INDIANAPOLIS – Let’s get to it...
Clarence from Phoenix, AZ:
I totally get the idea of not playing in the first wave of free agency this year. It would only make sense if the roster was filled with talent and the team was a player or two away from contending for a Super Bowl title. If the team can't say, "If only we had a (fill in position here) then our offense/defense would be sick," then don't bother. That one player won't make much of a difference when everyone else around him stinks.
John: You’re correct to a point. The Jaguars’ approach will be to get a draft class in the building, have a year of competition with a lot of players going on and off the roster, then spend this year implementing their system. There almost certainly will be extensive turnover not only this preseason and training camp, but throughout the regular season as well. David Caldwell clarified it well this week when he talked about not wanting to sign a veteran stop-gap guy at say, linebacker, then not be able to select a younger player in the draft and play him right away. This is not the time for stop gaps on the Jaguars. This is a time for youth and development across the board. Now, as for when to be active in free agency, this is where we disagree a bit. The worst mistakes often come when teams say, “If we had this player or that player, it would put us over the top.” This essentially was the approach that got the Jaguars in significant trouble in the 2008 NFL Draft. You’re rarely one player away in the NFL unless that player’s a quarterback.
Mike from Brunswick, GA:
I've been a Jags fan since high school when Jacksonville was awarded the team. It's been a dream of mine all these years to be a season ticket holder, but I was always waiting for the right moment to commit. I'm impressed and sold on what Khan has done since he bought the team and the direction of the new leadership and rebranding. It's time. I'm excited. Section 232, here we come. Can't wait to get those babies in the mail. Dream come true.
John: I seem to be getting more and more emails like this, and it makes sense. It’s an exciting time around the Jaguars and the excitement is warranted. Now, that’s not me guaranteeing what’s going to happen. No one can do that. Here at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, when people ask me about Gus Bradley and David Caldwell, I give the same answer I give many in the Ozone: I don’t know how the future will play out, but I feel strongly that these two are well-equipped for the job and give the Jaguars a real chance for success. That’s all you can ask at this early stage.
Colin from Sacramento, CA:
Who do you see the Jaguars taking with the No. 2 overall selection?
John: Ah, if we only knew. I believe the first preference would be to trade back – at least once and perhaps more often than that. This is a deep draft, with no obvious superstar at the top. When that’s the case, the ideal is to trade back for picks. If they can’t trade back, and if Luke Joeckel is on the board, it will be hard to pass him up. It also will be hard to pass up a pass rusher if one separates himself from the group. That will be the discussion for Jaguars observers for the next couple of months.
Hunter from Jacksonville:
I'm back. It was cold out there.
John: Go back outside. Then, I’ll lock the door.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
There's something I've noticed reading this column for a long time and really, I’ve seen it many places in life. People seem to way too easily fall into these black and white thoughts about players and strategies instead of understanding that there's a continuum with different degrees of strategies like using the free agency with higher spending versus relying on the draft. I just hope most of the people who read this are reasonable people, but the questions that get answered don't support that.
John: People indeed crave black and white. That seems to be increasingly true, perhaps because of the shorter attention span the world seems to have these days. In our Internet/YouTube based world, people tend to want to read the headline and perhaps watch the first 30 seconds of a news item rather than invest the time needed for greater, deeper understanding. And yes, the readers of this column often crave the black-and-white, right-or-wrong answer. It doesn’t always work that way, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong to crave it.
Robert from Dells, WI:
We should really look at Ezekiel Ansah. He has really good talent and I think is better than Bjoern Werner.
John: He does have really good talent, and the Jaguars certainly are looking at him. The next few weeks are about sorting through the process, but Anshan – who played at Brigham Young – has the look of a player rising on draft boards.
David from Section 132 and Orangedale, FL:
In response to Anthony's question and your response in Saturday's O-Zone, if memory serves me correctly, both the Pittsburgh and Green Bay seldom if ever delve into free agency and they are consistently successful!
John: Yes, and perhaps more importantly the Colts from 1998-2007 - Caldwell’s years with that organization - seldom partook in free agency, either. And when they did, they usually didn’t get a great deal out of it. Caldwell hasn’t taken a stance that the Jaguars never will partake in free agency. There will be a time for it. It just probably won’t be the afternoon of March 12.
Shawn from Honolulu, HI:
With draft talk claiming that several of the best available players in this year's draft are athletes not in premium positions, do you feel that Dave and Gus are more set in traditional thinking and will not go for the best athlete or would they be more open to breaking with tradition IF they feel that the player is the best they've seen in the position for the past several years?
John: Let’s go with the assumption that you’re asking about Chance Warmack of Alabama. He is considered the best guard in the draft in decades. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network believes he is the best player in the draft, and there’s a very good chance that’s true. Still, I don’t see the Jaguars going guard with the No. 2 overall selection. That’s an early guess, and it’s not based on discussions with Caldwell or Bradley. It’s just too hard to get premium players at other positions and you’re not going to get enough impact from a guard.
Eric from Lake Stevens, WA:
About what round do you think Marcus Lattimore will drop to? If he is sitting there at the Jags pick in Round 4 should they consider this?
John: with a lot of upside but a lot of concern and not feel as if you’re giving up too much of your draft. If the Jaguars haven’t selected a running back by that time, yes, I’d consider it.
Johnny from section 141 and Grossed Out:
I propose an indefinite moratorium on the word "glistening" and any of its English-language uses. Gross.
John: I’m hurt, Johnny. Deeply and perhaps irreversibly hurt.
Raymond from Orange Park, FL:
One of the coaching positions is called a quality control coach. What is a quality coach? I've seen it on both offense and defense.
John: A quality control coach is most often a young assistant in essentially an entry-level role. He’ll often assist a position coach, with various responsibilities sometimes including advance game planning for future opponents.
Gary from Jacksonville:
Caldwell has stated he will build through draft and college free agency. What is college free agency?
John: Collegiate free agency is signing undrafted rookies after the draft. Some teams take that period more seriously than others, but with Gus Bradley and David Caldwell emphasizing competition and anticipating players fighting for positions and learning Gus Bradley’s system, it makes sense that it would be an immediate priority for this organization.
Josh from Rochester, MI:
Would you consider Coughlin as a likely candidate to the Hall of Fame?
John: Absolutely. I don’t know that he’s a first-ballot, walk-in guy, but he has won two Super Bowls with the Giants and coached the Jaguars to two conference title games. The Jacksonville years aren’t always discussed with Coughlin’s legacy these days, but they should be. He coached the team to four playoff appearances, and they were in the conversation for the Super bowl for a significant stretch. It may take a while, but I’d say he gets in.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
John, Even the Losers get Lucky sometimes...
John: I know. I have this job.