee, FL:
If you want to keep building a team the right way, draft more Brad Meesters and you will be fine.
John: If a general manager could have one Brad Meester in every draft, that general manager would be ecstatic. Meester announced Wednesday that he will retire after the season, which means Sunday will be his final home game. If he had his way the next two weeks would pass without much ceremony. Fortunately, he won’t get his way. Players and coaches were eager on Wednesday to discuss a guy who is universally admired and respected in the locker room. He not only played at a high level, he had exemplary work ethic, professionalism, commitment, etc., etc., etc. However you say it, Meester was a class act and a very good player here for a long time. He will be missed on countless fronts.
Brian from Jacksonville:
How many "Meester" guys have you been privileged to meet and interview? Names, if you could.
John: I’d put Meester in the category of athlete who is most enjoyable to cover, which is the player who is humble and treats everyone around him with dignity and respect whatever the circumstance – whether the cameras are on or not – and who also speaks with the same sincerity and carries himself with the same class whatever the circumstance. I’ve been fortunate to be around a lot of guys like that. Guys at the top of the list would be Fred Taylor, Meester, Tony Boselli, Jeff Lageman with the Jaguars and Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne and Antoine Bethea in my time with the Colts. Edgerrin James also was a darned classy guy in this way. I’m leaving a lot of guys out, and the Jaguars’ locker room right now has a whole lot of guys who are very professional in this sense. One player quickly working his way onto that list is Cecil Shorts III. He’s about as good a guy as you want to be around.
Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Coughlin was super outcoached in the second half of our closest chance to go to a Super Bowl. Who knows when that chance will come again? If he shows up in the "Pride,” I'll throw an egg at it.
John: And a whole lot of players I know would be more than eager to get a ladder and clean up the misplaced mess.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
You have made the statement you believe Gabbert is done in Jacksonville after this year. Is there a specific reason why he doesn't get one more chance to prove himself?
John: Perhaps he will. Perhaps I will be proven wrong. I’m often wrong. Gabbert hasn’t started since before the bye and there has been no movement or no indication of movement toward starting him. He will be entering his fourth season next season, and the current decision-makers have had nearly a year of seeing him, so it stands to reason he likely won’t be back. As far as a specific reason that he wouldn’t get another chance, it’s probably not much more complex than they’ve seen what they wanted to see.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
I would start Blaine the next two weeks. We will be reaching again for a quarterback if we take one in the first round. We can control Blaine for another year ... see if he has learned from watching. His results have not been good but I look at his physical talent and compare to the guys in the draft … and I give him another chance. What say you?
John: That’s what the Jaguars did this season. Never say never, but I doubt they’ll take that route again. Sometimes, it’s time to move on. This may be one of those times.
Chris from Orlando and Section 150:
Even if the offense should be penalized for fumbling out of the back of the end zone, a turnover seems incredibly harsh. Maybe place them on the 20 or something. But awarding the ball to the other team because the ball rolled through the end zone instead of out at the one-yard line seems far too harsh a punishment for the 'crime'.
John: As my father used to say when I would ask why in my childish view I was being treated unfairly, “Them’s the breaks, son.”
Marcus from Jacksonville:
How much of the success of NFL teams comes down to luck? Not in-game success, but success building a team. Good scouting and better drafting played a huge part in Seattle’s, but there is an element of luck for Russell Wilson to be on the board when you pick. If the team in front of Seattle decided to take Wilson, the story would be different. I like the optimism that Gus and Dave are going to do in Jacksonville what was done in Seattle, but I'm a little more skeptical, not because I don't think they can, but because sometimes it's the luck of the draw, and not the quality of the coach or general manager.
John: There’s no question luck plays a role – as it does in a lot of things. At the same time, work and the right approach can increase your chances of having luck pay off. That’s how to look at Seattle, where by any argument there is a very good system in place around Russell Wilson. That organization was ready to win when Wilson got there. Had the organization and the talent there been subpar it’s quite possible we wouldn’t be talking about Wilson as a superstar; rather, we might be wondering why in the world Seattle drafted a quarterback in the third round who’s struggling because of a lesser defense, or lesser wide receivers, or lesser something. I have tried to steer clear of overusing the Seattle analogy with the Jaguars, because no two franchises can be built alike. You build with a sound structure and let players develop within that structure. Put a good quarterback in that sound structure and you have a chance.
Nicholas from Fort Hood:
O-Man: As soon as I submitted my question regarding the power ranking I realized I made a mistake. I shall never doubt you again.
John: You’re forgiven. Those of us who never make mistakes are very tolerant of those who do. It’s what makes us special.
Spencer from Satellite Beach, FL:
Why was Drew Nowak switched to offensive lineman his rookie year? He was a pretty good defensive lineman in college.
John: They thought he would be a better offensive lineman.
Darrell from Starke, FL:
As a season-ticket holder, due to the quality of play at the time, I didn't much care about the London games when the deal was announced. Looking forward, I feel a bit bamboozled. I believe plenty of others will agree as this team continues to improve.
John: There may be those who feel that way. Fans would feel worse if the team was so financially unstable that it could no longer work in Jacksonville. The London initiative is part of an initiative to broaden the team’s fan base on an international level and to strengthen the franchise in Jacksonville. An international presence is the reality.
Nellie from Windermere, FL:
Dressed up as an elf in order to get as many free candy canes from the mall Santa as he can. #Shadricksightings
John: Yes, and not even always at Christmas.
Trey from Jacksonville:
People keep talking about the Jags drafting "the man" in the draft. Don't they realize that no rookie has established himself as a starting quarterback in the league?
John: Apparently not.
Andrew from Jacksonville:
O-man, I respectfully disagree with you about Coughlin going into the Pride. It was great to hear a warm ovation for him the other day, because he is indeed largely to thank for the Jaguars fast rise to glory in their early years, an era that is absolutely still the best years the team has had. However, unlike the other members of the Pride, Coughlin is not defined by his time here. Boselli, Taylor, and Brunell all spent time with other teams, but they will always be known to all as Jacksonville Jaguars. Thankful for what he did and will always be vitally special to those of us who were fans since the beginning, but he's not a Jaguar through-and-through.
John: You and I have different thoughts on the Pride. I define it as people without whom the story of the franchise can’t be written. Coughlin falls into that category for me.
John from Westchester, PA:
John, do you realize what you have done!!! Fisch wants to run the read option!! By saying this you've doomed us all. They're calling it; The War of the Quarterback Who Has No NFL Future. The Desolation of Tebow!!!!
John: Ah, the difference in what is read and what is written. I never wrote that Fisch wanted to run the read option on any sort of an all-encompassing basis. I wrote that I think he’d incorporate more with a mobile quarterback. I think he would – as part of a diverse offense.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
It's hard to be about this weekend because of the injuries the offense has suffered, but as long as this defense continues to play like it has, the young players are always fun to watch to see how they grow. Also, any time Ace Sanders gets the ball there's a chance something happens to make your eyes a little wider. What will you be focusing on this game?
John: My keyboard.

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