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O-Zone: Dignity and decorum

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Stan from Bakersfield, CA:
That play call … ouch.
John: The O-Zone inbox on Monday unsurprisingly continued to fill with bewilderment over the end of Sunday's Super Bowl. It speaks to the popularity of the sport that one call could be so debated and demeaned by an entire sporting nation not to mention a good percentage of the Twitterverse. The question: was the call as awful, miserable and abhorrent as many observers believe? Well, on one hand, the easiest thing for anyone outside a team to do is criticize play-calling. We as observers have the advantage of time and perspective when judging these calls while coordinators and coaches must make them in real time and in the heat of enormous pressure. The Seahawks in that situation called a pass play against run personnel, which made sense. They also called a slant pass, meaning the defender had to react quickly and make a phenomenal play on the ball. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the defender did both – and as a result, the play is eminently second-guessable. As with many, many criticized plays there were any number of sound football reasons for the play call. All of that said, with Marshawn Lynch in the backfield from the one-yard line with a timeout … yeah, again unfortunately for the Seahawks … ouch.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Ask Greg Olson's previous five head coaches that he was offensive coordinator for the definition of insanity? What will they say in two years when he gets hired as an offensive coordinator elsewhere? What did you expect? He had Blake Bortles as a quarterback ... This was strictly a personality hire: not a good look. Bring me a fresh take with a bad attitude over everybody's best bud that brings the same old thing as he has brought for a decade.
John: Your opinion on this matter is perhaps fueled more by passion than knowledge, but hey … we'll see.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
Do you think Tony Dungy deserves to be a Hall-of-Fame candidate? The guy was 10 games above .500 in six seasons with Tampa Bay, and only made it to the NFC Championship game once. Then he went to Indy, and Peyton Manning happened. George Seifert technically has a better body of work than Dungy. I like Dungy, but HOF? No.
John: Before Dungy arrived, the Buccaneers were a running joke, and had a losing record in 14 consecutive seasons. They lost 10 or more games in 12 consecutive seasons during that span, an NFL record. Dungy took over in 1996 and coached the Buccaneers to four playoff appearances in his last five seasons without an elite quarterback and primarily with defense. He then made the transition to a team dominated by offense, never missing the playoffs as the Colts' coach. The Colts won 12 or more games six consecutive seasons under Dungy and won a Super Bowl. He coached his teams to the postseason the final 10 seasons of his career. He also was the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl. Yes, I believe Dungy is a Hall of Famer.
Cole from Duval:
Fans gonna fan, haters gonna hate, ain'ters gonna ain't. #DTWD
John: And me? I'm gonna dance!!
JD from Denver, CO:
So, do you think Gus Bradley's tone might be a bit different this season as far pushing the team to win more games? Another 4-12, 3-13, etc., season would put him in the hot seat. I think some fans are asking for too much at times; a 7-9, 6-10 season would be enough improvement to make me happy. I don't think that is hard to accomplish for the team we have right now.
John: I'd be shocked if Bradley's tone changed, and while I get a lot of variations on this question, it does strike me that people asking it still don't fully grasp Bradley's approach. Bradley never, ever, ever has operated under any illusion that winning isn't important. He isn't a dim guy. He understands that you must win games in professional football. There is no other objective. But Bradley also firmly believes that the best way to win is to get the team consistently playing at its highest level. He believes that if the team plays to its highest level and continues improving the winning will take care of itself. Because that is a long concept to explain, many people have believed Bradley only cared about improving the past two seasons. Nothing could be more wrong. So, will Bradley change his tone? No. There is no reason to do so because his objective all along has been about winning.
Frank from Jacksonville:
The Super Bowl is fixed. Nobody calls a pass play on 1st and 10 from the ½-yard line. Ever.
John: The silliness and absurdity of your opening salvo aside, you got one part of your statement right. No one ever has called a pass play on 1st-and-10 from the half-yard line. Ever.
Kenny from Rochester, NY:
I understand different positions are more important than others for success but how many game-changers do you think a team needs to have to be a team that can be in the hunt for a championship?
John: The number varies, and if you have a game-changer at quarterback he can make a lot of other players look a lot more like game-changers. If you have one at quarterback, you still probably need five or six. I think of it more along these lines: you need a quarterback, and after that, you need three or four guys around him for which defenses must account. Get that, and the quarterback always has a viable option offensively and that makes the offense very difficult to stop. Defensively, get two players who can pressure the passer and a player with a knack for making plays in the back seven. There obviously is no tried and true formula, but if you get that combination you're going to contend more often than not.
Bruce from Gotham, NY:
Regarding the last play in the Super Bowl, the great play that was made is being lost in all this. The Patriots were playing to stop the run and the play called was the higher-percentage play in that situation. Yes I know: "But it is BeastMode!" Still, considering the short amount of yards, the reaction to the play and ball was phenomenal. Not only that, Butler completed the play by securing the ball. The interception was the lowest probable thing to happen. It was a great play and it was destiny.
John: I don't know about "destiny," but I agree with a lot of what you say. Statistically, there was a high-percentage chance of success for the Seahawks on the play and a low-percentage chance of an interception. And it took a remarkable play to make it happen. It does bring to mind the oft-repeated coaching adage that whatever play you call is wrong if it doesn't work and brilliant if it does. Still, considering the way the Seahawks play and the way Marshawn Lunch runs …
Kenneth from Jacksonville:
I see your predictions on the Jags drafting defense at No. 3. Two questions. One, if the Jaguars' defense was solid this year in respect to pass rush (I think so) when healthy, why not another offensive weapon? Two, if we need a disruptive defensive player, then why not pay Suh or Houston whatever they need to get to Jax? Those are safe players assuming they don't get complacent with big contracts.
John: Two answers. One, you ideally don't draft to fill immediate needs for the following season, especially in the Top 10. That's because players are usually far from making their full impact as rookies; that's even true for rookies taken early in the draft. What you want early are high-impact, core players around which to build your franchise. That doesn't preclude the Jaguars from selecting an offensive player at No. 3, but it supports the idea that if there is a dominant, franchise-defining defensive player there you want to get him. Two, putting aside that there is no such thing as a "safe" free agent, your question assumes that Justin Houston or Ndamukong Suh will be available come March 10. I don't think that's a safe assumption.
Kent from Oak Harbor, WA:
Okay, EVERYONE is going to discuss the play call at the end of SB XLIX. But, what about the brawl? I know they're passionate about the game but don't you think we should expect players at the highest level of the game to both win AND lose with dignity? Very disappointing. Thoughts?
John: Should we hope for it? Sure. That should be the goal and the objective, and the rules of the game should demand players play with sportsmanship and dignity. As a society, we should aspire to nothing less. Should we expect it? In a game that thrives on passion, emotion, aggression, anger and physicality, expecting dignity and decorum at all times perhaps is a tall order.

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