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O-Zone: That's a wrap

Posted May 26, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Tommy from Jacksonville:
I'm liking Telvin Smith more and more after watching some highlights. This kid is going to be something special. What a pick!
John: Smith is an intriguing selection and potentially a very good one – for the same reason. He has elite-level speed and athleticism, which gives him a chance to be not only a very good coverage linebacker – which is why the Jaguars drafted him – but good overall. Smith was a fifth-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, and once you get out of the third- or fourth-round you want to find players who have some trait that makes you think the player could be special if other areas develop. For Smith, the special part is speed; the area that must develop is size and strength, each of which is necessary at the position.
James from Starkville, MS:
I just realized this is the first season there has not been any coaching staff change since before the 2009 season. I guess stability can be.....well, stabilizing.
John: Stably speaking, yes. And while there were some minor changes on the staff this offseason – Robert Saleh for Mark Duffner at linebacker – your point is well-taken. Head Coach Gus Bradley, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, defensive coordinator Bob Babich and special teams coordinator Mike Mallory all remain in place. That’s continuity, and if the systems are sounds – which in this case they appear to be – continuity is a good thing.
Dalton from Orlando, FL:
Let’s say in 2015 the Jaguars go 11-5 in the regular season and lose in the AFC Championship Game. Put Jedd Fisch in Gus Bradley's position when he was offered the head coaching job for the Jags. If Miami were to offer him a head coaching job after a couple of seasons with a very good offense, do you see him wanting to become a head coach?
John: Young, gifted coordinators want to be head coaches. Fisch is young and gifted. If he’s successful as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator he probably won’t be around long.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
The coolest thing about "Duuvvvaaallll," is Dean has no clue what it means or what it's about.
John: Well, yes, there is that.
Blues Man from Palatka, FL:
Actually, JB did ask a question Saturday; he asked if we could please stop the "DUVAL" debate and concentrate on actual football. I agree with him too!! Now then, I haven't heard much about Gerhart's passing-game ability. Can you give me some insight into that? Thanks!
John: Thanks for the interpretative assistance, Blues Man. Without my readers grasping the subtle ironies in my responses I’d be nothing. As for Gerhart in the passing game, he is very capable. He’s probably not going to be explosive on the level of a faster back, but that’s not his role. He caught 77 passes for 600 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons with Minnesota. He showed good ability on third downs to catch swing passes out of the backfield and short passes in the middle of the field. That may not be something he’s asked to do as much with the Jaguars – particularly on third downs – but teams certainly will have to defend him as a receiving option.
Trace from Jacksonville:
As a fan of the Jags and the city of Jacksonville, it really irritates me the NFL is giving a Super Bowl to Minnesota. I know it's largely a reward for successfully extorting a new stadium out of the taxpayers, but I remember when the Super Bowl was in Jacksonville, everyone in the media was complaining that it was too cold here. And now Minnesota?
John: I’m sorry you’re irritated. Irritation can be, well … irritating. But as you noted, the pattern lately has been to reward cities that build state-of-the-art facilities with Super Bowls and to withhold Super Bowls from cities without such facilities. As far as the weather and the media and all the complaints … when it comes to the media, complaints are just “how it be.”
Eric from Gettysburg, PA:
Count me in as one fer the name DuValerie. Kidding aside, my question is about Colvin. As with most of our rookies, I know he has a chance to be a very good player. But do you expect him to be a starter in the beginning of the 2015 season based on the current roster? #DuvalDimwits
John: If Colvin returns to full strength and plays at the level he was projected before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament injury, then yes, I’d expect him to be starting at the beginning of the 2015 regular season.
Charles from Bangalore, India:
A lot of people want Bortles to start as quickly as possible, but they forget we have one of the better journeymen in the league with Chad Henne. He is no Vinny Testaverde or Earl Morrall, but has started 61 games for two NFL teams. A quarterback is only as good as the guys around him, and the Jags have stepped up with this year’s free agency and draft. Henne will fight to the end to be the starting quarterback. Barring injury, and assuming our additions pan out, he has a good chance of making the whole year as No. 1. Is that what Caldwell and Bradley would really like to see?
John: Bradley and Caldwell want Bortles to develop quickly, Henne to play well, the Jaguars to win and as a result of all of that, to have a very difficult decision. The feeling is it may take Bortles a while to be ready, and the Jaguars are OK with that. If Bortles develops quickly enough to make them rethink that, then so much the better.
Rick from Annandale, VA:
How many LEOs do think the Jags will keep, and do you think it is probable or unlikely the Jags will keep both Clemons and Babin?
John: This has been a common question since the draft, with many seeming to believe there is a rush to pare down the Leo position. Realistically, this still has to shake itself out, but remember that the Jaguars used three in some situations last season and they won’t be in any hurry to release good players. They signed Clemons and Babin at the same time in free agency, so there’s no reason to think they can’t be on the same roster. Andre Branch would be a third Leo possibility, with rookie Chris Smith potentially a fourth. With Smith being a fifth-round selection, you’re not expecting him to make a huge impact right away, so right now – yes, it’s possible that all of those players are on the roster. Also, don’t forget that Clemons and Babin will be 33 and 34, respectively, by the end of the 2014 season. The Jaguars want to rotate the defensive line a lot more than last season anyway, and that could be particularly true with Clemons and Babin.
Sid from Pittsburgh, FL:
Do you think Los Angeles will ever be home to an NFL team again either by relocation (not my Jags) or expansion?
John: I rarely say never, and I think the NFL eventually will return to Los Angeles. But to listen to a whole lot of very credible media who are talking to a whole lot of credible people it appears that in this case “eventually” could be a while.
Dane from Jacksonville:
How does the "he-is-on-the-practice-squad-for-a-reason" argument not hold water? Why do people refuse to believe football rosters are compiled based on which players are best? The idea that coaches have some underhanded agenda to put lesser players ahead of better players is just plain stupid and goes against all logic.
John: Coaches aren’t perfect and personnel people aren’t, either, but yeah – their goal is to put the best team on the field. This is still in reference to the Matt Scott Phenomenon, and it’s not beyond comprehension to think Scott could someday start in the NFL, there wasn’t a lot of indecision last season around the Jaguars about keeping him on the practice squad.
Meez from Richmond,VA:
No question here: just the one true answer to where the Duval chant originated. The root stems from rap culture, especially Florida rap. Rap artists have always given recognition to certain counties they were either born in or hang out in. Some just have a cool ring to them for lyrical purposes. The first time I ever heard “Duval” was in a T.I. song called "Rubber Band Man." It’s my belief that this song and many like it gave players like Mike Peterson, Marcus Stroud and Paul Spicer reason to chant Duval before games because the name was now on a national level. Everyone listened to the T.I. song in particular. Those guys were the first to chant it and Mike P. even did his "Welcome to Duval, Prepare to be hit" which was nothing short of brilliant. Since then Duval has become the more intimidating way of saying Jacksonville. Thank Duval. And I will see you this season.
John: And with that, we are mercifully and pretty authoritatively – rightly or wrongly – done. #Duuuuuuuuuuv……

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