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O-Zone: Sound advice

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Tim from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Hi, John. There's an old saying I used to tell my young sailors when I was in the Navy about a million years ago: "Nothing good happens after midnight." I know there's a chance Dan Skuta may be innocent, but high-profile people shouldn't put themselves into high-profile situations. I recall a similar after-midnight situation with Terrance Knighton that nearly cost him his sight in one eye. You would think that there would be a lesson here …
John: If the world were a perfect vacuum with no outside influences – and if people never made mistakes – your advice no doubt would be heeded by every NFL player. But really, how realistic is that? And further, is that really a fair expectation? Should that be the prerequisite for playing in the NFL – that during that time you never are permitted to do legal things that any normal person your age is permitted to do? "Nothing good happens after midnight" indeed is a long-standing truism, and there are many, many situations that could be avoided if players simply did not put themselves into "high-profile" situations. At the same time, it's a little unrealistic to think people in their 20s are never going to go out into public situations. And it's perhaps unfair to assume that if an incident occurs players are automatically at fault. I know it's unrealistic in this 24-7, instant-reaction Twitter era to think that people will wait to learn facts before passing judgment, but that's what the Jaguars are doing. Here's hoping as many people as possible do the same.
Steve from Hudson, FL and Section 106:
Do you find it disturbing how news agencies report on situations involving athletes and entertainers? Is it a good rule of thumb to acknowledge that just because it's posted on the internet doesn't make it entirely true? It feels like the professional news people get a bad light shined on them because they won't comment until they gather their own facts.
John: The way some outlets report on celebrities indeed is disturbing, and at times it's irresponsible. It's something with which we as a sports staff during my time at the Florida Times-Union often wrestled, and it's an area where responsible news gatherers still tread carefully. There is an understandable rush to be first with news, a rush that only has heightened in the 24-7, Twitter world in which we live today. That rush sometimes leads to mistakes and more often leads to a misrepresentation of the story. Misrepresentations often occur when reporting on police reports and accusations, because both are often proven unfounded. I'm not saying that that is what happened in the Skuta case. I'm saying it often happens and that the Skuta case is the sort of case where it does happen. Unfortunately, the world we live in continues to be more quick trigger and the 24-7 news cycle isn't going to slow down any time soon. That means the issue isn't going away.
Mickey from Jacksonville:
Remembering a great. Any Buddy Ryan stories?
John: Ryan, who died Monday at age 82, retired from coaching after being fired as Arizona Cardinals' head coach following the 1995 season. That was my first season covering the league, so I don't really have any personal Ryan stories. I never covered a game in which he was involved and never interviewed him. My memories of him are from watching his teams, particularly the Chicago Bears teams for which he was defensive coordinator and his teams when he was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. It was as the Bears' defensive coordinator that he is remembered most, and that perhaps illustrates his unique place in the league's history. Before Ryan, I don't recall coordinators being discussed a whole lot during game broadcasts, certainly not to the degree they are now. Back then, you knew the players and the head coach; you might occasionally hear a real football-centric broadcaster speak of an assistant or two. Once Ryan's 46 defense dominated the NFL, be became a known entity as a coordinator – and the importance of the coordinator on each side of the ball became much more widely known.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
If the Jaguars were to place Brandon Allen on the practice squad and another team signed him, would he have to remain on their 53-man roster for the remainder of the season?
John: No. A team must keep a player signed from another team's practice squad on the active roster for at least three regular-season games. At that point, they may be released.
Gamble from Brasilia, Brazil:
Have you ever seen a she-gator protect her young 'uns, or a fish in a river swimming free?
John: Yes, but those occasions pale in comparison to that time I saw a young'un with his dog.
Robert from Jacksonville:
Does the body rule the mind, or does the mind rule the body?
John: I don't know.
Josh from Savannah, GA:
We were in the bottom half of the league in QBR, overall yards per game, rushing yards per game, sacks allowed per attempt, third-down efficiency and red-zone efficiency. We have made addition after addition to critical positions. I think we are definitely on track to improve significantly, but are we placing too much pressure on the young talent and new additions?
John: Your question seems to focus on offense, and it raises a good point – that while the Jaguars indeed improved offensively last season, they were not yet an efficient, winning offense. There were many times frankly they were not close. That has been lost sometimes in the discussion around this season but in no way has been lost on those involved – i.e., the players and coaches. The Jaguars were explosive offensively at times last season, but they had a lot of stretches when they were slow to start or just, plain ineffective. Many of the areas you cite as concerns played into that. Is pressure being placed on young talent and new additions to improve these areas? Perhaps, but the bigger storyline is how the young core of this team – particularly Blake Bortles – matures next season. That core of Bortles and the young offensive players around him has a chance to take a big jump in efficiency this offseason. Whether it does or not will go a long way toward defining the season.
Paul from Sacramento, CA:
Hey Big John, in reading how you lost interest for baseball, I can attest to losing my interest around the same time. What killed it for me after being a diehard fan was when A-Rod signed that first huge contract. Paying someone so much money to play a game just baffled me. Now, almost 20 years later, those huge contracts are fairly normal. Am I too old school, or should these guys be getting paid so much to play a game they supposedly love? I've served my country and have been a teacher, yet I've never even come remotely close to making as much money in a year as the bottom-barrel rookie pro athlete makes. Guess I should have taken that football scholarship instead of enlisting.
John: This is the age-old issue that will never change, and my best advice is if it bothers you how much money professional athletes make then don't watch – and don't follow – professional sports. From the standpoint of who deserves to be paid based on how much they contribute to society, the world never will be equitable. Athletes will make more than teachers and entertainers will make more than first responders. That always has been the case and won't change soon. It's not a reflection of their value to the world; rather, it's a reflection of one person having a rare skill for which people will pay an exorbitant amount of money. It's what the market will bear. It's not fair and it's probably put our society in a poor ethical light, but it is what it is.
Daniel since Day One:
Why keep a sixth-round quarterback who looks like he's got something? I dunno … has one ever taken away a star franchise quarterback's job before and been successful? I suppose it's not impossible, but why bother to find out?
John: Ah, Daniel … you craft sly guy you … yes, there's the Tom Brady example. And yes, that's one reason you keep young quarterbacks with potential.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
The other reason for keeping Allen on the roster is that if he IS pretty good, Jags might get some trade value for him at some point. There was once this QB named Rob Johnson. What did the Jags get for him again??
John: Fred Taylor – and yes, that's a reason.
Amber from Garnavillo:
I m a newfound Jaguar Fan … I became one thanks to your commenters. They are my second team because the Packers will always have my heart. What advice can you give me this upcoming season while I cheer for the Jags?
John: Stay in school. Oh: and don't do drugs.

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