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O-Zone: Plain, honest truth

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Let's get to it . . . Ryan from Jacksonville:
You've mentioned a few times that the team won't pursue Josh Freeman. The question is, "Why not?" The kid showed a lot of potential a couple of years ago; maybe a new environment and a fresh start is just what he needs. You can't tell me he's worse than Gabbert.
John: There was a lot that went wrong for Freeman in Tampa Bay on and off the field, and it seems from what you read there was responsibility on both sides. Some of the responsibility that was Freeman's is some of the reason that as of now he's not getting that chance here. I say "for now," because you never say never in the NFL, but the Jaguars aren't pursuing Freeman.
Joe from Section 101:
I am hearing awful reports that someone within the Jags leaked information that we are negotiating a contract with Tebow. Please say it isn't so!
John: It isn't so.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Most of us struggle to understand the difficulties of not playing your "natural" position: the difference between slot and WR1, the difference between right and left tackle. To equate it to baseball it is like asking your first baseman to move to third – a completely different way of playing.
John: It's not far off. For Luke Joeckel, for example, there are similarities in moving from right to left tackle to trying to learn to write with your left hand, or to dribble with your left hand in basketball. Now, let's be clear – it's not that extreme and it's not that a tackle can't have success on the right with the skill set of a left. And I'm not saying that whatever struggles Joeckel has had all will be cured by a shift to the left. That's not necessarily the case. And indeed a lot of the same skills can be applied to either side. But there is an adjustment, made a little tougher by trying to do it at a completely different level of speed and skill set than he did in college.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
Even the best college team in the nation is made up of boys and a few seniors who were not good enough to be drafted the previous year. Every NFL team is stocked with proven men being well-paid and well-coached to excel at the game.
John: Yes.
John from St. Augustine, FL:
In essence, we spent the second pick in the draft to upgrade the strongest position on our team. I agree with building through the draft, but not with letting your best player, who is 26, go for a fourth- and fifth-round pick. I will take Monroe over Ace and Denard. Don't confuse the fact many of our draft picks are starting with them being good. Other than Joeckel, I am not sure any of the others would start for another NFL team. Tell me who the others would start for? Confused season ticket holder.
John: First, don't tell me what to do, and second, I'm sorry you're confused. Confusion is a difficult state and can be frustrating. The Jaguars did not believe that Eugene Monroe was going to be a player they wanted to re-sign for the money he likely would have demanded on the open market. They also did not plan to franchise him this offseason. That made trading him the best option for the long haul. As far as who the other rookie would start for, there would be some starters for other teams. Probably not many. That's not because they won't eventually be good. Ideally, most teams want rookies other than first-round selections to not start the first season. The Jaguars are not in an ideal situation. They are in a building situation, so more young players are going to play early.
Ken from Summerville:
The only reason I can see that the Jaguars would not pick up Freeman – and Tebow, to a lesser degree – is they don't want to lose their No. 1 pick. After all, it would be a shame to start winning with a real quarterback and win five or six games and fall out of contention for a franchise quarterback.
John: That probably is the only reason a lot of people can see for making those two moves. And that's fine. Right or wrong, people are going to have opinions. Whether you agree with the Jaguars or not is up to you, and at 0-4, people can and will say what they want. The reason the Jaguars aren't signing those quarterbacks is they don't believe they will help them win, which ironically enough is why the other NFL 31 teams also aren't signing the same quarterbacks.
Walter from Jacksonville:
I decided I could continue reading this column two ways. No. 1, I am going to start scouring your old columns in order to pull out a quote that I will probably misinterpret or pretend means something else and then write in, mention said quote, and then pat myself on the back. Or, No. 2, I could enjoy the free website and realize that football is supposed to be fun, even when you are not good. I chose the latter. I hope more of your readers begin to also. If something you said in this column is the worst thing that happens to most people in a given day, then they should be thanking their lucky stars.
John: Just keep reading, Walter. Whatever approach you take, just keep reading.
Rob from Orange Park, FL:
I switched to being a Jaguars fan about two years ago and, God, it has been hard. I'm going to my fourth game against San Diego and have yet to see even a fairly close game, let alone a win. Can you tell me which game they will win first at home this year, so I can be there to see it? I cannot afford to go to all the games.
John: If I could tell you that, I could predict the future. If I could predict the future, I'd have more money than I knew what to do with. I have significantly less money than I know what to do with.
Tim from Peachtree City:
My rough count shows 25 former Jaguars playing in the NFL for other teams, with several making real contributions; Daryl Smith - BAL, Reggie Nelson - CIN, Justin Durant - DAL, George Selvie - DAL, Derek Cox - SAN, Khalif Barnes - OAK, Greg Jones - TEX, Terrance Knighton - DEN, and Eugene Monroe - BAL. Others include Pashos, Jennings, Douzable, Groves, Whimper, Bosworth, Britton, Podlesh, Mathis, Mosley Florence, Underwood, Landri, McCown, D'Anthony Smith, and Osgood. The salary cap or the upgrade-the-roster-reasons can only be used to explain a portion of such a long list. Maybe the Jaguars need to better evaluate in-house talent.
John: You left out Aaron Ross.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
I think there is a very obvious question being ignored. You say that if Gabbert plays well in the final 12 games he could very well be the quarterback of the future. So, why is two-plus years of bad play not enough to determine that he isn't a capable NFL quarterback, but 12 games would be enough to prove he is? Seems like every other team is quick to write a guy off and slow to crown someone a franchise player, the complete opposite of what we see here. Maybe that's why every other team is better than us.
John: The question hasn't been ignored in the O-Zone. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have written many, many times that the reason the first two years weren't enough to determine was that Gus Bradley and David Caldwell want to look at what Gabbert does now, in this regime, as opposed to what he did in past regimes. Other teams take time to evaluate players, too. The difference is the Jaguars are doing their evaluating while going through a very difficult time, so it's much more notable and much more frustrating.
David from Maplewood, NJ:
John, It's OK, make fun. I look how I look and you look how you look, so there's that. More importantly, I have truth on my side. In two years Freeman will be starting somewhere and Gabbert will be a backup or out of football all together.
John: Will you feel better about yourself then?
Doug from Jacksonville:
On television fighting a kid for a foul ball at Busch Stadium. #shadricksightings
John: Obviously.
Paul from Gainesville, FL:
To be clear, I do not subscribe to the theory that any NFL team would ever tank to get better draft position. However, I take great pleasure in reading about and thinking of new phrases that arise in those situations - last year's "Suck for Luck" was fantastic. I just read the phrase "Play Dead for Ted," and I think that may be even better. You're a clever guy, certainly you have a few to share?
John: I'm not all that clever.

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