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O-Zone: Tour de Zone

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Steve from Nashville, TN:
I sure am glad the Jags did not give a big contract to a running back that was contemplating retirement at the end of the next year.
John: I'll assume this is in reference to former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew – now with the Raiders – saying this week he contemplated retirement following last season. It's not surprising Jones-Drew would say that. As many Jaguars fans know, he always has been willing to not only try to assess himself objectively, but to openly discuss that assessment. He did so early last season, remember, saying that he wondered during training camp if he could still play. He now says his physical foundation has returned, and it sounds as if he believes he is ready to do a lot of the things he had trouble doing last season. Time will tell if that is the case, but the odds being against it at his age certainly played into the Jaguars' decision to go elsewhere at running back.
Rickshade from Jacksonville:
John, I'd like to tie you to a rocket and launch you into outer space.
John: I understand.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
You mentioned that the winner of the right guard spot would likely start and play most of the snaps there – as is the nature of offensive line. I understand continuity is important, but do teams tend to rotate guys on the offensive line near the end of long drives? It would seem that if defensive lineman are tired enough to be rotated that the big fellas (on offense) would wear down too, especially in an up-tempo offense. Is the continuity more important than fresh legs in the fourth quarter?
John: Continuity is key to the issue, but the playing time of offensive linemen is more a result of the nature of the position. Offensive linemen generally speaking expend somewhat less energy than defensive linemen because it is less physically taxing to pass block than pass rush. As a result, you rarely see teams rotate offensive linemen whereas teams typically rotate defensive linemen.
James from Jacksonville:
Yeah, take shots at the Cowboys and Texans. What a brilliant idea. The Jags need to fire whoever came up with this IDIOTIC marketing ploy. Why can't this franchise ever just shut the hell up and just try to win games?
John: You mad, bro?
Rick from Annandale, VA:
When a player is released with an injury settlement, typically from the injured-reserve list, does the player have complete freedom to negotiate what the settlement amount will be? If so, is there any reason a player would accept a settlement less than his remaining salary for the season, except perhaps if he wasn't really injured and believed he would get signed immediately somewhere else?
John: The player has freedom to negotiate with a team offering an injury settlement, but he doesn't always have leverage. A player's contract isn't guaranteed for the entire season, so a team can theoretically keep a player off injured reserve and release him after he returns to health. This isn't an issue for players who figure into a team's long-term plans – only for players the team probably would have released anyway. If a team wants to release a player when the player is still injured, a settlement is necessary. A team also will offer a settlement if it doesn't want the player taking a spot on injured reserve. But yes, the advantage of a settlement for a player is he can sign elsewhere – that, of course, and the money.
Steve from Jacksonville:
First, it was the O-Zone every day and now the live scoreboard cam. I tell my brain not to click it every 10 minutes, but I do. Any job openings as I know the security team at work is going to catch me sometime soon.
John: Oh, yes. Because apparently you're exactly what we need here.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
Well. Watching Olbermann … Seems like the national media is hell-bent on perpetuating the mediocrity of our franchise even though none of them are smart enough to care or recognize the fact that we are crawling out of it tooth and nail, one practice and one roster move at a time. The dude took a shot at our video boards! He mocks it as a "mine-is-bigger-than-yours" argument. Give me a break! We have all been so proud of the enhancements to the stadium and I am quite frankly angry as hell that such a large platform for exposure once again takes a seemingly obligatory shot at our organization. I can't wait to no longer be the butt of all of these jokes. I can't wait until we are standing on the top of the mountain.
John: If this was a busier time of year, I probably wouldn't address this. That's how little I've come to care about what national media – particularly those in that group who correctly or incorrectly fancy themselves wits, comedians or watchdogs of society and its morals – say about the Jaguars. Frankly, it's always sort of the same joke and not very interesting and not very important. National media of all levels and ability have jobs, and those jobs don't always entail knowing the details of organizations. Those jobs also don't entail correctly portraying the pulse of individual franchises. A national media type whose focus is all football all the time – someone such as Peter King, Pete Prisco or another football-oriented national "Pete" – should know that David Caldwell and Gus Bradley are changing things. They should know from talking to people around the league that the foundation is changing. Keith Olbermann and Stephen Colbert? Their objectives are different. Their market is different. Their obligation to have a feel for a team on a local level and to present it accurately is significantly different, and actually they really aren't obligated to do so. Colbert's show is satire. If you're going to do high-profile, out-of-the-box things such as cabanas, pools and monstrously large video boards that attract national attention, you can't expect people such as Colbert to not poke fun. You also can't expect people such as Olbermann not to weigh in in a rather high-handed, I'm-a-little-smarter-than-you-and-most-people-you-know tone. It's what they do.
Dave from Orlando, FL:
Hey O-man, how long do you plan on allowing Shadrick to ride on your coattails?
John: This is one of the issues I'm discussing with "certain people" this offseason.
Paul from North Dakota:
Do you see the AFC South getting a wildcard spot with a team possibly going 9-7 or 8-8? I say this because Kansas City looks to be second fiddle to Denver again and get the top Wild Card spot. So the question is does a Baltimore/Cincinnati, New York/Miami, or San Diego get in before a team from the South? Playing a weak NFC East schedule might give some teams a shot if they can start hot in the first eight weeks.
John: To say you're a little ahead of yourself is pretty obvious, and there's so much speculation necessary that the question might be unanswerable. That's because you have to assume that all of those teams will be at least sort of similar to last season and that's almost never the case. Kansas City second-fiddle to Denver? Maybe, unless San Diego is better than both teams, which could well be the case. And so on. How weak is the NFC East? Maybe not weak at all if Philadelphia, Dallas and New York are improved, which could well be the case. That said, I'd never bet on a wild-card spot at 8-8. I'd be surprised if at least a few runner-up teams don't go better than that.
Steven from Charlotte, NC:
I had a dream last night of two people arguing if Michael Vick was any good. Am I sick or is this just dead zone being dead zone?
John: I think it just means it's time to move from the Vick conversation. I'll miss it. A lot.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
Wow O-Man, I would think the emails from Saturday would show just how much people love your column. Thanks for keeping the streak alive. Do you ever get overwhelmed by just how much your loyal fans need you?
John: How come no one ever gets whelmed? Why do people always have to overdo everything?
Tim from Jacksonville:
What is your opinion on the Seahawks charging a $7 transportation fee to go to training camp? Do you think this is a legitimate cost of busing people in because of the lack of parking near the practice fields, or is this a way of trying to skirt around the rules of charging for a practice?
John: I don't know. I don't work in Seattle and my family left there in 1973. It was nice while we were there, though. I liked it. There was this cool blacktop out back in the apartment complex. We used to ride bikes on it. I had a green Vista Rover. Here's me with it. That's really me and that's really 1972 and it's really my shirt. I got left out sometimes.

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