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O-Zone: Khan is cool

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Ronnie from Jasper, IN:
O-Zone, before we get into Jets week, any final thoughts on the opener?
John: Well, glad you asked! I had a chance at last to watch the replay of Dolphins 27, Jaguars 3, Sunday afternoon and several things stood out. Most notably was that it was easy to see why Head Coach Gus Bradley was excited about the line play. The defensive line got good pressure on passing downs, although they did seem to struggle in pass rush when the Dolphins threw on first down. The offensive line also blocked pretty well for the run throughout the first half, particularly considering center Brad Meester was out and right tackle Luke Joeckel was playing in his first game against Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake. Rookie cornerback Dwayne Gratz appeared to play well, while safety Chris Prosinski struggled, and it looked like the move to defensive end is going to benefit Tyson Alualu. And don't forget defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. The pressure he got throughout the first half was real, and a lot of it came against front-line offensive linemen. I won't touch on quarterbacks in this answer. We have time for that.
Jeff from Orange Park, FL:
Why are people in such a hurry to criticize Gabbert? He was 5 of 10 with three drops; that's not so bad, in my opinion. I don't think we were looking down the field so it appears to be the same old stuff; am I wrong in my assessment?
John: People are in a hurry to criticize Gabbert because he hasn't played well often enough since joining the Jaguars. As for his performance Friday, he didn't look downfield enough, but until the final minute of the first half, Chad Henne didn't look downfield much, either. I took a close look at the performances of Gabbert and Henne Friday: Gabbert completed five passes and had three passes – one to Ace Sanders, one to Mike Brown and one to Will Ta'ufo'ou – that could have or should have been caught. He also threw incomplete on his second attempt while under immediate duress from Wake. His other attempt sailed far over the head of Brown. Henne completed short passes to Brown, Pryor and tight end Allen Reisner and slants to Sanders and Brown, also throwing incomplete once and having two passes batted down. Those were his first eight passes. He finished the half in two-minute mode, completing intermediate passes to Jeremy Ebert and Reisner and a screen to Jonathan Grimes. There just wasn't much to distinguish the two when you watched the game, and while Gabbert probably could have made a better decision on the interception that bounced off Ta'ufo'ou's hands, the receivers overall didn't help Gabbert.
Chase from Jacksonville:
Hypothetical question here: Do you think Bradley gets canned if we have another 2-14 campaign or would he . . .
John: You went on. You wrote more things. I didn't read. It wasn't necessary. Bradley will be the head coach of the Jaguars in 2014.
Kamal from San Francisco, CA:
We've scrutinized the starters plenty, but what player or players fighting for a roster spot helped their cause the most in Friday's action?
John: Defensive end Abry Jones showed on tape, and though I don't know that the next three are fighting for roster spots, Grimes, defensive end Ryan Davis, middle linebacker LaRoy Reynolds and safety Josh Evans did, too. I liked how defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith and defensive end Pannel Egboh played. It's difficult to say who helped themselves the most, because we don't necessarily know exactly what coaches want to see, but those players stood out. Oh, and if you believe running back Jordan Todman is fighting for a spot, he helped himself, too.
Herbert from Midstate Office Supply Accountz Reeceevable:
When do you think the Jags will announce that Henne is the starter for Game 2?
John: First, I don't know that it's a guarantee Henne will start against the Jets. My guess is that's the way the Jaguars will go, but at this point, that's speculation. With the game on Saturday, an announcement one way or the other likely will come Thursday. I imagine Henne will start, but if that's the case it will be more of an issue of continuing to split reps and opportunity than it is a hint at who is leading the competition.
Gary from Fleming Island, FL:
It seemed like they took Ace Sanders out early. Was he injured? Or did I er, overlook him?
John: Sanders played with the starters, which made sense, because he was starting. To my knowledge, he wasn't injured and I didn't see anything unusual about his participation.
Joseph from Statesboro, GA:
I thought Denard Robinson did very well running up the middle; he reminded me a bit of Chris Johnson (well, when Chris wants to play hard, that is). I saw nothing to criticize.
John: I agree with the Johnson comparisons to an extent. Robinson seems to have that kind of breakaway speed, and that will make him a threat. I don't know that you're going to see Robinson ever have the lead back role that Johnson has had; he probably isn't quite big enough for that. But that's not to say he won't make an impact. He has made remarkable strides since early in training camp. He appears to comprehend the offense at a higher level, and as a result, he looks more comfortable and is making plays, or threatening to, far more consistently.
Dane from Jacksonville:
I know fans hate hearing this, especially after three years of "rebuilding," but wouldn't you agree that Shad Khan essentially hit the restart button this past offseason? We have a few solid pieces in place, but I think it's realistic to say we are still a few years away.
John: Of course, Khan hit the reset button this past offseason. He hired a new general manager and a new head coach and all but two of the position coaches are new. The secondary was overhauled, as was the defensive tackle position. The roster will be largely new, and most members of the draft class likely will make a significant contribution. That's a reset franchise if ever there was one. Now, as for how far away they are, I wouldn't say a few years. It will take some time to be elite because the roster must continue to be built, but I believe you'll see improvement this season.
Matt from Norfolk, VA:
Why do you think the Jags elected to run three times from the 10-yard line and then kick a field goal instead of giving the pass offense a chance? Henne was having a good drive and I would like to see how he finishes in the red zone.
John: It's important to remember that play-calling and offensive and defensive approaches are dramatically different in the preseason than the regular season. Coaches often call plays in the preseason because they want to see how players will perform and respond in situations. There also is still a learning process, particularly for the Jaguars. The secondary, for example, played a far simpler scheme than they will play during the regular season because – as Bradley said Saturday – he wants the secondary to comprehend the "essence of the defense." The Jaguars are trying to figure out what they are and what they do well and trying things in preseason is a part of that. The most real game-planning they will do will be for Week 3 against the Eagles. Outside of that, I don't know that there's that much to be drawn during preseason about how plays will be called in the regular season.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
I can't wait for the day we don't have to immediately make excuses for why the Jaguars struggle. I understand it's the first preseason game, and guys are out, and it's a new staff, and on and on and on. That argument falls apart when you realize it's the first preseason game for the other teams too...and other teams have new coaches, new schemes, new quarterbacks and injured players. I would just like to see a day when we're talking about how the team succeeded "in spite of" all these things instead of making excuses out of them.
John: That day isn't yet here, but you make a good point. Right now, we're watching a team in transition and a young team, so we must analyze a lot of mistakes and growing pains. When a player such as Cecil Shorts III doesn't play, it's going to hurt this team worse than it might hurt a deeper team. But make no mistake: a new scheme is going take a while to master, and the early stages of playing within that scheme are not going to be nearly as polished as will later stages.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
Do you think all of the people complaining listen to coach Bradley? He did say everything was pretty simple as far as game plan goes.
John: He did say that. I don't know why people don't listen.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
I like what Buffalo did with EJ Manuel in that they let him play the entire first half against the Colts. Why not do that with Gabbert? Let him get a rhythm, and gain confidence in this new offense?
John: The Jaguars are letting Gabbert and Henne compete. They wanted to let each player play with the first team. It's tough to do that in the preseason opener if you play one quarterback the entire half because coaches don't want to play the first team into the second half.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
John, I have figured out your coded speech. When you say, "The uniforms are cool. I like them" it is code for: "I fully recognize these are Mr. Khan's uniforms and I'd better say I like them because I know they will be here for the long haul and I'd like the same to be said for me." Right?
John: Shad Khan is cool, too. I like him. But I really do like the uniforms. Mrs. O-Zone is "getting used to the new look," and I suspect Khan will have her dealt with accordingly.

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