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O-Zone: The ultimate goal

Posted Nov 6, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Looking ahead on a Wednesday . . .

Jack from Chicago, IL:
Can you remind Jags fans who think Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley need to go that Rome wasn't built in a day? Nor were the Patriots, the Colts, the Packers, etc. etc. etc. Time to calm down and relax.
John: Jack, reminding people of that is what I’ve been doing every day the last few weeks. Those efforts probably will have little immediate effect – and understandably so. There are going to be fans who see 0-8 and think, “These people don’t know what they’re doing. How could they? They’re 0-8.” Those fans shouldn’t be ridiculed for their view. They’re fans and it’s not their jobs to understand the big picture and that there are some situations in the NFL you can’t turn around in a three-month offseason. Fans see Kansas City’s turnaround and think, “Why didn’t the Jaguars do that?” They don’t see and don’t want to see that the Jaguars are starting from essentially Ground Zero and starting from Ground Zero is a long-term, difficult process. Those fans who don’t understand that are frustrated. They will remain frustrated, and that’s OK. It’s not their jobs to understand that building through the draft – truly building through the draft – is going to mean pretty intense growing pains, and it’s not their job to withstand the criticism that a team must endure during those growing pains. It’s the job of the general manager and the coach. Because Shad Khan believes he has the right people in those jobs, David Caldwell and Gus Bradley are going to get a chance to build Rome, even if that takes a lot longer than a day.
Dane from Jacksonville:
Can Denard Robinson eventually become a three-down feature running back? Do you think if he added weight to increase his power between the tackles it would help or hurt his potential?
John: I think Robinson will have a difficult time becoming a three-down feature running back. That’s not to say it can’t happen, but he has quite a bit of improvement to make – particularly as a blocker and as a receiver, each of which you must do to be a good three-down feature back. As far as increasing weight, he could add some, but if there’s an absolute, unchallenged strength that Robinson brings it’s his speed. You don’t want him doing anything to hurt that.
George from Savannah, GA:
Headline on NFL Network states, "Keenum a bright spot." I'm sure most realistic observers see that Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne are not the long-term answer. At what point do we give Ricky Stanzi and Matt Scott a shot like Houston has done with Keenum?
John: When the people making decisions think one of them is ready. That’s probably not soon.
Pete from Jacksonville Beach:
John, never miss the column, love it. With all the talk on Blackmon and the draft I'd be curious on your take on this: what percentage of being able to pick in the draft is science, what percent is art and what percent is luck. I'd say the Jags have had ZERO luck.
John: Ideally a general manager wants it to be as much science as possible. That’s where scouting and having a system based on measurable and specific necessary skill sets comes in. It’s a way to eliminate as much guesswork as possible. The art comes when it’s time to determine how a player fits into your system, how he’ll mesh with the skill sets of other players on a roster.The science and – to a lesser degree – the art is designed to eliminate as much of the luck as possible. You also scout things like character and injury history to eliminate luck. But at some point luck does play a role. A general manager’s job is to take as much of it out of the equation as possible, but you can’t eliminate it entirely.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
In the spirit of the question answered Tuesday could you give us your personal midseason evaluation of Tyson Alualu?
John: I wouldn’t say he has been an impact player this season. He has been OK against the run for the most part, and has struggled in pass rush. That’s not completely unexpected considering he’s not playing the Leo pass-rushing end role. I’d also say he seems to have played better the last two games than he did early in the season, which may be a matter of him adjusting to end after moving from tackle in the offseason.
David from Jacksonville:
When a quarterback pitches the ball to a back is it counted as a pass or a run?
John: If the ball travels backward, it is a run. If it travels forward, it is a pass.
Seth from Kalamazoo, MI:
With many star quarterbacks getting injured the last few seasons, I find it interesting the league driven by quarterbacks continues to alter the rules to encourage quarterbacks dropping back 10-to-15 more times a game. This would seem to dramatically increase the injury risk to the money maker. It just seems like there have been more ACL injuries and broken collarbones over the last few seasons. Any merit?
