A week until players report. It's close. Man, is it close.
Let's get to it . . . Andrew from Toledo, OH:
Someone on ESPN.com wrote that Tyson Alualu gave up the most rushing yards when compared to everyone on the team. Is this not the dumbest stat you ever heard? First off, stopping the run takes TEAM defense and second, if you watch Alualu you can see he is one of the better defensive tackles in the league. I rarely saw him blocked or out of a play. He is hardly ever moved from the line of scrimmage. What did you think of Tyson's play last year?
John: I think Alualu played well, and I think there is a danger in football of leaning too much on statistics. Some statistics matter very much, and absolutely shouldn't be ignored, but there are some things that are difficult to measure by statistics. Individual rushing yards allowed is such a statistic. It doesn't take into account what a player's real role on the play might be, whether he was doubleteamed, whether he was covering for a teammate's mistake, etc., etc. In very honest moments, people around the Jaguars will tell you that Alualu played well last season. Not flawlessly, but well. He is a strength and a big reason the Jaguars were a very solid defense last season. I think he'll get better following his knee surgery early this offseason, but to say he has been bad the first two years is simply incorrect.
Kevin from Mazar-e Sharif, AFG section 238:
I was in a tiny gym today located in the Northern hills of Afghanistan when a stranger approached and inquired about my shirt. I was wearing a Jags sleeveless shirt as I was lifting. Turns out he is a big Jags fan from St. Augustine. After chit-chatting about this and that we came to the conclusion that we are both extremely excited about this season. The anticipation is everywhere!
John: I love this story.
Nathan from Jacksonville:
There has been some talk on here before about Fred Taylor and the Hall of Fame. Do think the fact that Fred only made one Pro Bowl, as an injured reserve I might add, will affect his getting in? Do Pro Bowl appearances mean that much when it comes to the Hall of Fame?
John: Taylor playing in just one Pro Bowl won't help. I don't know that voters necessarily count Pro Bowl appearances and compare them to other inductees and potential inductees, but they are part of a player's resume. Taylor had a strange career on that front. He usually was one of the top 3-to-5 backs in the league, but often he would miss a game or two or just barely miss out on being voted in to the Pro Bowl. And I can't honestly say there were many years when he absolutely was the best back in football. I believe he should get in, and believe he has a chance, but those factors will work against him.
Greg from Neptune Beach, FL:
Do you think veteran minimum salaries hurt the veterans when it comes to re-signing? I would think most older veterans reaching the end of their career but still wanting to play a couple more years aren't able to find a team because they cost too much even if they're willing to play for less. And those freaks of nature who can still play at a high level when they're over 35 (London Fletcher, Ray Lewis, etc.) get signed for more than the minimum anyway. Sure, many sign for the minimum but I'd think overall more guys lose out on one or two more years of play than those that are helped by the high minimums.
John: I think veteran minimums hurt at times, particularly a backup level guy. My sense is you have fewer players playing into their mid 30s than you did 20 years ago, and the veteran minimums certainly play a role in that. At the same time, it is a young man's game and players are more prone to injury as they age. If all things are equal – not that anything's ever equal – a lot of teams are going to choose a player in his mid-20s over a player in his early- to mid-30s.
Joe from Jefferson City, MO:
Hey O, where's your "All In" video spot? Are you "All In?"
John: Oh, I'm in, baby. I'm in.
Jeff from Section 106:
I'm with Gary from Brunswick. It's the way contracts work in every other facet of life. Why isn't it all that simple? Gary from Brunswick, GA: We all understand that football is a business, but I think that when a player holds out for more money after signing a contract, he is saying that not only is my word no good, neither is my signature. What do you think? John: I think it's not that simple. It would be nice if it were, but it's just not.
John: It's not that simple because you're dealing with players with very short career spans, and you're dealing with an industry – professional sports – of high-profile people with huge egos. That has spawned an environment in which contracts often get renegotiated. If it were indeed "that simple," it wouldn't be that way, but that's the way it is.
John from Kingsland, GA:
Tramp? Tramp! That's funny coming from the same state that gave us Toad Suck, the Bobby Petrino affair, and the two dirtiest words a Jaguars fan ever heard...Matt Jones.
John: Hey. HEY! Don't make me stop this car.
Peter from Summit, NJ:
I'm almost embarrassed asking you for more knowing you've worked every single day since you've been here, but here goes anyway: Is there any chance we can get a live O-Zone in the evening hours so us fans who work for a living can participate?
John: Believe it or not, statistics show the best time to do a chat is around the lunch hour. A lot of people can participate because they're at lunch, and a lot of people who are supposed to be doing other things wile away their days on the internet. I'll explore some other times, and while I'm at it, would you like me to open a vein for you as well?
Dane from Jacksonville:
According to NFL Network, "the Jaguars don't even know who their quarterback is." Do these "analysts" even bother to research the teams they talk about? This isn't a rant about how everyone picks on the Jaguars, but it's just crazy how inaccurate the information is coming out of the national media is.
John: And the beat goes on.
Phil from Woodmere, NY:
I think we should play our starters for three full games this preseason and let them have the fourth game as a bye week. This way, our offense can be in midseason form by the time we start the year. This would be beneficial, especially in our case, where you have steadily been saying that you believe a new offense with a new staff, new players and maturing QB will need time during the beginning of the season to gel. It seems like waiting until the season begins is a bad idea when we clearly have four games before the season. I understand injuries and fatigue, but our case is unique; and there's no rule that states we cannot think outside the box. Thoughts?
John: I think there's a chance we could see the Jaguars' starters a bit more than usual because of the factors you cite. Normally, you might see the starters for a series or two in the first preseason game, a bit more than a quarter in the second and until just after the half in the third. Seeing them for a series or two more in the first two games and perhaps a quarter in the fourth might be possible, though I haven't spoken to Head Coach Mike Mularkey about it. You almost certainly won't see starters throughout the first three games of the preseason. The injury risk is too high and you need that time to evaluate the rest of the roster.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
What exactly does "all in" mean to our new owner and have we seen any examples of being all in yet?
John: Well, there was that check he wrote in early January.
Keith from Palatka and Section 214:
I did not get Podlesh not being re-signed until we drafted Anger. When Podlesh wanted too much money, we let him go, bided our time, and drafted a better punter. Here's the kicker-Gene and staff knew Anger was out there-it was no accident. That's why Gene is the GM and the rest of us are armchair coaches and general managers.
John: I think Smith is a very good general manager, and I know he is well-prepared and intelligent. I'm not going to say Anger caused him to let Podlesh go. The draft is too uncertain to think you can plan to that level.
Josiah from Fargo, ND:
Hey O-Man . . . I passed the Basic Training test thanks to your advice! It truly did work! And it looks like just in time for me to follow some Jaguar football training camp – wow – 10 weeks have went by since I even last had internet. It feels good, O-Man, it feels good.
John: The sincerest of congratulations. The O-Zones are archived. Happy reading.