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O-Zone: Tailing off

Posted Nov 24, 2013

HOUSTON – Let’s get to it...

Jesse from Gun Barrel, TX
The Jaguars are 1-9 and at this point in the season, winning hurts this team. They have a chance to pick up one or two gems in the draft, but it cannot be done if they win.
John: Why is that? Say the Jaguars win three more games, which would mean going .500 the rest of the season. Under that scenario they would finish 4-12. That would probably mean picking in the Top 5. There’s no reason the Jaguars can’t get a good player there – and yes, that means even the quarterback of their choice if that indeed is their position of choice.
Scott from Vienna, VA:
Why are people talking about Denard Robinson as a bust? I thought that he was a good pick in the fifth round. Isn't that when teams tend to make the long-shot picks?
John: Yes. As I have written before, Robinson cannot be a bust.
Jim from Section 230 and Meridian, ID:
How would you compare our rookie corners to Fernando Bryant's rookie season? He was All-Rookie, I believe, so what's the difference in your mind?
John: I’ll focus on Dwayne Gratz, since the Jaguars’ other rookie corner – Demetrius McCray – is not a starter. There are a few differences. First, Bryant played much of his rookie season whereas Gratz has missed much of the season with injury. Second, Bryant in 1999 played on a fully developed team/defense with a solid pass rush in front of him. Bryant probably had a better season than Gratz as a rookie, but playing the whole season with better players around him tips the scale in his favor.
Richard from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Players in their "Contract Year" play hard to win that next big contract. Once they have that contract some of them seem to lose the incentive, especially if age or injuries lower the expectation of any further big contract. How can you judge what to expect from that older experienced player?
John: While there are cases of players losing their incentive there are also plenty of cases where players do not. The key for a team is making sure you’re signing players who are motivated by playing well and winning rather than just money, not to mention making sure the player has a chance to stay healthy. It’s a challenge. It’s what makes free agency risky territory.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
"At some point, you must identify one and decide if he’s your guy. If he is, and he’s there when you pick, then take him. Then, hold on for the ride." Wouldn't NOW be the time to hold on and see what the 23-year-old kid has?
John: They apparently believe they already have.
Garrison from Baton Rouge, LA:
At the beginning of the year we kept comparing ourselves to Seattle and how they rebuilt themselves in three or four years. My question is, “Why does that have to be us?” After we get our franchise quarterback, Bridgewater or whoever it may be, why don't we aim for the Super Bowl right away by splurging a little and bringing in some big names in free agency on defense?
John: Because there’s really no frame of reference for that being a good way to reach the Super Bowl.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
I get how people think free agency is the best plan. Look at the Bucs this year! They spent an ungodly amount of money on free agents and look at their success! We should even trade draft picks for cash so we can sign even more free agents! Spend, spend, spend!!! Go Jags!
John: #Standunited
Cleon from Jacksonville:
I just don’t see keeping Chad Henne next year for the amount of money he will want. Why not keep Gabbert, which will cost less, and try to develop him? It just seems he has been thrown into situations this year that may have contributed to his statistics. Still, Henne is not the answer and I would not pay him the money.
John: How do you know how much money Henne will want? I have no idea yet if the Jaguars will want to re-sign Henne. Discussions and decisions about personnel moving forward will be made following the season, but it’s not fair to assume that Henne will want a certain amount of money.
Mark from Duuval:
How come Scobee only gets two minutes for his Kicking it with Scobee video – a very entertaining look inside the locker room – and you get over five minutes for your . . . umm . . . whatever is you do on your videos?
John: Who’s Josh Scobee?
Keith from Palatka, FL:
Building through the draft is a slow, arduous process. First- and second-round players only have about a 50 percent success rate in the NFL, according to several sources. Bill Polian used to think if you could succeed on 4.5 out of 7 players (players he considered could help you win) that was a good draft on average. If you "hit" (whatever that means) on three or four players a draft, that is a "good" success rate. At that rate it will take a long time to build a team through the draft. While I do not doubt the veracity of your statements that this is the best way to build a team for the long haul, do you think the Jaguar fans will have the patience for this in light of nearly a decade of futility?
John: Keith, you write a lot, so I assume you read, too. Through much of the season, I have written often the Jaguars will be more active in free agency this offseason than last. Just because it’s not going to be the main means through which the Jaguars build doesn’t mean it will never be used. If free agency was such a quick sure-fire way to build a Super Bowl team, then why isn’t every team in the Super Bowl every year? If it worked, everyone would do it. What does that mean? It means it could take a while to build a Super Bowl contender. It means it might not happen next season. But it’s not David Caldwell or Gus Bradley or Shad Khan’s job to worry about how fast it happens nearly as much as it is to worry about doing it the right way. You talk of the fans’ patience and everyone understands that, too. But here’s the thing: signing patchwork free agents who aren’t the right fit just for the sake of getting a little better (maybe) for the present is pretty much a sure-fire way to ensure a long cycle of futility. Building through the draft is a much higher percentage chance of having the end-game be positive. In other words, free-agent impatience by the franchise almost certainly will lead to failure. Building through the draft has a chance at the success the fans crave. It may not happen as quickly as people want, but it’s still the best percentage chance.
Andy from St. Johns:
I got a Fox Sports article forwarded to me about how Shad Khan and the NFL are moving the team to London. This poor writer lists the inside information he has and the reasons. I would find this interesting if I hadn't read this exact same article 100 times already over the past two years. These articles are mind-numbing. I am exhausted reading them and all the worry and fear everyone gets when they read this stuff. I would just like to say (and not trying to sound like a homer), but we here in this city are really, really lucky to have Shad Khan as an owner. If you take a deep breath, step back, look at the facts and actions of his ownership so far, you do nothing short of shaking your head with a little grin and realize how truly special he and his vision for this organization and city are and will become.
John: I’m sort of grinning right now, as a matter of fact. You’re right that when national writers write stories such as the one you cite it sets of a fresh round of worry. Khan really can’t do much more than he already has done to prove his commitment to Jacksonville. He’s investing in the stadium and the city and city leaders are working with him pretty much in lockstep. All the people of Jacksonville can do is continue to watch his actions and remember them when reading the stories.
Cathy from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What is your assessment of how Mike Brewster performed in replacing Rackley?
John: Will Rackley will start at left guard Sunday after missing the past two games with a concussion. As for Brewster, he was OK the past two weeks, and I thought at times he performed better than Rackley did most of the first half of the season. Rackley played through a lot of injuries early. He needs to play better the last six games.
Lavar from Sacremento, CA:
John you could write a book, and I'd read it (while somewhere over the rainbow). What would you title it? Keep up the good work.
John: Probably be something like, “I worked good for a while, but I couldn’t keep it up.”

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