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O-Zone: Heart and determination

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I guess I don't understand all the questions about Cam Robinson learning the guard position. He never has played in the NFL. He never has played in the Jags' system. It seems to me the challenge will be the learning the Jags' offense while playing against NFL-quality players.
John: That indeed is Robinson's major challenge this season because adjusting to NFL speed, size and strength is the major challenge facing any rookie. The task is difficult, and has proven more difficult in recent seasons for offensive linemen. Robinson should be able to do it; not only does he have NFL size, strength and athleticism, he played in an NFL-style offense at the University of Alabama. Still, it's a major adjustment. It will be a major adjustment for Robinson whether he plays tackle or guard next season. Considering he has yet to have a full-contact practice at either position, much of the adjusting will take place in training camp once hitting begins. But I tend to believe guard is the easier of the two positions, so the adjustment to that position perhaps wouldn't be as difficult – if indeed Robinson plays guard as a rookie, which I continue to believe eventually will be the case.
Steve from Hudson, FL:
Is it too early to start the movement for Tinker to the Pro Bowl? I saw a reference to him in the O-Zone recently. I know Tinker maybe a taboo subject for the Zone … I do understand fear. Were we foolish enough to bring in competition? Greatness is greatness after all.
John: You don't bring in competition for Tinker. You just don't.
John from Ponte Vedra, FL:
You always say let's wait and see how things play out before rushing to judgment (although many times you then say there is no reason to dredge up the past). So, let's look at David Caldwell's decisions in his first year as general manager. He hired Gus Bradley as head coach. He chose Luke Joeckel with the second pick of the draft. Players from the 2013 draft should be the core of the current roster and not a single player is on the team. He signed seven free agents, and while none of them are still with the team, two of the seven (Roy Miller III and Sen'Derrick Marks) were solid signings. A passing grade?
John: I'm not sure it's true that I often say there's no reason to dredge up the past, but hey … why argue? As for Caldwell's 2013 "grade," I can't say it's good. Bradley is no longer the coach, so that can't be viewed as a success. Free agency actually was OK in '13, particularly considering the team made a philosophical decision to not participate in high-profile free agency and still signed Miller and Marks for extremely manageable contracts. The 2013 NFL Draft was widely considered a weak one, and the Jaguars were far from the only team to not build a core with that group; still, having no players left from that draft is by any measure a disappointment. The big question with Caldwell and 2013 wasn't the specific moves as much as the philosophical approach of building for the future and skewing the roster so young. That approach has yet to yield the desired results. The next year or so will at last determine whether it was a wise strategy, but it's fair to say the clock is ticking.
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
I remember the 2014 draft very well. I remember telling a fellow Oklahoma Jags fan that Derek Carr is going to be the best quarterback out of this draft and Jacksonville will pick twice before he's picked. Sadly, I was correct. I remember when Jack Del Rio was our head coach and all was well in the world. Then, sadly, he left. I remember saying he's going to win a Super Bowl eventually. That is looking like real possibility. Should the Jaguars' front office hire me as an upstart young general manager prospect? I would promise to look for a taller ESPN reporter or at least get DiRocco some platform shoes.
John: Congratulations on being awesome, but DiRocco already wears platforms.
Len from Erie/Jacksonville:
Big O, I am more interested in some of the backups because they will play a key role if some key starters are hurt. Jonathan Woodard … can he have a key role at big end spot over Dawuane Smoot? Patrick Omameh … I think he is bigger and better than A.J. Cann for run blocking? James Sample showed length and good tackling; can he survive? Amba Etta-Tawo versus Arrelious Benn … I know you can always put Etta-Tawo on practice squad … good size and hands. Finally, Stefan Charles was productive; I hope he can be a force behind Abry Jones. These decisions will help the team more than the obvious starters. How much you disagree?
John: I don't know that these players matter more than obvious starters, but they matter. I'll take your topics one at a time. I don't anticipate Woodard having a role over Smoot and I think it could be close between Cann and Omameh as far as who has the bigger role and who is the better run blocker. I doubt Sample makes the roster, though it's far from impossible. I think Benn will be on the team because of special teams and I think Charles could play a key role behind Jones at nose tackle.
Clyde from Sanford, FL:
John, listening to defensive coordinator Todd Wash's wrap-up video he stated the safeties will be interchangeable and capable of covering wide receivers as corners. Does this indicate maybe more corner blitzes or other blitz combinations rather than your standard four down linemen? We need to pressure the quarterback – and not just on third down.
John: When Wash discussed the Jaguars' defense on the final day of minicamp, he indeed talked extensively about the interchangeable nature – and the coverage ability – of safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson. I took this to mean Wash likes the coverage abilities of the safeties and believes the defense can rely on them in multiple-receiver situations. I'm sure the Jaguars will have multiple blitz looks, but I don't anticipate corner blitzes to be much more than the occasional different look.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, how do you leave Emmitt Smith off your Top 5 running backs – or, at least, make it a Top 6 list?!? I guess being the all-time NFL leader in rushing yards, attempts and touchdowns doesn't earn you a spot in a Top 5 running backs list.
John: Leaving a player off a list that includes Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson, O.J. Simpson, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders isn't a slight.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
The first two albums I ever bought were "Spice" and "Spice World" by the Spice Girls. Needless to say, I have great taste in music. What is the most embarrassing music in your library?
John: I don't have the vinyl anymore, but I would say owning "Working Class Dog" and "Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet" by Rick Springfield was embarrassing except that they hold up well as far as guilty pleasures go. Besides, who could be embarrassed by being a fan of Doctor Noah Drake? Talk about dreamy.
Doug from Jacksonville:
I've seen videos where Shadrick picks people up and asks them questions while he drives. My mother-in-law is arriving at the airport Wednesday afternoon; if he could help me out with picking her up and asking her about her flight, her corns, her neighbor who listens to loud music and finally her son-in-law and got that all out of her system, that would be great. I can sign a waiver so the video can be shown if you need that. Finally, don't tell me Shadrick is busy; he is barely busy when the season is in full swing let alone this dead zone.
John: I'll ask.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
What was the turning point regarding your perspective of J.P. Shadrick? Was it last year during the Jaguars 5K where he raced within the race against Tony Boselli? Boselli won, but that was to be expected. Boselli, a former world-class athlete, has had so many surgeries and bionic upgrades that he's more machine than he is man. Basically, Shadrick was racing against the "Six Million Dollar Man" Steve Austin. The level of heart and determination that Shadrick showed during that race was on par with the story of John Henry against the steam drill. When all is said and done, folks will always remember Shadrick as an American hero of the everyman. Fifty years from now, people will sit by the fireplace with their grandchildren and sing the ballad of J.P. Shadrick. Does he deserve our respect and admiration? You're darn right he does and it's about time he got it.
John: J.P. Shadrick is a fine, upstanding member of the staff and he deserves – nay, commands – our respect. I'd appreciate it in the future if our readers remember this.

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