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O-Zone: Talking quarterbacks

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Stephen from Abiquiu, NM:
The question about the Jaguars' record this season intrigues me. I was laughed at by a friend when I told him I thought we would win six or more games. I love that Al Pacino line about it being a game of inches. Attitude and teamwork will be the intangible, don't you think? It's not just about good players, right?
John: I've been mocked and ridiculed, too, though it's hardly limited to this topic. When projecting the Jaguars' possible record next season, remember that getting to six or seven victories is far from impossible if for no other reason it could have happened last season. The Jaguars by any measure were not good last season. Things went south almost from the start, and they were not close to one of the best teams in the NFL. At the same time, they won two games and lost THREE overtime games. They also lost games to the Jets and Patriots that might well have gone differently. Could intangibles such as attitude, a few healthy players and a few big plays have changed those outcomes? Obviously, yes. In saying that, I don't make the argument that the Jaguars were good or close to being good last season and that's not arguing that they're a favorite for the playoffs this season. But to think they're far from having a chance to improve, be more competitive and push for .500? No, it's not accurate to say that, either.
Nelly from Jacksonville :
There are some very angry people out there John. Sorry that a lot of them take it out on you. How do you cope?
John: Caffeine, solitude and tears.
Tim from Atlantic Beach, FL:
John, John, John . . . gotta disagree with you on this one. To say that Jones-Drew wasn't "acting up?" Really? If you held out for more cash a year before your contract expired, what would happen? Naturally it didn't cause a circus, because this is Jacksonville and no one in the football community outside of Jacksonville really cares. Maybe there is a concern over Jones-Drew. He was "acting up."
John: Tim, Tim, Tim . . . I get that people worry about this, and I get that people didn't like what Jones-Drew did last off-season. But even if you believe Jones-Drew was acting up last offseason, there is no indication there is going to be an issue this offseason. Jones-Drew is in Jacksonville for the offseason program and he has said he will participate in all offseason activities. He has said he will be in training camp. Head Coach Gus Bradley has said he likes where Jones-Drew's head is. The question was about Jones-Drew possibly acting up this offseason. There are just no signs to indicate it will happen.
Joe from Jefferson City, MO:
Are the OTAs voluntary, or are they "voluntary"? Seeing as how there's a new coach again, I can't help but think Gus would want everyone there.
John: I expect very, very, very, very, very good attendance at the voluntary OTAs.
Tom from Jacksonville:
Sure is nice to read about OUR team. A question: Who is on the Mount Rushmore for the Jaguars? I got Mr. Weaver, Coach Coughlin, Boselli and Brunell. I am not sure many teams could have four BETTER PEOPLE representing them.
John: Sure is nice to answer questions about what I get asked about. People love the Mount Rushmore game, and your Jaguar version is a fine one. I'm more of a player's guy, so I'd have Boselli, Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith and Maurice Jones-Drew, but everyone's Rushmore is their own opinion.
Michael from Delaware:
Is there any chance that the fedora makes a return this coming season?
John: Never say never.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
Quick Q for you O-Dog, what is the difference from OTAs and training camp?
John: OTAs are in May and June whereas training camp is in late July and August, but the primary difference in what is permitted. Teams are allowed full pads and full contact during training camp, and they are allowed to work 11 on 11. There is no contact and no pads allowed in OTAs.
Zachary from Macclenny, FL:
Why answer questions with what and huh? Why not just answer the ones you will actually respond to?
John: Where? When?
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
How many times have you stated "players play coaches coach?" Now you're saying Trufant can help teach. Which is it?
John: I think I've said "players play, coaches coach" three times in the O-Zone and I've said it 14 – no, wait . . . 15 – times other than that. Yes, for the most part, a player's value is as a player, and I've always thought there was a limit to how much a veteran brought in from another team can teach younger players. But in this case, with Trufant having PLAYED IN THE SYSTEM – and the younger players not having played in it before, it stands to reason he could have value. We're not talking about an older player coming in and being a motivational point or even taking time to teach a younger player fundamentals. But to have a player who can help familiarize other players with the scheme, yes, that has value.
Nick from Jacksonville:
Sorry, I think I might be in the wrong room. Is this the O-Zone? It looks different, it's....nice.
John: Nick? Nick!! Welcome! Come in, please. Now, go get me a soda, open it for me, then sit down and be quiet.
Aaron from Panama City, FL:
I just read your Organized Team Activities edition. When it came to cornerback, I failed to see a mention of Mike Harris. He was mostly in the nickel last season, but you projected Dwayne Gratz and Alan Ball as starting and presumably, Marcus Trufant in the nickel. So where does Harris fit?
John: This, of course, is the danger or projecting before OTAs – even with the caveat that they're all projections and "guesstimations" when the head coach is promising an atmosphere of competition – that that projection is inevitably going to be seen by some as a great truth. The reality right now is that in the Jaguars' secondary, very little is set in stone. It seems likely that Johnathan Cyprien and Dwight Lowery will start at safety, with Dwayne Gratz probably starting at one corner sooner rather than later. At the other cornerback, Alan Ball, Mike Harris, Marcus Trufant, Jeremy Harris and Demetrius McCray will compete, and it's probable we see a lot of combinations before things settle.
Carl from Jacksonville:
Have you talked with Shad about needing to be paid more? The marketing department seems to have stolen the "I am section ..." campaign idea directly from the great O-Zone himself. I'm pretty sure you green-lit section identifying in the O-Zone quite some time ago.
John: "Stolen" is a very strong word. I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm just saying it's strong.
Brett from Ridgeland, MS:
Looking at his skill set and speed, I could see Denard Robinson being a Darren Sproles-type of player/playmaker (obviously not right away but after a year or two of development and experience). Thoughts?
John: Yes.
Sean from Jacksonville:
Mike Mularkey never really grew on me. I was always bothered by how conservative he was in games. From challenges to play calling, it felt like he was never willing to roll the dice when we were down. This was reasonable in the beginning of the season, but midway through, it was obvious we weren't going to win on talent alone; we also needed a little luck. Do you think Gus is going to be adventurous this season?
John: I get your point, but I hope Bradley isn't too "adventurous." Of course, the hope is he doesn't have to be. I never got the idea that Mularkey wasn't willing to roll the dice. I got the idea that the season got away from him and that injuries and losses conspired to have things get away from him. By season's end, it was evident a culture change was needed. The Jaguars are starting a new direction, and Bradley certainly won't coach or lead based on what happened last season. But your question does bring up a good point, and one we don't know much about until the start of the season. What will his style be? Will he take risks in games? My sense is as a defensive guy he'll be relatively conservative when it comes to in-game decisions, but he's a first-year head coach, so the canvas is pretty blank. That will make that an interesting angle to follow.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
I went to "The Cut" Friday night, an event to benefit the Tony Boselli Foundation. Take away winning and losing, has another team ever had two cornerstones of the franchise be BETTER PEOPLE? Don't think so. Great people beat Super Bowls. The ladies decided the quarterback is still the better-looking man.
John: Steve Matthews was there Friday?

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