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O-Zone: Too Much Oehser

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Sebastian from Poland:
Can you talk about player development in the NFL? The Patriots have players every year that are pretty much unknown/undrafted players that start and play (along with draft picks, of course). Why can some teams develop essential nobodies into starters while others can't turn high draft picks into contributors? Is there that large a disparity in coaching? Is it scouting? Very curious as to your thoughts on this.
John: It's a combination. First, the Patriots are as good as any team right now at this, so that's the elite you're discussing. It helps to have an elite quarterback and an established system. The elite quarterback – and I'm talking all-time level guys such as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning – can make average players look pretty good. The established system makes it easier to identify players who can make plays within the system. In 2010, I watched Peyton Manning make an undrafted receiver named Blair White a serviceable player, because he was good enough to do it and because White had a very clear role in the Colts' system. A good quarterback and a system where players have specific roles can make OK players look better than OK.
Chris from Franklin, NC:
Cecil Shorts III seems to be Henne's go-to guy. I think he will have a big game Sunday and hopefully, we can see a 1,000-yard receiver this year. Do you believe Shorts will reach 1,000 yards this season?
John: I think he has a real chance, though his production likely will pick up in a big way once Justin Blackmon and Marcedes Lewis return. Defenses likely will do what they can to take Shorts away until there is another player in the lineup they believe can hurt them. Someone has to do that. Until then, it will be difficult for Shorts.
Michael from North Charleston, SC:
I really understand the quarterback competition that was conducted during the offseason. But how do you really evaluate any quarterback with an offensive line that does not play consistent on a week-to-week basis?
John: It's not easy, and that's one reason it has been tricky evaluating Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne in the last season or so. It's easy, for example, to criticize how Gabbert played on Sunday – a day when nothing happened good around him. That has been the case too often in his career, and it becomes difficult to identify cause and effect. It's also easy to say, "BUT HE NEVER HAS WON ANYTHING. BUT . . . BUT . . ." And it's true that he hasn't played well at times when players have played well around him. It's also true that the offensive line has struggled, and that it didn't play well Sunday. So, how do you evaluate? You do it based on what you see in practice, how the quarterback handles game situations, what he does when given time and whether he is reacting to situations as you expect. Gabbert hasn't been perfect in these areas, but Gus Bradley will tell you he has done things they like, too – enough that the team hasn't given up on him.
Sean from Jacksonville:
Why would you not fly out to the West Coast, say, evening or night, instead of wasting a whole day traveling? Seems like it would give the team more time to get used to the time difference.
John: The team is flying Friday afternoon, which gives the players Saturday to get used to the time difference. There was talk of flying Thursday night, but I had dinner plans in Jacksonville, so the entire team changed travel plans to accommodate. I got pull.
Jon from Jacksonville:
I know fans must be tired of hearing that the Jags are closer to contending than they appear, but to me, it seems like the weakest spot on the roster is actually the interior offensive line. So if the opportunity arises early in the draft and free agency to address those positions, why not?
John: If the area struggles, I imagine those areas will be addressed, and who knows? Maybe it could happen in the second round. But when building a roster you typically want to use premium selections on premium positions. Typically, guard is a non-premium position that you draft a little later.
Texanna from Burleson, TX:
I am a new Jaguars fan because you guys picked up D.J. Williams. I believe that if given the chance, he will be an asset to the team. Since I am a new fan, I am going to ask a very dumb question. What is Moodachay?
John: There's no such thing as a dumb question; only dumb senior writers. The origin of Moodachay can be found here. #Moodachay merchandise can be found here. Links to really weird looking guys can be found here.
Brennan from Jacksonville:
Do you ever dream of how much nicer your job would be if you covered a 14-2 team?
John: No. I actually have covered three 14-2 teams – the 1999 Jaguars, the 2005 Colts and the 2009 Colts. In that respect, I have been fortunate to cover a lot of very, very good teams in my "career." The job is the job however the team happens to be doing at the time. The record is great for fans, but I'm answering questions about football and trying to be as informative, interesting and entertaining as possible while doing it. That doesn't change based on record.
Steven from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars struggled in the third preseason game defending against Michael Vick's mobility. How concerned are the Jaguars about Terrelle Pryor?
John: They're concerned. Pryor showed last week he can be a weapon, particularly if allowed to get outside the pocket. Pryor ran for more than 100 yards Sunday, and he is quick to take off and run if pressure breaks down a play. He's a quarterback who depends as much or more on his legs than his arm, and that's OK at this point of his career. His playmaking ability has made the Raiders far more dangerous than many expected before the season. I'd expect the Jaguars to shadow Pryor some and to show more of a contained rush than all-out blitzing on Sunday. A guy like Johnathan Cyprien, with his athleticism, could be important Sunday.
Daniel from Johnston, IA:
What did you think of the play-calling on Sunday? I thought it was aggressive play-calling, which was particularly worrisome since it seemed to have absolutely no effect. In prior years fans could say, "Well if we weren't so conservative we could put up more points." I don't think we can say that about last Sunday.
John: I'm not usually on generalized summations of playcalling. Fans and observers often want "aggressive" playcalling when in fact what plays get called is more often than not determined by situations. And "aggressive" playcalling is no magic elixir if it's foolish aggression. If the Jaguars had been in more second-and-5 and third-and-2 situations, my guess is you would have seen far more imaginative and "aggressive" playcalling. The Jaguars' interior line needs to block better and the team needs to play better. That's possible and more important than the details of which plays are called.
Joseph from Jacksonville:
Let's say that Henne does very well in Oakland and wins and is very competitive and keeps things close and offense thriving in Seattle yet loses that game, and then Gabbert is available the week after. I bet Henne stays in despite you thinking that he has to do "exceptionally well."
John: You can make the argument that a victory in Oakland and a thriving offense against a top defense such as Seattle is exceptionally well, but whatever . . . let's say you're right and I'm wrong. Great. I've been wrong before. It will probably happen again.
Judson from Jacksonville:
I'm starting to use #Moodachay in my regular vocabulary, kinda like this: What the Moodachay is going on around here? You better Moodachay out the way! Yes dear, it is time to Moodachay!
John: Shut the #Moodachay up.
Cornelius from Moving ASAP:
I awoke to "tapping" on my window. I couldn't find my glasses. It was more of a shape than anything, but that villainous chuckle... #shadricksightings
John: Yep.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
Do you have any sense of Stanzi's comfort level with the offense? I'm hoping the O-Line can keep Henne off his back, but worst-case scenario, do you think the limited reps Ricky has gotten would allow him to play at a respectable level if need be? Or, would it be unreasonable to expect that from someone at that position after only having been with the team for a couple weeks?
John: I spoke to Stanzi about this in the locker room on Thursday. He said his comfort level has increased this week, and he has gotten more repetitions with the first team than he did before last week's game. That makes sense, because he was the third-team quarterback last week and this week he is one snap away. He said the verbage in this offense is not much different than what he ran last year, and he sounded as if he felt more prepared this week than last. At the same time, it wouldn't be fair to say he's nearly as knowledgeable about or comfortably in the scheme as Gabbert or Henne. That will take time.
Scott from Vienna, VA:
Who is the backup now that Gabbert is unavailable for Sunday?
John: Stanzi.
James from Orange Park, FL:
When you first came over to, fellow O-Zoners couldn't find a picture of you anywhere and you withheld putting up a photo for a long time. Now, your face is everywhere on Change isn't always a good thing. #OehserSighting
John: There is certainly such a thing as too much Oehser.

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