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O-Zone: Striking insight

JACKSONVILLE – Looking ahead on a pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday.

Let's geto it... David from Maplewood, NJ
When you're wrong, you're wrong. I was wrong. I wasn't alone. But I've never been so happy to be wrong. Improvement is nice, wins are nice, but mostly just the feeling now that something has changed is better than anything else. Just play, keep building momentum and hope whomever the team picks shows up on Sundays for years to come.
John: Your email hit on a feeling that seems to be pervasive in the in-box – the feeling that something is indeed different around the Jaguars. That's the same feeling a lot of people had around here throughout the first eight games. It's tough for people outside the building to get that same sense at 0-8. The victories in the last few weeks have made it easier for people to see it. That's a good thing, because the feeling is real.
Andrea from Ormond Beach, FL:
I read your column almost every day, but I must have missed it when the question was posed that sparked all of the "J.P. Shadrick" comments. Can you let me in on the joke?
John: #Shadricksightings began organically. It began with someone saying something like, "Hey, I saw J.P. Shadrick at the … " Then someone then said he had seen Shadrick somewhere obscure, doing something legal – but of questionable and perhaps shady intent. Thus, I believe, were born Shadrick sightings. At least that's sort of close to the story.
Rob from New Jersey, NJ:
For the longest time, I didn't think coaching mattered much. But after the last few years of seeing talented players not panning out, it is great to see a coaching staff that can get the most out of its players. That to me is the best thing I'm seeing this year because when we actually acquire talent we could be dangerous.
John:Coaching does matter. Like anything else in the NFL, it doesn't operate in a vacuum, meaning there must be many other parts performing well, but there is a difference between coaches who can establish a culture and motivate a team and those who can't.
Chris from Philadelphia, PA:
Before you move the Jags from No. 32 in your power rankings, consider that the Jaguars are the worst in net points (points-for minus points-against) in the league by far. The Jags have minus 182 points. The next lowest are the Jets at minus 101, followed by the Texans at minus 90, the Falcons at minus 82 and the Vikings at minus 80. The last three weeks have been a nice reprieve, but they don't change the fact that the Jags are still the worst team in the league if you look at the season as a whole, even though they did not play as poorly as the Texans did this past Sunday.
John: Thanks for the input, Chris. You do a great job reading that net-points column in the standings. The Jaguars are 31st in my power rankings because they have the same record as the No. 32 team and beat that team on the road Sunday. It's a pretty clear-cut choice. It sounds as if the Jaguars are last in your power rankings. I look forward to doing with your power rankings what I do with every other power rankings except my own perfect and always-correct power rankings – that is, to not read them due to a striking lack of interest.
Steve from Jacksonville:
In the opinion of most fans, the Blaine Gabbert era is over. Do you get the same sense from the coaching staff and do you think he will be given one last look?
John: Gabbert has been healthy since the Jaguars played in London. That was a month ago.
Tom from Jacksonville:
The light seems to have come on for Andre (Branch). I'm happy for him and us. Do you think another team is going to find out if the light comes on for Blaine? I still think he has a chance to make it.
John: I don't completely disagree that the light can still come on for Gabbert. I think it's an extremely long shot that it happens here.
Ryan from Boone, NC:
Flacco, Brady, Rodgers, Roethlisberger – just a few Super Bowl quarterbacks not drafted No. 1 overall. You play to win the game, not the draft. If anyone can find a true franchise quarterback late in the draft, it's David Caldwell; he has earned at least that much trust.
John: Flacco, Rodgers and Roethlisberger are actually better examples of your point than Brady, because those three were first-round selections with questions marks that teams had to answer while using premium selections. On those sorts of selections are the careers and reputations of general managers made.
Nathan from Richmond, VA:
It seemed the team's approach to the Houston game was "throw to run." It seemed effective, so do you foresee the team using this going forward?
John: The Jaguars right now aren't dominant enough from a talent standpoint to pick one philosophy and use it to enforce their will on every opponent. Few teams are, in fact. Right now, the Jaguars' offensive approach is, "What will work against this opponent?" Circumstances of the game often dictate in-game approach.
Mario from Zapata, TX:
Eating the stuffing out of the turkey with a fork before sitting down to eat... #shadricksightings
John: You've had Thanksgiving dinner with Shadrick?
John from St. Augustine, FL:
Do you honestly think that Justin Blackmon will ever play in a Jags uniform again? If you had to guess, what would you say? It's a shame how such great talent is wasted by making the dumbest decisions.
John: Yes, I do think he will play in a Jaguars uniform again. As for your last point, I don't know the details of the situation, and considering my own obvious imperfections, I try to not pass judgment. Many NFL players are flawed even if some other people are not.
Trace from Jacksonville:
I can't figure it out. It seems like we play progressively better as we lose would-be essential players. We lost the Rams game, but we played better in that game than any previous ones despite losing Joeckel and Monroe. We lose Blackmon and beat the Titans. We lose Poz and have a great week against the run against the Cardinals. We lose Mincey and get a second win this week. I've heard of addition by subtraction, but this is ridiculous.
John: The NFL is the ultimate team game. While individual talent does indeed matter, and while you can't win without good players, teams can improve without their most talented players. The Jaguars as a team are getting progressively better. That doesn't mean they wouldn't be better with Luke Joeckel and Justin Blackmon, but in the short term, you can win and play well while missing key players.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
Are the Jaguars going to keep their helmets?
John:As opposed to what, giving them to charity?
Bill from Jacksonville:
Why do teams allow field position to dictate how they call offensive plays? What I mean is, why do teams run plays out of four- or five-wide receiver sets when they are on their own or their opponent's 40, but not when they are on their own or their opponent's 5-yard line? Be … aggressive … be, be aggressive! Thanks! Go Jags!
John: Your question is a good one! Teams are more conservative near each goal line primarily from conservative thinking. There is a higher risk of a sack when you split four or five receivers wide, and teams generally want to reduce the risk of sacks when they are near their own goal line. Teams also tend to want to put the threat of the run on the field as they get closer to the end zone. I don't mind the approach when you're close to your own goal line, but I agree that teams should spread more when they're in the red zone.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
The next step is for the wins to come in bunches.
John: Well, that's the goal, yes.
Kirk from Section 244:
I have seen some mentions of a change in the practice schedule where we did not go full pads Wednesday and the line felt fresher. I like the confidence Gus has in his guys, knowing that he has them focused enough to make the most of mental reps instead of having to push their bodies through the work.
John: This is one of those situations where the reaction often depends on the result. Had the Jaguars lost their last three games, people no doubt would criticize Bradley for giving players the day off, wanting him to be tougher. It's much the same instinct that causes people to dislike players such as Brad Meester, Jason Babin and Sen'Derrick Marks getting veterans' days off. But Bradley is right in his approach on both counts. Whatever the record and whatever the results, you have to be smart managing players, particularly veterans. The NFL is a violent, physical game played over a long period of time. Keeping players fresh is imperative.
Princefigs from Jacksonville:
Just wanted to say I really appreciate your day-to-day efforts to make to most informative and entertaining one-stop-shop for all of my Jaguars fixes that I require daily. You do one hell of a job, O, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
John: You are a remarkably insightful person.

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