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O-Zone: Thanking the man

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … John from Boynton Beach, FL:
With T.J. Yeldon playing as an every-down back for most of this year, are there any concerns with him hitting the proverbial rookie wall later in the season?
John: T.J. Yeldon's a good place to start this Saturday O-Zone – and not just because Yeldon in short yardage has turned into the topic of the week. He also could be key Sunday, with the Chargers struggling to stop the run and the Jaguars not yet running consistently despite showing flashes. As for the "rookie wall," it's an issue for any rookie because of the length of an NFL season. Including preseason games, the Jaguars have played 14 games, which is the length of a college season – and there still are at least six weeks remaining. A running back is particularly prone to hitting the wall because of the possibility of late-season leg fatigue. But Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley on Friday didn't seem overly concerned about Yeldon in this vein – and I agree. Yeldon appears to take a very professional approach to conditioning and preparation. He also relies less on lightning-quick burst and breakaway speed than vision, balance and quickness, so the wall may not be much of an issue for him. I've seen no signs of Yeldon slowing, but the "wall" usually comes into play in the final month of the season, so we'll see.
Jason from Da'Hass:
In response to Tucker's question I'd have to say that Bortles doesn't seem to be looking to check down very often, if at all. I've see plenty of plays where Yeldon is open underneath, and Blake booms it deep. I'm not complaining as he seems to be completing the deep balls regularly, but I do think that not checking down has skewed Yeldon's receiving numbers a tad. Your thoughts?
John: Bortles indeed hasn't checked down much this season; when that's the case, backs aren't going to catch as many balls out of the backfield. As his career continues, I expect Yeldon to be more effective as a receiver. It appears to be a strength. Just because he doesn't yet have a ton of receiving yards doesn't mean it won't happen.
George from Savannah, GA:
Mr. CPA, show me the money that London makes over what a home game with Indy can in Jacksonville. As much as each team makes from television rights, I find it incredulous that a single game can make or break a franchise. NFL also has a huge tax advantage that no other industry has.
John: I'm no CPA – and in fact, I got a C in accounting. I do know the London game accounts for about 15 percent of the Jaguars' local revenue. Your incredulous-ness aside, that has helped stabilize the franchise financially in Jacksonville. That has nothing to do with television rights, the money from which largely goes to player salaries. It very much has to do with that phrase: "local revenue," which essentially is the money it takes to run the franchise outside player salaries. As for the ongoing London discussion … I guess I'm not sure how much more there is to say along these lines. Owner Shad Khan and the rest of the Jaguars' management have no reason to be disingenuous about this, and in fact they have been very transparent. London is a big part of the financial picture for the present and foreseeable future. It's part of the equation to make this franchise work, and Khan believes it's part of what will make the franchise stronger locally and internationally. This is the franchise's reality, and it's not changing any time soon.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I see Telvin Smith as the next Derrick Brooks in the NFL. Speed, savvy and toughness are traits I see in both of them.
John: I always hesitate to compare young players to Hall-of-Fame players, but Brooks would be the ideal model, yes.
Dwayne from Jacksonville:
Speaking of records, do you think there will ever be another senior writer having a string over a thousand consecutive columns again?
John: Yes.
Bill from Hammock, FL:
Zone: I'm concerned about the game Sunday because Philip Rivers is a very good quarterback, particularly when he has time to throw. My concern is we will stick with rushing four and he will have a field day. I am a big Gus fan, but do you think he is a bit stubborn when it comes to his philosophies? The strange direction of continuing to run for a yard on the goal line as well as continuing to try to place pressure with four linemen are two examples. If we don't have the personnel right now to do it, why continue to try it?
John: There's no question Rivers makes this a difficult match-up, but as for your concerns about Bradley, both topics have been a bit overblown. It's not as if the Jaguars have been stopped multiple times on the goal line in every game this season. It happened against Buffalo when Toby Gerhart twice missed holes from the one-yard line and was stopped two other times. It also happened against Tennessee when Denard Robinson gained five yards on first down from the seven and was stopped twice from the two. But the Jaguars also have thrown from inside the 10. As far as rushing with four down linemen, the Jaguars stuck with that early but have mixed in the blitz quite a lot the last four games. The one exception was against the Jets – and that was because Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the ball out very quickly. When that's the case, blitzing often isn't the best approach. That's the dilemma against Rivers on Sunday, too. He gets the ball out very, very quickly. It's great to say before a game, "We're going to blitz," but if the quarterback is adept at getting rid of the ball in a hurry that can be as damaging/stubborn as not blitzing because it's not part of your core philosophy.
Michael from Newport News, VA:
Fun NBA question for you … what happens first? Philadelphia wins it first game or Golden State loses its first game?
John: Both will happen before I watch my first NBA game of the regular season. Check in with me when the postseason starts. In the meantime, ask Junior Ozone. He's a college freshman, so of course he knows a little something about everything – NBA included.
DUVAL DOOM for Section 217:
I continue to struggle with the London concept on a personal basis and losing the Colts really, really didn't help. I understand the financial impact. I love the UK friends it has made me. My problem is I believe it's an innovative cop-out. This team (and I understand the current regime, owner, GM, coach weren't here) built itself into the position of having terrible finances. They struggled for so long there are simply people who view the idea of spending money at EverBank with complete derision. I NEED to believe that if this team produced something close to a contender year in and year out those people would come back. It's OK to need London financially, but it's also OK not to. The perception this city doesn't support this team isn't completely wrong, but it's the team that's done that to itself. That perception will never go away if we play a home game anywhere outside Jacksonville. Am I wrong?
John: You're probably not completely wrong, and I do believe that winning will make the franchise stronger financially whether or not the Jaguars play a home game somewhere else. There are many elements that make London a positive for the Jaguars, and while local revenue is the most important, obvious reason, Khan also believes strongly in the idea that the Jaguars' presence there will benefit Jacksonville as a whole in terms of the profile of the city. He believes that will help the city and team grow together in the long run. This is tough for many to visualize and Khan's vision for this won't be immediately evident; big-picture changes often aren't. But Khan's vision has led to a lot of remarkable things for this franchise. It also helped him become one of the most successful businessmen in the world. I guess what I'm saying is his vision usually ain't bad.
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
I'm surprised you left off the one thing I'm most thankful from your list? Shad Khan! That man will go down as one of the best things to ever happen to Jacksonville. Heck, he already is! He's a visionary in a time when they are needed the most and has done so much for this city already. With the future improvements in the works, including the shipyard project, things will only be getting better for us and the Jaguars … and we have that man to thank for it! Thank You, Mr. Khan! #DTWD
John: You could sort of thank Khan every day for this, but yeah … no doubt: one fer Khan! #DTWD

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