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O-Zone: Hall of Famer

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... Tom from Jacksonville:
Chad Henne plays because it gives them the best chance to win NOW. We trade Eugene Monroe because we are looking to the future. If Blaine is healthy, play him and answer the question –or has the question been answered? We do not seem to be consistent in following the look to the future plan.
John: Perhaps this is hard to understand, but the Jaguars really have been as consistent in their approach as possible this season. They are trying to win now with the players currently on the roster, but at the same time, they are doing it with an eye on building the roster for the future. You play Henne because the coaches believe he gives you the best chance to win now. You trade Monroe because you can get value for him, and they didn't trade anyone else at least in part because they received no interest from any other teams for anyone else. As for your final question, since the Jaguars have decided that Henne is their best chance to win now it's indeed safe to say that barring something unforeseen – and remember, there are often unforeseen things in the NFL – the question to which you refer has been answered.
Eric from Boston:
I think this week offers REAL measuring-stick opportunities for the following players: Cecil Shorts III against Patrick Peterson; Austin Pasztor against Calais Campbell; Russell Allen (assuming Poz is held out) against Carson Palmer. What say you? Any other crucial matchups to watch?
John: It certainly is an opportunity for several Jaguars players. Peterson has been known to cover the opponent's team's best receiver all over the field, and if he does that Sunday, it will be one of the tougher tasks Shorts has faced. Because the Cardinals play a 3-4 defense, the onus could be as much on guard Uche Nwaneri to handle Campbell as Pasztor, but each will have significant responsibility. I'm not quite as intrigued by the Allen-Palmer matchup because I don't know that it will involve a lot of chess-match, pre-snap type stuff at the line. I'm more anxious to see how the Jaguars respond as a team as anything else, particularly on defense. The defense made plays and played inspired last week, and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley would love to see the same sort of performance in front of the home crowd.
Ed from Jacksonville:
What happens in the following scenario: It's January 2014 and we won a few more games, making it unlikely that a quarterback is the best value with our first pick. Would we go into next season without a first-round rookie quarterback, Henne and Gabbert? Do we enter next season with a newly acquired quarterback that we don't think is the long-term answer?
John:I don't think winning a few games will make it unlikely to get value in the first round at the quarterback position. If the Jaguars have a Top 10 selection, which certainly seems possible, it appears a quarterback could be found in that range.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Gabbert will be the backup next year and Henne will be gone, as it should be. Who cares who "won the starting job" this week, month or year?
John: You're very bold in your prediction. That doesn't necessarily make you right, but we shall see.
Marjorie from Jacksonville:
MJD's lack of or lowered production? Greg Jones. I realize this is Dave's first rebuild, I hope he has learned you don't throw the babies out with the bath water.
John: Like Scott, you're very bold. But looking at the results from the last two seasons, it's hard to see a direct correlation. No doubt Jones was a critical part of the running game for a long time, but he played 12 games last season and the running game was not effective in the second half of the season. Part of that was Jones-Drew being out, but overall the offensive line had the same trouble blocking this season as last. Jones is a very good run-blocker, but I don't think the Jaguars' running game's struggles are all about his absence.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
Before all the Jags fans get on the Bridgewater bandwagon they should remember he plays a lesser quality of opponent each week. If we are looking for the best quarterback in college and most able to transition to the NFL, that would be Mariota.
John: My, the inbox is a bold, confident place today. Perhaps you're right, Redmond. Perhaps you're right. At the same time, don't assume a player playing a lesser quality of opponent in college can't play. Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco are pretty good quarterbacks, last I checked.
Dick from Milton, FL:
With all of the new restrictions on hitting the quarterback, why don't they just break down and issue them flags?
John: (Yawn).
Andrew from Crawfordville:
How is it that all the teams with the most wins have the lowest strength-of-schedule ranking? The NFL changed its scheduling after the realignment to allow for continued long-standing rivalries. Doesn't that hurt the shield brand by allowing the weaker teams to play the tougher schedule? Before the realignment, didn't teams just play a team with corresponding positioning from the previous year schedule? Seems like that made for a more level playing field. What say you, O'man?
John: I say you're a bit all over the place with this question, A-Man, but I'll try to sort through it. Teams with the most wins sometimes have lower strength-of-schedule rankings because it can be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Teams with 9-0 or 8-1 records have won a lot of games. Therefore, they will have beaten a lot of other teams, causing their strength of schedule to be weaker. The scheduling system in place since 2002 doesn't take into account rivalries or individual teams at all; rather, it's completely formulaic, and based on rotation and where teams finished the previous season. Now, the league did try to leave, say, Cleveland, Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the same division to continue said rivalries, but that was the only consideration given to rivalries. There's no consideration given to trying to have, for instance, New England and Indianapolis, play every year. That rivalry happened for years because the schedule fell that way. As for your final question, the current schedule is much more formulaic than the previous schedule. With the exception of two games a season that are based on where you finish, the entire schedule now is based on playing your own division (six games), a division from your conference (four games) and a division from the other conference (four games). Very little is left to the whim of the schedule maker.
Tom from Jacksonville:
Seen impersonating a police officer to get free donuts.#shadricksightings
John: Of course.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
In response to Tom from Fernandina's question, Ditka is entitled to his opinion, but maybe that's part of the reason why he was not a particularly successful NFL coach. If Blaine Gabbert did not go out with an injury it was clear that he was going to be benched for his poor performance. Either way, Henne is the starter, and I'm happy with him starting for the remainder of the season. I hate it that Blaine didn't pan out as an NFL QB, but he just didn't and it's time to move on.
John: Mike Ditka won a lot of games and a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears, and if you followed the NFL in the 1980s, it's hard to make a convincing argument he wasn't successful. He had less success with New Orleans in the 1990s, but I don't know that his opinion on players losing jobs to injuries had anything to do with that. It does appear the Jaguars are moving on from Gabbert. Seven games remain and there is no indication the team plans to go back to Gabbert from Henne. Things sometimes change in the NFL, but that's how it looks right now.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
I know the season is long from over, but are you ready to admit the Jaguars' future quarterback is not currently on the roster? I'm not asking how the rest of the season plays out, where the Jags draft, who they draft, or who they acquire in free agency. I just want to know if you can admit to what everyone else has seen all year...that the QB of the future is not currently playing for the team.
John: I am if you're ready to admit that you haven't been reading carefully lately.
That guy from back home:
So when do we get to start making Vito jokes? Do writers have some special truce?
John: Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Like many in the media covering the Jaguars, he takes some ribbing from others in the media, as well as good-natured ribbing from fans at times. Personally, I prefer Gene Frenette jokes. They're like oxygen for me.

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