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O-Zone: Good-faith gesture

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . James from Jacksonville:
There's something about releasing D'Anthony Smith that saddens me. It is frustrating to watch a third-round draft pick be unsuccessful. Consistently finding quality starters in the first three rounds of the draft is the difference between the competitive teams and the perennial non-contenders. Hopefully, GM Caldwell's luck will be better than Gene Smith's.
John: The release of D'Anthony Smith saddened me, too, but for a slightly different reason. Smith was a good guy who worked hard and overcame a severe injury that wiped away his first season. He missed a second full season before finally being healthy enough to play last season. Through all of that, and also through a lot of criticism from fans, he never lost his good nature or work ethic, and kept doing what he could to try to get to a high level. Even during this training camp, when he was pretty well down the depth chart from the outset, his effort level in practice and games remained high. As far as the reason you're sad, yes, it's true that a team must hit on early-round selections. It's absolutely critical to hit on first-round selections, and if you do that, you can withstand errors in Rounds 2 or 3. But overall, yes, you need to have your first three rounds be starters and be retaining one or two of those players on their second contract for your organization to be where you want it. And you need a quarterback.
Sean from Atlanta, GA:
Just saw that the Jags waived Scott and Kafka. Big mistake. The Jags just watched the two best things to ever happen to this franchise walk straight out the door. I haven't seen either of them play, but judging by what I've seen people write in the O-Zone, it's clear you'd have to be blind to miss the raw talent we just let go. #NoRegrets
John: Welcome. This is the O-Zone. Come in. Sit down. You'll feel right at home.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Firstly, I wager your inbox just exploded. On to (Tobais) Palmer, any chance of practice squad development? I really thought he had potential, if buttered up fingers. Secondly, have you seen the Fulham Shad Khan video? It's worth two minutes of your day.
John: Yes, I believe there's a good chance Palmer will be on the practice squad. The Jaguars like his potential, and putting aside the two fumbled punts, he showed enough in practice to merit being around. As for the video, I hadn't seen it, but . . . well, I'm envious. Well-played, cartoon-music-video-maker guy, well-played.
Matt from St. Mary's, GA:
I've seen some comments from folks criticizing Jedd Fisch, and I really don't understand that at all. Even though we've only seen the preseason, I haven't been this excited about a Jags OC since well, never.
John: People who work in the NFL will be criticized. Period. It doesn't matter a great deal, and I can't imagine Fisch is losing much sleep over it. He has shown as much during the preseason as a first-year offensive coordinator could possibly show, and you're right to be excited. He seems to be an innovative guy who is putting players in good position. This doesn't guarantee Fisch otherworldly success, but the signs are certainly positive.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
John, during the pregame TV show it looked like J.P. Shadrick had "thug" and "life" tattooed on his eyebrows. After commercial break, his eyebrows were noticeably darker and the tats obscured. This whole Shadrick thing is becoming worrisome.
John: I've noticed certain "issues" along these lines, but admit hadn't noticed the tattoos specifically until your email. Now, I see what you mean . . . and I . . . well, yeah, yeah . . . I don't like this. It's not a good situation.
John from Jacksonville:
How does Will Blackmon play as well as he did Thursday, like a veteran on the Jags squad for months/years, without the benefit of OTAs, training camp, etc? Other players talked all along about learning the system, plays, and getting in the rhythm. Blackmon comes in and makes it look easy. Were there a lot more mistakes he made that the casual observer would miss or was he as "on" as he appeared to be with the several key plays.
John: He was on. He played well. Some players can come in and play well immediately with others, it takes time. At this point, Blackmon is on the 53-man roster and I'm guessing he stays there.
Eddie from Atlanta, GA:
I've been a lifelong Jags fan, despite living in Atlanta for the last ten years. So, when they came to town Thursday, even though it was a "meaningless" game my wife and I had to go. We got there early to avoid traffic, and settled into our nosebleed seats when a venue official randomly offered us pregame field passes. So in 10 minutes we went from section 320 to the turf on the Jags side of the field. Gus came out of the tunnel, and I called for him. He smiled, then changed direction to walk toward us. "You're wearing a Jags shirt, I've gotta come say, 'Hey.''' I was amazed. He really is the kind, energetic guy I see on film. After meeting him and Mark Lamping, who was on the sidelines, I'm even more sold on this franchise. They are class acts and the sheer fact that there were hundreds of Jags fans at that stadium Thursday shows how great a job they've done.
John: Nothing to add here. Good stuff.
Mike from Section 238:
At this stage of the season, does Dave Caldwell's strategy for roster pickups change at all? Is he more willing now to take an older veteran that can plug in and contribute this year - like a Jason Babin or Clyde Simmons? Or is he still only looking for a player that has a chance to be long-term help?
John: The strategy likely won't change much. Except for Marcus Trufant, just about every veteran signed has fit the Jaguars' target profile: experienced enough to provide some leadership and young enough to be effective and possible develop. There's not much reason to think Caldwell breaks from that pattern dramatically.
Bucky from Jacksonville:
Do you ever smile?
John: Toward what end?
Logan from Jacksonville:
I'm curious which rookie outside of Luke Joeckel do you think will have the biggest impact on this team in 2013?
John: I still think it will be Johnathan Cyprien. He hasn't started as fast as I anticipated, or that he would have wanted, but I see him making an impact relatively quickly.
David from Durban, South Africa:
I watched Joeckel and saw some nasty. I smiled. I carried on watching and saw hustle that was not there last year. I am now grinning like the village idiot at a pop concert!
John: Keep grinning. There's a lot to like there.
Laurie from Neptune Beach, FL:
I watched most of the first half of the South Carolina game while I was waiting for the Jaguar game to start and I flipped back to it during commercials. Clowney has a chink in his armor that I wasn't previously aware off. He gets tired fast. He's not a high motor guy at all.
John: Ah, the tearing down of Clowney has begun. Just as I didn't get caught up in the preseason hype, I wouldn't get caught up in the "chinks in the armor." He's really good. Let's see how the season and the predraft process plays out before he goes into the Hall of Fame or even turns around a franchise. There's a long time between now and April.
John from Section 132:
I kept my eyes on Andre Branch through the entire game Thursday evening. What I noticed is how incredibly fast that guy is off the line. However, he seemed to really struggle getting around anyone. If this gets posted on your next Ozone, I will be curious to see if he is still on our roster.
John: I can't argue. Branch has struggled in the preseason, and he has struggled to get around people. He's still on the roster because he has talent, and the Jaguars would love to see that talent come to fruition.
Phil from Gilbert, AZ:
John from Section 105 asked about ownership of roster spot decisions. Your answer was basically that Caldwell has final say. After thinking about that for a minute it made sense, but then sparked a question within: Once the roster is trimmed to 53, how is the depth chart decided and who has final say there? IMO, Coach Bradley would reign supreme here. Jags looking good! #StandUnited
John: You have it pretty much right. The general manager typically has final say over the roster, and the head coach would have final say over the depth chart. As I said regarding the roster, this usually is not a violent push and pull, at least not in well-functioning organizations. There might be a position or two where the head coach and general manager disagree, but conversations typically have taken place throughout training camp and it's usually relatively clear who should be where on a depth chart.
Dan from Ponte Vedra, FL:
John, I have a challenge for you. Next time you are being interviewed on camera try and not make hand gestures. I just want to see if you can do it.
John: You should see the hand gesture I'm making right now.

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