John: I don’t get the sense that quarterbacks get injured significantly more than they once did. Quarterbacks who stay in the pocket, who get rid of the ball in timely fashion and who are well-protected typically remain healthier than those who run and put themselves in harm’s way. Peyton Manning missed one season with a neck injury, but has been remarkably durable, as have Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. The commonaiity is they all have pretty good pocket awareness and a knack for avoiding contact. There also is a priority in the organizations on those quarterbacks not getting hit. All those factors together reduce risk and help keep those players in the game.
Jason from Jacksonville Beach:
What's the tie-breaking procedure for determining first pick in the draft if several teams have the same worst record?
John: The team with the weakest schedule gets the first selection.
Ryan from Duval:
I don't feel sorry for Blackmon nor do I think he is done getting into trouble with substance-abuse issues. He has never seemed genuinely sorry and his actions indicate he doesn't really believe he has a problem. Sure, he'll go to rehab and follow the motions but until he realizes he has a problem he will continue to get into trouble. When he got his DUI, he told us he was "done drinking... for now.” I'm sure that lasted all of a week since he has now been suspended for more games than he has played. I don't want him on our team, in our city or really in our state. He's done.
John: You are absolutely entitled to your opinions, and you’re entitled to set your own standards for behavior. Blackmon actually has played 20 games and been suspended for 12, but I know that’s not your point. Many people agree with you and are ready for the Jaguars to cut ties with Blackmon. A couple of points, though. One, you are assuming that because Blackmon didn’t seem sorry before he isn’t remorseful now. I don’t know that to be true, and I doubt you do, either. You also assume because of what he said a year and a half ago that he will behave the same way now. Again, I don’t know that to be true and doubt you do, either. We can argue those points and never have satisfaction because we can’t predict the future, but as for what seems to be your final point – that the Jaguars should get rid of Blackmon –there’s really no point to doing that. Is he a building block at this point? Is a guy you put on the bulletin board and say, “I know we have him for 10 years?” No and no. But what’s the point in cutting him? What benefit is there in that? None, so far as the Jaguars can see.
John from Jacksonville:
I assume the idea behind building through the draft is to develop players over time into quality players. I also assume the idea isn't to let them all go after their initial contract. But that is what has happened with players such as Derek Cox, Eugene Monroe, Terrance Knighton and soon, Blaine Gabbert. You HAVE to have second contract players who are premier players. If we can't grow them ourselves, why is it wrong to go elsewhere to get them? I'm not saying to overpay for them, just like we wouldn't overpay for our own, but good grief, it seems short-sighted to put all of your eggs in the draft basket when only three players are left from our last four drafts!
John: Well, if you aren’t saying to overpay for them, then you’re saying, “Don’t participate in free agency.” You almost always overpay, whether it’s for your own players or players from other teams. The Jaguars’ plan absolutely is to re-sign players to second contracts. But they have to be players worthy of that sort of investment. If Luke Joeckel, for example, isn’t signed to a second contract that would be a major disappointment because he’s supposed to be a franchise-level player. The determination was made that the players who weren’t re-signed weren’t franchise level players. Argue that all you want, but that’s the determination.
Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazile:
People don’t get it IT’S ALL ABOUT THE QB!
John: I think most people get it.
John from Jacksonville Beach:
This build-through-the draft is nothing but an excuse to give the new general manager and head coach time to learn how to do their new jobs. The goal isn't to win a Super Bowl; it's about putting a competitive, entertaining team on the field each and every game. This is the entertainment business and Caldwell and the coaching staff are the worst at what they do in the world. Do your jobs $#!@! What happened to that I guy watched on youtube and thought was our coach?
John: “The goal isn't to win a Super Bowl it's about putting a competitive, entertaining team on the field each and every game.” I think your mission statement and that of Shad Khan differ a bit.

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