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O-Zone: Ice, ice, baby

Robbie from Minneapolis, MN:
Do you think Jacksonville is ready for a gay football player?
John: This question obviously is in reference to Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam, who came out publicly Sunday in an article in the New York Times. I can't speak for everyone in the city of Jacksonville or every member of the Jaguars' roster and organization, but I don't sense Jacksonville would be any different than any other city or organization. Probably, there would be an ignorant voice or two, but just as probably – in fact, almost certainly – Sam or any other gay player ultimately would be judged on how he played. My belief long has been that most NFL players would have far less of a problem with this issue than many believe, because players who can play earn respect and those who can't don't. Maybe I'm naïve, but I don't think so.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
Just curious about your thoughts on this: What are the chances Blaine Gabbert starts a game for the Jaguars next season? Are you thinking like one percent? Ten percent? Even fifty percent?
John: I'm never any good at percentages. Gabbert is under contract. He says he wants to be back and the team says it wants him back, so there's a chance. But the Jaguars almost certainly will draft at least one quarterback and they want to re-sign Chad Henne, so I can't in good conscience say the chances of Gabbert starting a game for the Jaguars next season are very good.
Richard from Calloway, FL:
I would take $5 million if happy versus $10 million unhappy. Reason is I doubt I make anywhere near either number in my life so it's pure fantasy anyway.
John: I bet I could figure out a way to be happy in either scenario.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
I love it when people proclaim on high that this guy will be a bust or a star or whatever when they haven't played a single down in the NFL. Having said that I am leery of Bortles and any player who has a meteoric ride up the draft boards because of one good season. I'd much rather put my money into a player who has shown consistent, high-level production over multiple years. Preferably against better competition. One-year wonders from the American Football conference … meh, not so much.
John: That's a concern, though as is the case with most draft-related topics it's simplistic and dangerous to generalize. While one player in your scenario may be a "flash-in-the-pan" and fail, the next guy may be on the cusp of developing into a star. You have to scout each player, get your measurables, do your research and trust your instincts.
Joe from Pontypridd, Walkes, United Kingdom:
Not a question, just wanted to give a shout out to you and your team for the excellent and ever-improving work on the website. Stuff like the coverage of the fan forum, getting the radio shows archived quickly, the Inside the Jaguars segments and of course, the daily dose of O-Zone are invaluable to far away fans such as us Union Jax'ers. One fer you and your team!
John: One fer me and the supporting cast!
Dave from Jacksonville:
What was "Jim's" record at Indy without Peyton? I can't seem to remember...
John: Jim Caldwell's record was 2-14 when Manning was injured in 2011, which means Caldwell is a better coach with good quarterback play than without. Which, in turn, makes him very similar to many, many NFL coaches.
John from Elizabeth City, NC:
Was it just me or did the officiating drastically change when the playoffs started this year, heavily favoring the 49ers and Seahawks – two teams with very physical secondaries? It seemed to me and others that I've talked to that during the regular-season pass interference was called on hand-checking. The playoffs rolled around and suddenly things got very physical and very few pass interference calls were made.
John: It certainly seemed that way, though it's a very difficult thing to quantify statistically. How much contact secondaries can make without pass interference being called often goes in cycles, and there seemed to be a cycle in this past postseason in which it wasn't called as often as during the regular season. This happens sometimes when some teams take the approach that they're going to be play very physical pass defense with the idea that officials won't call all contact interference.
Matt from Jacksonville:
The only way to better the quality of your life with $5 million more after already making $5 million is to give the rest of the money to people who didn't make $5 million and don't know where their next meal is coming from. #poormanofassisi
John: I bet I could find a way to better my quality of life giving away less than $5 million.
Jason from Jacksonville:
I don't care who we pick up in the draft. I don't. As long as we pick up a quarterback somewhere in the draft/free agency, it honestly doesn't matter who it is. I just couldn't bear to watch Gabbert or Henne play another season. They are truly horrendous and if anyone, anywhere in the league, offered them a starting job, I would be shocked. On a positive note, keep up the good work on the O-Zone!
John: Wow. Rough way to start the week, and while I understand your Mean Monday musings, you needn't worry. The Jaguars will certainly pick up a quarterback – perhaps two – this offseason, and I'd expect both to be in the draft. Now, that doesn't mean you won't see Henne or Gabbert. The Jaguars very much want Henne to return, and Gabbert is under contract. If the Jaguars don't draft a quarterback in the first round, you could well see one of the two – more likely Henne – start for a time until another quarterback is ready.
Manuel from Jacksonville:
I was in the Fan Forum last Thursday. What an inspirational and motivational speaker Gus is. I enjoyed very much his speech, especially making analogies with the magician, his Minnesota vacations, Helen Keller, the lady with the parrot to convey the Jaguars direction. I hope he will be the Jaguars' head coach for a long, long time. He seems genuine.
John: Indeed he does.
Bill from Atlanta, GA:
Okay, so the winter is long and cold and I find myself playing armchair draft scout. I've watched the film and my thoughts are the Jaguars have one of three selections they should make with the top three picks: Johnny Jaguar, Jadeveon Clowney, or Sammy Watkins. Those three are the most dynamic players in the draft. And if we don't get Manziel, Aaron Murray would be a steal in the third round. Your thoughts? Thanks for this great column.
John: Someone mentioned to me the idea of Sammy Watkins at No. 3 the other day, and while my first instinct was no way the Jaguars wouldn't go quarterback of defensive end, the more you consider it, the more tempting Watkins becomes. He is a true No. 1 receiver, and the combination of Watkins, Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts III and Ace Sanders … well, David Caldwell keeps talking about adding a playmaker or two, and let's just say Watkins would certainly be one of them.
Garrison from Baton Rouge, FL:
What if the Jags decide to go with Clowney or Sammy Watkins at No. 3 overall, and wind up taking a quarterback in the second or third round. The preseason rolls along, and that second- or third-round quarterback stinks the stadium up, then Gabbert comes along with his beautiful head of blonde hair, and plays pretty well – since he would be getting most of the snaps in preseason since he's a backup, and he's named the starter again. Then you're back at Square One. Take the Best QB available, Mr. Caldwell.
John: You're overthinkin' it, Garrison. Take a deep breath. Now, another. Good. Good.
Zach from Jacksonville:
Am I the only one who wants the Jaguars to draft AJ McCarron just so fans can see Katherine Webb on the Jumbotrons nine games this season? On a serious note, if Watkins gets drafted at No. 3 and Blackmon comes back, would you be willing to compare the three receivers to what the Cardinals had a few years ago when Kurt Warner was throwing the ball?
John: They would have a chance to be that good, but it would take time. Anquan Boldin was in his sixth season and Larry Fitzgerald was in his fifth when the Cardinals made the Super Bowl following the 2008 season. Fans hate hearing that it takes time for receivers to develop, but it's just true. As good as Watkins might be eventually, he wouldn't be as good in his first season as either Fitzgerald or Boldin were in 2008, and Blackmon almost certainly wouldn't be either.
Dwayne from Jacksonville:
"John: I do have a favorite" Thanks, man; you're my favorite too.
John: No problem.
Gator from Gainesville, FL:
You didn't say my name, but I can read between the lines. I must be your favorite. My insight to the game is second to none and although you can't see the answer to all the Jags problems that's just sitting there waiting from Nease, I am sure we agree on about everything else. Anytime you want to stop by the trailer park I got and Natty Light on ice for you.
John: Yeah, like there'd be any left.

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