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O-Zone: Past the peak

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jim from Madison, WI:
John, I am appalled by the fact that Greg Hardy visited the Jaguars for two days. Hardy never apologized for physically abusing his ex-girlfriend, and, so far, has shown little remorse for his action. Furthermore, his action in Dallas last year did little to indicate that he is a changed man. Why would the Jaguars bring him for a visit and possibly even sign him? If the Jaguars sign him, I will refuse to watch or attend any game until he is off their roster again.
John: This was a relatively common reaction Thursday evening following news breaking that the Jaguars had worked out former Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy. How to assess this? Pretty simply: the Jaguars are trying to do their due diligence on a player who might at some point help the roster. Considering his background, signing Hardy would be unpopular. Very, very unpopular. I wouldn't say unanimously unpopular, but pretty close. Will it happen? Nothing's imminent, but it's obviously not out of the question that it could happen eventually. Is it the right thing? It's professional football. Right is what makes you better, I suppose, but yeah … this is a tricky one.
Maggie from Orlando, FL:
I am truly disturbed and utterly disgusted at the rumors regarding the Jags working out Greg Hardy. As a female and a fan of the team since 1995, it is a slap in the face to all loyal fans for the team to even consider signing a player who has been convicted of beating his ex-girlfriend. Please tell me this is a joke. The fan base has been incredibly patient during the rebuild. Asking us to accept a player who has a known history of violence against women is asking too much.
John: This is an understandable reaction in this situation. Here's what I can tell you: the NFL is about talent/potential/production and Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell always has said there was room to sign players who weren't choirboys. Hardy is a big step from a choirboy and signing him would be tough for people to accept. Some people wouldn't, and that would be part of the price for signing him. There's no disputing that.
Brian from Duval County:
Me, personally, I don't mind if we do sign Greg Hardy ... I think he's a good football player and I doubt he will have any more issues from him.
John: This is the other side of the Hardy equation – that he indeed could help the Jaguars on the field. Is it worth it? That's something the team must weigh carefully.
Yahooserious from Australia:
R u aware people make fun of you in the comments section? Maybe change your image, personality, etc.?
John: What's a "comments section?"
Steven from Charlotte, NC:
John, I am getting mixed signals from you regarding our defense. You have mentioned many times that it could potentially be tough sledding for our defense early because of all the new faces. Yet nearly every time you say this, you follow it up with "but remember: this was not an awful unit against the run last year." Wouldn't all the new faces also suggest that we in fact have no idea if it will be any good against the run this year? If we are terrible against the run but improve third-down defense, do we really improve? I'm really nervous about the defense because I really don't know what to expect – certainly, I don't think last year's story/numbers will have any reflection on this year.
John: I've been pretty consistent regarding my expectations for the defense this season. I think there are many pieces in place for this group to eventually be really, really good – maybe even elite – but I think that may take longer than this season. I think the defense this season will be better late in the season than early in the season because a lot of the big expectations are based on three players – Dante Fowler Jr., Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack – who never have taken an NFL snap. All of that being said, I do believe the defense will be improved from last season because I think the pieces remain in place that made it a good run defense last season – and the pieces being added can't help but improve the performance on third down. Translation: I believe the defense overall will be better this season. How much better? How soon? That largely will depend on how quickly the rookies play like veterans. That doesn't always happen as quickly as would be ideal.
Hunter from Sandy Eggo:
John, why is everyone so hard on Hard Knocks? From a fan's perspective it seems like an awesome deal! National exposure and a chance to see the inner workings of the football operations would seem to make it appealing enough for me. That is, if I had as great of a moustache and the decision making power of Mr. Khan.
John: Without question Hard Knocks is cool for fans. When I say I'd rather the Jaguars not do it it's purely from a personal point of view because I just don't want the extra goings on that surround what essentially becomes an extra weekly media event. Coaches and football people also can do without it because of the extra time and commitment involved. But that coaches/football people stuff is secondary my personal best interests – which, after all, do come first.
Joe from San Antonio, TX:
What would your campaign slogan be if you were running against Boselli?
John: Is That Really What You Want? Really?
Kanaan from Duval:
What's up, Johnny O?! So I was watching A-Rob's Top 100 clip for the 15th time. When Coach Sullivan is telling A-Rob about being a more well-rounded wide receiver, it made me wonder: Do you think Coach Sully would still be on staff if J. Blackmon didn't have the rookie year that he had? I know we can thank Mularkey for getting him out of retirement and Blackmon and Co, for making him want to stay. I just wanted to point out the AMAZING job he's done with our current receivers and how it could've never been. We'll call it the Blackmon Butterfly effect. What's your take? Thanks!
John: I think Jerry Sullivan still being on staff as the Jaguars' wide receivers coach has very little to do with Justin Blackmon and a whole lot to do with him loving coaching. That has been particularly true the last couple of years because he truly enjoys working with this group of young receivers.
Ken from Jacksonville:
My buddy Mike - guitar player for local legends Ringworm – gave me my first ticket to a Jaguars game. It was 1995 and they were playing my childhood team, the Steelers. I remember being so excited to see the Steelers live! But then by halftime I caught a case of Jag mMania and purchased a Jags shirt. Definitely not Day One, but close enough for me.
John: If the Steelers had won that game would you have bought the shirt?
Owen from Waycross, GA:
Much the way you feel about Roger Staubach, I would venture to say anyone who was a Jags fan in the 1999 season feels about Jeff Fisher. Every time I see his face on the screen I have to suppress the urge to punch it; televisions are just too expensive for that.
John: It's probably a very similar feeling. I don't imagine there's anything inherently evil about Roger Staubach and yet I cursed the ground on which he walked for years. I have met Jeff Fisher and been around him enough to know he is a good guy who most Jaguars fans would probably like very much if they met him on the street with no prior history between Fisher and the Jaguars. Yet, because of that prior history, Jaguars fans hate Fisher – as well they should. That's fans being fans in a gloriously fun way.
Mike from Albany, NY:
I grew up in a small town in upstate New York and one of my good friends was the cousin of Paul Frase, who played defensive tackle for the Jets. He was later taken with the Jaguars' ninth pick in the expansion draft. I have followed the Jags ever since. Day One Fan?
John: Absolutely.
Marc from Duval:
So, if the Redskins played the Colts in the Super Bowl, who would you root for?
John: I honestly wouldn't root for either team because I honestly wouldn't care who won. I don't find myself pulling particularly hard for any NFL team these days aside from the Jaguars, whom I like to see win for many reasons – mostly because a lot of people I like and respect benefit when they win. If the 'Skins played the Colts, I suppose I'd rather see the 'Skins win – but it would be as much about rooting against Indianapolis as much as anything to do with my former favorite team. The 'Skins of today are not "my Skins." That ended decades ago.
Roger from Lincoln, RI:
Happy Birthday, John! Don't worry … it's all downhill from here !!!
John: So I've heard.

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