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O-Zone: Pure luck

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
John, I researched ACL "before-and-after" stats. Some players came back better than before. Some had big drop-offs after their return. How do NFL teams look at this? Do they assume a player returning from an ACL injury will be as effective as before the injury? Do teams make contingency plans in the event the player can't perform as expected? I'm thinking not just of Dante Fowler Jr., but of all players who have suffered this kind of injury.
John: The general belief around the NFL is players under about 26 or so can return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament to play at their previous level, though sometimes it may take a full year. The Jaguars certainly believe Fowler will make a full recovery, and they are particularly optimistic because he will be 16 months removed from the injury when the 2016 NFL regular-season begins. That doesn't make a return to form a torn ACL a guarantee, because there are no guarantees when returning from major injuries, but it's not remotely close to as debilitating an injury as it was, say, 20 or 25 years ago.
Mike from Navarre, OH:
It dawned on me we play both Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr this year. Is it just coincidence that the up-and-coming quarterbacks from the 2014 NFL Draft are squaring off or is there a little bit of planning that goes into it to create what should be an exciting couple of matchups? How is it decided which divisions we will be playing each year?
John: The NFL determines opponents based on a rotation determined years in advance. The exciting matchups, while cool and fortuitous, are just part of that rotation.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
Part of the reason rookies don't fare as well in the NFL is strength and size. The NFL is a game for grown men who have been lifting weights for a longer amount of time. How long does it take for rookies to get sufficiently strong enough to not be consistently overpowered? Fowler has had an amount of time to add upper-body strength; will he be strong enough?
John: You're right that some NFL rookies struggle because of size and strength. The three or four years in a player's early 20s often is a time for adding mature weight; this is the strongest argument against allowing college freshmen and sophomores to declare for the NFL Draft. The length of time it takes for young players to gain enough strength to be effective varies of course on the rookie involved; some adapt more quickly than others. From what I have seen of Fowler he should be strong enough to be effective next season, though he unquestionably will get stronger and thicker in the coming seasons.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217 and Jacksonville:
Regarding the London thing and stability – or they could try breaking the eight-year streak of awfulness and see what this town might do then? Seems like a home playoff game would be a great way to increase revenue too. Just a thought.
John: Yes, winning would help local revenue – and therefore, stability. A home playoff game would help local revenue – and therefore, stability. The more success you have the more those things should improve. But London games would keep helping stability and local revenue even while the playoffs and winning help, too.
Smh from Jacksonville:
Do injuries happen because a player is trying to show off, or due to inadequate/improper stretching?
John: Injuries happen in the NFL because football is a violent sport in which elite athletes are running, hitting and cutting at maximum intensity – and in many cases, the human body is not built to withstand that level of intensity. They also happen because it's the human body and real life. Injuries happen.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
Let's say I told you that you were in a very safe place where you could share all your inner thoughts and passions. Think back to the day Bryan Anger was announced as the pick in the third round. Divulge your inner thoughts. You're getting sleepy, verrrrrryyyyyy sleeeeeeepppppyyyyy.
John: I remember thinking, "Boy, it's getting late. I wish the draft were over. I'm hungry." That was before the Anger selection. Afterward, I just sort of thought, "Oh, boy … here we go."
Todd from Jacksonville:
Reading Joe's question had me thinking: Should the Jags get to the level where we have a prime-time game or three (home or away), then the London game could act as another. Think about it: if we were a perennial-playoff contender, the Green Bay game could be a home Monday night game, Kansas City or Chicago could be a Sunday night game, and then everyone would log in at 9:30 a.m. to watch Jags and Indy in London. That's awesome!
John: There are already a lot of cool things about the London games. There are a lot of ways they could get cooler.
Trevor from Jacksonville:
The pass rush is not a big deal. As long as the team is noticeably better each year, it'll eventually lead to a Super Bowl. You shouldn't fire the coach or general manager until the team actually regresses. I don't see that happening next year.
John: I can't agree that the pass rush isn't a big deal, Trevor. The pass rush was the Jaguars' most glaring weakness last season, and the defense simply must pressure opposing passers better. But I agree about not firing anyone until you see regression. I don't believe Shad Khan will dismiss either Caldwell or Bradley as long as the team progresses each year. Why make a change if things are going in the right direction?
Todd from Rochester, NY:
I have seen some reports that Mo Wilkerson might be available. Do you think the Jaguars have interest in him and what do you think the Jets would be looking for compensation-wise?
John: I doubt it. Mo Wilkerson is really good, but he's a strong-side end and the Jaguars have that.
Ivan from Hollywood, CA:
John, if my memory serves, Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley have had a lot to say about most of the starters but nothing about Jared Odrick. Can you shed some light on how the team viewed his 2015 season and how they see his role in 2016?
John: First, I wouldn't read much into Caldwell and Bradley not discussing Odrick much this offseason. Caldwell and Bradley usually only discuss players when asked about them and I don't recall them being asked about Odrick – at least not in a public-interview setting. Odrick was good last year. He made the Jaguars much stouter against the run, and gave the some disruption in the pass rush at times. I expect him to start at strong-side end next season.
Billy from Port Orange, FL:
Mr. O, I've read the Q&A (your O-Zone) on since your predecessor started it and I haven't missed a day of reading it since then. I must say I have never been as emotionally aligned as I was to the response you provided Trae regarding fanning. I too, sir, have experienced that emotional (and physical) "fanning" through-and-through. Nary during a Super Bowl, but indeed during a few playoff games. And fanatics? Dropping to the floor? Throwing koozies and larger, heavier objects at the TV? Almost barking at the spouse? Been there, done that, John. I'm a Jags fan from day one after all! Alas, I digress. Fans gonna fan.
John: Been there, done that.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I'm neither a Seminole or Gator, so I don't have a dog in the fight. However if it was up to me I would draft Vernon Hargreaves III before Ramsey. Vernon could become a great shutdown corner. Jalen has bad hands and drops a lot of possible interceptions. What's your take?
John: My first take is I don't know what being a fan of any college team matters in draft discussions. My second take is that I put less of a premium on hands for a defensive back than the ability to break up passes, be in the correct place, play above the Xs and Os and play good run defense. I consider interceptions far more a product of pass rush than pass coverage, so I just don't expect a lot of them during the course of a normal season. Everything you hear is that Ramsey has athleticism, instincts and play-making ability that give him a chance to be exceptional. That doesn't mean he'll be better in the NFL than Hargreaves, but the consensus is he's a shade better a prospect.
Miguel from Section 145 Duuuuvalll:
Hey Ozone, I realized something. Even though you get accused of being a Jaguar crony, I believe you are intelligent and can write objectively for your employer. But after seeing your answer about "fanning" though, I now see you're just one of us who happened to get a job writing about the sport you/we love ... lucky dog ...
John: #DTWD

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