Wow. December 31, already.
For those of you keeping track at home, that means it's New Year's Eve and for some reason – maybe it's the fact that I'm usually covering an NFL team and hurtling toward the end of the season – the end of the year always sneaks up too fast.
Maybe it's the fact that at my age everything sneaks up too fast. Whatever.
I'm not going to get long-winded, but I did want to take this lead-in to thank O-Zone readers for a great first year. Since coming on board in February, I truly have been touched by all of you who have embraced me and my style. Some did so quickly. With others it took time. Still others probably never will, and that's OK. You don't please everyone. You do the best you can.
Anyway, thanks for staying with the Jaguars, jaguars.com and the O-Zone during a difficult season, and know this: that energy I've talked about in the last month? That buzz. It's real.
We're taking this weekend to appreciate Wayne and Delores Weaver for 18 years of ownership, which means Sunday will be what Weaver long has anticipated: bittersweet. The past will be cheered, savored and appreciated, as well it should, and beginning this week, we will look ahead.
That means the coming year will be new, exciting, bright, full of real hope. Some things certainly will stay the same. Other things will change, but the feeling around here is what awaits in the coming weeks and months will be exciting.
With a nod to the predecessor, I can't wait to watch.
Let's get to it . . .
Dustin from Jacksonville:
Well Johnny O, we did it. All eight home games avoided the blackout. I think we owe thanks in no small part to the local businesses that bought quite a few tickets and to you for pluggin' away on your Royal day in and day out. You've been true to your word and we appreciate it. Any wild plans for your first O-Zoneless day in almost a year?
John: I like getting credit, and I'm no way averse to getting it even when it's not due, but to be fair, the streak started in August, so it's really half a year. But who's counting? As for plans – shoot yeah . . . actually, a pretty nice little Saturday. We're going to go to Home Depot, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring – stuff like that – maybe Bed, Bath and Beyond – I don't know. I don't know if we'll have enough time . . .
Paul from Jacksonville:
Mike Mularkey? Hmmm....a perfect fit.
John: I wouldn't be surprised.
Mark from Jacksonville:
If RG3 is on the board do the Jags take him?
John: I would be surprised.
Fuzzy from Jacksonville:
Please forward my resume to Mr. Khan for the position of Assistant to the Traveling Secretary. I believe I am highly qualified for the job. Thank You.
John: Quick story about Khan. During his recent few frenetic days around EverBank, he stopped by my office. Being an astute judge of character, he quickly located me napping under my desk. Upon apologetically rousing me from my slumber, we spoke for a few minutes. At the end of the conversation, I mentioned I very much liked the Seinfeld reference he dropped during his podcast conversation with Peter King. He smiled. He obviously is far more successful and driven than most of us can imagine, but at the same time, he obviously "gets it" and has a quick sense of humor. As I've said often in recent weeks, the more I'm around him and the more I hear from people who have been around him, the more I am sure that Jacksonville and Jaguars fans are going continue to find more and more to like about the man.
Nick from New York, NY:
Not only are you correct that Sunday's game will be played by both the Jaguars and the Colts with the goal to win, but the whole premise underlying the argument that the Jaguars should intentionally lose in order to prevent the Colts from getting Andrew Luck is entirely false. Even if the Jaguars and Rams both lost this week, the Colts would have the No. 2 pick, which they could easily TRADE for the No.1 pick, particularly since the Rams are not obviously in the market for a young quarterback and would therefore be an agreeable trading partner.
John: I thought that way, too, at first, but I have rethought it a bit this week. First, if the Rams have the No. 1 selection and the Colts are selecting No. 2, there still likely would be multiple teams behind the Colts willing to give up a great deal for the right to trade up for Luck. The Colts could do so, too, of course, but it would probably be very expensive. A more likely scenario seems to be if the Colts indeed lose this weekend they would retain Peyton Manning and selected RGIII provided he declares for the draft.
John from Kingsland, GA:
I am extremely concerned about the coaching decision, and how it will affect our Top 5 defense. If Tucker is not retained as head coach, then I give him fifty/fifty odds of being kept as defensive coordinator. However, what I'm FAR more worried about is the new guy coming in and saying "Nope, going 3-4 with this team." Boom, half of our free agent acquisitions from last year are useless. Poz specifically mentioned leaving Buffalo because of the 3-4, and even though he has not been very productive, I'm fairly certain Kampman mentioned not wanting to play in it, either. What do you think the chances we'll be subjected to a Houston-style, 3-4 forced makeover, and if we are, what are the chances we have anywhere near the success they've enjoyed?
John: First off, if – and that's very much an if – Tucker is not the head coach, I'd say the chances are relatively good he will stay on as defensive coordinator. That's a gut feeling, but there it is. Even if that's not the case, I don't know that there's a whole lot to worry about in terms of changing scheme. The Texans hired Wade Phillips because the defense was a mess last year. He changed the scheme from 4-3 to 3-4 because it was what he was comfortable with, and it worked. The Jaguars' defense hardly is a mess and has solid players playing well in traditional 4-3 spots, so it's not likely you'll see a change.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
So what happens if Andrew Luck is a bust?
John: He'll be very disappointed.
James from West Liberty, KY:
It's been real and it's been fun, but it hasn't been real fun! No I'm just messing with you John! With all kidding aside thank you for not only keeping us entertained and informed but thank you also for being another great voice on Jaguars This Week! Keep up with your great insight and sense of humor on the show and in the O-Zone (cha-ching)!
John: It has been a pleasure. The hope here is more readers than not feel the same way.
Blake from Jacksonville:
Or, what if the Colts beat the Jaguars, don't get Andrew Luck, and draft RGIII. Luck turns out to be a bust and RGIII is the next Peyton Manning. Or, what if the colts don't get Luck and decide the next best player is Blackmon, who most Jags fans want, and Blackmon turns out to be a star and Peyton to Blackmon becomes the next great duo for 4-5 years. Wanting to lose so the Colts don't get luck is soft and it is the antithesis of what the NFL is all about. I, for one, will not spend all of my time this offseason cowering in fear of a guy that has never played a snap in the NFL. And finally, in my opinion, the Jaguars lack of success over the past 10 years has much more to do with the Jaguars than it has to do with Peyton Manning and the Colts.
John: There's an awful lot of truth in an awful lot of what you say. That's one thing I never quite grasped about the whole Fear of Andrew Luck phenomenon. So, maybe the Colts get luck. And maybe he's really, really good. Good quarterbacks get beat all the time. Great ones get beat all the time. Go win the game.
Chris from Jacksonville:
What have you seen in Alualu to this point to believe he can be a Pro Bowl player? He hasn't even outplayed the other players at his position on his own team.
John: He has played at a high level for two seasons and done it on a knee that has bothered him pretty much the whole time. I believe he has played far better than most people realize, and I believe he will play far better in the future when he gets his knee situation resolved.
Christian from Chicago, IL:
I guess the Falcons were not one player away?
John: In the NFL, there's no such thing. Even if you think you are, injuries and age are always a concern.
Cat Size from Jacksonville:
O Man.....you're a Pro Bowler in my book. Helluva job. Thanx.
John: Buy better books.