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O-Zone: In demand

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
Johnny O … you gotta help me out here. I know we don't like talking draft in November, but your comment to Jesse from Duval has my head itching. Heavy on defense? Defense seems to have been the stronger area of the team this year. Take away the points the offense has allowed the other team to score this year and our games are closer and the record is (probably) better. So, why expect to go heavy on defense in the draft? Better defensive class this year?
John: I'm sorry your head is itching. Being itchy can be … well, itchy. This may be a bit counterintuitive, but remember: the draft usually isn't about immediate impact. You don't draft to improve your team appreciably the next season. You draft to build the roster for the long haul, and to give yourself a foundation. The Jaguars drafted heavy on offense last offseason, and they have started a striking number of those players this season. The result is an offense heavy on potential, though equally heavy on mistakes and frustrating errors. The idea is for those players to grow into a core. I'm not saying the Jaguars won't draft any offensive players next offseason, but I do anticipate they will focus on adding impact defensive playmakers early in the draft.
Bryan from Tampa, FL:
I just saw the Hall-of-Fame finalist list and much to my dismay Edgerrin James is on the list. Is he really more qualified than my man, Fred? I would not have thought so, but I am interested in your thoughts as one who covered both running backs.
John: I wouldn't say I was dismayed when I saw James on the list. He certainly is deserving of Hall of Fame consideration, having led the NFL in rushing twice and having been a Pro Bowl running back five times. If you're asking who I think is more qualified, it's a tough call. I respect both players very much, and I particularly admire James for changing as a runner after a devastating knee injury in 2001 and reinventing himself on the way to three very productive seasons after that. He was special in his own way and was a more complete back – blocking, receiving and running – than many people realize. At the same time, I consider Fred Taylor the best running back I ever covered, and believe he's one of the most underrated players of the last two decades. James probably has more credentials that will earn him votes – i.e., playoff appearances, rushing titles and Pro Bowl appearances – but I'd give the nod to Taylor if forced to choose a back to start a team.
Joseph from Oviedo, FL:
How likely would it be the Jaguars look to pick up Richie Incognito to add some depth, ferociousness, and veteran capability to our young and developing offensive line?
John: Not likely at all.
Rob from Jacksonville:
Why must you taunt me with your callous disregard for the Oxford comma?
John: This is one of those questions with a gray area. An Oxford comma is a comma before the word "and" when listing objects in a sentence. For example: People who intensely dislike John Oehser include friends, family, women, men, children, players, coaches, personnel officials, team owners, team presidents, and colleagues. In that sentence, the comma between "team presidents" and "and colleagues" is an "Oxford comma." It is quite correct and quite popular. In newspapering and other forms of media writing, however, the Oxford comma is not generally used. I was brought up in the newspaper biz not using it, so that will continue to be how I "roll."
Adam from Richmond, KY:
You stated recently a quick-trigger decision from management isn't the answer. I 100 percent agree. However, I am curious what (in your opinion) would a quick-trigger decision look like from this management? Firing the coach, trading away (high) future draft picks???
John: Yes, yes. Signing expensive free agents willy-nilly without regard to continuing to develop players would fit the category, too.
Hunter from Jacksonville:
Six K a week. I need a tryout. I gotta stretch first, though.
John: We'll wait.
Herbert from MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevablez:
Will there be an "open" competition at quarterback going into training camp next year? Or will they go with Henne until Blake's ready?
John: Blake Bortles will start at quarterback for the Jaguars for as long as he is healthy or until the team decides he's not the future at the position.
Matt from Jacksonville:
If I win the 'Ultimate Gameday Experience,' then I want to meet PKaaaaaaaav~! #PKAVTWD
John: Yeah, that'd be awesome for you.
Greg from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
To follow up on the practice-squad question … when a player is activated to the 53-man roster, how is his pay determined then? League minimum? Thanks.
John: A player activated from the practice squad can negotiate whatever pay he and the team believe fair. Because the player has been on the practice squad, it's usually the league minimum.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
Please DEFINE soon in number of seasons.
John: Nah.
Scott from Section 137 and Ponte Vedra, FL:
What position aside from kicker and punter is most ready to play in the NFL coming out of the draft, especially in the earlier rounds? Since your comment that the majority of rookies, especially receivers and offensive lineman need time to develop, is there a position that is more "pro-ready" to start in the NFL? My guess is linebacker since that's what teams like the Steelers and Patriots seem to concentrate their first round picks upon. What are your thoughts? Thanks
John: Running back is generally considered the easiest. That's especially true if the team is just asking the player to run the ball and if the team can live with errors in pass protection. Outside linebacker and cornerback often can play quickly at a high level quickly, too. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but a lot of people generally consider those the most user-ready positions.
Andy from Denver, CO:
Hey, John, speaking of the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks, who would you have on it if you could decide? I would have to go with Brady, Manning (as much as I hate to do so), Montana, and a tossup between Marino and Elway. I'm way too young to appreciate what Unitas did, but could he make an argument to be on it? Would his game translate to today's NFL?
John: John Elway, Peyton Manning, John Unitas, Dan Marino. That's mine for today, and it's not in any particular order.
Dane from Jacksonville:
Do practice-squad players make roughly $6,000 a week or $6,000 a month? I was under the impression that the latter is true.
John: You were under the wrong impression. They make a minimum of $6,000 per week.
David from Section 214:
Why not let Lee attempt punt returns? Not like Ace has done anything...
John: This was given some consideration before the bye, but when Allen Robinson was placed on injured reserve, that pretty much ended the consideration for now. Marqise Lee will take on a bigger role in the offense – as the No. 3 receiver, for now – and the Jaguars want to let him focus on that.
Paul from North Dakota:
Say, John … with the season looking bleak, what are some realistic expectations for our record at the end of the year? Does a win in Indy validate what this team is doing? Does a .500 record in the division show we are on the right track even if that means another four-win season?
John: I'm a bad guy to ask this question, because I'm not big on one game "validating" much. If the Jaguars beat Indianapolis then lose their last five games is anything validated? Does a .500 record in the division make fans feel better? Because we're in Year 2 of this thing, and because I believed and continue to believe that the Jaguars could be improved this season and not have a better record, I still don't attach too much to the season-ending record this season. I think the Jaguars in the last six games need to be competitive, and they need to play better. That could mean pretty similar results to the six weeks or so leading into the Dallas loss. I thought the Jaguars were improving and showing good signs during that time. If the Jaguars play similarly to that and win a game or two in the final six weeks, I'll still believe they're moving in the right direction. I don't know that I'd call it successful, but it would still show progress and good things for the future.
Doug from Jacksonville:
O Man, this website is so full of Jaguars information, then I have to come to the O-Zone and get more Jags info? I demand more cutesy!! I am a season-ticket holder, therefore you work for me! I will cancel my season tickets and will put on Tampa games with my Nielsen box if I don't get my way!! I demand this free website be run my way or else I will hold my breath until I am blue! Tennessee Titans blue!
John: Sounds about right.

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