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O-Zone: Not an issue

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Bill from Kissimmee, FL:
What are the chances Ricky Stanzi makes the team? Why sign a guy two days before the final preseason game?
John: No question the acquisition of Ricky Stanzi off waivers from the Chiefs Tuesday was a buzz-worthy moment. Suddenly, the Jaguars had five quarterbacks entering the preseason finale. What it does is it gives the Jaguars options. Right now, Blaine Gabbert will start the regular-season opener if healthy with Chad Henne as the backup. In that scenario, my guess is Matt Scott sticks on the practice squad. They could keep Stanzi as third quarterback in that scenario if they like what they see in the next few days. If Gabbert can't play, Henne starts with Scott still possibly a practice-squad guy. Under that scenario, the Jaguars must decide if they're more comfortable with veteran Mike Kafka backing up Henne in the opener or Stanzi, who will have limited knowledge of the offense.
Renay from Macclenny, FL:
Do you think part of the reason Ricky Stanzi was chosen off of waivers was to pick his brain about the Chiefs' offense since we just so happen to be playing them the first game of the season?
John: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no . . . NO!
James from Jacksonville:
With Bradley cutting the roster to 75 so quickly, do you see that as a good thing? Seems to me the coaches would take a little more time to talk about it and use that Tuesday deadline to their advantage. I'd like to think that our coaches are so "in tune" that they don't need that extra time.
John: Actually, the cut to 75 was a matter of David Caldwell and Gus Bradley discussing the potential releases and making decisions. This is not a situation in which the two went weeks without discussing the situation before coming together with a couple of legal pads, cracking their knuckles and saying, "Let's make some cuts, shall we?" They had discussed players and the shape of the roster throughout the process and likely had a very good idea of every player cut before Sunday.
Ed from Jacksonville:
I'm just happy to see the JAGS score points and the game was not a buzzkill. How about you?
John: I'm just happy when I get to work in the morning and my security code works. I also like it when it's cool enough to make it from the parking lot to the front door without breaking a sweat. Thanks for asking, though. It's always good to reflect.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
Can players play for less than the minimum salary for their years of service? If the answer is not, the day of a long snapper playing 10-plus years is likely over. Same minimum salary for every position is crazy.
John: No, players cannot play for less than minimum salary. The NFL Players Association and the NFL Owners negotiated the minimums and they are the rule. As for the days of long snappers playing past 10 seasons, I disagree. Long snappers have played into their 30s for years while making high veteran minimums, often to the amazement of fans. But long snappers are valuable to general managers and coaches, because as soon as you have one that's not reliable you quickly realize the importance. Franchises tend to value them different based on where they are in the building process. A team contending for a Super Bowl often will have a veteran long snapper because they're at a stage where one errant snap can cost you playoff victories. Teams earlier in the process might have a younger long snapper with the idea that that player can develop with you and be a veteran when you're in postseason and Super Bowl contention.
Micah from Springfield, MO:
I read the O-Zone while talking to people on the phone and booking vacations. Does that make me a bad person?
John: No, that's not it.
Charles from Bangalore, IN:
So far this preseason, the Jaguars have used the blitz very sparingly. Is there an explanation for this? Is this the last thing a new defensive unit puts together, and we are just not there yet? Is it part of the playbook the coaches want hidden, until the start of the season, from other teams? Or is it not going to be used much in the new defensive scheme?
John: Coaches often like to blitz as little as possible, particularly in the preseason. Most defensive coaches would prefer to pressure the quarterback with the front four, because it lessens your risk of allowing a big plays. They also prefer to show it as little as possible in the preseason because blitz by its nature is more effective when the other team doesn't know it's coming. I'd expect the Jaguars to blitz more during the regular season than preseason. Now, how much more – and when, exactly you'll see it – I have no idea. Honest.
Shannon from Brunswick, GA:
What have the coaches said about Abry Jones? I noticed he was not cut. Do you think he will help beef up the defensive line?
John: I think he has a chance. He has shown the potential to be a fit at the end position opposite the Leo, and he's a rookie fighting for a roster spot this weekend.
Ramon from St. Johns, FL:
Since the mid-90s, the Patriots, Broncos, Bucs and more recently the Seahawks drastically changed their uniforms. I hated all of those changes, but those teams all ended up in the Super Bowl or as Super Bowl contenders. Coincidence??? Probably, but the new uniforms were part of the change in culture at those organizations, as they are here. Winning will make the uniforms grow on everybody. What say you?? Duuuvvaalllll!!!!!
John: What do I say? I say, "Duuuvvaalllll!!!"
Don from Macclenny, FL:
Why are folks complaining about Gabbert being named starter? I have been one of his toughest critics, but Chad has not been much better. Then, in his last game Gabbert looked very good. Better than either he or Chad looked all last year. If there is any chance that he can play like that on a regular basis, the team has to give him the chance don't they?
John: People are complaining about Gabbert being named the starter for this reason – that for two seasons, he has not played well and the Jaguars haven't played well, either. Fans don't care that there might be legitimate reasons for this, and fans don't always see the potential and growth in a player that coaches believe they see during an offseason. And yes, in his last game Gabbert looked very good. It's not reasonable to think he's going to complete 13 of every 16 passes he throws, just as it's not reasonable to think he's going to throw for 165 yards in every quarter and a half he plays. But do coaches feel like he deserves a chance? And do they believe they can win and be competitive if he plays like that? Yes. Absolutely.
Dean from Rochester, NY:
It was very presumptuous of you to assume that Brucifer was a combo of Bruce and Jennifer. It actually makes more phonetic sense if it was a combo of Bruce and Lucifer.
John: Their names were in the email. It wasn't nearly as presumptuous as it was disturbing.
Maurice from Berlin, Germany:
Since Paul Hazel was released, do you see him being brought back on the practice squad at least? And who is the leader right now for the nickel cornerback spot between Mike Harris and Marcus Trufant? Mike Harris to me has looked pretty good.
John: The Cleveland Browns claimed Paul Hazel off waivers late Tuesday afternoon. As for the nickelback position, I'd say Harris is the leader right now. We'll see if each player makes the roster.
Frank from Jacksonville:
Have there been any updates on Blaine Gabbert's thumb? Still in a cast or splint? I think I read he's gripping the ball now, which is a good sign, but with all of the articles in the Onion and doctor's quotes about him definitely needing more than a couple of weeks to recover, I'm concerned the Jags may be rushing him back. Any thoughts? Thanks.
John: He's in a cast that can be removed. The plan is for him to start gripping the ball sometime over the weekend. That's the next step in the rehabilitation process. The hope is he will be able to practice next Wednesday and play in the regular-season opener against Kansas City. But there's no need to worry about the Jaguars rushing Gabbert. If he's ready, he'll play. If he's not, he won't.
Luis from Fleming Island, FL:
The uniforms are fine; the QB selection is fine; if the team wins six games this season it's fine (they are rebuilding). Why do people complain this much? By the way, how many emails you get telling you how good Shadrick is?
John: This has yet to be an issue.

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