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O-Zone: Our viewing pleasure

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jacob from Pullman, WA:
What are your thoughts on the new running backs coach? He seems like a great fit, as he was able to do some decent things in Oakland. Plus, I also noticed he was previously a running backs coach for the Cougs. All in all a good hire. Go Cougs.
John: The Jaguars hired Kelly Skipper, the Oakland Raiders' running backs coach the past six seasons and the Raiders' tight ends coach two seasonS before that, as running backs coach Tuesday. Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson worked with him the last two years in Oakland, so on that level it indeed makes sense. It stands to reason it's a fit or Olson wouldn't have brought him to Jacksonville. You also hear good things about how players in Oakland feel about him, so that gives you a good feeling, too. Beyond that … well, I try to be forthcoming on, so in that vein I'll say I don't know how to project the success or failure of a position coach in the NFL – or any other coach, for that matter. If the players he has are talented and take coaching, he'll succeed. If not, then probably not.
Jim from Jacksonville:
Really? Hire two Raiders offensive coaches to coach our pitiful offense, really? Just one more reason not to renew season tickets.
John: Really? That's the reason, really? Look, I try really hard not to be critical of readers on – I mean … I look in the mirror every day before I leave work; I dread it, but I do it … so, who am I to be critical? But for the last two weeks, readers to this column have pre-bashed, pre-judged and pre-determined the performance of any number of potential coaches and eventual hires to this staff. Fans have every right to bash, judge and determine whatever they want, and I don't begrudge it. But we are talking about assistant coaches here and history shows that the statistics and performance of an assistant at one stop does not in any way necessarily predetermine performance at the next stop. Performance is predominately dictated by players. Coaches can guide. They can groom. They can cajole. They can put players in good position, but they cannot overcome every situation. So, how do coaches hire other coaches? They interview. They talk to people they trust. They project. They go on gut feelings. They hire in the same way many, many people in different industries hire. Maybe these hires will work out. Maybe they won't. Circumstances often dictate these things, but to write off the team because the Jaguars hired an offensive coordinator who then hired someone with whom he has worked and obviously trusts? To use that as a reason not to buy season tickets? Well, I won't criticize that, but … really?
James from Jacksonville:
Hi, Zone … in the past, Pro Bowl appearances were important to players' chances of one day being inducted into the Hall of Fame. With the way the Pro Bowl is being run today, will it have negative consequences for players in the future looking to make it in?
John: I don't think the setup of the Pro Bowl will change its impact on Hall-of-Fame voting. Not very much anyway. Pro Bowl appearances were often in the Hall-of-Fame discussion and will probably stay in because they're a decent gauge of a player's prominence in the league when they played – and because they're an easy thing to look up and use as a measure. The merits of having Pro Bowls in the discussion are debatable, and considering the selection process, their importance probably should be minimized. But as for the current setup changing the consequences of the Pro Bowl … nah.
Cliff from Las Vegas, NV:
Do you think Marshawn Lynch answering "I'm here so I don't get fined" is an acceptable interview? He does realize he is not talking to the reporters, but the millions of young kids who idolize him, parents that buy his jerseys, and regular men like me who enjoy a beer and a ballgame? That should be a fine as well right?
John: I don't know or cover Marshawn Lynch, so I honestly don't know his motivation for behaving as he does with the media. As someone who has covered the NFL for 20 years, I can honestly say I don't care anymore when a player or two doesn't want to be interviewed. I can talk to other players and coaches about him and I can write about the other 52 players and additional coaches on a team. And specifically to Lynch, the fact that he is not talking has become high-profile enough that it is a story – or at least a spectacle – whatever he says. As far as the millions of kids who idolize him, I don't know whether he cares about that or not – and I don't particularly care if he cares or not, either.
Bryan from Tampa, FL:
As I reflect on the two Super Bowl teams I realize neither has a true elite, No. 1 wide receiver, and that the similarities kind of stop there. I think these two teams testify to the idea that there is more than one model of success in the NFL. Here's to doing it the Duval way in the near future!
John: You're right. In a lot of ways, the Patriots and Seahawks are opposites, though you can draw some parallels with the way the franchises first built their success. When the Patriots first won the Super Bowl in 2001, they did it with a very good defense and an offense that wasn't nearly as dependent on Tom Brady as it would later become. The Seahawks are winning with a very good defense, and although Russell Wilson is very good their offense isn't entirely dependent upon him. As Brady developed into an elite passer, the Patriots became more dependent on him. It will be interesting to see if the Seahawks veer toward a similar model with Wilson.
Dan from Holley, NY:
If Joeckel has another bad year this year, what do you think happens to him? Cut? Moved to left guard?
John: This is a difficult question to answer. What's your definition of "bad?" Is it, all-time, bottom-of-the-barrel "bad" or "bad" compared to other players at his position or "bad" compared to the expectations for a No. 2 overall selection in the draft? My point is that while Joeckel wasn't great this past season, I don't know that he was as "bad" as many people think, particularly considering his relative level of experience. Many people don't agree and that's fine. All of that said, there is no question that Joeckel must improve next season. I'd be shocked if he is released after next season; he didn't play anywhere close to poorly enough for that to be the conversation. Could the Jaguars move him to guard? I suppose, but I've heard no talk of it and realistically we're a long way from that conversation, too.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Hey John! There sure are a lot of changes on the offensive coaching staff this offseason... What happened to the excuses we heard all season - so many rookies, youth on offense, race to maturity, etc? Hmmm - so I guess, despite all your protestations, coaching really did play a factor in the offensive offense this year.
John: You're right. You win. I lose. The Jaguars weren't young on offense this past season. They were a savvy veteran group that has matured physically and mentally and should have been expected to communicate and perform as much. And you're right: blame Jedd Fisch and the coaches for everything, if that helps you sleep.
Romyo from Jacksonville:
Who wins the Super Bowl? How close do you think it will be?
John: The Seahawks. Not very.
Lee from Sarasota, NY:
The O-Man! Why does everyone exclude Ace Sanders in the offense? I think he has the quickest feet of all of our wide receivers far as a good screen guy, either on the outside or coming out of the backfield on screens and passing routes. He showed flashes his rookie year.
John: Sanders did show flashes as a rookie, and then his production dropped significantly. And when I say, "significantly," I mean "a great deal." After catching 51 passes for 484 yards and a touchdown as a rookie, he caught six passes for 55 yards this past season. Sanders missed the first four games of the season while serving a suspension, then struggled to get a role in the offense – while also struggling as a punt returner. I like Sanders very much. I hope he finds a role in the offense and hope he finds a way to contribute as a punt returner, but realistically he probably needs to have a very good offseason and training camp to make the roster next season.
DVAC from Jacksonville:
What say you of the idea of a Pro Bowl becoming more of a skill competition? Similar to the skill challenges in the NBA. That there sir, would be worthy of watching...
John: If you say so.

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