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O-Zone: A real stumper

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Ryan from Miami, FL:
Why can't you admit Gabbert is still really raw and for the Jags to look competent at all on offense this year, Henne needs to start? Do you have a man crush on the kid or something? The experts know he isn't ready, but you know more than former pros? I can see why the Jags have been worthless the past few years.
John: Sweet!!! A Gabbert-man crush question!! Awesome! And you know what? One of my favorite things is when people read one thing I write and interpret however they see fit (actually, it's one of my favorite things to do to reader emails, too). People believe I have a man crush on Gabbert, and that we're involved in a one-way bromance. In fact, I think I have been pretty consistent throughout the offseason that Gabbert has been inconsistent and not good enough in the past. I also have been consistent in saying that despite that past inconsistency, I believe Gabbert will win the job. And yes, I still believe he'll start at quarterback in the season opener. That's not saying I believe he SHOULD start. That's not saying he's POLISHED. That's not saying he will ever be in the PRO BOWL. That's not saying he is GOOD YET. I couldn't predict that, and to be honest, he clearly has a ways to go right now to be called a good starter. If that's your definition of a "man crush," then yes, guilty. No doubt. One thing that amused me about your email was it seemed to imply that me thinking I know more than former pros – which in some cases I do and some I don't – was a reason the Jaguars have been "worthless" the last few years. I don't pretend to know everything, but I do know that my level of knowledge or lack thereof never did and never will have anything to do with how the Jaguars fare on the field. Gus Bradley, David Caldwell and Tony and Shad Khan should be and probably are very thankful for that.
Gary from Broken Arrow, OK:
Do many fans really expect a team or individual players to be at midseason form this early?
John: Yes.
Jon from Palm Bay:
With Don Banks of's glowing article, can we now stop the "we get no respect" mentality?
John: Yeah, I'll be honest: if there's one thing I hate it is how the national media just can't stop fawning over the Jaguars.
Jeremy from Miles, CT:
O-man my life is complete, A complementary story about the Jags on by Don Banks!!! On a serious note though it sounded similar to what you having been trying to say this entire offseason. My question is did you seem to notice Coach Mularkey losing the locker room last year as much as this story/Marcedes makes it seem?
John: Honestly, I never get caught up too much in losing-the-locker-room stories. My experience is more often than not players in losing locker rooms gripe about coaches and coaches in losing organizations gripe about players. In 1996, players didn't like Tom Coughlin much and complained about him. Had they missed the playoffs that year, my colleague at the time at the Florida Times-Union, Pete Prisco and I, doubtless would have written stories about how Tom lost the locker room. Instead, they won seven consecutive games, turned the franchise around and the stories were about how Coughlin changed. We even wrote a book about it. (#shamelessplug) The players and coaches were unhappy at the end of last season and there were a lot of people complaining. That's what happens when you're 2-14.
Bob from Summerville, SC formerly of Jacksonville:
Do you feel it's possible to get seven total touchdowns (rushing/receiving) out of Lonnie Pryor this season? I know it's a tall order for a rookie free agent and would be more production from the fullback position than the team has had in the last six seasons combined. Yet, do you feel it's possible or is it mission impossible?
John: I doubt it. Lonnie Pryor right now is running second to Will Ta'ufo'ou at the fullback position, and you get the idea the Jaguars could scan the waiver wire for the position. It is possible Pryor could score seven touchdowns, but he has to make the team first.
Dave from Section 410 and Jacksonville:
I was staying in a hotel in LA last week and the maid knocked on the door to clean the room. I told her to come in. She then exclaimed, "Moodachay." I thought for sure this was a sign that the Jags were moving there since the locals already knew our code word. I then realized what the problem was and with much relief, let her in.
John: Well done.
Brett from Ridgeland, MS:
What do you think the odds are of us going into the season with Gabbert starting and Scott being the backup? I feel like if Henne can't beat out Gabbert, then this would be our best option because it would allow Gabbert to get a final season to prove himself, and Scott a year to get some valuable practice experience as well as comfort in the Jaguars system.
John: The odds aren't very good. I'd expect the Jaguars to keep both Henne and Gabbert this season, because while fans want desperately to look to the future, you also need to make decision to enhance your chances of winning right now. In that vein, neither Henne nor Gabbert have done anything yet to make you not want to keep a capable backup on the roster. And while Scott has shown good things in practice recently, he has not shown consistency enough to make you want to have him as your backup this season. A third-team or practice squad guy, yes, but not the backup.
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach and Section 106:
Actually Carl said, "It sounds like a bunch of drunks slurring and shouting 'Moodachay, Moodachay, Moodachay!"' It's funnier with the detail.
John: Yes, he did. And yes, it is.
Rob from Section 228:
Why was Meester kept out last Friday? I don't recall him being injured. Also, I really thought Russell Allen played well despite the injury from the first play. He is really competing, isn't he?
John: Brad Meester was kept out for precautionary reasons. He is a 14-year veteran who really doesn't need to "hone his skills" in preseason to be ready, and the Jaguars very much need him healthy at the center position. Allen did seem to play well, and sure, he's competing. He's at a position where there are several young, talented players as backups. He's a pro and he wants to keep his starting spot.
Dale from Jacksonville:
Nine years of neglecting the quarterback position put us in the position we ar in now. And all of us that wete screaming about it then, we're told how wrong we were.
John: What was it you wete you doing again?
Chris from Crestview, FL:
Why are NFL teams so hesitant to try the unknown? Our quarterback averages less than five yards per pass - no matter who we trot out of the two "starters." Why not start the No. 3 guy? Kurt Warner never got a shot before an injury made him the last resort. Tom Brady - we all know his story. Drew Brees was wanted by only 2 teams, and no one wanted Russell Wilson. Don't you as a coach at some time say let's see what this kid can do - or are we so delusional that out of nine Billion people only 15 have the talent to be an elite quarterback in the NFL?
John: Here's how coaches approach this. They watch practice and study players. They then make a decision on who should start based on their knowledge of football and what they see in practice and games. Other professions don't throw people into situations when years of expertise tell them to do otherwise, and NFL coaches can't be expected to do so, either. Are they wrong sometimes? Do they miss? Sure, but you don't just roll out No. 3 guys in the regular season for long stretches at a time just to see what happens.
Camron from Orlando, FL:
I think it is worth pointing out that Gabbert and Henne were not playing with starting receivers. Both CS3 and Blackmon were out with injuries. I also believe it is worth pointing out that there were three or four drops by receivers downfield, and Gabbert's interception was in the receivers hands, got popped up, and caught by a secondary player. Gabbert should have been at least 7 or 8 for 10, for over 70 yards.
John: My bad. I should have mentioned that. MAN CRUSH!!!!!!!!!
Lyle from Kingsland, GA:
Since you have covered teams in other areas. Do the other teams have as many fans running in circles screaming "the sky is falling"? I am all for trusting the GM and coaches to make it better. Of course I drank the Kool-Aid last year too...
John: Yes, many fans for all teams generally believe the sky to be falling. The exception to this are fans of teams who have won games impressively the day before, particularly teams that have won postseason games the day before. Aside from that, a fan base is typically a pretty panicky, critical bunch.
Andy from St. Augustine, FL:
John, you seem to have an answer to any question that comes into the O-Zone. We (your daily readers) respect that and how you take the time to write well thought-out and detailed responds. It is what makes the O-Zone special, but do you ever get questions that you do not know the answer to? Anyone ever stump you with a question and you don't respond with an answer? What do you do in those situations?
John: I don't know.

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