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O-Zone: Fatherly advice

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... Saif from Washington, DC:
If defenses take away the slant route from Justin Blackmon, do you think we still see the big production from him as he's forced to other routes?
John: If you're asking if he will go for 14 receptions and 190 yards every week, then no. That would be, like, a record or something. Like any wide receiver, Blackmon will have to have more than one move or one route to be successful, but I don't doubt he will do that. If you take away the slant, it leaves open the fade, crossing routes or deeper routes. He has elite-level physical ability, and seems to be in the process of figuring out how to use that ability to have dominant performances. Blackmon's talented on a special level. If he works, he'll be able to use that talent on more than one route.
Manuel from Jacksonville:
In a medical facility's waiting room, half full of patients, changing the television channel, without asking, to watch the Jerry Springer show. #shadricksightings
John: Yes. Almost certainly.
Rick from Jacksonville:
Why does the NFL have the right to change games to a night game or other times because it will be a good game, but when a team sucks like the New York Giants, they don't make other switches to put better teams on at night?
John:The Giants play in New York, and therefore are popular. Popularity begets ratings, which beget money, which be very, very, good. As for why the NFL has the right to do this, the league owns the rights to the games. It's a funny thing about owning something. You can do what you want with it.
John from Jacksonville:
Could you provide an update on the progression of Andre Branch?
John: Gus Bradley actually addressed this Wednesday. He said while Branch has been criticized at times in the past for lack of effort and consistency, Branch has done better in those areas and is heading in the right direction. Branch has played better in the regular season than he did in the preseason, and there have been a few more instances in which he has showed up on video than in the preseason. I wouldn't say he has progressed as quickly as the coaches hoped. According to Pro Football Focus, he has graded out positively as a run defender and negatively as a pass rusher, and the negative pass-rush grade is concern for a player at the Leo pass-rushing position. The Jaguars are being patient with him, and like many players on the roster, he needs to show development.
Eric from Jacksonville:
It is a shame there is not an honest conversation about Tebow. Not that I feel he is the greatest quarterback in the world, but I just hate to see the Jags miss out on an opportunity to reach out to a large portion of the city. It seems like the perfect opportunity in an off year. As a season-ticket holder since 1995, I'd like to see the Jags and their fans swallow their pride on the issue. With all this Stand United talk, I'd like to see less mocking and more understanding and open conversation. Even though he likely won't be signed, I think Tebow fans would appreciate being shown some respect. Just acknowledging people's viewpoints in a respectful manner can go a long way.
John: I do respect the opinion. I make every effort not to mock Tebow, though in the spirit of the O-Zone I do occasionally poke fun at the fury of the debate. And I do understand that there are reasonable fans of his who believe the Jaguars should give him a chance. That's an understandable feeling. But personnel acquisition in the NFL is not a case where there is conversation between fans and an organization about a player. The Jaguars have had their conversation about Tebow. It occurs with every player when the general manager, personnel staff and head coach ask each other, "Can this player help our team?" If the answer is no, then that's the end of the conversation. Whatever the perception or level of debate, that's how the decisions get made. It's not about swallowing pride or respect. It's about acquiring personnel that will make the team better.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
When you were a kid, did you want a Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle? You remind me of someone that wanted one.
John: I usually wanted Electric Football, but your point is well-taken.
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
John, is it fair to say that if we don't play well this week, fan-base morale will be back to what it was?
John: Probably. If the score isn't close or if the Jaguars don't win, people will be upset. That's how fans are – and how they should be. More pertinent is how coaches and players feel. The encouragement around the Jaguars on Monday wasn't from the score as much as a feeling that things were continuing to improve. Players and coaches want that to happen again. If it doesn't, they won't feel good about things.
Bucky from Jacksonville:
How can you compare Alex Smith to Blaine Gabbert? Sure, they both have talent but Alex Smith is not afraid to get hit. He will hang in there. Gabbert has defects that you can't coach out of him. I'm not saying Henne is the answer, either, but Come on man!!
John: Yeah, that wasn't my point. I simply made the point that Smith is an example of a player who struggled mightily for a long time for a variety of reasons before showing he was a capable NFL quarterback. Teams are wise to try to figure out if a commodity on their roster can contribute before succumbing to outside pressure to give up on that player.
Mario from Zapata, TX:
What, in your professional opinion, can be attributed to the rather slow development of quarterbacks coming into the NFL the last couple of years? I know there are some exceptions, but for the most part it hasn't been good.
John: My professional opinion is the development of quarterbacks entering the league in recent years has been about normal. Quarterback is a hard position – probably the hardest in sports. Fans see players such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady and think it's easy, but most quarterbacks don't reach high-functioning levels until three or four years into their careers. Aaron Rodgers didn't play early in his career, and Eli Manning and Brees struggled early before hitting elite levels. It's not easy, and while the impatience of fans and media when judging those players is understandable, reality is development takes time. People were quick to place some of the recently-drafted players in elite status, and more often than not, you don't know until three or four seasons into a career if a player is elite or not. Peyton Manning has been the NFL Most Valuable Player four times, could have won it two or three other times and may win it this season. He wasn't a legitimate MVP candidate until 2003, his sixth season in the NFL.
Marcus from New York City via Jacksonville:
Run D question, O-Man. Who needs to improve the most to defend the run effectively - linebackers filling gaps, four guys up front, or defensive backs coming up from the secondary?
John: All of the above. A lot of the issue on run defense has been a few missed run fits early that allowed backs to pop huge runs. A lot of that has been the process of players getting more comfortable in the defense, and coaches have liked the progress there. The Jaguars did allow some significant runs against the Broncos, but defending the run against Peyton Manning is difficult because one of his strengths is running at your weakness when you're geared up to stop the pass. Even so, the Jaguars did a more-than-adequate job against the Broncos, with a significant chunk of the 112 rushing yards allowed coming on a 35-yard run on a fake punt.
David from Tucson, AZ:
Hi John, Love your writing. I watched Matt Scott with Arizona for three years try to take Foles' job away and he couldn't do it. What is happening with Scott now? Is he getting any reps at all? I always thought he would make a very good wide receiver more so than a quarterback.
John: Hi, David, you have great taste in writers. Scott is on the practice squad, and while he has worked at wide receiver in practice when the team's receivers have been injured, he is working and trying to develop as a quarterback.
Rob from Orange Park, FL:
What exactly is man press coverage? And how does it differ from cover two? What other coverages are typically used today? Thanks!
John: In man press coverage, cornerbacks play one-on-one with receivers with little and sometimes no help from a safety. In Cover Two, cornerbacks play zone coverage with two safeties deep in the middle to help against long passes. Man coverage is considered the more aggressive defense, theoretically yielding more interceptions but also allowing more big plays. Cover Two is considered safer, keeping more plays in front of the defense and allowing more short gains but producing fewer interceptions. There are many forms of coverage, including Cover One (one deep safety), Cover Three (three defensive backs playing deep in the secondary), Cover Four (four deep defensive backs) and so on.
Justin from Jacksonville:
So I just found out my first kid that is due in April, is going to be a boy. Any advice?
John: Enjoy the next six months.

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