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O-Zone: An issue of intellect

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... Steven from Fernandina Beach, FL:
If the Jags want to get better quickly (meaning next year), the way to do that is free agency. We have learned (painfully) that a "draft class" has a steep learning curve in the NFL. Free agents can step in easier, and have an impact much faster. I know that the philosophy is "build through the draft," but after the past couple of years, how much patience is the fan base supposed to have?
John: I would challenge your premise, and most NFL people would, too. I don't know that the way to get better quickly in the NFL indeed is through free agency, and history doesn't really support that thinking. Occasionally, you'll have a team with a few veteran free agents making a huge impact. Usually, it's a lot of money thrown away and a lot of disappointment followed by a lot of starting over. The Jaguars' decision-makers are trying to avoid that cycle. They realize it has been a difficult few seasons, but the easiest way to continue struggling is to spend offseasons trying to patchwork your way to quick fixes. I expect the Jaguars will utilize free agency this offseason more than last, but the bulk of the building will be through the draft. That's not an easy path, and it's not the quickest path, but it's certainly the best one.
Charles from Midlothian, CA:
To Quote: "The players want to win, but they also understand where the team is" then the locker obviously knows Henne is not going to be there next year, much less Gabbert. So why not go ahead and give Stanzi a shot? A week of practice with the No. 1s, and everything like he is the starter (as he will be) and see what we get. What's the worst that happens? Henne looks horrible or Gabbert hurts himself again?
John: I get a lot of emails asking why the Jaguars don't give this player or that player "a shot." The premise of these emails often is, "What's the worst that happens?" The coaches see practice. They know the personnel. They know what they want to see on the field and what they don't.
Marcus from NYC and Jacksonville:
Things are looking a little shaky for the Jags receiving group this week. Shorts and Sanders are a go, it seems, but the other guys are a bit banged up. Who do you think we will see out there as of now?
John:Shorts, Sanders and Kerry Taylor for certain. If Mike Brown practices Friday, there's a chance you'll see him. If not, the team likely will sign Jeremy Ebert from the practice squad.
Chris from Virginia Beach, VA:
You mention that benching MJD isn't going to happen. But he is only averaging 2.9 yards a carry while Todman is not much better is 3.1. How could Robinson do worse?
John: I get a lot of emails asking why the Jaguars don't give this player or that player "a shot." The premise of these emails often is, "What's the worst that happens?" The coaches see practice. They know the personnel. They know what they want to see on the field and what they don't.
Cliff from Las Vegas, NV:
I know the offense and defense has been hot and cold – mostly cold – but the special teams has been consistent as can be this season … goes to show punters are people, too.
John: Special teams indeed has been perhaps the strongest, most-consistent area on the team. Though Bryan Anger did have perhaps his best game of the season last week against Arizona, it's more than just the punter. Josh Scobee has been very good all season and the kickoff and punt return teams have improved lately, too. That's not something that should be overlooked. When teams have a lot of roster turnover, special teams often is the first area to suffer. That's because a lot of players get shuffled on and off special teams in that situation. Special teams coach Mike Mallory deserves credit for the unit's success in tough circumstances.
David from The Dark Side of the Moon:
Looks like this week's game will be great for MJD and the running game to get on track. What say you, O-Man?
John: The Jaguars certainly hope so. But don't let the statistics fool you into thinking it's a gimme. The Texans rank 23rd in the NFL against the run, but they have J.J. Watt. Teams also have broken a few long runs against them, which has skewed the statistics a bit. The Jaguars will want to run Sunday, but it won't be easy.
David from Durban, South Africa:
GM Caldwell is not doing much churning of the roster. Is that due to a belief that it would not add much value and might disrupt whatever progress the coaching staff has made with a young roster?
John: While the Jaguars' roster moves this season may not reach a record level, the Jaguars have been pretty active – almost on a weekly basis. If you're Caldwell, you don't necessarily want willy-nilly transactions for the sake of making transactions during the season. You at least want to bring in players you think may have some kind of chance to help you.
Parker from Tallahassee, FL:
When does the wife put up the Christmas tree?
John: Thanksgiving Weekend. And don't remind me. Around my house, Christmas is best described as a "whole thing."
Dave from Section 410:
You mentioned that it is difficult to contend if your first-rounders don't contribute. Actually, they must be impact players and missing in the first round is devastating, especially if it is at No. 1. I don't see a can't-miss quarterback this year so I think they should go Clowney. He is as close to a can't-miss as I can see in this draft.
John: There are a lot of fans who believe that way. We'll see what happens. One thing, though: can't-miss quarterbacks don't come around every year or once every three years. There was Andrew Luck and . . . . well, there was Peyton Manning . . . then there was . . . then there was . . . At some point, you must identify one decide if he's your guy. If he is, and here's there when you pick, then take him. Then hold on for the ride.
Patrick from Dixon, CA:
How do you think running back will play into the draft next year for the Jaguars? With the devaluation of the position in recent drafts it seems entirely possible that the best back in the draft can easily slip into the top of the second round. Assuming the Jags take a quarterback first, would you go running back here if you have one rated high enough or do you feel there are still too many holes on the offensive line or defense that require more attention?
John: I think there are too many holes. You can get adequate running backs later in the draft. Once you get the roster closer to where you want it, and you feel like you need an impact running back . . . well, even then you probably don't need to pick one in the Top 40.
Chris from Jacksonville:
If the Jags beat the Texans Sunday they will be tied at 2-9. If the season ended Monday the Texans would get the first pick by virtue of strength of schedule. I don't think anyone believes the Jags are a better team than the Texans, just like they weren't better than the Chiefs last year. Maybe the NFL needs to revisit their draft seeding.
John: And do what? Have mascots fight it out?
Garrison from Baton Rouge, LA:
John, how come the Jaguars never decide to respond to all of the people writing up false stories, and Sports Networks making up false stats, and stories? I've counted at least six major slip ups this season, and no consequences for them.
John: Sometimes, it's best to let ignorance be bliss. There's not much to be gained by putting out a press release every time someone gets something wrong about the Jaguars. It's more fun to make fun of those people and annoy them on Twitter.
Brian from Section 240:
Will Blackmon has quickly become a fan favorite and certainly one of mine, but his status is now uncertain with an AC joint strain. Doesn't Will have a history of knee injuries and should this latest injury be a concern moving forward?
John: The AC joint is near the shoulder.
John from Jax Beach:
Why not set-up a second sight where you and the low intellect fans who write in about non-football related stuff (like Shadrick sightings) can joke to your hearts content so FOOTBALL fans don't have to read through such rubbish.
John: Congratulations on your intellect. Sorry this web sight's not up to your standard.
JP from Jacksonville:
Why can't we be friends?
John: I'm busy hanging with John from Jax Beach.

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