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O-Zone: Lucky man

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ryan from Boynton Beach, FL:
You stated our wide receiver group might be better by the end of the year and might not need to be addressed moving forward. Along with our young receivers progressing, do you think could we get Justin Blackmon back from suspension before the end of this year or sometime over the offseason?
John: My assessment that the group might be better by the end of the year, and might not need major addressing going forward, had nothing to do with Justin Blackmon. The Jaguars view a potential return by Blackmon as they have since late last season – as a bonus, and as something that would be great, but not something on which they can rely. I do not think he will be back with the Jaguars by the end of the season and would actually be stunned if that happened. I would not be nearly as stunned if he played for the Jaguars next season. With or without him, I think there's a chance the receivers could look like a very good group by next offseason.
Adam from Fantasy Conundrums:
I need your help with this one. I am in desperate need of a WR1/2 for my team. Someone offered me Delanie Walker AND Wes Welker for Jimmy Graham. Jimmy hasn't been as productive this year as last year, but I'm hesitant to part ways. Walker has been more productive this season, but will he keep it up? Will Welker stay healthy and will he be targeted enough to score points for me? HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
John: Follow your heart.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
How long did it take you to realize Alualu wasn't worth a first-round pick? I feel you're giving excuses for Joeckel just as Tyson. But to answer your question I would rather have seen the Jags take Ziggy Ansah or Sheldon Richardson instead of Joeckel, wouldn't you?
John: First, I don't know that I have given excuses for Tyson Alualu. He doesn't need me to do that, though I always have believed he would have and could have been a much better player without the knee injury he sustained early in his career. As far as Luke Joeckel, we're a little more than a season into the careers of the players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. So the real answer to the question is I don't really know who I'd rather have seen the Jaguars draft that year, and no one else really does, either.
George from Pigskin, OH:
I'm getting upset with people, but I'm not sure if it's the old me or the new me!
John: It's neither. It's Redmond.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
Do you see Gratz possibly switching to free safety with the insurgence of McCray?
John: First, I don't see Gratz moving to safety. Second, I don't know where you're getting your information on McCray, but I haven't heard that he has a problem with authority here at all – certainly not enough to lead a rebellion.
John from Jacksonville:
In looking at the Caldwell/Bradley era, last season started dreadfully. After a mid-season lift, the season ended dreadfully. This season started dreadfully. However, Bortles brings hope/confidence/tongue and the team appears to have trended gradually upward since he began playing. If we continue to see this trend with Bortles getting better, I think we'll wins as the season finishes with momentum/hope into next season. We didn't really have any momentum/hope at the end of last season.
John: There's truth in what you say. The Jaguars, remember, saw last season very much as a clean slate with the idea being to begin establishing the roster through the draft. The 2014 offseason – primarily because of the addition of Bortles, but also because of the infusion of rookies – can now be seen as the time when the Jaguars truly began building the core of the offense. Because of that, you want to start seeing the offense start coming together by the end of this season. If that happens, and if the team starts looking better with Bortles as the quarterback, then yes, the team will have some momentum and hope by the end of the season. It's difficult to have either in any sustainable fashion if you don't have your quarterback.
Bryan from UT:
What running back would be the best to give the most carries: Jordan Todman, Toby Gerhart, Denard Robinson, or Storm Johnson?
John: Right now, based on the sliver or a sample size that was last week's loss to Pittsburgh, I'd say Storm Johnson. So, if you believe four carries doth a career make, taketh as gospel that answer.
Dave from Jacksonville:
How is Alan Ball playing? Haven't heard his name but once on a batted down ball against San Diego. I think that's a good thing and if so he seems to be playing at a very high level for someone who was cut/not resigned by a Houston team with a fairly weak secondary.
John: He's playing fine, though few players in the Jaguars' secondary – or defense, for that matter – would tell you they're playing to the level they want. Ball has been a very good free-agent signing, particularly for what was expected when he signed.
Jim from the Villages:
Can you have two sites? One for fans who want news about our team and the other for the whiners? This used to be a fun site but now it's like going to dinner with my mother-in-law. JUST TEAM NEWS!
John: Nah, I still think the site's fun. Then again, I like burlap underwear.
Bobby from Salt Lake City, UT:
Hey O, seems like you get a lot of disgruntled, upset, and even not-so-bright fans (Germans bombing Pearl Harbor), yet you handle yourself very professionally. How do you keep your cool and not rip into them? Teach me, please.
John: I get this question a lot, and really, it's not as tricky as people seem to believe. Fans are going to be fans, which means they are going to be unreasonable, irrational, passionate, quirky, angry, disgruntled, upset and even amusing all at the same time. Sometimes their ire will be directed at the team. Sometimes, it will be directed at other teams. Sometimes, it will be directed at the senior writer. The only person safe from the ire appears to be the Culligan Girl, though on that front, I have no idea what you're talking about. And considering I rarely have any idea what anyone's talking about, who am I to rip into anyone?
Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX:
What is more respected/sought after in the NFL: a receiver who can run precise routes and get open or one who has freakish natural abilities that allows him to catch 50/50 balls?
John: The player with freakish natural abilities likely is going to get drafted first. That's because there's perceived to be less risk with a player whose physical abilities will allow him to overcome any shortcomings he may have as a route-runner. Once a player arrives in the NFL and proves he can consistently get open, then that player's stock tends maintain a lot of value.
Sid from Pittsburgh, PA:
Is Shorts still with the Jags? Is he IR? What gives?
John: Cecil Shorts III practiced Thursday after missing last week's game with a hamstring injury. He'll see how he feels Friday to determine his chances of playing Sunday.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
For years, fans have been whining and complaining about the Jags' lack of sacks. Now they are No. 3 in the NFL and no one seems to notice?
John: I think a lot of fans notice. A lot of them don't discuss it much, or get too thrilled with it, when they also notice the team hasn't been within eight points of winning a game this season. The sacks number is great, and it's a positive step, but 0-5 overwhelms a lot of the things around it.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Johnny from Orlando might not be right, but he's not far off from the truth. This is, what, Year 12 of rebuilding? We're starting six-plus rookies on offense, and it feels like it's because of either failure to plan, or failed planning. Either way it's a fail O.
John: I can't control how it feels. What David Caldwell and Gus Bradley have been able to control is how this team has approached things for the last year and a quarter. While I'm sure they wish they could control the past, they cannot. They made the plan to start so many rookies on offense because they felt after last season as if that side of the ball needed to build with youth and build immediately. They didn't plan on Marcedes Lewis and Cecil Shorts III getting hurt, though perhaps they should have had a better crystal ball. Either way, the gauge on whether the plan was a fail or not won't come this year. It will come when we learn if this young offense can become the core of a good offense in a year or two. Time will tell.
Cliff from Everywhere with Helicopter:
You're the reason we can't have nice things anymore.
John: Apparently.
Fred from Naples, FL:
Driving up to Tallahassee next Saturday for the FSU/Notre Dame game and then leaving Sunday morning for the three hour drive for the Jags/ is my weekend looking? My wife is a trooper!
John: I'd say it's looking pretty good. And if you're wife's working Sunday, you won't even have to worry about getting a ticket.

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