JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Kenneth from Jacksonville:
I can hear all of the questions!
John: This in-depth, exclamation-point-oriented "question" is in reference to a recent O-Zone thread regarding jaguars.com's presentation of Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's press conferences. Several – read: many – readers/viewers observed that the questions asked by media were difficult/impossible to hear. Many of these same reader/viewers requested – read: demanded somewhat rudely – jaguars.com's crack staff remedy the situation. The crack staff responded, and because it often entails J.P. Shadrick holding a fuzzy "boom" mic in the hot sun while sporting his floppy Gilligan hat … well, let's just say the whole scene makes me smile.
Hunter from Orlando, FL:
I have scoured jaguars.com and I can't find YOUR playing weight listed anywhere. Another error I presume?
John: I am heavy for my weight and strikingly tall for my height.
Steve from Jacksonville :
I have not had the means to travel to every NFL outdoor stadium but I've seen my share. With all the upgrades coming to "The Bank" and all the amenities being added (at great prices) is it fair to say we are on the verge of having the nicest, most fan-friendly NFL "outdoor" (important distinction) stadium? Even in the general bowl I'll be able to follow along on RedZone, have wifi access, great food, plentiful parking around the stadium, reasonable traffic times getting in and out, usually great weather, etc. Short of the possibility of a shaded roof in the long-range plans I don't see us missing much. One Fer "The Bank!"
John: Hey, one fer the Bank! – and no doubt the upgrades will put EverBank Field in the conversation for best outdoor game-day experience in the NFL. That has been the idea behind the improvements all along. The Jaguars are well aware that an improved in-game fan experience is necessary in an age of high-definition television and improved in-home viewing. On a side note, it has been interesting to see national media and fans from other markets' reaction to this, acting as if the Jaguars' moves are strictly because of market size or team performance. There often is an undertone of mocking, and sometimes even – gasp! – overtones. The guess here is whatever the nature of the tones they will change in the coming years as more and more teams follow the Jaguars' lead in this area.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Do the Jaguars have any contentious contract negotiations on the horizon with players currently in their last year of a contract?
John: Players? Honestly, no. But I can't speak for Shadrick.
John from Jacksonville:
I laugh when I see potential changes like the one proposed to increase the playoff pool from 12 to 14 teams. That is almost 50 percent of the teams (average to good) being eligible for the playoffs. We might as well go for 20 (heck, let's have all 32 teams in the playoffs). Besides, all kids get a trophy these days.
John: You make a valid point, and there is part of me that pines for the days of my youth (the 1970s) when four teams from each conference – three division winners and a usually-deserving wild-card team – qualified for the playoffs. You earned the playoffs back then, Sonny; men were men and I walked uphill in the snow both ways. But it was a different game then, too. Dominant teams seemed a little more dominant, and it was rare for a wild-card team to advance to the Super Bowl. Now, more teams are more even, and you're not shocked when a team such as the New York Giants a couple of years back comes from a wild-card status and wins the whole thing. The idea that a potential champion could be left out makes the argument for more teams getting in a little more compelling, or at least the theory goes. The old-school guy in me still wouldn't mind an eight-team format. Either way, of course, how you or I feel doesn't matter much on this topic. You can laugh all you want, but if it's going to bring in money, it's probably going to happen.
Larry from Tallahassee, FL:
What areas of the team should we be looking to draft for next year?
John from Tampa by Way of Duval:
As someone who grew up loving football in Jacksonville during the 1980s, what memories do you have of the USFL and the Bulls?
John: My memories of the USFL and the Bulls are minimal, at best. I was in college at the time, and only saw one Bulls home game. Home on freshman-year spring break – Spring Break!!!! – I took a friend to watch the Bulls beat Herschel Walker and the New Jersey Generals. Because she was the object of my (unreturned) O-ffections, I perhaps missed the importance of the Bulls' victory that day. My father later rented a house to a Bulls player, something I thought was cool. My father thought this decidedly less cool, him being the one left to clean a house trashed to the point where first- and last-month's rent and a security deposit didn't make up for the expense or the hassle.
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
A couple of things that popped out from a recent O-Zone: Do you think Chad would be beating out Blaine now if Blaine were he still on the team? Just curious as to what coach saw in Gabbert to warrant him the starting role. Secondly, I remember when Ace Sanders settled into his receiver position, he always got a lot of YAC. Is this a correct memory? I would think Sanders would be a reliable asset on third downs with Gerhart in the backfield. I believe maintaining what you have and building up what you just got would be the smart play here. Your opinions, please.
John: I imagine Henne would be beating out Gabbert if he were here, because Henne was signed to start and that would have been the case whether or not the team traded Gabbert. You also asked what the coaches saw in Gabbert last season to warrant the starting role. What they saw was a quarterback who often looked very good in practice, and who merited the chance to start the season. This often draws skepticism, and "tsks," but "tsks" aside, Gabbert typically looked good in practice and it would have been difficult to not start him last season based solely on practice. He got the opportunity, and by midseason the decision was made that Henne was better for the position. As far as your final question, it's probably not right to say Sanders always got yards after catch. It is right to say he got better in that area as the season went on, and I do think he has chance to be an asset on third downs this season.
Sherrod from Tampa, FL:
Say, haven't we known about these pools and the stadium upgrades for the last year? Why is the national media just catching on to this?
John: I have no earthly idea.
Gabe from Jacksonville:
Which scenario will most likely be the one that leads to Bortles starting: when he is ready to start or when he is the quarterback that most gives us a chance to win? If, for example, Henne gets hurt in Week 1, does that make Bortles suddenly ready to start? Is there any realistic chance that someone other than Henne or Bortles starts this season?
John: This may be the most pertinent question surrounding the quarterback situation, and the answer is there isn't an answer yet. How Bortles progresses, particularly early in training camp and preseason, will shed more light on the issue. If the season began today, I don't know that Bortles would be ready to start, so if I had to guess now, he won't start the season as the backup. But the season doesn't start today, and he's progressing enough that that could change.
Peter from Maribor, Slovenia:
The whole NFL is shocked by upgrading the stadium with pools and cabanas, but you know what? There is a soccer stadium in Germany for 62,000 and it has its own beer-line - it can serve up to 52,000 liters per matchday. Veltins Arena. Schalke. I'm telling you, those Germans...and no tarps, of course heh, heh …
John: Heh, heh … and, hey – one fer Germany!
Dan from Jacksonville:
Cabanas, Pools, All You Can Drink, All You Can Eat, Bikinis, G-Strings, Speedos & Jaguars Football! 50 People For $12,500. That is $250 per head. I see some Rowdy Fans and Parties! This is going to be FUN!
John: That's the idea.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Need to ask again. Are the players compensated, especially the ones not under contract, during OTAs?
John: I think my track record speaks for itself in that I rarely, if ever, criticize fans for not reading past O-Zones. I don't expect people to read every day, and in fact, I wonder at the sanity of those who do. But if you're going to start by saying, "Need to ask again" then you're implying that I've been ignoring this topic, which I most certainly have not. Players get per diems and room and board during OTAs. It's not enough to make them wealthy, but it's good spendin' money.
O-Zone: Compensatory selections
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Kenneth from Jacksonville: