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Last-minute scrambling

Let's get to it . . . Andrew from Orange Park, FL:
With the new off-season CBA rules, with coaches not being able to talk football with players until April, do you think it benefits the players or hurts them?
John: I see it as a necessary evil that perhaps could have been written a little better to leave room for self-enterprising players. There certainly is merit to having a rule that sets guidelines for when players can be coached and when teams can work on an official basis. If you didn't have such a rule, you'd have teams "strongly implying" that it "might not be a bad idea or hurt your chances to make the team" if players attended some voluntary events as early as January. Still, having such a hard, fast rule in place obviously hurts the self-motivated player who completely on his own wants to discuss details with coaches in January, February or March. In the end, it probably hurts young players, but in football – as in any other profession – the truly self-motivated, driven person will figure out a way to succeed.
Chris from St. Catharines, Ontario:
I know Bo Jackson's career was cut short by injury, but in their prime, who was the better two-sport athlete? Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson?
John: This is one of those questions where I'll answer one way, get a lot of arguments on the other side and won't be able to disagree much with those arguing my answer. Even as I tried to determine the answer, I wavered, but I'd probably take Jackson because in his absolute prime he was the better baseball player. Sanders was one of the elite cover corners of all-time, and although Jackson was a very, very good running back I don't know that I would have put him among the all-time all-timers. But Jackson made the All-Star game in baseball and for a brief time – one that's hard to explain unless you lived through it – he reached heights in both sports that few thought possible for a two-sport athlete. That's my answer, but again, even as I write it I look at Sanders' eight Pro Bowl selections and eight All-Pro seasons as a corner . . .
Mike from Kissimmee, FL:
So how many emails did you get in the form of "The Jaguars need to sign Randy Moss!!"
John: If yours counts as one, then . . . one. I'd like to think our readers are beyond that. We'll see.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
All I've heard from our fan base since announcing our new team president has been paranoia and gloom. Settle down people, he's been brought in to help the Jags fill seats and make the team more noticeable, not relocate them. We're better than this.
John: I was busy Monday afternoon and late into the evening, and didn't have time to peruse the comment sections or message boards, so I'm a bit surprised to hear that was the reaction. If there's indeed teeth-gnashing going on, gnash not. Shahid Khan is in the process of trying to put the best front office in place he can. He hired a qualified person in Mark Lamping whose resume seems to indicate he's a good fit and a very good addition to the organization. To assume it's a precursor to moving the franchise is not only reactionary and extreme, it shows an inherent disbelief in Khan when he says he's committed to Jacksonville – and to this point, Khan has done nothing to indicate he is anything but. During the year I've been doing the O-Zone, I've gotten many, many emails from people saying the Jaguars need positive, forward-looking change. Initially at least, I'd say hires such as Monday's are how that sort of change happens.
Hunter from Duval, FL:
Oreo-O-Man: Even though you disparage me in all of your responses, I have come to realize how much I treasure you. Whether you like it or not, we need each other. I ask stupid questions, then you crush my self-esteem and start a five-day thread about greasy delicious fast food. We're like Bonnie and Clyde, Shaggy and Scooby, or even T.O. and unwarranted attention. I only wish you would find it in your heart to show a little love now and then.
John: You are indeed the needy, low-self-esteemed wind beneath my wings.
Scott from Newcastle:
Doesn't the rolling over of cap space create a problem the next year? I.e. if you use all that extra space we'll be $30 million over the cap in 2013. That doesn't seem like a way towards long-term success, and wasn't cap space a problem with the team in the early 2000s?
John: Yes, cap space was a problem in the early 2000s, but no, rolling over cap space from 2011 to 2012 won't cause a problem in 2013. You're bringing the space forward and using space you didn't use in the past for the present. Using the $30 million won't hurt the Jaguars moving forward.
David from Jacksonville:
With the popularity of the NFL, do you ever think there will be another football league? Not like the XFL, but like the USFL of the early to mid 80's? I would love to have that fill in the gap from February to September. I am all for football year-round.
John: I'm skeptical it will ever work. The USFL had the best chance, and appeared on the way to making a real impact for a few seasons, but that was in a different era. The NFL, while popular in the mid-1980s, had nowhere near the monstrous 24-7, year-round profile it does now. Thank the NFL Network, ESPN, the Internet and Twitter for that, but whatever the reason, it's the reality. For a league to make a dent in that popularity and establish itself as a legitimate entity it would need high-profile players. With the NFL paying its players as it does now, it's hard to imagine a start-up league being able to pay enough players enough to make a significant impact.
Spence from UT:
Hines Ward is gonna look nice in Black & Teal. A veteran WR with the right attitude and a lot of good experience to teach our younger guys. Your thoughts?
John: Ward caught 46 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns in 2011. Attitude and experience are great, but he will be 36 next season, and that may be a year or two past the age of being able to squeeze out another year or two of productivity to package with the obvious intangibles.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
I didn't read the O-Zone this past weekend. Can you tell me if you answered any of my questions? Thanks.
John: Not if I was on my game.
John from St. Augustine, FL:
The goalpost is out-of-bounds? But I thought you could return a doinked FG. Not so?
John: You can return a missed or a blocked field goal. If it hits the upright, the play is over.
James from Jacksonville:
I used to wonder what would have been if Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Reggie Nelson, Derek Harvey were not busts. Still, I was less uncomfortable with drafting those receivers than I was with Harvey because the passing game can be manufactured more easily in the NFL today but rushing the passer consistently requires an elite pass rusher. The Jaguars would be better suited to sign a wide receiver such as Vincent Jackson and draft a pass rusher in the first round than to draft a wide receiver in the first round and hope to manufacture a pass rush without a pass rusher.
John: In theory, I agree with you. The question still comes down to whether you think there is a player available at No. 7 worthy of the pick. I'm skeptical that there's a pass rusher worthy of the No. 7 overall selection this season, and I think you'll see the Jaguars try to get both of those needs solved in free agency.
John from Jacksonville:
Time to reveal the truth. Do you sometimes prepare the Saturday and Sunday O-Zone articles during the week for the appearance that you are actually preparing them on Saturday and Sunday? Or do you actually draft the content on Saturday and Sunday, have the editor review/approve on Saturday and Sunday, and get someone to post it all over each weekend? if the latter, I commend you and the staff except I also worry about you all. Regardless, we appreciate the extra reading pleasure!
John: Oh, to be so organized. I actually strive each week to do as you suggest – get so far ahead as to pre-package the weekend O-Zones. I dream of an efficient life and clutter-free world in which I craftily set aside questions, get Saturday and Sunday O-Zones written, then have them edited and posted entering the weekend. In my dream, I drift calmly into the weekend, sipping coffee and nibbling muffins on the lanai with the loving family. Reality is closer to this: me scrambling at the last minute, and doing so with the golden retriever scratching at the glass door to be let in, the cat getting fatter, the son on his headphones in the bedroom and the wife laughing dismissively when I suggest she bring me a bagel and Diet Coke while I punch out clichéd, obvious responses on the family room sofa.

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