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The lure of the O-Zone

Let's get to it . . . Amata from Keene, TX:
Great move by both the Jags and Tucker keeping Mel Tucker as defensive coordinator. It benefits both in the short term for the Jags and long term for Tucker. Firstly, the Jags D will stay intact for the most part and have a chance to show that their success last season was not a fluke. By repeating last year's success, I see Tucker getting more head coaching considerations. All in all it's a win-win situation. Do you concur?
John: I do. Tucker was without question disappointed to not get the permanent head coaching job, as would have been the case with anyone in his position. The reality is his stint as interim coach raised his profile, and when people discuss potential head coaching candidates next season his name will be among the ones mentioned. That's usually the first step to being prominent in the interview process, and for someone as qualified as Tucker the next step is getting the position. Tucker is young, talented and driven. I'm glad he's here, and believe that he won't be here long.
Chase from Jacksonville:
A point I haven't heard anybody mention is that Gabbert was the third-string quarterback up until the time Garrard was released. With Garrard struggling in training camp and preseason the coaches had to devote much time to him since he was believed to be our opening-day starter. The rookie quarterbacks who had great seasons were starters from Draft Day and they got their coaches' full attention. There is only so much coach time to go around and I would assume with the shorter offseason getting your starter ready had to be priority even further setting Gabbert's development back.
John: There's probably some truth in what you say. I don't know how much of it was the struggles of Garrard as much as simply Gabbert not working with the first-team offense throughout camp. That certainly kept his reps down at a time when he needed as much work as possible. The biggest issue there probably was that Gabbert simply wasn't ready to start so early. He without question gained experience from which he will benefit, but the Jaguars didn't draft him in April with the intention of him starting this season. That had been made clear from the start, and with the lockout lasting until training camp, he got practically no preparation time before training camp. That will change this off-season.
Albert from Memphis, TN:
Do people really think we are going to trade for Tebow? I'm willing to bet my house that won't happen.
John: If you have anything bigger, bet that, too.
Nate from York, PA:
I only hope Khan, Smith, and Mularkey retain a classy, respectful nature of the Jags and not sign big mouth show boats.
John: I can't foresee that being a problem.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
You've mentioned before similarities and efforts made by the Jags to emulate the approach by the Colts. They just fired Bill Polian, so why should the Jags continue to follow their approach? Does the Jags' approach end at similarities? Do I even make sense?
John: I don't recall writing about the Jaguars trying to emulate the Colts. I have written on occasion that when I speak to Gene Smith about draft philosophy and building a franchise for the long haul, there are similarities to Polian's beliefs. Polian built three teams into winning organizations and his teams were in the post-season and contending for Super Bowls far more often than not, so when I listen to Smith and hear similarities to Polian, yes, I see that as generally a positive thing.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
I like both men, but first Mr. Weaver and now Mr. Khan are "focused on upgrading the fan experience." When I go to an NFL football game, the experience I'm looking for is a well-played game, and hopefully a win more often than not. I'd prefer that the Jags throw away all of the tee-shirt guns. They interfere with my view of the game.
John: All true, but in today's environment of HDTV and NFL Sunday Ticket, the prevailing thought in league circles is you must give people an experience to go with the game. Khan's goal is on getting the victories and giving the experience, and there's no reason you can't do both.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
Can you post a list of upcoming dates – opening of FA period, NFL Draft, date that Peyton is due $28 million, etc? Thanks.
John: Free agency begins March 13, start of the new league year. The NFL Draft is April 26-28. Manning is due his signing bonus on March 8.
Mike from Jaxson de ville, FL:
Just to clarify for those "fans" who complain about picking up an offensive coordinator from a team that scored two points in its last playoff game, isn't this the same coordinator who lit up our sixth-ranked defense for 41 points not too long ago? Point is you need more than one game to make this determination of whether or not Mularkey is a solid pickup.
John: That's exactly why you can't go off of one game, and sometimes even one season to determine a coach or members of a staff. Football is a game with many moving parts, and success is achieved by successfully meshing those parts. You have to find people you want to hire based on their history, what you know about them and their approach and how you believe they will fit into your overall package. That's the same as hiring successfully in many lines of work, and while it's not easy, it is critical.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
With new a new head coach and offensive coordinator, does the CBA forbid Gabbert from coming into EverBank every day if he wants to talk shop and go over playbooks, tape, etc, with the coaching staff? Maybe even throw the ball around a little to tweak his mechanics ? Or are the players MANDATED to take a couple month vacation and only show up for the mini-camps, etc? Seems to me better players would treat the NFL as a year-round occupation, especially rookies and rookies dealing with a new coaching staff.
John: This will be a long, detailed answer, but here it is. The off-season workout program for most teams can begin in mid-April, but for teams with a new coach it can begin April 2. First off, under the new CBA the off-season program is limited to nine weeks in three phases. Phase One is limited to strength and conditioning activities with only strength and conditioning coaches allowed on field. Phase Two is three weeks with individual and limited team work and all coaches allowed on the field. Phase Three is the OTA period and lasts four weeks with the following details: 10 days of OTAs, with a maximum of three OTAs for the first two weeks and a maximum of four OTAs for the third or fourth week with the other week being a mini-camp. That's the official off-season program and the rules are different before that begins. A player may work out at the team facility before the start of the official program, but no one from the team may indicate to the player that the individual workouts are not voluntary, and the player may not be paid for the workouts. During that time, there are also several restrictions: players may not participate in team-supervised practices, group/individual meetings with coaches, group/individual film study with coaches or group or individual playbook study with coaches; the team's strength and conditioning coaches may not direct the workouts, although they may supervise use of the weight room to prevent injury and to correct misuse of equipment; the activities may not be directed or supervised by coaches. In terms of players using the practice fields, that can be done for individual strength and conditioning workouts, but no footballs may be used and no player is permitted to work with – or participate in any activity with – any other player, regardless of whether coaches are present. Players can work and practice together on a voluntary basis away from the facility, but "no non-player Club employee, including any coach, may suggest, facilitate in any way, attend, arrange the filming of, or view films of, such activities." Essentially what that means is a player such as Gabbert can certainly get a playbook and begin studying it, he can't sit down with Mularkey or anyone on the staff to study it until April.
Brian from Jacksonville:
What I really want to know is how much influence you have in bringing in high visibility free agents? You would think the lure of a guest O-Zone would be too much to ignore.
John: There are perks and there are perks. Not having to pay state tax and living in Florida are nice, but you're right: a chance to interact with the pleasant people who fill my in-box each day . . . well, what big-time, play-making wide receiver wouldn't sign up immediately?

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