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O-Zone: Start the man

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mike from Duval Till I Die:
Hey O, do you think people are over-bashing Pete Carroll? I am not a Seattle fan, but he is still one of the best coaches in the game. Yes, the more favorable play would be to hand off to Marshawn Lynch, but if the touchdown catch was made they would be saying it was a "brilliant and gutsy" play. I think more of the blame goes to Russell Wilson for making a bad throw or not calling the audible. Thoughts?
John: I think it's probably time we're about done with Super Bowl talk, and I think it's about time to move on to the offseason, so let's get it out of our system today. I think there will be people who keep bashing Carroll and I think that's because it is the nature of people to bash. I got emails from people wondering if Darrell Bevell, the Seahawks' offensive coordinator, should be fired. The Seahawks' coaches were good enough to coach that team to within a yard of two consecutive Super Bowl victories and people want to fire and bash because a safety made a great play? Because a call that would have been praised as genius had it worked didn't work out? Look, I was yelling to run Lynch, too, but statistics also show that Lynch hasn't been great in short-yardage from the goal line, so to try to pass on one of three shots from the 1-yard line is not the most ridiculous play ever tried. As far as Wilson, I'm not his biggest supporter because I like quarterbacks who win from the pocket, but I can't put that play on him. He made a decent throw. Sometimes you make a throw and the defender makes a better play than you do. That's not always the case with an interception, but it was in this case.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
I realize that Jerome Bettis has better career statistics than Fred Taylor but having watched both play, I always thought that Taylor was the better running back. Do you think Taylor's Hall-of-Fame chances are improved by Bettis' selection?
John: I watched both play, too, and I couldn't agree with you more: Taylor was significantly better than Bettis. And when I say significantly, I mean "significantly." Do I think Taylor's Hall of Fame chances are improved by Bettis being selected? No. I think Bettis was a good player who made it because he played with a prominent franchise and because he won a Super Bowl. I think Taylor was a great player who often is overlooked because he was rarely in the postseason after his second season and because he only made one Pro Bowl. But I don't think Bettis being in will cause many people to re-think Taylor.
Terry from Jacksonville:
John, a lot of talk about the guys on the offensive line. I agree with Dave Caldwell: three out of the five are fine and Zane Beadles needs to play to his normal level. The problem I see is zone-blocking. Since 2008, the Jaguars have been in the Top 10 in letting the quarterback get hit. Since Gus Bradley brought zone-blocking, we have been No. 1 or 2. I don't believe it is a talent problem; I believe it is a thick skull problem. If Greg Olson and Doug Marrone tell Gus it doesn't work, will he listen? His end-of-year press conference says, "No change in zone blocking." Your thoughts?
John: Gus Bradley did say in his season-ending press conference he expects the Jaguars to continue as a predominantly zone-blocking team. A lot has changed in a little more than a month. Neither new offensive coordinator Greg Olson nor new assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach Doug Marrone have a zone-blocking background and Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said at the Senior Bowl the offense would work to utilize the strengths of the Jaguars' personnel. Stay tuned.
Malosi from Santa Clarita, CA:
When do we know how much salary cap gets rolled over to the next season? Is there a limit on how much can be rolled over both next year and in the future?
John: The deadline for rolling over cap space is two weeks before the start of the new league year, so we should know by February 24. No, there is no limit. You can roll any leftover cap space into the following season.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Is Cecil Shorts III definitely on his way out of Jacksonville? How about using the transition tag? Or would the offer sheet be too costly?
John: Very few things are definite in the NFL, so I won't say Shorts is definitely out until he has signed somewhere else. Sort of that, though … yeah, it appears likely he won't be re-signed. There's really no reason to consider the franchise or transition tags, though; teams typically only use those if the team wants the player back and the sides can't reach an agreement. This likely would be less about money and more about the Jaguars wanting to move forward with Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson – and possibly a high-impact veteran – as their receiving corps.
Lawrence from Omaha, NE:
I'm going to out snark your snark, O-Man. I totally bet there have been a TON of pass calls on first-and-10 from the half-yard line. Just not the same half-yard line you're referring to where he meant first-and-goal.
John: Well-played – and that goes for everyone.
Daniel from Windsor Heights, IA:
Even if it worked out in the absolute, 100-percent, best-case scenario, the Seahawks would have scored a touchdown with way too much time on the clock to give it back to the Patriots with timeouts left and Tom Brady. The mindset should be: either we score a touchdown with little-to-no time remaining or we lose, but there's no way I'm giving the ball back to the Patriots with their offense playing the way they had been in that fourth quarter.
John: I understand your point, and I'm all about managing the clock as best you can, but there's also a lot of truth to the idea that you score when you can score and do whatever it takes to get the lead. That approach makes particularly good sense when your defense is as good as that of the Seahawks. The game-clinching interception came with 20 seconds remaining. As good as Brady and the Patriots are, the Seahawks have built their franchise around a great defense; they would correctly have been happy to take their chances in that scenario.
George from Longview, TX:
Question about "The Play:" how close to pass interference was that? I know the defender was making a play on the ball, but the receiver went flying. Thanks.
John: I thought at first it was interference. In fact, I told Junior O-Zone moments after the play it should have been called. After the first replay, I realized I was wrong. Malcolm Butler made a play on the ball and established position at the same time as the receiver. It wasn't by rule interference and it passed the eye test, too. Defenders have as much right to the ball as receivers – and in this case, Butler made a phenomenal, aggressive football play. To call interference would have been to penalize a player for doing the right thing. That happens, but it stinks when it does.
Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington:
Do you think some of the team's missing pieces are already on the roster – i.e., improvement from Year 1 to Year 2, etc.
John: Yes.
Chris from Crestview, FL:
John, for a tried-and-true formula on defense, being able to rush the passer effectively and stop the run with just your front four seems to be a big key. Doing that allows you to do what you want with the back seven. While they can't be devoid of talent, you can mask a ton with a front four that is dominant. Same with the offensive line; if your line allows the QB time, good things will happen.
John: It's exceedingly difficult to function on either side of the ball if your lines aren't functioning. Offensively, it's pretty obvious, but your point is correct on defense, too. It's not reasonable to ask the defensive line to stop the run by itself; linebackers must play the run effectively no matter the scheme. But in the passing game there's no doubt that a defense that can get pressure without blitzing – which means a four-man rush in a 4-3 scheme – is an incredible advantage. This era's best passers feast on beating blitzes – enough so that blitzing becomes an overwhelming advantage for the offense rather than an effective tool for the defense. But defenses that can get pressure without blitzing can cover enough to give even the best quarterbacks a lot of problems.
Thomas from Jacksonville:
So you guessed wrong; the Seahawks lost. But this is exactly what the Jags needed. You see, the Seahawks losing means their free agents might be more enticed to leave. I am eyeing Byron Maxwell. He even said that he wants to test the market.
John: I have nothing against Byron Maxwell as a free agent, and I wouldn't rule out the Jaguars signing a veteran cornerback. What does the Seahawks losing the Super Bowl have to do with their players being more willing to leave?
Riker from Jacksonville:
So I guess they're not going to bench Brady.
John: Apparently not.

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