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O-Zone: Absolute sanity

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... Eric from Boston, MA:
A crucial part of Gus Bradley's hybrid 4-3/ 3-4 defense is the nose tackle's ability to control the "A" gap. I watched the Seahawks this weekend and noticed Mebane's dominance in this area. I assume Dave Caldwell envisioned Roy Miller contributing to the productivity at this position. He hasn't been phenomenal, but do you see the team scrambling to find their guy here, or do you think another season in this system would be beneficial to Roy and his development? Or would he just be spinning his wheels?
John: The Jaguars didn't sign Roy Miller thinking he necessarily would be an elite-level nose tackle. Elite-level nose tackles typically aren't available in free agency – certainly not for the contract Miller signed. The Jaguars believed Miller would be one of their better unrestricted free-agent signings of the offseason, and he has been that – certainly in the last few weeks. The Jaguars have improved against the run in those weeks, and Miller has improved accordingly. Long term, I'd say nose tackle is like a lot of positions on the Jaguars. The Jaguars will keep trying to improve there as time goes on. Miller will improve in the system, but it's quite likely the Jaguars will draft to improve there, too.
Joe from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
A lot has been made of Cecil Shorts III comments after the Arizona game. Most of that chatter has been negative. I have to say that I loved hearing his comments. Here is a guy who wants to compete. He wants to win, and he wants the ball. I love it. That is contagious in the right environment. And from what you are saying, that locker room is the right environment. Give me 10 more Cecil Shorts III!!!!
John: Look, a lot has been written and said about what Shorts said. That's the story right now because the Jaguars haven't played a game since Shorts said what he said. Gus Bradley wasn't thrilled with Shorts saying what he said publicly and doesn't want it to become a habit, but he knows Shorts isn't a locker-room problem and he understood where Shorts was coming from. This is the NFL. These are grown men. They're allowed to have opinions and they're allowed to speak with the media. Sometimes you're going to have things said that perhaps coaches don't love and sometimes those things are going to be said by respected players. That was the case in this situation. I expect this won't be an issue much longer and I don't expect there to be any long-term ramifications, but yeah, in terms of attitude, desire, work ethic, professionalism and being a guy who coaches want on their team, give me a roster of Cecil Shorts III. No doubt.
Peter from Maribor, Slovenia:
Lonnie Pryor signed with Buccaneers from the practice squad. How does that work? Does he inform the front office about possibility of signing elsewhere and waits for 'his' team to match the offer (sign him to 53-man roster)? By the way, Cecil Shorts III chose you over Gene and Vito. Respect.
John:Teams are indeed informed that another team is signing a player from their practice squad. In this case, the Jaguars did want to sign Pryor to the active roster. He opted to join the Buccaneers because he believes he will play. Bradley said he couldn't look Pryor in the eye and tell him he would play immediately on this team. As for Pryor leaving the Jaguars for the Bucs, it's an interesting decision. Practice-squad players are often players trying to earn their way onto rosters and find a long-term team, and usually players at that level are best-served to stay with a team that knows them and knows their strengths. In this case, Pryor chose to restart with the Buccaneers.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
If you had to predict the Jags' quarterback depth chart next year, what would it be? I understand it'd be impossible for you to guess the exact names, but I mean like: rookie quarterback, Gabbert and Matt Scott, or maybe it's Free Agent we sign, rookie we draft and Stanzi. I am very interested in your answer. Thanks!
John: First, the final decision on the direction of the quarterback position hasn't been made. That will happen after the season. Your question is based on the assumption that the team will draft a quarterback early. That appears likely, and if that's indeed the case I'd expect it to be rookie quarterback, youngish veteran and a young guy. I doubt Gabbert would be involved. Not that I don't think he'll play in the NFL; I just doubt you'd have him in that situation if he's not your starter. As for the backup, the Jaguars will have to decide if they want to re-sign Henne and Henne will have to decide if that's his best situation. So, best guess under that scenario is rookie quarterback, Henne/other youngish veteran, Scott or another rookie free agent.
Manuel from Jacksonville:
In the controversial call at the end of the Patriots-Panthers game, suppose the official call is holding on the Panthers. Since time had expired, how would the clock be reset and where would the ball be placed?
John: The play in question was second-and-3 from the Carolina 18. The clock ran out on the play, but the game can't end on a defensive penalty, so had the holding penalty been called it would have been first-and-10 at the Carolina 13-yard line with the Patriots on offense with an untimed down and the clock set at :00.
James from Socorro, NM:
An article by Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN covers the new scoreboards at EverBank Field. In the article, "a new hotel tax will fund the giveaway;" this "new" tax has been around since the 80's. In addition, while the stadium is getting $43 million, "a Jacksonville public school district needs $51 million in facility upgrades." While a technically correct statement, that particular school district is actually located in Jacksonville, Illinois. This level of journalistic integrity and lack of simple research is appalling, to be frank.
John: Yeah, it wasn't great. My understanding is the link or something was later fixed. I followed it a bit in Twitter, but didn't care enough to read the story.
Rickshade from Jacksonville:
Struggling to hold a candle in the cold November rain. #Shadricksightings
John: He's a deep man, with many layers.
Tim from Jacksonville:
I understand players these days don't have the luxury of sitting out rookie years anymore and learning the ropes, as in the past. But are we really at the point where rookies are called out as busts before they've even made it to Week 12? Is it only because he's a fifth-rounder that we give up on him so easily?
John: First, the Jaguars haven't given up on Denard Robinson. Second, people always have been quick to write players off. When I covered the Colts in 2001, there were fans writing Reggie Wayne off as a bust during his rookie season. When I covered the Jaguars in 1998, I had an editor at the newspaper calling two games into the season wanting me to write that Fred Taylor was a bust. I opted to not do this.
Chris from Jacksonville:
You keep saying the coaches believe Henne gives us the best chance to win. And you sound like you believe it too. I don't see practice, but I do see the games, and what I see is Henne missing open receivers, getting balls batted at the line, and throwing interceptions every week. This is giving us the best chance to win?
John: Right now, that's the feeling, yes.
Jack from Chicago, IL:
Things in Jaguar land won't get exciting until we hear "With the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL entry draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select…"
John: I understand your sentiment, but I disagree. There may not be as many victories as would be ideal, but it's pretty exciting seeing the beginnings of this team being put together.
Joseph from Statesboro, GA:
It seems to me that a stronger running game would be the most impactful in terms of making this team play better. What are your thoughts; if you could pick just one area on this team to improve to see the biggest difference, what would it be?
John: It's difficult to point out just one area, football not being played in a vacuum. But a running game would give this team something on which it could depend offensively and perhaps open up the passing game. Not that there aren't many areas that need help, but yes, let's go with the running offense.
Jeremy from Andover, KS:
While it appears the Jags are slowly making improvement I'm concerned because the second half schedule is not what the first half was. I suppose if the Colts need to actually win the last game of the season to make the playoffs and we show up and compete, then that could validate the improvement we are seeing. I just hope what we are seeing isn't only because of lesser competition.
John: A win is a win is a win.
Darius from New Milford, NJ:
I've been a misplaced fan from the beginning. My extended family all live in Jacksonville. I own everything Jaguars from Christmas lights to sneakers to clocks to pajama pants. I've read every single "Ask Vic" and every single "O-Zone." I've gone through constant ridicule for being such a die-hard fan of this team. On December 15, I'll be going to my FIRST EVER Jaguar game against the Bills. My excitement level is THROUGH THE ROOF (regardless of record) and I can't wait for the day that my loyalty pays off! Does that make me crazy?!?
John: No.

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