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A pretty good life

Let's get to it . . . Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
Who ya got Sunday?
John: The Giants. I like their pass rush, and believe Tom Brady is far more vulnerable to pressure – especially from an effective front four – than most believe. It also strikes me that Eli Manning may be in the middle of not only a career-defining playoff run, but a career-turning one in the sense that he may be starting an extended run of being one of the two or three best quarterbacks in the league. The NFL media and fans spent the year lauding Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Brady, but if the Giants win, the year likely will be remembered as the year Eli Manning solidified himself as one of the premiere players of his era.
Rashon from Orlando, FL:
Could Cecil Shorts EVER be a No. 1 receiver?
John: It will be difficult, but I'm not sure that a receiver selected in the fourth round of the draft is necessarily expected to be a No. 1 receiver in the short or long term. Certainly Shorts has the capability of developing into a productive receiver and the Jaguars believe he has the chance to do that. Let's get him to a level where he can be productive first and then worry about getting to No. 1 status.
Scott from Jacksonville:
Are you sure those respected, informed opinions you are receiving in regards to our scouting department aren't just sugar-coated to try and butter you up and stay on your good side? I hear it's dangerous to offend the O-Man.
John: It is indeed dangerous to cross me, particularly on a city side street, dark alley or seedy bar, but in this reference, people telling me the Jaguars' scouting department is good wouldn't land them on a good or bad side. As I've said – and hopefully we'll end this topic here for a short time – these people who have told me this gain or lose nothing by doing so, and I really have nothing to gain by passing it along. It's just what I hear, so I write it. Take it for what it's worth.
Alex from New York, NY:
Was the bye week the big edge in the '70s and '80s or were the best teams that much better than the competition in the pre-salary cap days?
John: There wasn't a bye in the NFL post-season until 1978, but it seemed for about 20 years or so after that, the week off and particularly home-field advantage mattered very much. I remember as a Redskins fan in the 1980s – when they were often a very good, contending team – putting a lot of stock in home-field advantage, and feeling deflated at the end of regular seasons when they would fall a game or two short. Not getting home-field advantage felt akin to letting the Super Bowl slip away. When the 49ers lost to the Vikings in 1987 in San Francisco, for example, it was considered and felt like a huge upset. It opened the door for the Redskins' improbable Super Bowl victory that January. The same was true when the Jaguars went on the road and upset Buffalo, then Denver following the 1996 season. Winning on the road, particularly against a team that had a bye, was just very difficult. Now, while home-field is better than the alternative, it's no longer seen as a miracle to negotiate the playoffs with a bunch of road games. That long answer still doesn't answer the question, "Was the bye week a big edge or were the best teams that much better?'" There was no salary cap or free agency in that era, and as a result, the best teams maybe had stayed together longer and played in the postseason more often than the teams challenging them, and maybe that made them a bit less susceptible to being upset in the postseason. That would be my theory, but I'm not sure how much I believe in it.
Mike from St. Augustine, FL:
Has Lowery indicated that he would like to be re-signed by us, or will it simply be a bidding war? Will we be looking for a new free safety next year and does the staff think Prosinski will be ready?
John: He didn't really indicate much publicly at the end of the season, but while he played well for the Jaguars, I don't know that he will be so high-profile a free agent that there will be a huge bidding war. The Jaguars likely will and should make an effort to compensate Lowery fairly and if they do, I'd be surprised if he doesn't re-sign. He's a good fit, played extremely well and this seems it would be a good situation for him long-term.
Harry from Jonesboro, AK:
People just don't seem to understand what scouting is all about. Just because you scout a player, that doesn't mean you can get him, or want to. Good scouting also shows up in the players you don't go after. Also, no scout is a fortune teller, although I think some people expect them to be.
John: I have to call IT. The inbox filter that blocks emails with perspective seems to be down.
Reese from Frederick, MD:
To me, Del Rio going to Denver is one last jab at Dirk Koetter after Koetter missed out on the head coaching gig at Denver last year. Why else would he pass up a year's free salary? Any chance Del Rio's defense matches up against Koetter's offense anytime soon?
John: Yes, Del Rio is moving his family to Denver, committing to working every day and pouring his energy into a job for the foreseeable future just to take a jab at Koetter. I don't know why I didn't see it before. C'mon Reese, you're better than that.
Herb from Jacksonville:
John, not only COLT – as in Baltimore – players thought it wide but so did the fans that were there. I happened to be one of them. And when John Steadman of the News Post printed a series of stop-action camera shots the next day clearly showing the trajectory of the ball outside the goal post . . . in this case, sadly, the ref's judgment was in error and the rest is history.
John: Your email is in reference to the 1965 postseason game about which I wrote Thursday. It was the game in which Don Chandler's controversial field goal tied the game and helped send the Packers to the first of a still-unmatched three consecutive NFL Championships. You spoke of history, and it is notable to mention that without that play the Packers of that era perhaps don't win three consecutive titles and perhaps are remembered differently. Such plays, while painful, also become etched into the lore of a team and bond fans to one another and to the team. I still vividly recall sitting on the floor of our den at Riverbend Apartments in Arlington in November 1975 watching the Redskins and Cardinals play in St. Louis. With 25 seconds remaining, Cardinals quarterback Jim Hart threw a pass to wide receiver Mel Gray at the goal line. Redskins cornerback Pat Fischer hit Gray and the ball fell to the turf. Replays showed the pass was incomplete – it showed it to me and other Redskins fans, at least – but these were the days before instant replay overturned calls and after a long meeting, officials ruled the Cardinals a touchdown. The Cardinals won in overtime, the Redskins missed the playoffs and the nine-year-old wedged between the sofa and wall in his parents' den in Arlington went to bed that night having learned a bit about the pain of being a fan. Like you, I obviously never forgot.
Rome from Fontana, CA:
Just made one year here in SoCal and I want to inform you that people here do not even talk football. I was a season-ticket holder, but now have relegated to purchasing NFL TICKET just to watch my beloved Jaguars! Do the Jaguars view John Estes as a viable replacement at center in the future when Meester decides to retire? Watcha think? I love what you do for the Jaguar Nation!
John: Thanks, Rome. Stay strong on the West Coast. Yes, the Jaguars do view Estes as a candidate to replace Meester. The hope is that Meester doesn't retire in the short-term, and Estes needs to continue to develop, but they like him and consider him part of the future.
Andrew from Under the Southeast Tarps:
A few years ago, my wife told me that I had to discontinue our season tickets. During the last home game of the season (the Thursday Night game against the Colts), I snuck underneath the tarps and have been there ever since. I've been subsisting on leftover nachos and popcorn lying around after games, but still keep up with things daily on my smart phone. If that's not a real Jaguars fan, I don't know what is. Oh crap, I hope my wife doesn't read Ozone.
John: In July, I'll have been married 20 years. Your life sounds awesome.

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