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O-Zone: Post-mortem

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Tim from Kingsland, GA:
With all respect to Gus, ain't nobody got time for victories. We want wins and don't care about the rest of that crap. Maybe if he would spend less time hugging the boys they would play better.
John: We've been over and over and over this, of course, but for the sake of season-ending clarification, Gus Bradley and the Jaguars are obviously interested in winning. That's obviously the motivation, and to think otherwise is to believe that Bradley is dim. Bradley's not dim, and everybody understands that winning games is the idea in the NFL. But Bradley's objective is to change the culture here and establish the Jaguars as a competitive, consistent winner. Focusing on improving and playing your best in the short term should lead to consistent high performance in the long term; that's his theory and philosophy. That's not to say the Jaguars don't want to win; they do. One does not preclude the other. And while the movies and other football-based drama may tell us that yelling and anger is the only way to motivate, I can't imagine these players would play harder or better for a different coach.
Fred from Naples, FL:
If Blackmon comes back next year we have him, Hurns, Lee and Robinson as front-line receivers … as good a receiving corps as there is in the league. Fix right tackle on the offensive line and with Bortles now in his second year this offense should be much improved.
John: I agree the Jaguars' offense should improve next season, but I can't call their receiving corps – even with the possible addition of Blackmon – as good as there is in the NFL. That group wouldn't feature a 1,000-yard receiver and there wouldn't be anything close to an elite guy … yet. The "yet," of course, is the operative word and not just because I put "…" before it. Now, is it a group that has the potential to be very good? Yes. It looks even better in recent weeks because there is a whole lot about Marqise Lee that's starting to look like a star. It also looks good because the Jaguars' receivers are showing hints, flashes and glimpses and the receiver position is one that benefits a great deal from experience and maturity. Still, the rookies ain't done it yet, and as my uncle Otto used to say, "Until you done it you ain't done it." We tuned Otto out a lot.
Rob from Jacksonville:
I, too, am getting tired of these Anger/Wilson comments. Not to start a whole new complaint, but I've always looked at the Gabbert pick itself (one ahead of J.J. Watt) as more upsetting. You can overanalyze and pick apart any draft class.
John: Wait? The Jaguars picked Gabbert ahead of Watt?
Cliff from Jagsonville:
If you had the power to pick in the 2015 NFL Draft for the Jaguars, who would be your pick with our first pick?
John: Right now – and this is as preliminary as it could possibly be – I'd say University of Southern California defensive end Leonard Williams.
Cole from Jagsonville:
John, a lot of people like to interpret progress in their own way, often picking apart different elements of the Jaguars' rebuild and comparing them to the shortcomings of other NFL rebuilds in the past. But honestly – is there really anything from history that resembles what the Jaguars have done this past couple of years? I don't think I've ever seen anything like it before in the NFL.
John: Dallas in the late 1980s comes close, but it's tough to compare this Jaguars build to that one because that was the pre-salary cap/free agency era. Also, it's risky to compare anything that follows the Dallas build of that era because the Cowboys hit on so-o-o-o many players; matching Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin and the countless other elite players that team drafted is tough. And as far as anything recently – no, there's not really a comparison, particularly if you examine closely what the Jaguars did on offense this season. Rookie quarterback. Three rookie wide receivers. Second-year running back. Two rookie offensive linemen, two second-year offensive linemen. That's phenomenally young in a sport that rewards experience mentally and physically. Was it the right approach? Tune in next season.
Davy from Jacksonville:
I believe the Pro Bowl committee got it wrong by leaving out Sen'Derrick Marks. I don't buy the small-market or losing-record idea. Kansas City was worst in the league in 2012 and had six players. Houston had players selected in 2013 and picked first the very next year. If you take the fan vote out, he gets in. #DTWD.
John: The Pro Bowl doesn't really have a "committee" – it's fan vote, coaches and vote and players vote. But I don't see any way Marks' chances weren't hurt by lack of name recognition, which in this case was probably hurt by a variety of factors including losing record, smaller market and a lack of national-television appearances. Remember, Kansas City had been 10-6 and 7-9 in two seasons before finishing 2-14 and Houston won the AFC South the year before finishing 2-14. That means the two teams had been competitive and on national television in the years before their 2-14 records, so there was name recognition for the players named to the Pro Bowl during their 2-14 seasons. Considering the Jaguars' struggles in recent seasons, their players right now don't have that same name recognition among national-media types. Still, committee or not … yeah, the Pro Bowl got it wrong leaving Marks out. No question.
Daniel Since Day One:
I hope Blake Bortles becomes a great player, but Tom Coughlin was the most successful general manager and head coach we may ever see in Jacksonville. He wasn't afraid to draft a quarterback while he had a franchise star on the team. Rob Johnson morphed into Fred Taylor and David Garrard was pretty successful compared to many. I hope Caldwell won't repeat the mistakes of the past. Every team passed on Tom Brady at least five times before Belichick took him in spite of having a top quarterback starting on his team. I think we need a third-to-fifth-round quarterback pick every year or two until we get someone so good that he either takes the job or gets traded for a potential superstar. It can happen; it DOES happen. The great coaches and general managers know this.
John: Well, let's clarify one thing here for accuracy's sake: the Jaguars didn't draft Rob Johnson when they had a franchise quarterback. They drafted him in 1995, before Mark Brunell or anyone else started a game at quarterback for the team – and even after 1995, Brunell wasn't a franchise quarterback. But yeah, I don't have a problem drafting a quarterback prospect every few offseasons; my guess is once David Caldwell gets the rest of the roster a bit more established, he'll probably take something similar to that approach.
Aaron from Jacksonville:
What are the odds Tyson Alualu is back with the Jags next year? I've always thought of him as a solid player. Thoughts? Merry Christmas?
John: I'd say 50-50. There have long been observers who want Alualu released – perhaps because of his Top 10-draft status or perhaps because he's not a sacks guy – but he never has been released for the simple fact that he helps the team. This offseason, however, his circumstance is different. As of this offseason he will be a free agent. That means each side will have to determine if it's best for him to return, so it's easier to see Alualu not returning.
Rob from Orange Park, FL:
Defensive backs seem to watch the receiver rather than the ball on those long routes. I think we should send Lee long and have Bortles throw it five-to-ten yards short. Lee can act like it is coming, suddenly put on the brakes, and run back to the ball. Why wouldn't that work? Feel free to give it to Jedd with my compliments. I will look for it on Sunday.
John: I'll pass it along.
Travis from Fargo, ND:
So if we do target an elite pass rusher in the first round of the draft it just seems there would be an abundance of defensive linemen on the roster. I know it's not a bad thing to have plenty of pass rushers and defensive linemen to rotate in and out but who would be the odd man out if we have to make some cuts along the line?
John: Alualu's contract is up at the end of the season, so that's a possibility. You also saw this season that rookie Chris Smith was on and off the roster early. He's developing, but he's certainly not yet a core player. You can also have a pass rusher/dominant player at the Otto linebacker position, which is almost certainly a position the Jaguars will try to upgrade in the offseason – quite likely through the draft.
Rudolph from the North Pole:
Hey Zone, whatcha get for Christmas?
John: Nuttin.

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