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O-Zone: Honestly speaking

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... Jacob from Arlington, VA:
It drives me crazy to hear how the team has "made progress." Guess what? Every other team in the NFL also makes progress throughout the course of a season. Therefore, progress is meaningless in the absolute sense. Rather, progress is only important relative to the other 31 teams in the league. I have yet to see any relative progress.
John: I actually wouldn't say it's accurate to say every team makes progress through the course of the season. Quite often, in fact, teams digress and are a mess by the end of the season. Teams become dysfunctional by the end of seasons because of factors such as injury, dissension, distraction from speculation about coaching changes, etc. The Jaguars without question have been hurt by the injury to Luke Joeckel and the suspension of Justin Blackmon, so how they play coming out of the bye without Blackmon is something to watch. But I'd be surprised if you see overall digression around the Jaguars the second half of the season. Not that "not digressing" is any lofty goal; I just doubt you will see it.
Jim from St. Augustine:
I like the direction, but I have yet to see indications the group's picks are better than the previous regime. I give the draft and free agent signings a "D" at best. I know the draft may take a couple of years but free agents should help right away. I see players, but no difference makers. Share with me why I am wrong and why I should be confident in the new regime.
John: This is not a snide answer, but I'm wondering if you read or listened to anything that was said about the Jaguars all offseason. The Jaguars didn't target high-end, long-contract players in the offseason. That doesn't mean they can't be impact players, but it really shouldn't surprise people that they're not superstars.
Vincent from Bristol, CT:
With Chad Henne's contract up at the end of this year, is there any chance we see Ricky Stanzi get a start in a game to evaluate who to re-sign or bring back as backup for our drafted quarterback? After all, we've seen what Blaine Gabbert and Henne can do. Why not give Stanzi a shot at season's end in an actual game – not just practice?
John: Though I don't sense any urgency from the coaches to start Stanzi in the next few weeks, who knows? Maybe they will. There are eight games remaining. But remember, the goal is to win, or at least give yourself a chance. I believe you'll see some younger players more in the second half of the season than the first – a player such as Denard Robinson, for instance. But I doubt you'll see the coaches or personnel officials in a rush to put players in the lineup who they clearly don't believe is as good as another player at the position. That's not exclusive to quarterback, but it does include the position.
Robert from the Internet:
We all feel passionate about our teams, but the only benefit to the fans is entertainment. The ultimate goal of the game is to entertain. Right now, the team is not entertaining. Like Tim Tebow or hate Tebow, there would be more entertainment with him on the team. Keep rebuilding... no problem... but why not entertain us, the fans, in the meantime? The purists keep talking about the game like the fate of the world is at stake if the absolute, long-term tactical strategy is not executed. It's a game... and it is supposed to entertain us.
John:That's a very well-presented theory. The mission statement of the people running the Jaguars is to do what they believe necessary to build a team that is competitive and contending on a sustainable, long-term basis. When the team gets closer to that goal, it will be more entertaining than it is now. When that goal is achieved, it will be really entertaining. As well-presented as your theory may be, Tim Tebow does not fit into the team's plans.
DLAGO from Jacksonville:
Why the love for Cyprien? Sure he's electric and has caused fumbles, but has struggled greatly in coverage. But he'll be a future star you say.
John: I'm not sure I said that. I believe I wrote that the coaches and personnel people believe he has potential and the tools to be very, very good. I've also said he has the chance to be very good and perhaps a future core player. That's based on that electricity you mention. I also believe I've mentioned that he is struggling in a lot of areas. Coverage is one. He also has too many missed tackles. If he improves those areas, he has a chance to be really, really good. In that sense, he's in a very similar situation to many talented NFL rookies.
Jim from Jacksonville and Section 114:
In determining the NFL draft selection order, is the only tiebreaker strength of schedule? For instance, if the Rams and Jaguars have the same record at the end of the year, would the Jaguars pick before the Rams since the Rams beat the Jaguars during the season? Assuming the Jaguars had a stronger schedule, would the head-to-head matchup determine who goes ahead of whom in the draft?
John: Yes, the tiebreaker is strength of schedule. The team with the weakest strength of schedule picks first. The next tiebreaker involves division and conference records. A coin toss would be used as a last resort if all percentages were the same. No, the head-to-head matchup isn't a factor.
Jack from Chicago, IL:
What is your take on the Jonathan Martin situation? This is getting uglier by the day. If he were released, do you see the Jags having any interest? If yes, how would he be received in the Jags locker room? It seems like the players in Miami side with Richie on this one. Thanks for the input.
John: Any take I might have had on the Martin situation is obscured by it being very difficult to get a read on what actually happened. There is a lot of "he-said, she-said," and it has become apparent this week that it's not going to be a simple narrative. It is notable that the players in Miami have spoken so forthrightly in support of Incognito. That doesn't prove anything one way or the other, but to have so many players speak for Incognito certainly gave the story a different feel than many expected. I have no idea if the Jaguars would have interest or not. There of course would be a whirlwind of distractions whatever the outcome of the NFL's investigation. He probably would be received in the locker room just fine, though. An NFL locker room is a very receptive place for a guy who can play, and how a player behaves once he is with a team means far more than what he did before.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
NFL players are like cars; if you have an old beater with very little invested and the transmission goes out, you might just send it to the junkyard. But if you have a car you have invested much in, you might choose to pay the price to have it fixed. I get the sentiment of those who think it is unfair for a player to receive different treatment based on their talent, but it isn't just the talent; it's the money (and draft picks) you have invested in that person. The Jags spent a Top Five pick on Blackmon, and that isn't something you throw away without getting as much out of it as you can.
John: There is something to your analogy, most notably that an NFL team must protect its assets. Blackmon's talent is an asset for which the Jaguars spent a No. 5 overall selection. And you're right that you don't rid yourself without serious consideration. Talent is too hard to find and too rare.
Ray from Jacksonville:
Sometimes people write in and their comments sound like they think there is some alternative path for the Jaguars to take other than rebuilding. Um, what else should they do?
John: I can't speak for all emailers, but many understandably want things built a little more quickly. They want high-profile free agents with the idea that those players would have made the Jaguars a little more competitive. The Buccaneers followed sort of that plan this season with little success. You don't build by simply signing free agents for the sake of free agents or by looking good in the offseason. You try to build with a draft-oriented plan that uses free agency as a supplement.
Scott from Section 137:
I would like to know how many players have come back from four trips with substance abuse and been suspended indefinitely and have come back to have a stellar or Pro Bowl-type of career in the NFL? The second part of my question is why is it that all of our receivers we draft in the first round have substance-abuse problems? An honest answer to a perennial season-ticket holder would be appreciated.
John:I don't know. I don't know. That's as honest as I can be.

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