Let's get to it . . .
Charles from Midlothian, VA and Section 216:
WHY do fans assume before the combine and well before the draft that ANYONE knows who is going where in the draft? Before thinking about Blackmon, etc., everyone should Google "Blaine Gabbert Draft Prospects" and read everything PRE-Combine, then POST-Combine and right before the draft. It's actually quite enlightening. Short version: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT in February. In March, they have a better idea, and it's still pretty much a guessing game up until the draft starts.
John: I have no problem with pre-draft speculation so long as fans understand that that's almost entirely what it is – speculation. Until April, that's all it is – and as you say, it's mostly speculation then, too. You can get a relatively good feel for the Top 10 or 12 selections some years, but that said, there's always going to be a surprise or two – and after the Top 15 or so, it's almost always guess-working and finger-crossing. Anyway, why do fans assume anyone knows who is going where? Because the Super Bowl is over and speculating about the unknowable is what NFL fans do when the Super Bowl is over – and sometimes before and during the Super Bowl, too.
Eric from Yulee, FL:
Enough talk about top five players, mainly because no one mentioned Freddy T. But what about the five worst players? I would have Matt Jones, Byron Leftwich, Reggie Nelson, Derrick Harvey – oh, and that old punter we picked up last season: Turk. Also not a player, but who else has been praying for Dirk Koetter to lose his job for the past five years?
John: I had Taylor at No. 2, just behind Boselli. As for the five worst, I'll leave that up to you – with the caveat of saying that while those players may have been disappointments, there clearly have been worse players in franchise history. Finally, referencing Koetter, be happy all you want, but I'm guessing Koetter does well in Atlanta. I won't say it wasn't time for a change with the Jaguars, and sometimes it's time for franchises and coaches to move on, but Koetter is a good coordinator who did good things in Jacksonville until this past season. A lot of people believe he'll be a head coach in the NFL, and I tend to agree.
Trey from Rincon, PR:
In regard to the Jags' new uniforms in 2013, I was watching Ancient Aliens on the History Channel last night and noticed how big of a deal the jaguars (properly pronounced Jag-oo-war) were to the ancient Mayans. They feared and worshiped jaguars. If we're going to 'go black,' how about somehow integrating the Mayan angle? Not sure how you could do it, but gold is already a primary color, maybe just make the 'look' kind of 'Mayanesque?' What do you think?
John: I get emails like this from time to time.
Julie from Wahiawa, HI:
I'm wondering when is the first time the Jaguars will be practicing. Is it spring training? This is a dumb question, I know, but when do the Jaguars have to be back in Jacksonville and why?
John: Not a dumb question – mainly, because it's sort of hard to explain these days. Many Jaguars are currently working out at EverBank Field, but under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they are not permitted to work in organized manner – or to be coached – until April. The Jaguars' first mini-camp is April 16, a voluntary event that new Head Coach Mike Mularkey is calling a veteran orientation because it will cover basics and is very much introductory in nature. The Jaguars' off-season program is expected to run after that through mid-June, and the team during the early part of that period can hold limited on-field work followed by a final period of 10 organized team practice activities. The first time the Jaguars or any other NFL team can have full, padded practices is in training camp, which will begin in late July.
Joe from Jacksonville:
When I hear our players talking with you, the defensive players talk about "fit or fits." What does that mean?
John: When defensive football players talk about fits, they usually are referring to run fits – i.e., which slots and locations in the defense a linebacker or secondary person is supposed to "fit." Usually in the NFL, struggling run defense is more about defenders moving to the wrong position – or wrong fit – than it is an athletic deficiency that makes a team a bad run defense.
Randy from Paradise Valley, AZ:
So, were there ever any Randy Johnsons or Jamie Moyers of the NFL? Guys that play til they're 45-50? I understand the injuries and competition factor, but it would be nice to see the common retirement age in pro sports re-set to 45. Thoughts?
John: The occasional quarterback has played into his 40s, and it has become relatively common for kickers to do it. Usually, the reality in the NFL is it's such a competitive, physical game that the body breaks down well before the late 30s. As for the common retirement age, the NFL in that sense is a pretty fair system. The league will pay players to play as long as they can be productive. If the common retirement age is mid-30s as opposed to 40s the reason is because that's when most players stop playing at an effective level.
Jeff from Starke, FL:
Did everyone forget Donovin Darius? Since he left we haven't had a secondary near as good as we did with him. Run defense is a lost art with secondaries now. Darius would play with reckless abandon and stuff a running back rounding the edge.
John: Darius was indeed a big hitter and a force against the run. He got a lot of mention among fans in the discussion for Top 5 defensive players – and deservedly so.
Sam from Jacksonville:
O-sizzle, I remember you saying you like Arrested Development. Who's your favorite character? Mine's definitely Buster, especially when he gets attacked by the loose seal. Tobias is a close second. My friends and I wear cut off shorts on Fridays in honor of him. NEVER NUDES FOREVER!
John: I'm a Michael Bluth fan, but I must say it's pretty close to a five- or six-way tie.
Durell from Jacksonville (now in Olivehurst, CA in USAF):
Due to the new CBA, a franchise tender on Mario Williams would cost Houston $20 million and San Diego would have to use $13 million to tag Vincent Jackson. O-Man, I believe those two are available...do you?
John: I do believe the two will be available. I am on record saying I think the Jaguars will pursue Williams heavily if he is available. Players of his skill level with his ability to significantly upgrade a position/defense rarely become available in free agency, particularly in their prime. As for Jackson, indications are the Chargers may let him become a free agent. Considering how rapidly re-signings and franchise tags could pull receivers out of free agency in the comings weeks, if Jackson's indeed available the Jaguars could well pursue him heavily, too.
Jack from Jacksonville:
I'm not sure how much you pay attention to basketball, but I'm sure you've heard of Jeremy Lin in the past couple weeks. What do you think of "Linsanity" and can you think of any examples in the NFL comparable to Lin? I've heard Kurt Warner as an example.
John: Kurt Warner indeed was a good comparison, although the nature of football makes it tougher to have a player essentially come from nowhere into stardom. Usually, quarterbacks are the only league-dominating superstars, and it's just rare for a quarterback to emerge from off the radar. Even if they are capable, they usually don't get the opportunity in the right circumstances. Come to think of it, Tom Brady was a little bit of a comparison, though he began with New England as more of a game manager in 2001 before developing into the efficient passer he is now.
Mailman from Section 141:
Prior to walking the mean streets of Freakville delivering the mail, I served 20 years in the military. I really enjoy following The O Zone during the off season..... kinda gives me that getting ready for war feeling.
John: I like that. I don't have much to say about it, but reading it made me smile.
Adam from Gilbert, AZ:
I gotta say that including these comments about Hugh Douglas it is obvious you agree with the readers –otherwise you wouldn't keep posting these comments. However, why don't you just come out and honestly say that he is an ass and does not deserve the respect or admiration of any of his peers for his comments. He should not be employed by a trustworthy news source. Lucky for him ESPN doesn't fit that description. PS – I know you won't post this but I hope that you will at least stand up and say what's right for all of the fans of Jacksonville.
John: I have no problem with O-Zone readers calling Hugh Douglas an ass. One of the things I vow to O-Zone readers daily is to be as honest and truthful as I know how at that given time. I can't be more honest than to say when it comes to Douglas, it really doesn't bother me much. I try not to invest a lot of time and energy into the opinions of people who don't merit the effort.
Ron from Jacksonville:
Maybe you should start putting your sarcastic comments in red.
John: Perhaps you're right.
A decent suggestion
Let's get to it . . .
Charles from Midlothian, VA and Section 216: