We'll try something new today. I'll get five tried-and-true topics out of the way quickly, and see if we can do an O-zone without retreading the topics.
1)We need to give Blaine Gabbert time; too early to judge.
2)I don't know if the Jaguars will draft Justin Blackmon or not; too early to tell.
3)I doubt the Jaguars will draft a quarterback; i.e., still too early to judge Gabbert.
4)Yes, I believe the Jaguars will sign a wide receiver in free agency. No, I don't know which one.
5)Yes, you're right. Maurice Jones-Drew is awesome.
Let's get to it . . .
Tim Geoje City, South Korea:
I know that this has been beaten to death and I find your defense of the subject honorable, but I think it's more than evident that many of our injuries can be at least partially contributed to the current nature of the beast. You can talk to almost anyone savvy in sports medicine and they'll tell you that the best preventative against ACL injuries is strength and conditioning, concussions: neck conditioning and technique, hamstring: strength, conditioning and proper warm-ups. Of course, there's the St Happens factor, where injuries just happen, but wouldn't the aforementioned also be evidenced by the number of key players injured on other teams as well? This indeed has been a bizarre season with almost half the teams in the NFL with losing records. You can't blame the fans for concluding that there is a very good possibility that our players weren't properly prepared, and that the coach's hands were tied due to the lock out and new rules for practice.
John:I don't blame fans for reaching that conclusion. I've just been around too many teams that have too many injuries to think strength and conditioning can prevent them. Football is a violent, physical game. Key players get injured on every team every year and every year there are teams that have a lot of injuries. The team I covered last season – the Colts – were shredded by injuries the second half of the season. There had been no lockout. Their players got hurt. This season, the Jaguars have had a lot of players hurt in a lot of different ways, and as I've written often, the unusual number on injured reserve can be at least somewhat attributed to timing and circumstance. And just one more thing: don't half the teams in the NFL almost always have losing records?
Charles from Midlothian, CA:
John you have been a trooper and haven't missed a day in a long time. How the heck can you take the impatience, ignorance, arrogance and complete lack of common sense these fans throw at you every day? If it were me I would have taken a few days off a while ago.
John:Charles, that's the difference between you and me. You recoil at ignorance, arrogance and a lack of common sense. In my case, they make me feel right at home.
Hunter from Duval County, FL:
Who was the GM in the 90's when Coughlin was taking us to AFC title games?
Travis from Orlando, FL:
Do you honestly believe that Tucker would be okay from going from "temp" head coach of the Jaguars back to Defensive Coordinator? I keep hearing everyone say "either he's gonna be the coach or he could be kept on as the coordinator." Couldn't that be taken as a pretty good slap in the face? I just think it's either going to be head coach, or gonzo.
John:This is one of those situations where I've learned from experience you just never know. In this case, it truly depends on the head coach. If Tucker is not retained as the head coach, his future will depend on Tucker and the next head coach. Perhaps the next guy has his own guy. If not, perhaps he believes in a defensive philosophy with which Tucker disagrees. Or perhaps the next coach has been an admirer of Tucker's for some time and Tucker decides it's a good fit. You just can't predict it until you know the specifics.
Dave from Jacksonville:
You get constant criticism of GM Gene's draft picks but that is just one part of his job. Lowry, Landry, Coleman, Chick, Roth, P 10, Sessions, all while remaining well under the cap seems to be totally overlooked. To go from 28th to 4th on defense is a dramatic turnaround and the credit needs to go to the GM. I think he was masterful in free agency and the defense that was painful to watch last year was enjoyable to watch until injuries did them in. Only time will tell about the draft picks. His first-rounders are impact players. Maybe not Pro-Bowl players but most definitely impact players and that's what you have to have. I'd say that your readers need to quit cherry picking their complaints and look at the whole body of work.
John:Ah, another topic regrettably left off my list. But yes, good points all. People understandably do cherry-pick analysis of general managers, forgetting that half of a team's draft picks simply aren't going to make it. Fans don't look at the bodies of work of all general managers, just the specifics of their own, and at 3-9, the team is always going to be viewed through a negative prism.
Chris from Fort Myers:
So, looking at Jones-Drew, and remembering Fred Taylor, how would you compare the two of them? I feel like Jones-Drew is the guy who will more consistently get you 8-12 yards, but Fred was the guy who was more likely to break off 20 . Does this seem accurate to you?
John:This is sort of a "Maurice Jones-Drew is awesome" question, but it talks about Taylor, too, so we'll give it a swing. Taylor indeed was more likely to break off a 20-yard run, but that was because he was more likely to break off a 20-yard run than nearly any back ever. His ability to do that was special. Jones-Drew indeed seems to be slightly more consistent getting three-to-four yards, but that could be my selective memory, having seen Jones-Drew a lot this season and not having covered Taylor on a game-by-game basis in more than a decade. They're both elite players, and though I'd still consider Taylor the overall better back, that's not a knock of Jones-Drew, just an acknowledgment of my respect for Taylor.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
I wish to share an observation with everyone. While Tucker may or may not be our coach next year, there is something I saw in him Monday night which I have not seen in Del Rio in a long time. Fire, passion, Intensity, whatever one may call it, I loved it. The most memorable part of the MNF game against San Diego has nothing to do with the players. The best part of that night for me was seeing Mel Tucker go nuts when Jacksonville took the lead 14-10. I have not seen that kind of fire and passion in our coaching in a long, long time. Easily overlooked, but I personally found it more inspiring than all those mustaches on the fans! Tucker has the fire and I love that about him
John:Funny. I reacted like that when I posted the O-Zone Friday and people around EverBank politely asked me to pipe down.
Cheryl from Meridian, ID:
Earlier in the year someone asked if you thought Kampman was a bust, and you said no. I agree that's a strong word, but I also believe it's time to move on. He's too fragile, and you can't keep a guy around who is that expensive just for his leadership qualities.
John:I don't label Kampman a bust because his lack of contribution has been because of injuries and not a lack of ability, focus or desire. Still, the Jaguars obviously have gotten nowhere near the production from him they hoped, and he hoped. Kampman's future with the Jaguars will be decided in the offseason, but if he is to remain, it likely will have to be at a smaller price.
Andrew from Toledo, OH:
What's your favorite Christmas movie? And don't say that overrated Christmas Vacation. Careful Andrew. We allow differing opinions on many topics in the O-Zone.
John:** We do not allow extreme insanity and delusion, and using that word to describe Christmas Vacation . . . well, I, I . . . I can't continue . . .