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The inner sloth

Let's get to it . . . Talha from Piscataway, NJ:
This is gonna be a tough one, right O-man? Gonna have to give it our all, with a banged-up cornerback group and OLine. It's gonna be hard...
John: Well . . . I mean, yeah. Absolutely. The Jaguars won't be favored. Every national prognosticator – and I mean, every one – will pick the Texans. Shoot, if I didn't live in Jacksonville and cover the Jaguars, I'd probably pick the Texans. They won the division last season and looked impressive in the opener; the Jaguars went 5-11 and lost to Minnesota. The Jaguars are beat up on the offensive line and struggled defensively in the second half Sunday. But you know what? Teams with first-year coaches take time to learn to win, and when that happens you need to win a big game. Sunday is as good a time for that to happen as any.
Andrew from Florence, SC:
I didn't get to see the game Sunday, but how much were Kevin Elliott and Jeris Pendelton involved? I'm guessing Elliott played a role on special teams. With Robiskie being cut, what does that say about Elliot's role with the Jaguars?
John: Elliott played a special teams role and Pendleton was inactive. Robiskie's release actually has more to do with the offensive line situation than Elliott. With Eben Britton and Cameron Bradfield hurt but not going on injured reserve, the Jaguars needed to add an offensive lineman. That required releasing a player at another position, so it was more roster management than anything else.
I've really enjoyed the O-zone Mailbag videos you've been doing. It's like a bonus O-zone without having to spend the energy it takes to read. The new locker room is a great backdrop but I think we all want to see the Hot tub/ Cold tub/ Waterfall edition.
John: Me doing a video from the hot tub? Now, that is a downer.
Luca from Buffalo, NY:
If Britton does play this week, wouldn't it make sense to have him play at tackle while putting Brewster in at guard? I know Brewster's still learning, but right tackle is a lot more important than guard. I would say having Whimper in is far more a liability than Britton at right tackle and Brewster as left guard.
John: I'd agree that Britton at tackle probably is the stronger option in your scenario. Unfortunately, it doesn't work if Britton is unable to play this week.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
Hearing friends and people talk about who should take more snaps between M80 and Shorts I find to be a good thing and a testament on how our wide receiver core is getting better not worse. A lot better than hearing we should drop someone and pick up T.O.
John: Absolutely it's a positive, though we need to relax a bit on taking away and adding reps based on one game. The Jaguars' coaches will game plan for each game and use the receivers based on strengths and matchups, and that might not mean sticking precisely to a depth chart on every play. I have a feeling that Shorts, Mike Thomas, Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson are all going to get opportunities, though Mike Mularkey did mention this week Shorts getting more plays.
Max from Jacksonville:
I'm confused by your analysis of the OT rules. The kicking team has no downs advantage...receiving team could have used four downs to get a first down or touchdown if they wanted. And had we gotten into field-goal range, we most likely would have used the fourth down to try a FG as well. Both head coaches have the same option. And if, somehow, you were to believe the kicking team holds the advantage, well then, just choose to kick first when you win the coin toss.
John: I wouldn't say I have given enough thought to the overtime issue to call it analysis, and I don't recall presenting it as such. I see your point, but it still strikes me that the team receiving the kick after a first-drive field goal in overtime has at least a psychological edge in that it plays that drive knowing it's in four-down territory from the time it receives the ball. On the other hand, that team is down by three and in a must-convert situation. That could negate any advantage, so there you go . . .
Roger from Jacksonville and Section 211:
Blaine Gabbert may be the most scrutinized and widely criticized quarterback in recent NFL history. Analysts and fans have opinions on everything from his pocket presence to his mechanics to his ability to read defenses. Most of them don't know anything about what they're saying. When I watch Gabbert--and this goes for last year, too--you know what I see? I see a quarterback who never gives up. I see a quarterback who always believes he can get it done. I see a leader. What's not to like about that?
John: You make a lot of good points, especially about most not knowing much about what they're saying. One thing about Gabbert is I don't know that he actually is as scrutinized as many believed. If scrutinizing is to examine or study, I think you can make the argument that a lot of people didn't scrutinize at all; rather, they assumed that because he had struggled that he was terrible and could never improve. What will be interesting is if Gabbert continues to show the progress he has shown if the people who have been criticizing indeed will scrutinize. If they do, the criticism may cease pretty quickly.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
Their punter, an undrafted free agent, had a better statistical day than our punter drafted in third round. How is this possible?
John: Bryan Anger punted four times for a 53.5-yard average and had one inside the 20. Are we really questioning this this week? I'm sure Anger, like every player and every human being, will have some day some time that really isn't great. Let's wait until then to criticize, shall we?
David from Jacksonville:
I think the NFL needs to adapt a soccer format of overtime. Either have ties, except in postseason games, or have an "extended time" format with two short periods (like 10 min each) and if it's still tied, call it a draw.
John: I doubt you'll see a significant change from what there is now. The NFL doesn't want ties, and the objective of the league is to have the shortest possible overtime format that decides the game in something close to fair. Anything that extends the game is discouraged in general by both the league and players because of the increased risk of injuries. The NFL as a rule is about shortening games rather than lengthening.
Saif from Washington, DC:
Ah, I see how you deal with those who insult you! You are nice in your response to them, but then in the question immediately following, you make a reference to them. Well done, Oehser, well done.
John: Good question, Saif . . . be nervous. Be very nervous.
Adrian from Reading, UK:
Got a tough question for you today - why is it that the same people who always complained that the Jaguars' playcalling is too conservative and predictable are now complaining that we didn't run the ball twice on 3rd and 3? Do they realise how ridiculous that is?
John: I'd usually mention Saif here, but he's on to me – and no, the people don't realize how ridiculous that is. True self-awareness is a rare thing, particularly among NFL fans.
Nick from Eastbourne, England:
Admit it, John. It felt good to see your Redskins show a hint of promise that they might have a chance to return to their former glory. It might be buried deep within, but it must have felt a little good. Just a little?
John: This actually crossed my mind when I was doing Jaguars Reporters Tuesday and enjoying the company and thoughts of Cole Pepper. One of the televisions in the studio showed some footage of Robert Griffin III, then it showed the score of the game over the Saints. I did think that at one time that would have made me very happy and gotten me very excited about the future. But I can honestly say I felt nothing of the kind Tuesday. This is difficult for people to believe, but when you cover the NFL, it's very difficult if not impossible to be a fan of any team in the sense that most people are fans. I follow the Jaguars and as an employee, I vastly prefer when they win, but I don't cheer in the press box and don't get emotional over victories and losses. There is a job to do, and to do that job, you simply don't have time to cheer or be emotional. It doesn't mean you don't love the game; you just love it in a different way.
John from Jacksonville:
John, I like the confidence you radiate when you do the Ozone Mailbag. I always figured you for a slothy, quasimoto type, guess you proved me wrong.
John: What you perceive as confidence is me hiding my inner sloth.

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