Odd tone to the questions in today's game-day Ozone. Fans must be a bit delirious from too much Thanksgiving turkey.
Let's get to it . . . Kevin from Jacksonville:
What are the chances the Jaguars are stockpiling players on the IR to get a better feel of how the second- and third-stringers handle a real game while also assuring themselves of a high draft pick next year?
John: The Jaguars have gone through a rash of recent injuries to key players after being relatively healthy at most positions most of the season. It was perhaps easier to make a decision on a player such as Clint Session (concussion) because the Jaguars didn't have to worry about keeping him available for a playoff game, but I don't get the idea the injured-reserve moves are about draft position. Now, would it be wise to get a look at second-and third-teamers at some point? Certainly, but that will happen in due course.
James from Jacksonville:
If the Falcons beat the Packers in the playoffs and Julio Jones has a monster game, wasn't it worth giving up a lot of picks to get him? What if the 49ers win the Super Bowl this year and Julio Jones has a big game against them in the 2012 playoffs? A player who carries his team in a playoff game or two should be regarded as a player who was worth trading away several picks even if the team record doesn't improve. Julio Jones has a chance to do that, and the Falcons were thinking about the playoffs (not improving from 13-3 to 14-2) when they drafted him. If the Jags returned to the playoffs in 2008 at 9-7 and played the Patriots in Foxborough (like they usually do), and Derrick Harvey got multiple sacks and the Jags win, he would have been worth drafting. What if Harvey got sacks against Peyton Manning in a playoff game and the Jags won because of it? The reason Harvey was such a bust was not merely because he was inconsistent, it was because he never had a huge game in the playoffs (or ever). Personally, I would rather have a team go 9-7 that has that "extra playoff gear" over a 12-4 team that does not. Having Julio Jones on your team for the next fifteen years should yield a few playoff wins because his expertise is being part of the Falcons "extra playoff gear." It was not a bad move to draft Jones.
John: We'll see. Your argument obviously lost a great deal of credibility when you said "if the Jaguars returned to the playoffs in 2008 . . ." after drafting Harvey. They didn't, and giving away the draft picks for a player who didn't work out set the franchise back immeasurably. The danger in trading what the Falcons traded to get Jones is the same – that for the services of one player they gave up the services of several. As I said, we'll see if it was a bad move or not. It's far too early to tell.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Injuries? Really? The overtime rule is in place because of TV and block scheduling. No other reason.
John: You speak with notable confidence for someone so incorrect. Overtime games already push games beyond the timeframe for television. Television obviously is a consideration for anything in the NFL, but to say injuries were not in the discussion and not a major reason is just wrong.
Mike from Kissimmee, FL:
I'm probably going to catch a lot of hell for saying this, but oh well. I strongly believe that the Jaguars are one draft away from being a playoff team. Jaguars have an amazing defense now. Gabbert is only going to get better with an actual off season next year. A stud at running back, fullback and tight end. If the Jaguars can get some solid pickups in the draft and free agency next year, the NFL better get ready for the year of the Jaguars!
John: It's difficult sometimes to see long-term progress when the short-term satisfaction isn't there. The Jaguars have said since 2008 this is a four-year process – i.e., four drafts and off-seasons. The foundation is set, and basically improvement is needed at quarterback, wide receiver and defensive end. That's not to say improvement isn't needed everywhere. You can never fall into the trap of thinking the roster is "set" anywhere, but if Gabbert improves and the Jaguars upgrade at receiver and defensive end, it's difficult for reasonable people to find glaring holes on the roster.
Radley from Orange Park, FL:
Suh says he has "learned" from his most recent dirty-play debacle. I'll tell you one thing he should have learned. That his professional analysts and former player chums that were so quick to dish out endless accolades over his play don't have his back when it's not convenient for them to. Suh is ultimately responsible for his own actions, but do we have nothing to say of the "professionals" who rammed how refreshing his style of play was, before he irrefutably crossed the line, down his and our throats? Then again, has national media ever been required to produce some sort of accountability over the often ridiculous and unsubstantiated things they say?
John: Analysts praise and criticize players every week. To think that they – and not Suh – are responsible for his behavior is just silly. All NFL players play a violent, emotional game. Suh has stood out for a considerable amount of time now for behavior that clearly crosses the line. To blame the analysts is to grossly misplace the blame.
Aaron from Chehalis, WA:
The way all our guys are going on the IR seems fishy. Usually in the NFL when a guy goes on the IR you know that he's been injured and it's pretty serious and the move makes sense, as in the case with Mathis. However, when guys like Session and Cox get put on the IR and you don't have a real sense that they were injured in the first place the move to the IR makes you scratch your head. It almost seems like we're throwing in the towel for this season by putting guys on the IR to make sure they're rested and healed up for next year while possibly securing a better draft pick by putting a lower quality team on the field for the remainder of the season. I know I'm probably just imagining things, but I'm sure I'm not the only fan that is following this train of thought. Am I crazy John, or are these guys really hurt that bad?
John: From the outside looking in, it's understandable you see it that way. But when Session sustained a concussion against Cleveland, it was his second of the season. Considering the environment around concussions these days, ending a player's season after a second concussion is becoming more common – if not yet par for the course. Cox was injured against Cleveland, and when the swelling in his knee didn't go down, an MRI revealed damage that doctors determined would not allow him to play again this season. As for usually knowing guys who are on IR are seriously injured, I'm not sure about that. The extent of injuries often isn't known in the NFL.
Aaron from Chehalis, WA:
What do you make of the signing of Dan LeFevour? To me, it can only be seen in one of two ways. Either they are not confident that Gabbert is the guy for the future and they're bringing in LeFevour to give Gabbert some competition and see what they've got... or they are not confident in McCown as a viable backup and think LeFevour is better suited for the job. To me I'd say it's the latter of the two but you're the guy with the inside information, what do you think?
John: This may be the first time I've ever posted consecutive emails from the same reader and it may be the last. Aaron, this one baffled me. LeFevour? As an option for the future? Don't overthink this one. LeFevour is a young guy who the Jaguars believe may be able to develop into a long-term backup quarterback to Gabbert. He was available and the Jaguars had a roster spot when Cox went on IR. It's the sort of move you make when you're trying to build a roster, which is what the Jaguars are doing.
Doug from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I have concerns about the black Friday O-Zone. Of the fifteen questions asked, ten were answered in three sentences or less. Can this be attributed to a turkey/ Sweetwater overindulgence, or it is a sign of a more significant injury? Bottom line...are you going onto IR or can we play you at cornerback on Sunday?
John: No Sweetwater on Thanksgiving. Just Magic Hat Circus Boy, and in moderation at that. As for the answers . . . one word, eight sentences – whatever it takes to get it done.