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Middle-aged and filled with regret

Let's get to it . . . Chad from Jacksonville:
You say ranking defenses on total yards is irrelevant. So, does that mean the Jaguars' defense wasn't as good as their ranking, which was sixth? They were 26th in sacks, 15th in interceptions, and 11th in points allowed. These stats don't show me a top six defense. I know about all of the injuries and what the defense could have been, but that's not what I'm asking. Do you think the defense as it was ended the season as one of the top defenses?
John: Did it end the season as one of the best six defenses? Of course not. It ended the season without its starting or reserve cornerbacks, its starting outside linebacker and without some significant depth throughout the lineup. It also ended the season having spent that season carrying a team with an ineffective offense, which can take its toll on any defense over time. Remember this, too, about those defensive statistics you cite: sacks and interceptions are more difficult for a defense to get when playing from behind than playing with a lead. A defense playing with a lead by definition can commit more to rushing the passer and a team getting more pressure on the quarterback is likely to force more interceptions. But as I've said before, I'm not a huge statistical guy. When it comes to defense, I judge it based on whether the unit is playing well enough to give a team with a functioning offense a legitimate chance to win. That's generally what you want from a defense these days. For most of this season, the Jaguars' defense did that. Was it the best defense in the NFL? No. I don't think anybody expected or considered it that. Could it use a big-time pass rusher and could it do a better job creating turnovers? Yes, but without question it was a significantly better unit than the previous season and a unit moving in the right direction.
Jesse from Anaheim, CA:
Revisiting the fall at the goal line by Bradshaw, I would coach my players to take the touchdown. Remember the Chiefs-Chargers game this year when Philip Rivers fumbled as San Diego was trying to run out the clock and set up a field goal? The Chiefs won in overtime. I can give numerous examples of teams playing for the field goal and losing, but can't recall any team allowing the other team to score a touchdown in final minute of game that ended up winning. Do you still stick by your belief you fall at the one and try for a field goal?
John: Yes, if only to irritate you.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
Do you see the Jags re-shuffling the offensive line? There look to be a lot of good linemen hitting the market.
John: I do not. The Jaguars' offensive line isn't perfect, but it clearly can run block and I believe it will improve as a pass-blocking unit with experience playing together. No team is perfect at every position group. Both teams in the Super Bowl this past weekend had pretty glaring weaknesses. Although the Jaguars' offensive line wouldn't be considered in the elite group it is certainly not the area on which I would focus in free agency. There are far greater and more immediate needs.
Radley from Orange Park, FL:
You suck. Just kidding. Kinda. Go Jaguars.
John: You're right. Not kidding. In the least. YEAHHH!!!!!!
Clif from Bethesda, MD:
Coples or Blackmon? Pick one.
John: Blackmon, though I'm a bit uncomfortable with that selection at No. 7. Blackmon concerns me a bit because part of his effectiveness in college seemed to be an ability to dominate with strength by breaking tackles. It's harder to out-man people in the NFL. Coples worries me because I've heard too much about his work ethic in college. He has a ton of ability – the most of any defensive end in the draft, according to many analysts – and didn't always get to the most out of that talent. That's worrisome when spending a pick that early.
Lisa from Jacksonville:
What kind of questions do you look for when you do the O-zone?
John: Ones like this.
Doug from Section 118 Row B:
I thought OTA stood for Oehser types again...and again...and..
John: It actually stands for Oehser Tips A few and a few more and a few more . . .
Norm from Dothan, AL:
Does the team have a separate cafeteria at EverBank? If so, are their meals planned per player or how does that work? When on the road, how do their meals work? After an away game do they get a meal after the game other than some airline meal which would probably be a snack for most of them? What and when do they normally eat as a team?
John: The team does have a cafeteria at EverBank and players eat there regularly during the season. Generally, players all eat essentially the same things at each meal and are encouraged to eat there as often as possible because the food is prepared by a team dietician in such a way as to maximize their performance. On the road, they are served a meal on the plane to away games, and there is a team meal at the hotel on game days. After the game, they are served a meal that is far bigger than a typical airline meal.
Ken from Section 125:
Being 22, I am too young to remember how expansion teams acquired players. Can you fill us in on how this works? I'm too lazy to Google it and I want a question posted.
John: Googling is difficult. The toll it takes on the fingers of our young people is something with which future generations certainly will deal. Fortunately, the O-Zone was there pretty much front-and-center through much of the process in 1995 – though admittedly in younger, somewhat fitter, pre-nickname form. The process essentially began with the Jaguars first signing 10 street free agents, known as the Original 10. They were players who had been with teams and had been released. They then signed a few more such players, guys who were out of the league and looking for another chance. From this group eventually Jimmy Smith emerged. After that, came the expansion draft, with each of the NFL's then-28 teams having to make a few players available to Carolina and Jacksonville. The Jaguars obtained Steve Beuerlein and Desmond Howard, among others, this way. After that came free agency, with the Jaguars signing players such as Jeff Lageman, Don Davey and Joel Smeenge. The final piece essentially was the collegiate draft, which was similar to the process of any team except the Jaguars and Panthers each got an extra selection at the end of each of the seven rounds. There were many teams in the NFL at that time that believed the Jaguars and Panthers were allowed to build too quickly, and it may be not be a coincidence that while Jacksonville and Carolina each reached the conference championship game in Year 2, neither Cleveland (1999) or Houston (2002) has made it so far in the postseason.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
So, it is the week after the Super Bowl. When do you thing the "we should draft x player from my favorite college team" onslaught will begin?
John: Oh, it has started. I'm just not filling the O-Zone with it yet. I find those the most difficult questions to answer, because so little is known about draft specifics at least until March after the combine – and really, after that, too.
Ken from Jacksonville:
On the Hail Mary pass, if the ball were tapped up and hit the goal post, is it a dead ball or a touchdown if caught by an offensive player?
John: It's a dead ball. The goal post is considered out of bounds.
Keith from Deleon Springs, FL:
I agree the RB age may be over for now. Having said that with teams having to carry more corners and defenses designed primarily to stop the pass it's just a matter of time before some power running team wins a Super Bowl and the next year 20 teams are back to running the ball. Your thoughts?
John: I suppose it could happen, and you might have seen something like that had the 49ers or Ravens won the Super Bowl this season. For the most part, though, the teams with the better quarterbacks historically rise to the top – and in this era, that means the pass-oriented teams such as the Patriots, Saints and Packers. It's much harder to win with a team based on the running game. Converting third-and-long is so crucial to success and it's just hard to do without a quarterback who can calmly and consistently make plays that turn difficult situations into first downs.
Bill from Orange Park, FL and Section 104:
We made a late-night stop at Krystal a few weeks back and someone in the car wanted a chicken Krystal. I almost threw them out of my car. Seriously? Chicken Krystals? It's regular, cheese, or find a different ride home.
John: Perchance you're being too tough on your passenger. First off, although I vividly recall many late-night Krystal stops from the days when I was routinely out of the house late at night, there are others I recall, uh, not so well; it's possible your passenger was not thinking all that clearly. Secondly, don't write off the Krystal Chik. I'm a fan of the original, too, but the Chik certainly has its place – right there in my middle-aged, regret-filled, dreading-what's-next stomach next to the Chili Cheese Pup.

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