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O-Zone: Assigning blame

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... David from Durban, South Africa:
This season has a different feel. Last year, the arrow was clearly pointing down and the opposite is true this year (notwithstanding the record). Old Man Mo is on our side. I can feel it!
John: That's the feeling of a lot of emailers lately – and not just this week in the wake of an improved performance against Denver last Sunday. A lot of people who are paying attention to the details seem to like what they see going on with the Jaguars. That's not to say people outside or inside the organization are pleased with losing. They're not, but people are starting to see the improvement that Gus Bradley and the staff generally have seen this season. That's not to say every game is going to be a closer game than the week before. Progress in professional sports doesn't often work that way. But so far, the Jaguars have improved and there does seem to be the beginning of a core being built.
Bucky from Jacksonville:
John. I know Blackmon is the man. But they need to stop using him as much. He's gonna be washed up too early on.
John: What?
Garrison from Baton Rouge, LA:
I heard all of this talk over the offseason about how the "Leo" position was supposed to give this defense a boost, but can you elaborate as to why Jason Babin and Andre Branch have both been disappointing? I'd say partly it's the foolish penalties for those two, but there must be something else, John!
John:I'm not sure what talk you heard, but there's nothing magical in and of itself about having a "Leo" position. If there were, every team would have one and players playing the spot would magically be sack masters. Bradley's defense has a "Leo" position, and it's a hybrid linebacker/defensive end with an emphasis on rushing the passer. This season, it has been more of a 4-3 defensive end. Babin and Branch haven't had a huge number of sacks, but that has nothing to do with the Leo position. One factor is the Jaguars haven't led a lot, and when you don't lead, you have fewer sack opportunities. I don't know that either has played as well as they had expected either, but lack of opportunities is probably the biggest reason their sacks numbers are so low.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Is it fair to say Roger Goodell has 32 bosses or is there a committee of owners that hires and fires Commissioners? Nevermind: I just looked it up on Wikipedia.
John: Cool.
John from Jacksonville:
John, you mentioned quarterbacks take three or four years to develop and said Aaron Rodgers struggled early in his career. Rodgers passed for over 4,000 yards and had a 93.8 QB rating his first year as a starter. I agree for Rodgers those are subpar numbers but he showed elite abilities his first year. I believe in 2013 you start the rookie every game and let the eye test tell you if he will become elite. Blaine never showed those signs. We should have moved on in 2012.
John: Ah, the difference between what is read and what is written. I didn't write that Rodgers struggled early in his career. I wrote that he didn't play much early in his career and I added that Drew Brees and Eli Manning struggled early in their careers. I also didn't say quarterbacks take three or four years to develop. I said they take that long to reach high-functioning levels. There is a difference. I try not to turn the O-Zone into a "I-said, you-said" argument where we all pick apart everything that is asked and answered, and goodness knows I'm far from perfect. I also know that I may sound a little petty going back and detailing exactly what I wrote. It's probably pretty tedious reading, but if you're going to cite what I wrote and use it as an argument, let's correctly cite what was written.
Earny from Springville, AL:
You "hit the nail on the head" with your analysis of the quarterback position. Peyton Manning has attained his current MVP status after thousands of hours of film study and game analysis. You have to work at your craft to gain proficiency. It is rare indeed for any "kid" straight out of college to step into his chosen profession and perform at a high level. Keep up the great analysis even when some fans don't want to hear it.
John: Sometimes analyzing is just writing what's obvious and looking at facts – and the quality of that analysis often depends on it being read correctly. It also is important to pull back from the immediate and try to look at overall results. While it's vogue to declare Colin Kaepernick, RGIII and even Andrew Luck as The Next Great Quarterbacks – and while some anoint players as having already accomplished things even when they haven't – the reality is reaching a level of consistency often means reaching a point where you know how to study, prepare and perform better than your opponent. That takes time and experience, and it's impossible to know if a player is going to reach that point practically until it is reached.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
Is there a ping pong table in the locker room? I could hear it being played in the recent open locker room video. If so, who won?
John: J.P. Shadrick won. He should, though; he puts in the hours.
Eric from Gettysburg, PA:
With the possibility of Shorts and Sanders both being out against the Chargers, are we likely to see an increase in action from Robinson?
John: Doubtful. The Jaguars are working Robinson more at running back than receiver. If Shorts and Sanders are unavailable, you'll see a heavy dose of Justin Blackmon, Mike Brown and Stephen Williams, and you might see Jeremy Ebert and/or Lamaar Thomas activated from the practice squad.
John from Section 105:
Where do you normally write these O-Zone columns from? I normally read them when I am sitting on the toilet.
John: Don't drop your phone. Or do – actually, it would be funny if you dropped it.
Dane from Jacksonville:
I'd place Eli Manning in the near-elite category. Having said that, his season thus far has been very disappointing. What do you think has been the cause for this?
John: Pass protection.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
If quarterbacks generally need more than a few years to develop into a NFL-caliber level, doesn't logic dictate that instead of trying to roll the dice with the draft the Jaguars focus on acquiring one (and investing the $$$) already developed from another team? It seems that quarterbacks, if they do develop into a NFL caliber, do so around the time their first contract is up. I understand the Jaguars will have to spend more money than the team the quarterback has developed under, but to me that is the extra money is a sure investment for building a winning team around.
John: If a quarterback has developed to the point where you want him, the chances are pretty good the team for which he plays already has re-signed him. Why on earth would a team let a developed quarterback go anywhere else? And by the way, it doesn't have to take three or four years to develop into an NFL-caliber quarterback. An elite quarterback? Probably.
Matt from Section 147:
What do practice squad players do on gameday? Are they on the sideline with the team?
John: Watch. No.
Nathan from Springville, UT:
Hey, it's me, out from under this rock. Could someone please tell me where Matt Scott and Luke Joeckel have gone?
John: Matt Scott is on the practice squad. Luke Joeckel is on injured reserve. I'd work harder on this answer, but I want it to match your effort lately.
Steve from Woodbine, GA:
For the first time since probably last year's opening game, I am excited about this Sunday. But I will be at the race in Talladega, Alabama during the game. I have set it to record and will be ignoring the sports stations on the way home, so don't call me and tell me who won. Ok?
John: Word.
Tim from Orlando, FL:
With the possibility of CS3 being out for the foreseeable future, do you see DC looking to bring in a vet with wide receiver experience? Maybe a guy like Devery Henderson?
John: First, I don't know that Cecil Shorts III is expected to be out that long. Certainly, I've heard nothing to indicate it's an extended injury, and he hasn't been ruled out this week. In fact, as of Thursday, he was improving and appeared to have a chance to play Sunday. But either way, I doubt Caldwell and the Jaguars are looking to bring in a veteran receiver. More likely, they would elevate players from the practice squad beginning with Jeremy Ebert.
Mike from Athens, GA:
If there is some confusion, who's to blame?
John: People usually blame me. And I get that.

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