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Welcome to the O-Zone

Let's get to it . . . Lawrence from Omaha, NE:
I think I've pinpointed the exact offensive issue that's plaguing this team. There are no yards after catch from our receivers. You never see a pass caught in stride, and when there seems to be an opportunity for a receiver to catch and run, that's when they inconveniently drop the pass. I personally, am less concerned after last week about Marcedes Lewis than I was prior. He was dropping one or two passes a game, and maybe catching one. But last week he dropped maybe his first or second of difficult passes, and then seemed to really catch on. I have a feeling his rhythm may have finally been established. Thoughts?
John: The yards-after-catch issue doesn't help – and it is an issue. It's not something the Jaguars have been known for, and it hasn't been good this year. As for Lewis, he hasn't had the first half of the season he or anyone expected, but I don't see that continuing. He's a talented player and he's dedicated. That's usually a combination that fights through short-term issues.
Robin from Miami, FL:
What is GM Gene Smith's position on a contract extension? I saw on NFL.com that he turned one down before the season. Can you put a percentage on the likelihood that Gene is no longer a Jag next season?
John: Smith turned down an extension before the season because the people around him in football operations were not receiving extensions and he didn't want to accept more job security when people to whom he is loyal were in uncertain situations. Smith very much wants to be here, and is as dedicated to the Jaguars and turning them into as consistent a winner as it is possible to be. This is the final year of his contract, and at 2-6, that means an uncertain situation, but there aren't many general managers I'd rather have generally managing my team than Gene Smith.
Bruce from Gotham City:
Johnny, I love the fact that there is a new O'Zone every day, I am going to throw you a fundraiser!!
John: Throwing me a fundraiser? I'm open, Bruce! I'm open!
Daniel from Summitt, NJ:
I've often wondered, as good as he is, how good could MJD have been if he'd had been on a team with a pass attack that prevented defenses from stacking the line against him as they do now. Do you think MJD wonders this or is he happy with his great accomplishments knowing he did it against such difficult circumstances?
John: I think he would be very good with the line not stacked. I also think he likes being a power runner on which the team depends. Jones-Drew strikes me as that rare player who could perform and do well – and have a pretty good attitude about it – whatever the circumstances.
John from West Chester, PA:
What do you believe is more critical for this team to move forward in the future; a big time receiver or a big time rush D-end?
John: Both are critical. I would rather see a big-time rush defensive end, because despite the hue and cry for a big-time receiver, it's more likely that the Jaguars' passing offense will first improve by getting a lot more production out of several players – including a developing big-time receiver – than having one receiver come in and catch 1,500 yards worth of passes. A big-time pass rusher on this defense would have a huge impact.
Joe from Port Charlotte, FL:
I think you need to recharge your batteries buddy John so take the day off tomorrow. I think we acknowledge you have been working hard for awhile so your CBA orders you to enjoy the Bye Week also and see you Monday.
John: I don't know how it is in Port Charlotte, Joe, but I'm from the hard-scrabble streets of Jacksonville and around these parts, when we say we're O-Zoning every day until a blackout, we O-Zone every day until a blackout. We're made of nails up here, Joe. Just plain, old made of nails.
Chris from Delray Beach, FL:
I completely blame Jon Gruden for the whole "Gabbert doesn't step into his throws" mantra. Those Jag fans that were critical of Gabbert before the MNF commentary have now grasped that phrase with both hands in a kung-fu death-grip. Since Gruden said it, that must mean the kid is a bust?? Let's take a look at another expert Gruden QB analysis: "Tebow has proved to a lot of people that he's a premier competitor, he's a great game day clutch, hard-nosed football player,"--Jon Gruden, 10/12/11. How's that working out so far??
John: Gruden is a very good analyst on Monday Night Football who – like any analyst – says things that turn out right and things that turn out wrong. You're absolutely correct that one or two national analysts saying such a thing leads to the kung-fu death-grip mentality. It's the nature of the beast.
Paul from Panama City, FL:
Is it me or did they have the same concerns with Peyton Manning coming out of college, footwork, can't win big game, etc? Not comparing Gabbert to Manning but let's see what happens in the offseason. How many said Manning was a bust after his first year? Please correct me if I'm wrong, and can you compare Gabbert to Manning with the mental aspect of the game.
John: Manning had made enough strides as a rookie that by the end of the season it was pretty much assumed he was going to be good – maybe very, very good. Each quarterback's circumstance is different. You can't judge Gabbert until the rest of the things going wrong start going right.
Greg from Carlsbad:
I doubt you'll have the guts to post this, but I thought you said you weren't going to post anymore "I doubt you'll have the guts to post this" emails.
John: I didn't have the guts to have the guts to stick to my vow. I've got to use the bye to get better, too.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Everyone knows Marcedes Lewis would love to be on the west coast. Now that he got his money he forgot how to catch the ball. This at a time when you have a rookie QB that needs help from the veteran tight end. I do not see him as prime-time player. You can replace him with a great blocking tight end that catches anything thrown his way but is slow of foot for a lot less money. Drops are just like a turnover. There is no place on a winning team for a guy who drops the ball in the NFL. He has always had this problem even last year. Let him go milk the Raiders for the rest of his career.
John: C'mon, Don. Maurice Jones-Drew is California through and through and ideally would love to be playing there. I'm sure Tyson Alualu would love to play in Hawaii. Rashean Mathis os fortunate. He has played in his hometown. Lewis is a professional with pride and he struggled to start the season. It happens. California isn't a factor.
Adam from Indianapolis:
John, in regards to all the people constantly commenting on our offensive line pass blocking poorly, I'd just like to comment that I read an article from a Pro talent website that ranked Monroe 6th in the NFL at LT with a blocking efficiency of 96.6%. That sure is horrible.
John: Monroe isn't horrible. He has played very, very well in the six games he has played. It will take him doing that for a while – and for Jon Gruden to gush about him on Monday night – for the fan base to accept it. That's OK. The fan base isn't playing on Sunday.
Lee from Duval County, FL:
Forget the players, "I" needed a break from Jaguar football. These next eight games will answer a lot of questions about this team. Right now the consensus is load the box against MJD and make Gabbert beat you. I love the Jaguars, but I think that strategy works 9 times out of 10? What say you.
John: It has worked five out of six times so far. It will work until it doesn't, because that will be the strategy until Gabbert and the receivers make it not work.
Carson from Jacksonville:
Robiskie? A receiver over 6'1? This does not sound like the undersized Jags that I know and love....but I love it. What are your thoughts about him stepping into number 2 with super-soft MSW out.
John: I don't get excited about midseason waiver-wire acquisitions until they perform on the field. Robiskie has ability and was a second-round selection. He, like Sims-Walker and other players, was available at mid-season for a reason. The Jaguars need something at receiver and maybe he'll provide it. We'll see.
Brandon from Jacksonville:
Doom and gloom, doom and gloom, RAR RAR RAR, anger, anger, hate, hate, hate, hatin' on hate, death death die. The world is coming to an end! What say you, sir?
John: I say, "Welcome to the O-Zone, Brandon. You'll be right at home here."

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