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O-Zone: Rooting for GJ

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Amata from Marshall Islands:
Say it's four games into the season and Blaine Gabbert has struggled. Should he start the fifth game when Justin Blackmon returns from suspension? Two major free agents next off-season . . . left tackle Eugene Monroe and running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Who has a better chance of resigning?
John: I understand that people want a definitive answer on Gabbert this season. I understand that they want it now, not tomorrow. And specifically, I understand that they want an answer about the length of his "leash." I understand this because I am asked this question constantly. The problem is just what is struggling? Is he struggling and improving? Is he off the rails and a mess? Do the coaches like what they are seeing, and believe he's not getting help? The only way I know how to answer is if he is showing progress, I think he'll keep the job. You have to think he'd keep it past Blackmon returning to get a chance to play with the team's two best receivers. Either way, I think he gets at least half the season. For him to not be the quarterback, my view is that he has to do something to make General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley say that he is "absolutely not the guy." I don't see that happening in four games. As for your second question, I'd go with Monroe by a nose over Jones-Drew, with age being the overriding factor. It's easier to see a sixth-year offensive tackle re-signed to a big contract than a ninth-year running back.
Gigantor from Jacksonville:
Regarding the two-or-three-quarterbacks-on-the-roster debate, in Tom Brady's rookie season, he started as the fourth quarterback on the roster. The Patriots were afraid if they put him on the practice squad that another team would snag him. If the Jags like someone like Scott enough, it's likely someone else will too. Just sayin . . .
John: Well, as long as you were just saying . . .
Keith from St. Augustine, FL:
I have been a follower of the Jaguars since the start, though not a season-ticket holder until 2010. Nevertheless, I notice on occasion the American audience is under the impression that English supporters are a bit limited in their NFL knowledge. Having spent 29 years in the British Navy, we have followed the game from way back in the 1970s. The British fan is as passionate as any American fan. We are really looking forward to seeing the Jags in London for the next four years and even though I live in St. Augustine, I will still make the trip for one or two of the "home" games.
John: I don't think anyone questions the passion of many British fans. If they do, they shouldn't. I get a lot of emails from there, and there's no doubting the passion. The question is quantity, not quality, and it appears the quantity is growing rapidly.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
I took the under on how many passes Tebow would complete to Hernandez in 2013.
John: Looks like you win.
John from Tampa, FL:
Last season, we saw the same Justin Blackmon who struggled with Blaine Gabbert suddenly burst into this swelling beast of a player when Henne was put on the field. And that didn't happen because Henne is a better QB (I don't believe he is), but it because something clicked - there was some kind of chemistry. When I look at Gabbert and CSIII I see undeniable chemistry. Something about Shorts seems to be a very important key in Gabbert's play. With an improved offensive line and a CS3 that we're all being told has actually managed to get even better this season, I am hoping to see that chemistry grow even stronger and turn into something combustible. How important do you think that chemistry is? And is there anything that you've seen this offseason (that you're allowed to talk about) that tells you their chemistry may have grown this year?
John: I agree with you that chemistry between duos is important, but more important is working together and trusting one another. It seemed evident when Gabbert played last season that he trusted Shorts, and the result was a lot of big plays. Henne seemed to trust Shorts, too, and it was easy to see why. He was good – the best receiver on the team, certainly – and getting better quickly. I can't promise that there will be this incredibly evident increase in chemistry between Shorts and Gabbert, but Shorts looked good in the offseason with Gabbert throwing him the ball. I expect they'll be better together this year than last.
Scott from Jacksonville:
O-Dude, I can't believe Cowbell wasn't one of your instrument choices from the Live Chat. Heaven knows we all need more cowbell!
John: Yep, blew it. My bad.
Chris from Section 223:
I don't think the personnel on offense are very different from last year. I think this underscores how crucial coaching will be to move the needle on offense. Lots of existing players will need to improve.
