We're going one and done today.
That doesn't mean we're answering one question and wrapping up the O-Zone. Rather, we're taking one Bryan Anger question to lead off, then putting a wrap on the punter-in-the-third-round-of-the-draft topic for a while. I think we can all use the break.
Let's get to it . . . Joe from Aurora, IL:
That's it, John. That's the last Anger question I'm going to read until he punts a ball in a regular-season game. The choice was made. The end. Get over it.
John: Agreed. I don't know that we've seen the last O-Zone Anger question before training camp, but I know we're not going to see one for a while. MOVING ON!
Mark from Section 227 and Danville, IN:
I can't believe we're still debating Gabbert's performance last season. I was all for reasonable criticism of Gabbert. The reality is the worst performance we saw in 2011 by a Jaguars quarterback was McCown in New York. Gabbert was generally ineffective, but not incompetent, and he played perfectly reasonably for a 21-year-old rookie on a team with few playmakers and a coaching staff in transition. You can argue logically he probably did better than he should have. Is this really that hard to perceive?
John: Nothing like going feet first from Anger to Gabbert, but I've said often that in a lot of ways Gabbert wasn't nearly as bad as many observers believed in 2011. Must he get better? Obviously, but I liked that he kept mistakes to a minimum and that he didn't let pressure ever turn into one of those nightmare games when interceptions kept going the other way. What a lot of people interpreted as Gabbert being scared I believe was often him not seeing what he believed he was going to see once plays began. Is that receivers running the wrong routes? Is that not being coached well? Is that not having proper plays in place? Is that inexperience? Probably is it a combination of some of the above. I like that Gabbert has the physical skills necessary to succeed and I like that he clearly has the desire to use work to maximize those skills. I expect that to mean improvement next season.
Dave from Jacksonville:
It looks as though the Jaguars' first-round pick next year could be a backup/developmental guy, huh? Like most good teams, even the first-rounders sit their first year.
John: I'd emphasize "could," because I don't know that the Jaguars' roster is quite established enough that a first-rounder couldn't come in and start, but your scenario is the goal.
Chuck from Jacksonville:
What does this mean? "Jags sign K Brandon Coutu." Is Scobee not coming back or is this insurance?
John: It means the Jaguars have signed Brandon Coutu to kick during organized team activities. It does not mean anything more than that.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
Would you say a majority of people consider the Jaguars' offensive line a weakness? I understand pass protection was an issue at times, but they were protecting a rookie quarterback with little time to prepare to be the starter coming off a lockout – and a quarterback throwing to receivers who couldn't get open. Why does the unit get ripped so much and why don't their critics ever mention that they paved the way for MJD to win a rushing title? Yeah, it's a passing league now, but since when did that not count for anything?
John: The offensive line gets ripped because when quarterbacks take sacks and are under pressure, lines get criticized. At times last season, that criticism had merit. The line needs to improve its pass protection, but improvement from the quarterback and the receivers should help that, too. It's not always possible in the NFL to grade players or position groups in a vacuum – i.e., struggles in one area can cause other areas to look bad statistically. I'm not willing to write this line off as a weak pass-protecting line. A lot went wrong on offense last year, and for the same reason I expect Gabbert and the passing game to improve I believe the perception of the offensive line will improve next season, too. Also, I agree that the line doesn't get enough credit for the rushing title last season. Jones-Drew won the title when every opponent knew the run was the only real threat the Jaguars had offensively. There was a big reason that was possible.
Reese from Frederick, MD:
Do the Jaguars feel better about the roster now that Mularkey is the coach and not Del Rio?
John: If they didn't, they wouldn't have fired Del Rio.
Jason from New York, NY:
Is there any reason the Jags haven't signed any of their draft picks at this point? Wouldn't negotiating early help reduce the chances of holdouts lasting into training camp? Between the rookies and Scobee, it seems management has lots of work to do.
John: My 15-year-old is learning to drive, and soon I will accompany him on his first foray onto 295/9-A. That is something to fear. I do not fear that any Jaguars rookies will hold out nor do I fear that Scobee won't be kicking for the team when the regular season begins. I will not worry about either of those things until about three days before training camp.
Gil from Atlantic Beach, FL:
On Saturday Kevin Na got flagged for taking too long on the golf course, with a warning that another such infraction would result in a one-stroke penalty. Is the rule "two slow play warnings in the same round," or would another warning on Sunday have cost him a penalty stroke?"
John: I don't know and I don't want to know.
John from Jacksonville:
It's convenient for some of the frustrated fans to prove their weak points by throwing out the 5-11 record last season. If they look closely at "why" the team went 5-11, they would understand that most every issue is being addressed (ownership, coaching, defensive injuries, passing game, etc.) that commands a significant improvement. I'm also convinced that Gabbert is going to surprise a lot of his critics this season and that crow will become a more common menu item.
John: Your point essentially defines the Jaguars' off-season, with the issue being that there is understandably a disconnect between where the team believes it stands and where many of its fans see it. Gene Smith has addressed this several times, saying that while he believes the roster has improved and that the team can contend for the post-season, winning in the end is the only measure. The Jaguars have been building a roster since 2009 and on paper they appear to have most significant pieces in place. If Gabbert improves as the team believes he will, the Jaguars will defy many expectations. If he struggles, and if those struggles lead to a sub-.500 season, then a lot of the building that has been done will be rightly overlooked. Either way, there's no question this is a critical season. If the Jaguars and Smith are right and problems have been solved, some fairly dramatic on-field improvement could well be the result.
Justin from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I understand the NFL is ironically built on socialist principles such as a salary cap and revenue sharing, but those two redistribution of wealth principles are for the good of the whole. However, I don't understand the need for compensatory picks. Why should a team be rewarded for losing a good player to free agency when they had both the right to re-sign him and the right to sign or draft his replacement? If they couldn't resign him because of their own mismanagement of the salary cap, then so be it, be a big boy and sleep in the financial bed you made.
John: The compensatory system isn't designed to only assist teams who have mismanaged the cap. It also is designed to allow teams and who have been financially responsible and who draft well to restock rosters. If a team drafts really, really well, the reality is at the end of a three- or four-year period that team won't be able to re-sign all of its players and it probably will have paid some of its own players enough to preclude it from being active signing other team's players. In that scenario, the team has mismanaged nothing, but still should have the right to restock its roster.
Jordan from Pittsburgh, PA:
What exactly does the term "installation" entail during the offseason? I've always thought of it simply as learning plays, but I only played football through middle school.
John: That's basically it. It's not a simple process, with an NFL playbook being extremely thick and often having many variations on a single play, but yes – installation is learning plays.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
Who are you and what have you done with our FOOTBALL blogger? I'd say you're a teenage girl who has abducted Johnie-O and hijacked his Q&A forum, but why in the world would a modern teenager be interested in 80's movies, even chick flicks? It must be much more devious than that; maybe you're the writer from an opposing team, hoping to subvert the O-Zone's massive readership... Oh wait, that can't be right. Hmmm.
John: The O-Zone is a fluid, strange place, responsive to the readers' questions and at times free-flowing. This past weekend, we free-flowed a bit too much perhaps – sashaying from punter talk to Patrick Swayze references. I tend to free flow a bit more on the weekends, and with OTAs upon us, I assure you we'll be more football focused for the next few days and weeks.