You know what I like? I like that even on a Christmas Eve/Christmas morning cycle we had enough people passionate about the Jaguars to get more than enough questions for a solid O-Zone.
You know what else I like? That people care about this team, win or lose.
You know what else? I like O-Zone readers. You've made this a memorable first season even in some difficult circumstances. Thanks for reading and it's always appreciated.
You know what I maybe like best on this Christmas morning? That most O-Zone readers had enough class and perspective to think of well-wishing and making holidays memorable and special – and not fill the inbox with anger and frustration, even though they felt it.
That said, here's your Christmas morning O-Zone.
Ho, ho, ho. Where's the mistletoe? And seriously . . .
Let's get to it . . .
Andrew from Toledo, OH:
The play-calling was bad and I counted over a handful of drops by the receivers in that game. Gabbert made about four bad throws, but I thought he played well despite getting little help around him. Did you see improvement?
John: Overall, yes. Gabbert near the end of this season has begun to look more and more like what I thought he'd look like during his rookie season – not a great NFL quarterback yet, certainly, but a guy who clearly has the ability and has a real chance to develop into a solid NFL quarterback. Give the guy a little credit for this: his head has to be spinning and he has to have heard the criticism coming his way, but he continues to work hard and he continues to have moments despite very difficult circumstances. We can repeat ourselves as much as we want, and we will obviously continue to do so, but Gabbert will be judged on the future, not on this season. His future is up to him, and will begin in March. And that future? Yes, it can be bright.
Cognizant from Orange Park, FL:
Here's to . . . No more worry over boneheaded analysts and their unsubstantiated criticisms, to no more concern over unwarranted talks of franchise relocation. Here's to a tough, tough season, to a new owner with deep, deep pockets. Here's to one more game this season at Everbank to hang a W on a division rival, to most importantly show the appreciation we all should have for the Weaver's and their commitment to this city. Here's to a dedicated senior writer that stepped up and rose to the occasion, to a team that we love beyond equivocation and will continue to support no matter the circumstances. Here's to what's important. A safe and Happy Holiday's to all. Go Jaguars.
John: Good stuff. And you know what? I'm including more than a few of these today and you know why? It's Christmas and I'm O-Zoning on a Sunday. There's time for anger and frustration later – i.e., on Monday morning.
Eric from Yulee, FL:
In response to your answer about Reggie Wayne's age. Have you ever heard of Randy Moss?
John: No. I have been in a cave since 1997. Seriously: at 33, Wayne obviously is still capable of playing at a high level. And having covered Wayne for a long, long time, I know him well enough to understand the positives he would bring to the situation – not just on the field, but off of it. The point I was making earlier this week when asked about the Jaguars potentially acquiring Wayne was that it will be tricky to offer Wayne a big-money, long-term contract at age 33. If Wayne can be signed to a short-term deal for a decent price, then it makes sense, but to commit to four years or longer – it's just a tough call.
Dustin from Jacksonville:
I've made a list John, and I've checked it twice. On one side are all of the people who say Gabbert is a bust. On the other are the people who say he needs time and have faith. This time next year I'll be sending you that list and we'll decide which side is the naughty and which side is the nice.
John: Sounds about right. What was true before Saturday remains true now – and will continue to remain true in the off-season. Gabbert is simply impossible to judge right now. All of those people who are just sure he can't be a big-time quarterback may believe it, but as of right now it's speculation and prediction, not fact. The fact is Gabbert has the same ability many liked about him last spring, and the fact is he is young and the fact is he is in a very difficult circumstance. I have no idea if he's going to be great or if he will be bad, but I absolutely do not believe the book has been written. Naughty? Nice? Yeah, about this time next year we should have a better idea.
Jeremy from Navarre, FL:
Say what you want but Gabbert continues to digress. How many games does it take to realize that the sideline is ALWAYS open? Gabbert nearly always takes a sack for a big loss. If he could learn anything, he could certainly learn to throw the ball away! Look at the "whole body of work" and he just gets worse each week...period! Yeah, we get a good drive here and there BUT....that's it. I just hope Gene Smith has the guts to draft a QB in April if they indeed determine that there is a better one in the draft or if they believe that Gabbert will not be a franchise QB.
John: Deep breaths and yuletide cheer, Jeremy. Deep breaths and yuletide cheer.
Tom from Clarksville, MD:
I saw on Pro Football Focus that Eugene Monroe was listed as their third Pro Bowl AFC tackle. So much for being a bust. Not enough has been said about his improvement this season.
John: You're right. There hasn't been enough written about that. Monroe is not at the level of a Boselli, Ogden or a Pace, but you know what? No one else in the NFL is right now, either. Monroe struggled during preseason, but it's time to put that away and give the guy credit for what is reality, and that's that Monroe has played well for the most part this season. He hasn't been perfect, and from what I know of Monroe, he would be the first one to tell you that, but he definitely is not a bust and those who think otherwise know not what of they speak. The Jaguars aren't drafting a left tackle in the draft and shouldn't have to for a long time. They actually are in good shape on the offensive line. Will Rackley appears likely to develop into a solid starter and Uche Nwaneri is playing at an extremely high level. Brad Meester is still playing at a high level and wants to return, and it sounds as if Eben Britton is coming back. Every team has unknowns on the line, but the Jaguars' unknowns there certainly aren't in the extreme.
Randy from Oxford, PA:
John, I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!
John: And to you and yours.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
Let's be honest, Belichick didn't succeed because he "fit the system" in NE. Bill Belichick succeeded because of Tom Brady. You don't really think he would have three rings with JaMarcus Russell do you?
John: No, I don't, and I've gotten a few emails like this about Belichick in recent days. Obviously, Belichick was helped greatly by Brady, but don't forget that when the Patriots and Belichick and Brady won their first Super Bowl following the 2001 season Brady wasn't exactly BRADY yet. He was a second-year player who managed the game. Belichick can coach. Did having a great quarterback help? Certainly, but you can't just ignore Belichick's contributions, either.
Robert from Jacksonville:
If you were in the position to make the decision, as the season ends, would you continue to start your best players and risk injury that could carry to next year? Why not start backups audition new people these last few games? I love MJD, but if something happened to him these last couple games, I would really be upset as a GM or potential coach.
John: You play your best players. It's professional football.
Chase from Jacksonville:
Am I alone when I feel like if Gabbert makes a lot of progression in the offseason, we could be a very competitive team next year? Also, I feel like I'm the only one who forgot about "In Gene We Trust?"
John: You are not alone in your feelings about Gabbert. The Jaguars obviously can be competitive next season and Gabbert's development just as obviously will play a huge role in whether that can happen.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
Merry Christmas to you and your family John! I hope Shad has heard of The Jelly of the Month club.
John: That's the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.