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O-Zone: A fun guy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... Brooks from Atlanta, GA:
If it's all about winning, why not get the higher draft pick – which means the better quarterback – and win for a decade?
John: If you can guarantee an earlier draft pick will mean getting the better quarterback and winning for a decade, I'd say, sure, go for it. It's awfully difficult to get that in writing.
Garrison from Baton Rouge, LA:
How many repetitions will wide receiver Stephen Williams get when he's back? I assume he's going to get a lot of playing time with the absence of Justin Blackmon, and his height and speed gives him tremendous upside.
John: Stephen Williams is on injured reserve and is out for the season. But he would have gotten quite a few reps for precisely the reasons you cite.
Joshua from Pittsburgh, PA:
Do YOU think we'll ever see Justin Blackmon in a Jacksonville jersey again?
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Like you, I'm not ready to think/worry about the draft yet. But, I just read in a scintillating NFL news outlet that we now have 11 picks. I like it! Where did all of those picks come from?
John: The number currently is 10. The Jaguars have all of their normal selections in Rounds 1-7 with an additional selection in the fourth round (Eugene Monroe to Ravens) and two additional selections in the fifth round (Monroe, Mike Thomas to Lions).
Sean from Candler, NC:
Who was the better free-agent signing, Sen'Derrick Marks or Alan Ball?
John: That's tough. Marks probably started off better, and through the first half of the season he probably was the best unrestricted free agent signing of the 2013 offseason for the Jaguars. Ball has played very, very well the last few weeks, and it's hard right now to say one has been better than the other.
Jake from CT:
Leaving Connecticut Saturday afternoon, cheering on the Jags in Cleveland on Sunday, pounding coffee at work Monday morning... #Jagsdiehardsighting
John: Cool.
Tom from Jacksonville:
I have not agreed with all of Mr. Caldwell's decisions; heck, I bet he has some he would do over. I have been impressed he is also bringing in players with high character. I saw Alan Ball on TV this week – a very intelligent person who seems to be a great guy. CHARACTER counts; characters don't.
John: Ball is indeed an intelligent guy who has been pretty much everything the Jaguars expected when they signed him as a free agent. As for Caldwell's decisions, I'm not thinking he's sitting around regretting too many. The players not retained or re-signed were not retained and re-signed for a reason, and nothing that has happened has changed those reasons. The draft picks for the most part appear to have a chance to contribute for the long haul; perhaps not all, but a reasonable percentage. Caldwell is trying to build a sustainable contender, and none of the decisions yet have run counter to that.
John from West Chester, PA:
One of the things that I was looking forward to this season was the development of Cecil Shorts III. I'm disappointed in the lack of the "big-play" ability he showed last year. He has the same quarterback, so that's not an excuse. He has played without Justin Blackmon for all but four games, but Blackmon really didn't start playing well until the last couple of games last season. So in your "professional football" opinion, what gives game-changing production?
John: Shorts has spent all but four games this season as the Jaguars' No. 1 receiver. He may have been that in some games last year but teams really didn't spend much time preparing for him as such. That makes things significantly tougher on a receiver. He hasn't had the huge plays he had last year, but I honestly don't know that Shorts is going to make his living long-term as a game-breaking, 50-yard-plus reception guy. He can be very, very, very good as an intermediate guy and as the Jaguars' running game gets better, I think you'll see his big plays increase.
Josh from Jacksonville:
Still sitting at the kids table. #shadricksighting
John: Well, yeah – probably.
Gary from Centerville, OH:
Haven't heard much about "the streak" lately. It is still going on … I didn't miss something?
John: The streak continues. I don't discuss it much. When you're "money," you don't brag about it.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
To me, there is a big difference if your new first-round drafted quarterback completed his senior year or not. There is a lot of development and maturity that happens in that fourth year that could make for an easier path to success at the pro level.
John: Sure, absolutely there could be, and given the right circumstances – i.e., if a player is in a good college environment, if he's financially secure, etc. – I'd always say a guy should stay in school. That extra year usually does mean more maturity. At the same time, each circumstance is different and there aren't many general managers who downgrade a guy just for leaving college early.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
Your comment that fans of other teams are disappointed in their team's player off-the-field antics and troubles makes us feel so much better now about the Jags problems. Thanks for your insight and wisdom.
John: No worries. I'm here every day, covering and writing about human beings who aren't quite as perfect as those who watch and read about them.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
This franchise and its fan base have been blessed to have had two high draft picks at running back spend the bulk of their careers with this team. With the offensive emphasis moving away from the running-back position it would seem this will happen less often. I really hope we find our next franchise running back soon; time is running low.
John: I doubt there will be much consternation over finding a franchise running back. They are indeed a luxury now. That's not to denigrate what Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew have meant to the franchise. And it's not to say that if the Jaguars found such a player for the next 10 years they wouldn't be ecstatic. But finding another probably won't be a priority on the level of other positions.
Johnny from Section 141 and East Palatka, FL:
Happy Thanksgiving, O-Zone. Seriously, though, dude ... we've been over this. You gotta start putting these people in their place! The foolish questioner needs to be edified, man. Stop being nice and say what you mean: Let the coaches coach; IT'S JUST A GAME; getting angry does not help the Jags win (or lose); etc., etc., ad infinitum. (rick wouldn't have taken this abuse) Love ya, man. I'll keep reading no matter what.
John: Shut up.
Adam from Leicester, UK:
It has been really nice to watch the improvement this season. It was hard to notice early on but in the last few weeks, you can clearly see the team get better. I'm not sure what's worse: the 'We're-going-0-16-whiners' or the 'Now-we've-won-two-games-we-can-still-make-the playoffs clan' that has emerged. Settle down peeps – not too high, not too low. Sit back and enjoy the growth.
John: Neither group had much merit, but you're right – the improvement that Gus Bradley talked about early in the season has been a lot easier to see lately. Winning brings clarity to that sort of issue.
Buddy from Jacksonville:
My friend bet me $100 I couldn't go five days listening to nothing but Justin Bieber. 100% T-O-R-T-U-R-E! Needless to say, I won the bet.
John: Hey! Never criticize Justin Bieber. Not here.
John from Neptune Beach and Section 409:
If a team is 9-1, but lost its one game 1000-0, is it the worst team in the league?
John: It was on that day.
Rob from Pittsburgh, PA:
Two things. In reference to John from St Augustine, I don't think he was passing judgment on Blackmon as a person so much as stating he made a poor decision. Also, my understanding is that coaches only have a limited number of padded practices they could use in one season. Is that correct?
John: You may be right about John's question, and I may have been a little too snide in my answer. Many, many people write in criticizing this athlete or that athlete for a mistake with the assumption that if they were in the athlete's situation they would never make the same mistake. That's fine, except it's very difficult to know how you would behave in someone else's situation. As for your second question, yes, a team is limited in the number of padded practices it can have per season. The limit is 14.
Bobby from Section 236:
Not to be looking too far ahead with five games left to enjoy this year, but I'm feeling pretty good about next year already. With the steady improvement we've seen, and another offseason/free agency period/draft to work with – along with hopefully adding three first-round picks (the 2014 pick, Joeckel, and Blackmon) to this roster, well, it could get fun again in a hurry.
John: Actually, I'm having fun, but that's me. I'm a fun guy.

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