Game-day O-Zone. Always exciting to see a game in Steeltown.
Let's get to it . . . Chris from Houston, TX:
Jaguars are 12-point dogs heading into Pittsburgh. Do players use the wide point spreads such as this one as motivation? Or is what's happening in Vegas staying in Vegas. I would think the "we aren't getting any respect" card should be pulled out for this one.
John: This is one of those answers that disappoints and surprises some fans, but players don't think about things such as point spreads nearly as much as fans and media sometimes believe. NFL players by their nature rarely consider themselves underdogs – no matter the public perception. The Jaguars will be motivated today by the desire to win, not the oddsmakers.
Mitch from Jacksonville:
I think what Jordan from Vienna was trying to say with his comment was, 'Is ts time to let Kampman out of the bag so he can wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks?' I also agree with your assessment of Rashean Mathis. He has benefited from improved safety play. Whoever's idea it was to move Dwight Lowery to safety has my seal of approval.
John: I missed the 'Kampman-out-of-the-bag' reference, but enough readers made this point that you're probably right. And, yes, it's time to let Kampman play and get after the quarterback. As for Mathis, a cornerback is always going to be the brunt of criticism – rightly or wrongly.
James from Charlottesville, VA:
For the sake of some readers, I think you may want to hold a seminar on CoachSpeak. Some people just don't get it.
John: Seminar or not, some people won't get it.
Trevor from St. Augustine, FL:
Brandon Lloyd has only one drop in 32 targets this year. He had only four drops last year on 147 targets. He is a solid deep threat with great hands. Are you really dismissing him like a retired guy?
John: I'm not dismissing Lloyd. I tend not to get too excited about free agents or players on other teams until a move is made. If the Jaguars go after Lloyd, I have no problem with it. I'm just not a big believer that acquiring a player at midseason is a cure-all in the NFL. It might work in other sports such as basketball and baseball, but it just seems in the NFL it leads to disappointment more than results. It also raises a bit of a red flag to me that the Broncos are so willing to trade him, Of course, that may be just my rosy outlook on life kicking in.
Mark from Jacksonville:
Bad drafting can affect the current year and many years down the road. Case in point: the Jaguars drafted Byron Leftwich in 2003, then in 2004 Ben Roethlisberegr is available and you don't draft him because you've drafted your quarterback of the future the year before. The most important round to get right is the first. Your thoughts?
John: Right on all counts, especially the first-round part. Hit on those guys every year and you have the core of a contending team. Miss and it's hard to not have a mess on your hands.
Tucker from Jacksonville:
I know about the whole down-by-contact rule, like Augustes and Paul talked about, but last Sunday's game on that one play where MJD kept going when they later realized he was down, it seemed like he had taken quite a few steps before his knee went down. What is the minimum number of steps you can take after being touched before the contact no longer counts? I mean, how many more steps would MJD have to have taken after being contact and not be down when his knee touched the ground?
John: It's not the steps in that situation, but whether the official judges that the contact caused the player to be down.
Kamen from Bethel, CT:
The reason that we're sitting at 1-4 and not looking better than we did the last two seasons is because we have a rookie quarterback in place, and the quarterback position, of course, makes a huge difference. We still have a great running game and our defense has improved drastically. I guarantee that better days are, indeed, ahead, because if you look at the roster and not the record, you can see a strong foundation of players who can make up a great team. As Gabbert develops and as we continue great BAP drafting, this team will shine. I guarantee it.
John: I like your confidence and believe you are correct.
Ben from Columbus:
What's the deal with Cox? He seems to be awfully injury prone this season on top of being deactivated part of the season last year. Do you believe the coaching staff still has confidence in him as a starting corner on this team?
John: When he is healthy, without question.
Jack from Jacksonville:
Why is it so hard to believe the Colts would manipulate the draft process by intentionally putting an inferior product on the field when they did the same thing a few years ago to navigate their way through the playoffs?
John: I'm not sure of the season of which you speak, so I can't comment. During my time covering the Colts, I don't recall a year that they lost at the of the season for any reason but to be as healthy as possible entering the postseason. As for intentionally putting an inferior product on the field, I think the cases when a team does that are very, very rare in the NFL. I find it hard to believe they would do it because I know Jim Caldwell and the players in that organization and don't believe they would do it.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
I agree you can't fix all the issues with one draft. That being said it seems were are at the most one year away from having to look to find a left tackle – to replace the one we drafted in the Top 10. We are still looking for someone to take Harvey's spot? Two top 10 picks that should have been cornerstones for years to come. If you do not use the right roofer you will always have leaks?
John: Again with the Eugene Monroe stuff? I disagree that the Jaguars will have to replace Monroe. The view that he has been a bust has been drastically overblown. He struggled in the preseason, and while he is not at a Pro Bowl level, he is not close to being a bad left tackle – and the idea that he will have to be replaced is very premature. As for Harvey, no one will dispute that that was a miss. They're still looking to fill that spot. That's the reality.
Dan from Fort Wayne, IN:
You constantly point out the unimportance of statistics (I agree with you by the way). I think an example being our defensive stats. I think the Jaguars would be ranked much higher if our offense had a better time of possession. Every team ranked above the Jaguars in defense spends less time on the field than the defense. Am I correct in saying that offensive and defensive stats cannot be truly accurate when they are really interconnected? Yes, I realize I am a hypocrite.
John: There's no question that statistics can be molded and shaped to say what you want. A better gauge is the eye test, and when it comes to the defense this season, the eye says the group – while not great – is improved and good enough to be winning.
George from Savannah, GA:
Yesterday on the NFL network radio the Godfather of the NFL, Gil Brandt, stated that Gabbert when he was scouted was not able to accurately throw the long ball and that he would never become an elite quarterback because of that. I was devastated! For Gil Brandt to state that, especially after going to his pro day makes me wonder now if that is true. Do you have any insight on how Gabbert did at his pro day workout, also is he accurate or not on plus 20-yard passes.
John: Gil Brandt's a good guy, but I wouldn't bet the house payment on his projections. That said, if there was a knock on Gabbert coming out, it was long-ball accuracy. Gabbert did well enough at his Pro Day workout to be considered the best quarterback available by some while in the eyes of some scouts, he slipped enough to be selected No. 10 overall. I worry less about a quarterback's deep ball than his ability to throw the quick out and the seam routes. Those passes take elite-level arm strength. I also always have thought the ability to see the field and get the offense into the right play is more important than deep touch. If Gabbert can excel in those areas, he will succeed whatever his touch on the deep passes.
Aubrey from Jacksonville:
Do any of the Jaguars' players or people in the organization admit to reading your column and the fans' feedback?
John: I wouldn't subject them to reading the O-Zone. Being 1-4 is hard enough.