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Looking forward to tomorrow

Let's get to it . . . Jason from Regina, Canada:
The concept of ranking defenses based on yards allowed has become irrelevant. If you look at the teams that made the playoffs they mostly were in the bottom third of the league. Were they all bad defenses? It's a combination of rule changes allowing QBs to, statistically, be more successful and elite teams getting up on opponents so their opponents are forced to pass. Do you think we will see different ways to rank defenses in the future?
John: No. Ranking defenses based on total yards always has been irrelevant and you know what? It doesn't matter. Football isn't baseball. In baseball, statistics matter very much and the game can be analyzed as such. In football, statistics often mislead. One defensive statistic matters: points allowed, and even that can be misleading because an offense can give up points on a turnover. The one statistic that can't be misconstrued: victories and losses. In the NFL, those always matter.
David from Waxahachie, TX:
What does OTA stand for?
John: Organized team activities.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
Your thoughts regarding the incident with Coach Mularkey's son?
John: I mention this only because to not mention it would mean being accused by some of ignoring the incident. My thoughts are the same as if it were the son of an acquaintance, a coach with another team or someone I didn't know – that it's a personal matter. It's also a matter that has no bearing on how I feel about Mularkey and no bearing on the job he'll do as Jaguars head coach, and for now, I'm not certain anything more needs to be said about it.
Lee from Duval County, FL:
Are the Jaguars putting the same emphasis on Eugene Monroe maintaining or gaining weight as they are on Terrance Knighton losing weight? Seems just as important in my opinion...
John: The play of Monroe is certainly as important as that of Knighton, but I haven't heard that kicked around as a major issue. Monroe entered camp too light last season, but remedied the issue relatively quickly and there's not much concern at this point over that becoming a trend.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
You hear all different opinions on if it was wrong to throw Blaine into the fire. Some analysts say we made a mistake; others say that is the best way to learn. With all that said what was your take on the situation?
John: I don't think it was a mistake because with the circumstances around the Jaguars last season, I don't think you were going to win no matter the quarterback. In the long-term, I absolutely don't see it as a mistake. The only way it would be a mistake long-term is if you thought that somehow playing as a rookie shattered Gabbert as a quarterback for his entire career. If that were the case, then he probably didn't have what it took to be the guy anyway.
Hunter from Duval, FL:
Krystal or White Castle? Answer carefully.
John: Perhaps you're newer to the O-Zone than I thought. I'm on record: Krystal, and it's not only very much not the same, it's also not close.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Why do you think Aaron Rodgers got the nod over Drew Brees as NFL MVP? Brees threw for almost 5,500 yards and 46 touchdowns. If that is not an MVP season, then what is?
John: Apparently, 45 touchdowns, six interceptions, 4,643 passing yards and a 15-1 regular-season record.
Ed from Section 433:
How can Bellicheat be a genius if he had to get Bledsoe injured before playing Brady? Can't he see talent? He wasn't that good in Cleveland, either.
John: I'm no Belichick worshipper, but on Brady, you must give credit where it's due. Yes, it took an injury to get Brady into the lineup in 2001, but even after Bledsoe returned to health that season, it was not clear-cut in New England that Brady was the obvious choice to remain the starter. Brady that first season as a starter indeed led the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory, but he largely was managing games and allowing a savvy, veteran team with a very good defense a chance to win. Belichick had the foresight or good fortune or eye for talent to make the Brady-over-Bledsoe call midway through the 2001 season. Like him or not, he has to get credit for that.
Joseph from Oviedo, FL:
Rules question: So let's say Bradshaw was able to successfully kneel the ball down on the one-yard line, either holding the ball in his arms or against the ground and then the defender was able to punch the ball away by only touching the ball, would this be considered a fumble or down by contact?
John: He would have been down because he gave himself up on the play.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
I think what Frank from St. Augustine is dismissing as a possibility, and might explain his wife's behavior, is that she may just want him to be miserable, which is actually pretty normal.
John: I just assumed it was a prerequisite.
Greg from The Bank Section 122 Row B:
O-Man, your friend Pete Prisco has repeatedly said the age of the RB is over. He cites the Giants' run game being 32th in the league as evidence of this. Does the running game really have no place in modern football?
John: I do agree with Pete that the Golden Age of the running back is long since past. Now, that's not to say the running game has no place, and I don't think Pete believes that, either. A team must have the threat of the run, and what I mean by that is the defense must be concerned enough with the run that an offense can effectively run play-action. A team also must be able to control the clock when necessary. That can be with a running game, or it can be as New England and other teams often do it – with a controlled passing game. The Giants in the Super Bowl were an example of how teams must run. They didn't have long, clock-killing drives with eight or nine runs but there were points of the game when they ran effectively and the Patriots absolutely had to respect the threat of the run. That's all the running game has to do providing it has an elite quarterback and effective passing offense. And by the way, that's no knock on Maurice Jones-Drew. He's a big-time running back and the best player on the Jaguars' roster. He would be good in any system, but a team must have more than simply a great running back to be an effective offense.
Micah from London, England:
MJD didn't patent the kneel-before-the-end-zone move. Brian Westbrook did it before that and cost many people (including my friend) the championship game of their fantasy leagues. How selfish.
John: I'm not sure anyone patented the move. Intelligent players with game awareness do it on occasion. In my last year covering the Colts, Peyton Manning did it against the Raiders, a play on which he rolled out and appeared headed for a touchdown before sliding. It's not surprising that Jones-Drew and Peyton Manning each would do it – or that Eli would have been shouting at Ahmad Bradshaw to get down on Sunday. It takes awareness and an understanding of clock management to have the wherewithal to do it, and Jones-Drew and the Mannings certainly are those sorts of players.
Nicholas from FOB Salerno, Afghanistan:
Do you think teams will deliberately have too many defenders on the field in the waning moments of a game to keep the offense from picking up huge chunks of yards? The Giants had 12 players near the end, caused an incomplete pass, took precious time off the clock, and only gave up five yards. I think the penalty should be no loss of down, no time off the game clock, and five yards for the offense to keep teams honest.
John: This question has come up quite a bit this week and there's a possibility you might see a rule change for, say, the final minute. The other school of thought, though, is I don't think you're going to see teams intentionally put too many men on the field for a couple of reasons. First, there's no guarantee that an extra defender or two is going to stop the play, but the biggest reason teams wouldn't do it the risk of a penalty. While the five-yard penalty doesn't hurt much, the accompanying stoppage of the clock acts as a major deterrent. The play worked to the Giants' advantage Sunday, but had the Patriots completed the pass for, say, 35 yards in bounds, they could have declined the penalty, taken the yardage and also gotten essentially a free timeout. The risk of that free timeout will prevent teams from using too many men on the field as an intentional late-game strategy. And what if the Giants had intercepted? Or gotten a sack? The risk outweighs the reward.
Ben from Section 202:
Hey O-Man! You never seem to answer my questions in the O-Zone anymore, but I've noticed a pattern. A little while ago I asked about the Senior Bowl and the next day you wrote an article about it. A couple days ago, I asked about Eben Britton's rehab and on Wednesday, there was an article about it. Can you at least credit me for inspiring your articles?
John: We can all look forward to tomorrow's article on self-absorbed readers.

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