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O-Zone: The wait goes on


Let's get to it...

Doug from Jacksonville:
With the recent conviction and imprisonment of Jimmy Smith, I wonder if we should cut our losses with Justin Blackmon. The Jags have already been burned by R.J. Soward and Matt Jones. If history repeats itself, it's time to move on.
John: I'm not going to make the next few O-Zones all Blackmon all the time, but this email speaks to one issue I have with how many people view players with off-field incidents. Too often observers lump every incident together, and assume just because some former players have failed to overcome problems that all current players will do the same. For that reason, too many people are quick to just write players off and "cut losses." There are a couple of issues with that. First, what's the point? If the Jaguars were to release Blackmon tomorrow – which they won't – what is gained? Who does that help? The team? The player? The fans? Who? Second, it unfairly punishes one person for the sins of another. What does Blackmon have to do with Jimmy Smith? It's a huge leap to intertwine the two. If I told someone I was firing him/her because of something that happened to someone else a decade ago, that person would understandably be irate, and most people would consider it absolutely and undeniably wrong. Yet, people want to link Blackmon with players from the Jaguars' past. The Jaguars are dealing with Blackmon as an individual and will judge him based on what HE does in the future. That's the fair, sensible and correct approach.
Howard from Homestead, FL:
I was disappointed in Blackmon's suspension, but his denial that he has a problem besides "poor decisions" worries me much more. When you have forfeited guaranteed millions of dollars, that's not a "poor decision." No one just "decides" to put that kind of money in jeopardy. That's an addiction. If I'm the coach or general manger, I don't want to see Blackmon anywhere except intensive rehabilitation until fall. The fact that he is not pursuing such a course of action is a bad, bad sign.
John: You voice your opinion with great confidence, and you are not alone. I don't have the medical background or the intimate knowledge of Blackmon's situation to speak so confidently. I also know from experience that immaturity can cause bad decisions. Until I know more than that, I won't pretend otherwise.
Awesome Bill from Dawsonville:
I don't want to hear Blackmon's apathetic joke of an over-rehearsed apology. I just want the dude to get back on the field and make up for lost time with an awesome season after his suspension is up. Here's to hoping the rest of the OTA coverage is about the progression of the team and is not overly focused on the Blackmon media circus.
John: This is the last Blackmon question for the day. I don't worry much about how players sound when apologizing. It's a difficult situation, albeit one in this case the player brought about by himself. If Blackmon had been in tears, or pounding a press-conference podium promising something, it might have played better in the media, but it wouldn't necessarily have had more meaning. Nothing Blackmon said Monday was going to change people's minds or their opinions. And nothing he said would have changed is immediate circumstance. All that matters now are Blackmon's actions moving forward. As far as a couple of your points, I didn't see Blackmon as being particularly rehearsed on Monday, and I didn't see the media making much of a circus of it. He spoke and the media wrote about the news of the day. That's how it works.
James from Palm Coast, FL:
John, you seem depressed lately. Stop going on the weekends to the Hundred Acre Wood to visit Eeyore; he's rubbing off on you. Take a vacation day. NOW!!
John: Lately?
John from Tamarac, FL:
We fell apart! Sitting here it just makes me think we just fell apart. I have to go back to that black day on 9/6/2011. I have to ask. Was it truly justified? I know you weren't here at the time. But we were on our way back. We were. I know he hasn't played. Could be victim of what happened, but what could have been?
John: Let's not rewrite history, John. I was here the day David Garrard was released. It was a situation that without question could have and should have been handled far differently. Was it the key moment when things "fell apart?" I can't buy into that. The Jaguars haven't been good since that date, but it's hard to realistically argue things would have been much better if that day had gone differently.
James from Mableton, GA:
O-Man, may I make a small request? Can we refrain from using the phrase "flashed in camp" moving forward? If flashing in camp was a predictor of in-game performance, the Jags would have a team full of Pro-Bowlers.
John: Better to have flashed in camp than in the subway, I say.
Charles from Bangalore, India:
All this odd angst over Maurice is interesting. Everybody had better enjoy MJD this year; could be his last in JAX. Sadly, we are witnessing the sun setting on the Jaguars tradition of great league leading running backs. So John, who started this whole basketball on grass in the NFL, Pete Rozelle and the owners? Is this something that just evolved, or was it orchestrated, if so by whom?
John: I have to be honest: I'm worn out on the whole "basketball on grass" analogy. The NFL is significantly more popular than basketball, or any other sport in this country. That's not to say it can't improve, but this whole idea that the game is somehow worse now than it once was . . . I just don't get. It always has been a quarterback-driven league, and for the most part, most running backs always have depended heavily on the quality of the offensive line. The rules in place somehow have allowed the game to reach stunning popularity, so I hesitate to say the game would be significantly better if it were run-oriented with rules limiting the passing offense.
Baby Boy from Jacksonville:
Bradley does the music with practice then fat boy head coach at philly does the same thing and gets all the lime light on
John: Way to bring it, Baby.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Do you think the team will name a starting quarterback before training camp, or will the competition go into those practices as well? I'm just wondering because for a guy like Gabbert, who is on his third coach in three years, and has new faces all around, more repetitions would be very beneficial. If they're going to give him one more season to show what he's got, they need to give him the majority of the first team snaps starting sooner rather than later.
John: Gus Bradley was asked about the quarterback competition on Tuesday, as I'm sure he will be asked from now until a starter is named. Bradley said it will be difficult to make an assessment until pads go on, indicating he doesn't expect to name a start until the preseason. And you know what? That makes sense, and that's OK. For now, Gabbert is working with the first team and Chad Henne is getting repetitions after that. I'd expect each player to get work with both units in training camp and preseason. There's time for this to play out, and there's no hurry to name a starter.
Jason from Jacksonville:
At least your wife doesn't nitpick after you cut the grass.
John: What game are you watching?
Paul from Lohrville, IA:
Who is this year's Shorts? Will there be a second-year player that makes that huge jump this year? If that player were, say, Andre Branch, won't that change the whole dynamic of this team in a hurry?
John: We're still two days into OTAs, so it's hard to target this season's version of Cecil Shorts, who indeed took a significant jump last season. Quite honestly, the player who has stood out most in OTAs is Shorts, who looks significantly better this offseason than he did last. Regarding Branch, the coaches hope he can take a significant jump, and if he does, it absolutely would change the dynamic of the defense. That last sentence absolutely does not mean Branch is taking that jump. We're two days into a five-week offseason, and the pads don't go on until training camp. But a player such as Andre Branch – a second-year guy with what some projected as first-round talent – is exactly the sort of player you watch under a new coaching staff. Oh – and, Gabbert, too. If he develops, that sure wouldn't hurt.
Valeen from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Is Coach Bradley using up-tempo (background) music during OTA's? If not, does he plan to do so in the future practices?
John: He is. I keep waiting for "Hot Line," by the Sylvers, but alas, my wait continues.

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