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O-Zone: Line in the sand

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jeff from Rutland, MA:
Using the famous O-Zone crystal ball, would you say the 2015 Jaguars are starting more, fewer or the same number of rookies as this year?
John: Fewer. The Jaguars are starting a slew of rookies this season on offense – two or three linemen, two or three receivers and most notably, of course, a quarterback. That's not ideal and the Jaguars knew when they committed to that approach it would bring with it a lot of errors and a level of frustration. The Jaguars could start a rookie on offense next season, I suppose, but there certainly wouldn't be many more than that. I would anticipate rookies starting on defense next season, but it's hard to imagine it would approach the number that started on offense this season.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
Do you have any updates on Justin Blackmon? He was eligible to apply for reinstatement at the beginning of the month, but I haven't heard any news.
John: Blackmon pleaded no contest Thursday to a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession, telling the judge he recently had completed a voluntary drug rehabilitation program. His attorney said Blackmon was training and looked forward to being reinstated. I don't anticipate that happening this season, but as I have said before I wouldn't be surprised if Blackmon plays in the NFL next season. If he does, I would be surprised if he's not playing for the Jaguars.
Marty from Jacksonville:
In regards to Edgerrin James and Fred Taylor, why base a Hall of Fame selection on Pro Bowl appearances? Aren't Pro Bowl appearances based to a large extent on fan voting, and therefore, kind of suspect as a factor in Hall of Fame selection?
John: Hall of Fame selection really isn't based on Pro Bowl appearances. And while fan voting is only part of the current Pro Bowl equation, Pro Bowl appearances are indeed not always a great gauge for the player's true level of play. The point I was trying to make on Thursday is that I wasn't surprised Edgerrin James was a finalist this year. One reason was he had made five Pro Bowls. That may not be a basis for induction, but when you make five Pro Bowls, you're probably going to get consideration.
Luke from Jacksonville:
RE: the quarterback situation of the future, who do you see as a viable backup to Blake Bortles? Do you think we will keep Stephen Morris around for development or draft a different development project once Henne parts ways? Also, do you think Henne has a job with another team once he is finally released?
John: This very much remains to be seen, and will depend on Henne's plans. It's conceivable he remains with the Jaguars as a backup, and if that is the case, he would be a very good backup. He also may want to go somewhere to compete for a starting position. Either way, if the Jaguars and Henne indeed part ways there is little question he will be on an NFL roster in some capacity for a long time. As for Morris, that also remains to be seen. Right now, he has less than a full season on the practice squad, so to say he's the long-term backup would be premature.
Brian from New Hampshire:
I really don't understand the Ram talk out of nowhere. Yes, they beat the Broncos, but they are still a very bad team on offense. The defense has been lights out the last two years but the offense is still missing a quarterback of the future, a constant playmaker at running back or wide receiver …
John: The Rams beat Denver on the Sunday of the Jaguars' bye week. They looked good doing it, and the game was televised here in Jacksonville. That understandably got people talking about the Rams.
Tim from Jacksonville:
I can think of several scenarios where David Caldwell would be fired. My favorite one is where David and Gus get into a barroom brawl at Mitchell's Fish Market. Shad Khan arrives to break up the melee but Gus sucker-punches him in the face. The next morning, Caldwell releases all 53 players and replaces them with circus clowns. Shad Khan then announces the firing of David and Gus, while Jeff Lageman says he saw it coming all along.
John: That'd be an awesome ending to the O-Zone Video Mailbag.
John from Jacksonville:
Free agents are players who want to win just like anyone. They realize their time in the NFL is short and might not want to spend valuable years with a team trying to get towed out of the ditch. I don't think we can completely discount the scenario where a free agent signs to get guaranteed money, realizes it's no fun losing almost every week, begins to perform below expectations to get released with the objective to get signed by a better team, and repeat over again to enjoy the experience of winning often. Of course, my thinking might be disjointed, but just trying to think from their point of view.
John: I suppose this is possible. At the same time, most NFL players aren't wired that way. Players may lose focus, lose ability with age, or be bad fits with teams, but for the most part they don't intentionally underperform. As you said, an NFL career is very short and there are younger players with less wear on their bodies entering the league every year. Underperform intentionally if you like, but if you do, you're doing so at your own peril – and jeopardizing your future.
Don from La Mancha:
Dwayne Gratz tries to buy things with bubble gum while he is drunk and disorderly and all Gus does is "spank his hand" with "internal discipline" instead of a one-game suspension? I understand trying to win games, but at what cost? A lack of discipline? I just lost a lot of respect for Coach Bradley. I'm sure you will have Gus' back on this one and will explain how I am just being a silly, emotional, irrational fan. I've coached a lot and if one of my players pulled the stunt that Gratz did he most definitely would not being playing in the next game. P.S.-It doesn't matter what level of football (high school, college, pros) you still need discipline to win. Letting a player play after what Gratz did is a shame. Shame on you, Gus and shame on you John if you try to defend him.
John: Sorry, Don, maybe I should be ashamed, but on the scale of awful NFL transgressions, I'd rate what Gratz does as pretty unawful. I understand if you feel differently, but I just can't see suspending Gratz over this one.
Josh from San Juan, TX:
Why is it that it had to be London to get you guys to use a round table for the video segment? Do it, do it, here as well.
John: Nah.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
We have very short memories. Do we not remember Hugh Douglas and Jerry Porter? I think the people calling for the team to sign players like these are the same ones who criticized the team for signing them, and are the same fans criticizing the team for not signing more free agents. No matter what decision management makes, it's wrong. They should always be doing the opposite. #FansGonnaFan
John: Yes, fans gonna fan – and thank heaven that's true.
Luke from Jacksonville:
I hate to see Bortles at the bottom of the quarterback rankings after he had such a great first two games. How would you rate his confidence level knowing he is dead last moving forward?
John: I'm sure Bortles' confidence isn't what it was early. That's often the case with young quarterbacks, who almost invariably struggle early in their NFL careers. But I don't think being last on a list is the reason. Normal highs and lows as he figures out the league – that's the reason, and it's a legitimate one.
John from Jacksonville:
If you take away the three, four or five mistakes each game, I think we have a good foundation of talent to be very competitive – and our record and conversation would be very different. This is probably the base of most frustration with the coaches/players is that they know they could be winning if they could only reduce some of these killer mistakes. Agree?
John: No doubt. It's also the reason for the belief that the Jaguars are indeed closer to winning – and doing so consistently – than many believe. A year ago, the Jaguars too often were not competitive and not close. They have been close and competitive for significantly longer stretches this season. The mistakes keeping them from winning are as often as not mistakes that can be traced to youth. There should be fewer of those mistakes with time, and improvement should come along with that.
Ed from Jacksonville:
"You're entitled to your opinion, incorrect or not." Confusion over word meanings can be, well confusing. Dude, buy a dictionary, opinions are subjective and are neither right nor wrong. Been reading you since you started but I am done, have a nice day.
John: Dude, that's your line in the sand? Really?
Josh from Jacksonville:
I've noticed you choose the title of the O-Zone article dependent on the topic of the final question posted. So my question is, can you put this question last?
John: Sure.

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