John: Yes, there will need to be improvement, particularly at quarterback. But it's incorrect to say the personnel aren't different. Most importantly, Luke Joeckel is at right tackle. If he improves the offensive line as much as the Jaguars believe he could, that's significant. Also, the team drafted Denard Robinson and Ace Sanders, who they expect to add significant speed to the offense. I'd say the Jaguars added personnel in some specific areas, and if the acquisitions fit as expected, they could yield pretty significant improvement. Coaching will be important, though. You would think there's enough talent on the Jaguars to get the offense off that pesky No. 32 ranking. The coaching needs to help for that to happen.
Bill from Sebastian, FL:
Don't you feel a little bad about it?
John: No, but you should.
Dustin from Duval, FL:
Do you think Marcus Trufant will get any time at outside corner? Whenever I hear someone talk about him, they say he's going to play nickel, but I think we are set with Mike Harris at nickel.
John: I think Trufant will compete with Harris at nickel. I don't see either of them playing extensively outside unless something changes.
Andy from Roswell, GA:
You are in charge (just go with it), and the Patriots call you. They want Lewis for a first-round round pick. Do you do it? I would do it in a heartbeat, and would probably do it for a second-round pick too, but would like to hear the counterargument. And this isn't meant to be a slam on Lewis. I think he's worth that.
John: No rebuttal here. I'd probably take it. Lewis is good – better than most Jaguars fans seem to believe. But considering the Jaguars are early in the building process, if you can get a first-round selection for a ninth-year player, you'd have to take it.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
I don't know what question to ask you because I believe you have answered every possible Jaguars-related question anyone could ever ask. Does this mean this is the end of the O-Zone?
John: No, it means we start from here and do everything backward until February 2011.
Shay from Harrogate, UK:
Do the Patriots have a chance in #$@! to regain any of the Hernandez money?
John: They probably have minimal chance to recover any of the nearly $9 million in signing bonus from his most recent contract they already have paid, though they likely won't have to pay a little more than $3 million in signing bonus not yet paid. There also is about $2.5 million in guaranteed salary they likely won't have to pay. As for anything else they have paid him, it's unlikely they get that back. At this point, they'll probably just be happy to have the situation somewhat in the past.
Jonathan from Templeton, CA:
I totally love Denard Robinson. Whenever he was on the field in college, the game was more exciting. A friend of mine, however, feels he's potentially another Tim Tebow and could end up confusing the offensive scheme. I feel a good coaching staff could incorporate Denard well. What do you think?
John: I think you two have settled on the fundamental "Denard Robinson Question." He has unreal talent, speed and playmaking ability. At this point, it's unclear just what his NFL role will be. That's what the Jaguars will spend a lot of preseason sorting out. One edge he has over Tebow is his speed. Speed is a commodity in the NFL. Robinson's is special, and that's why it's well worth the Jaguars' time and effort to figure out how to use it.
Elaine from New York, NY:
Give me $20; you'll never see me again.
John: Can I multiply you?
Gator from Section My Couch:
In 2000, a certain future Heisman winner was (surely dominating somewhere) 12 years old. I sold my Chevette to buy the PlayStation2 (although on my black-and-white TV it wasn't that exciting), gas was a $1.49, I was still reeling from the 1999 Citrus Bowl loss to Michigan State when my beloved Gators took it on the chin again losing to Miami in the Sugar Bowl – but all that said it was a land mark year! GJ (Gator Jr.) was born, I moved into my trailer and cussed the TV when the Jags drafted some Iowa boy in the second round. Erron Kinney and Eugene McCaslin were still available! Meester turned out all right I guess, but we shoulda kicked him to the curb and got Kenyatta Walker and made a center out of him when we had the chance. Well GJ is gonna get sixth grade this year (third time's a charm), and Meester is still doing it! Anyway when do the Patriots come to Jacksonville next? I might buy a ticket...maybe.
John: Good luck to GJ this year. We're all rooting for him.

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