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O-Zone: Stress test

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Adam from Orlando, FL:
No more blackouts. It's about time, huh, O-Zone?
John: Yeah, probably … but to be honest, while the league suspending its long-standing and oft-controversial blackout rule for the upcoming season was perhaps the biggest news Monday from the 2015 NFL Annual Meeting – and while it probably was overdue – I didn't spend too, too much time dwelling on the ramifications. The league had no blackouts this past season and the Jaguars haven't one since 2009. It hasn't been much of an issue since then, either, particularly since Shad Khan took ownership in 2012. He decided upon becoming owner the Jaguars wouldn't blackout games. While people nationally for some reason never understood that, that was the case and pretty much ended any concern around the Jaguars over the issue.
Dylan from Houston, TX:
Can Jacksonville be a playoff contender in two years?
John: Sure. Why not?
Chuck from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I'm not happy about the rationalizations I'm reading in this column about abusers who deserve a second chance because of their talent or remorse or it's just the way it is. What Peterson, Hardy, Pierce, et. al. have in common is victims. How about requiring teams to give victims the opportunity of being heard before signing them? And perhaps require that the team provide to provide medical or mental services if needed.
John: All right, this is pretty much the end of this thread in the O-Zone – and I probably let it go on too long. Off-field issues are sort of a black hole where it's impossible to find middle ground and where arguments tend to go off on tangents. At the risk of tangent-ing a bit more, I will say rationalizing has nothing to with anything that has been written in this column about anyone the Jaguars do or don't sign. What I've written is a truth that applies to the Jaguars or any team signing a player off-field issues, and because professional sports is a talent-based and production-based field players who err are going to be employed in professional sports. And because of the salary structures of professional sports, they are going to be paid well to play. That's not my opinion on the matter; it's merely the reality if you examine the landscape of any professional sport. As far as requiring teams to give victims the opportunity to be heard or to require teams to provide medical/mental services … well, that certainly qualifies as a tangent and I don't know that there will be a big push for the league to get into the area of mandatory victim support any time soon.
Andrew from Windsor, Canada:
Hey John O … what does your typical day within the facility consist of? Cheers from Canada.
John: I typically roll in around nine or so, work on the O-Zone a few minutes, then check texts, Twitter and whatever else can distract me while my rumbling stomach tells me lunch is coming if I can just hold on. If I'm feeling particularly enterprising, I'll mosey down the hall and sit in the office of Video Producer Patrick "P-Kaaaaaaav" Kavanagh and the other guy who sits in that office and check my phone a while more while I talk about how "darned busy I am" and ignore their annoyed glances. I'm usually beating a path for lunch shortly after that, my shirt unbuttoned two buttons too many with my hair ruffled shouting "Outta my way, underlings … it's feedin' time!!!" That's followed by a while at the desk making sure Facebook and Twitter are still there before I do what I think as my "afternoon round," which is when I walk quickly around the office hoping a Vice President or two see me – and on a really good day, Lamping – before I shuffle back to my desk, grab my jacket, and head out to my mid-afternoon "off-site" meeting. It's a tough life, but I scrape by.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
Zone, With all the talk surrounding Rivers to Tennessee in exchange for the second pick, Jimmy Haslam's love for Mariota along with the ammunition to get the Browns to two, Chip Kelly's unbridled adoration for young Marcus to now go with some pretty desirable Sam Bradford trade bait, the Saints in rebuilding mode with a ton of picks and concerns over an aging and expensive Drew Brees, the Jets in dire need of their QB of the future and only needing to move four spots, etc... Why are you still so confident Leonard Williams doesn't make it to three? It would appear with that type of market a team coveting Mariota's services will have to get to two to make it happen; whether you, I, and/or 80 percent of GMs agree he is worthy of the second selection or not. The question of the day will be, what type of trade market could there be for Williams at three, and whether that would even be a consideration for Dave?
John: You're right. There is a lot of talk, and when something becomes more than talk about teams desperately wanting to move up in the draft to get Marcus Mariota perhaps I'll be more convinced that Leonard Williams doesn't make it to No. 3. If he does, then yes, there could be a trade possibility. While Williams undoubtedly could help the Jaguars, it wouldn't be ridiculous to think the Jaguars could trade down and still get, say, a pass rusher later in the first round. Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell has sounded relatively confident this offseason that a trade could happen at No. 3. We'll see.
Adam from Bryan, TX:
If the Jaguars draft Dante Fowler, Jr., for the Leo and already have Skuta for the Otto what do you think the Jags will do with Telvin Smith? I thought he played well enough to deserve to start; isn't someone going to get left out? Who do you think will be our starting linebackers?
John: Smith plays the weak-side linebacker, so in your scenario Smith would start at weak-side backer, Skuta would start at the Otto and Fowler would start at the Leo defensive end. Paul Poslusnzy would still start at middle linebacker, of course. But remember, the NFL is a situational league and there are many plays and many down-and-distance situations. That's particularly true along the defensive front. Just because you have a good player who can rush the passer and make plays doesn't mean you can't acquire another player who can rush the passer and make plays.
Mcfargo from Fargo, ND:
Are we going to try and get cromtree?
John: What is that, some sort of fungus?
Justin from Boston, MA:
What is the status on Justin Blackmon?
John: He is serving an indefinite suspension under the NFL's substance-abuse policy and has been since midway through the 2013 season.
Joe from Jacksonville:
There are 32 teams with around 53 players per team. Even though I share some of the same feelings about players being overpaid in sports and actors being overpaid for their work I must say this: 15 to 20 people out of 1696 that find themselves in trouble does not make for a bad group. Certainly not perfect but not too bad either. Do you agree?
John: Yes.
Jacob from Jacksonville:
Other than quarterback, what position would surprise you most at No. 3?
John: Left offensive tackle.
Damian from Macclenny, FL:
Why are we saying we need a slot receiver? We have Ace Sanders, who was productive his 2013 season. The only reason possible he didn't have chemistry between him and Blake because he was suspended for the first four games.
John: People are discussing the Jaguars' need for a slot receiver for several reasons, not the least of which is that Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell has cited it as a serious enough need that the team heavily pursued Randall Cobb in free agency. Sanders' drop in production was significant enough from his rookie 2013 season to last season that it's probably stretching reality too much to say it was all because of the four-game suspension. He also hasn't been as productive as a returner as would be ideal, which leaves the Jaguars searching for a slot receiver and probably leaves Sanders needing to have a very good training camp/offseason to make the roster next season.
John from Jacksonville:
While many of us are astonished at the money pro athletes make, remember these "entertainers" create job opportunities across America and the importance of their profession is extremely relevant to our society. Many people make a living off sports, from the O-Zone to the overnight logger at ESPN to the parking vendors at every stadium and the billions of dollars of merchandising throughout the world. In addition for the few bad seeds, there are countless role models for children to aspire to be. Sports is a great release for fans, and an important source of income and cash flow for society. When complaining about athletic salaries, it is important to remember how so many of us benefit from their on-field, high-level performances.
John: For a weird, euphoric, awful, uncomfortable, glorious misspent moment in there I thought you were going to say I was a role model for children to aspire to be. My chest swelled with pride for a moment at the wonderful possibility of this, and then my chest began to hurt and I perspired quite a bit.

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