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O-Zone: Nature of love

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Thomas from Fernandina Beach, FL:
We all know that Gus preaches competition and getting to your personal best. Scenario: say Brandon Allen excels to the point of powering past Blake Bortles - does Gus have the guts to make the change? If he doesn't, isn't that a little hypocritical on his behalf?
John: Ah, yes … we are clearly deep into the backwoods underbrush of the dead zone. A tell-tale sign is when we spend days going back-and-forth quoting obscure (or not-so-obscure) Molly Hatchet/Lynyrd Skynyrd lyrics, but when we begin pre-criticizing Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley for his hypocrisy for not benching his starting quarterback because he was powered past in an as-yet-to-take-place quarterback competition … well, there's just no richer, meatier dead zone fare than that. I have no doubt that if rookie quarterback Brandon Allen proved beyond doubt he was better than incumbent starter Blake Bortles that Bradley would "have the guts" to make the change. It seems a bit far-fetched because Bortles is showing that he has a chance to become an elite quarterback, and because he has two years more experience at a position where experience matters. Those are just a couple of the reasons, but hey … never say never, I guess.
Russ from Mandarin:
Isn't the real risk of trying to carry Brandon Allen on the practice squad that he has to clear waivers before he can be signed to it? I think that is more of the issue than another team trying to sign him once he is on it. DWTD
John: You're right that getting Allen – or any released player – through waivers is an issue if the team is trying to keep him on the practice squad. But you're essentially talking about the same risk either way – that a player you want to keep as your No. 54-61 player could be acquired by another team that sees him as one of its top 53.
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
I think this year would have been a really great year for the Jags to have those Hard Knocks cameras around. I've never been a fan of the distraction it would cause, but this year we have some real characters.
John: If the Jaguars indeed ever have to do Hard Knocks, this would have been a compelling year. That's true because of the characters – and yes, this team does have some very compelling personalities. There are also really good storylines such as Myles Jack/Jalen Ramsey and the fact that the team appears on the verge of making dramatic improvements. All of that said, I'm just as glad the Jaguars aren't the "Hard Knocks" team this year. I'm actually just as glad of that any year.
Kyle from Somewhere, Ohio:
Andrew Luck just doesn't seem worth that money to me. He is good, but this is the type of deal that greatly hamstrings a team even with the continuously rising salary cap. Luck just isn't going to win you a Super Bowl by himself. He's not like a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in his prime that can do amazing things with little support. Luck needs tons of support to have a chance and he assured with this deal that he won't get that. Great day for the Jaguars.
John: I don't know how good or bad the day Wednesday was for the Jaguars. It has been a foregone conclusion for years that the Colts would re-sign Andrew Luck, which they did Wednesday to the tune of $140 million over six years with a reported $60 million fully guaranteed. It's a mind-blowingly big contract, but Luck's the latest elite quarterback to sign and the salaries go up every time an elite player at the position signs a second contract. I wouldn't be too quick to discount Luck, though. No, he's not Manning/Brady yet, but he has shown in four NFL seasons that he can win a lot of games and get his team deep into the playoffs. He figures to be a tough out as long as he plays.
WilliamJoel from Allentown, PA:
I once heard a conversation with Jimmy Smith in his prime where he discussed being at a basketball game and after a minor accidental bump trying to get to his seat, having someone deliberately pouring a drink on him in what he claimed was an obvious attempt to provoke him into a "reaction." He commented that it's not easy to keep your cool under such circumstances but the blow-back if you react as most of us would is just not worth it. I would imagine that with so many people wanting their proverbial "15 minutes," it probably occurs more often than the public realizes. Without betraying any inside-the-clubhouse code on specifics, is that your impression being so much closer to these athletes than most of us get?
John: Absolutely.
Andy from Long Island:
I was a diehard Dodger fan for many years, read all the box scores, etc. The baseball player strike was not good, but when they cancelled the World Series they lost me forever. Have not watched an inning of MLB since then.
John: I can't say my reaction was that extreme, though I absolutely lost interest as a hard-core fan when the 1994 World Series was canceled. I will say, too, that I'm obviously in the minority. My father was a lifelong baseball fan before and after 1994, and after 1994 it was still rare for him to miss an Atlanta Braves game until shortly before he passed. He loved the pace of the game – and really, loved everything about it. The stoppage didn't push him away and it didn't push away millions of others, either.
David from Orlando, FL:
Dave Caldwell said he was tempted to trade back into the first round to draft Myles Jack, but he didn't want to give up a fourth-round pick to do so. Most Jag fans would've gladly handed over the fourth-round pick to get back into the first round for Jack. Caldwell deserves a lot of credit for being stingy with that fourth-round pick and turning it into Sheldon Day. Thoughts?
John: It is the duty of a general manager to see the big picture of building a roster and to make the best decisions possible toward that end. This often means playing the percentages with an eye on what gives you the best chance to build a strong roster for the long term. That means trying to see things as they work over two, three or four years – and means being cautious and prudent in situations in which many fans might not do so. In this case, it would have made perfect sense to most fans to trade a fourth-round pick for Myles Jack; at the same time, given the long-term uncertainty over his knee, how much was too much? A second-round selection made sense, but to give up two players for him? Apparently that was Caldwell's limit. Caldwell like any general manager has been criticized by fans sometimes for his draft approach and he has been praised at other times. For the most part, he seems to have taken a very prudent long-term approach while being aggressive at the right times. That's the mark of a general manager with a sound plan, and those sorts of general managers give their team a chance to win more often than not.
Mark from Archer, FL:
With the passing of the Great Buddy Ryan, I have of course been reading articles. So do you think the 46 defense of the Bears was so great because of the system? Or was it more just the players on that team? Also do any current teams try to employ that defensive system anymore?
John: I'll preface this by saying I didn't cover the NFL when the 46 was dominating the league, so my answer is more theory than anything fact-based. But my interpretation was that the 46 dominated because of personnel, scheme and the time it took for teams to adjust. The philosophy at its core was about putting so many good/great pass rushers at the line of scrimmage that it overwhelmed the opposing offensive line. That's something you can't do with average players. Teams struggled to adapt to it, but eventually did so by utilizing either maximum protection packages that were able to get the defense blocked long enough for receivers to get open, or by utilizing an efficient short passing game that got the ball out of the quarterback's hand quickly enough to neutralize the pass rush. Teams now employ parts of the 46 defense – the Jaguars' defense, in fact, has some elements in the sense of a strong-side linebacker that players close to the line of scrimmage on most occasions – but it's not really used in in its pure form anymore.
David from Oviedo, FL:
O-Zone - What is the nature of love that allows a person to fall in and out of it so easily? How can a person be so committed and obsessed with a person or team, one day decide "I don't need them anymore?"
John: What?

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