Jacksonville – Let's get to it . . . **
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Love the wins. I still cannot figure out what changed. It seems like Chad Henne is getting more protection from an offensive line that is not supposed to be better than the one we started with? Please sum it up for me.
John:That's part of it. The offensive line is playing better. The Jaguars are running better. They're stopping the run better. They're creating more turnovers and committing fewer. They're not making critical mistakes. The players are adapting to new schemes and coaches are learning more about what these players do well. They're just playing better overall. There is a perception for some reason that a team at the beginning of the season is what a team will be at the end of a season. Not so. While an NFL team may not be able to go from the league's worst to best from Week 1 to Week 16, improvement can be made. That's part of why Gus Bradley preaches daily improvement. The idea this season was to have all players work to improve and that by doing so, the team would improve. So far, so good.
John from Section 105:
How much do you know about this team that you don't/can't tell us?
John:I can't say.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
Have you seen improvement in Matt Scott, and do you believe the coaching staff is grooming him to be the franchise quarterback just like the 49ers groomed Colin Kaepernick for a year before he was their franchise quarterback.
John:Matt Scott is on the practice squad, and with limited access to practice except on Wednesdays during the season, there's a limit to how much improvement can be seen by those covering the team. He throws a nice ball in warm-ups and is an athletic guy. But no, I do not believe the coaching staff is grooming him to be the starter. That's not to say he never could be the franchise quarterback here or somewhere else, but it would be inaccurate to say that that is the main plan.
Doctor from Gallifrey:
Do you think we'll ever see women play in the NFL? There was a story last offseason about one trying out to be a kicker. I think it would be cool. Would they change the locker room set up? Happy Holidays.
John:I could see a female kicker happening sometime in the foreseeable future – i.e, our lifetimes. My instinct is to say it would never happen at another position, but I'm not big on the use of the word "ever." Maybe someday it could happen, but I don't see it happening soon. And yeah, I think the locker room set up would be altered a little.
Drew from Buford, GA:
I hope people realize the change in this team in the past five weeks. We went from losing our first eight games by an average of 23 points. Now, we are winning close games. Sure, these are not great teams, but Houston and Cleveland both took the Pats down to the wire, so they are still NFL teams. Point is, we are headed in the right direction, and not just a little bit. If we improve half as much next year as we have this year, this is a playoff contender. If only Blackmon could stay clean for the rest of his career.
John:There's no doubt there has been an extreme change, and I think most people who follow the Jaguars closely at all realize it; certainly most O-Zone readers do. The Jaguars are significantly improved and they have been fortunate to win four games so that they have tangible evidence of that improvement. I'm wary of saying that improvement next year automatically will mean playoff contention. You never know how a schedule is going to break down, for example. You also don't know if there will be an adjustment period for, say, a new quarterback. It's not out of the question that the Jaguars could improve next season and not have the record reflect it. The Seahawks for example went 7-9 in Pete Carroll's first season, and then went 6-10 before drafting Russell Wilson and being a playoff contender. That doesn't have to happen to the Jaguars, but if it does it wouldn't be an unusual arch for a team's improvement.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
It seems like it's a lot easier to get an O-Zone question answered in the offseason than the regular season. I have been sending in a lot of questions the last few months, but weeks go by without getting one of my questions posted and answered. Are you getting double/triple the amount of O-Zone emails during the regular season than the offseason? Any tips/suggestions to get every question I submit posted every day?
John:Ask better questions.
Terry from Jacksonville:
Can you explain Marcedes Lewis contract status? You indicated teams would offer him money to leave, but doesn't his contract run two more years? Is there a clause we don't understand?
John:Lewis' contract indeed runs two more seasons. He is scheduled to earn $6.7 and $6.65 million in those seasons, which is a big hit on the salary cap and salary structure. That's why many assume he essentially would be a free agent after the season, meaning he either would renegotiate here or be released and sign as a free agent somewhere else. There's no guarantee that would happen, but it's a possibility.
Michael from Jackson de Ville, FL:
In regards to Greg from Neptune Beach's question, you advised that RG3 hasn't shown he appears to be a franchise QB, after two years. We gave Blaine three years and partially into that third you were still saying it would be too early to determine that. How can that assessment be made after only two years, when both were top 10 picks?
John:That's not what I wrote, Michael. In the context of answering a question about the Redskins trading Kirk Cousins, I wrote that RGIII hadn't shown that he is "guaranteed" to be an elite-level quarterback. The statement also took into account RGIII's injury history and the idea that it might be a good idea to have a quality backup plan with a quarterback whose style is conducive to injury. I never said Griffin doesn't have the chance to be a franchise quarterback, because without question he does. Griffin certainly deserves more time to show he can stay healthy and be more effective than he was this season. There's every chance he can, but he certainly has to show it.
Justin from Jacksonville:
As the season has gone on, the Jags' offseason needs seem a little less urgent than before. Maybe we don't have to replace four offensive linemen. Maybe we don't have to replace two defensive ends, both safeties and a tight end. Play has improved across the board, and now I can see us winning with guys like Branch and Pasztor. With that said, and aside from quarterback, what areas do you see remaining near the top of the list in both free agency and the draft?
John:What do you know? The season played out and some players improved enough to be considered legitimate players for a few years. Seems like that was sort of what David Caldwell and Gus Bradley said they wanted to have happen in this first season, doesn't it? Not to be too snide, but that was the entire reason for the first-season approach. They Jaguars wanted to draft one draft class, find out what they had on the roster and what they could rely on, and then start building the roster around that initial core. As far as the top needs, there still aren't very many positions that aren't needs. The interior of the line, wide receiver, tight end, anywhere on the defensive front seven – it wouldn't shock you if the Jaguars drafted any of those positions, or if they signed free agents to improve those areas. Oh, yes – and quarterback.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
O-Man, Garrison from Baton Rouge's question got me to thinking - just what do practice squad players do during the week during the NFL regular season? More specifically, what kind of development opportunities does Matt Scott have while on the practice squad? Do the practice squad players get to practice with the regular roster during the week? Does Scott get any reps with the backup offense?
John:Practice squad players practice. They are named very cleverly that way. Scott and other practice squad players attend meetings, and they practice as the scout team, so at times they do get repetitions with the backup offense. The nature of the quarterback position makes it tougher for a player such as Scott to work with the regular roster (there's only one quarterback) on the field at a time. At other positions you do see practice squad guys get a lot of reps with the backups and sometimes even with the first team on weeks when injuries have hit their position groups.
Andrea from Ormond Beach, FL:
Posluszny has a wife? You have ruined my day! Please stick to football news.
John:** You think that ruined your day? Get this: I'm married.