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O-Zone: One step at a time

Posted May 11, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Not sure what it is, really. I feel a bit disoriented today. I don’t know . . . it’s just not the same.

I’m not sure what it is. But I think I can get used to this.

Let’s get to it . . .

Jack Jax from Jacksonville:
I love that the Jags are starting fresh and young. If Maurice Jones-Drew gets back to his old self, will they consider trading him? I hate to see him acting up again if he does not get his way. Maybe do what the Jets did to Revis?
John: I am amazed how many people seem worried about Jones-Drew “acting up.” Jones-Drew held out last offseason because of a contract dispute. He was well within his rights to do that, and he didn’t report until shortly before the regular season, but to say that Jones-Drew “acted up” last season is misrepresenting it. When Jones-Drew was here last season he worked and contributed where he could. He got hurt early in the season, and because of that was not nearly as productive as he had been the previous three seasons, but he did not act out or cause any sort of a circus, and it really wasn’t all that much of a distraction. Certainly, you never got the feeling the holdout caused 2-14. In my two years here, all I’ve ever seen Jones-Drew do around the Jaguars is work hard and try to get the most out of his career as his potential allows him to get. That’s all you can ask out of any player. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell is on record saying there are no plans to trade Jones-Drew and there’s really no reason to trade him. He’s a productive player in the last year of his contract, and there’s time to determine his future with the team after the season. There are plenty of things to worry about with the Jaguars. It’s a young team with a lot of things to worry about. Don’t worry about Jones-Drew’s attitude. By all accounts, it’s very, very good.
Terrance from Jacksonville:
Any chance of us landing any of the past-their-prime veterans left on the market, such as Freeney, Woodson, or Abraham? Even if they're affordable?
John: Affordability will be key to any free-agency acquisition by the Jaguars this offseason, and as we all know, you never say never when it comes to personnel moves. But I wouldn’t hold your breath on the aforementioned players, and I wouldn’t try to frame the recent signing of Marcus Trufant as the Jaguars’ starting bell for a run on older, quick-fix, short-term free agents. A major part of Trufant’s value to the Jaguars is he played four seasons in Gus Bradley’s defense in Seattle, and no matter how much he does or doesn’t contribute on the field, he can help young players learn the scheme. That makes him very low-risk and means he has a very good chance of being a productive signing.
Greg from Section 233 and Jacksonville:
Will OTAs be open to the public?
John: No.
Mikey from Tallahassee, FL:
Thank you. Didn't even read the Q&A today. Just thank you.
John: You’re welcome. You missed out on perhaps the greatest single piece of question-answer, juvenile remark-oriented, “journalism” ever produced, but that’s on you. You’re welcome.
David from Monterrey, Mexico:
Awesome intro Friday. Love it.
John: You had me at “awesome.”
Daniel from Section 146 Since Day 1:
BOUT DAMN TIME! thank you John....
John: You like me. You really like me.
Andrew from Tampa, FL:
What is this trend of teams signing all their players so early? Do you know if the Jags have begun talks with any of their draft picks? One good thing is it takes the holdout drama out of July.
John: The reason for the trend is simple. The rookie wage scale, implemented after the 2011 lockout, has made holding out pretty pointless in most cases because there’s not much room for negotiation. I don’t know how far along the Jaguars are in negotiations with this year’s rookie class, if at all, but there’s not a tremendous amount of urgency. The class almost certainly will get signed before training camp. That’s all that matters.
Daniel from Section 242:
I triple dog dare you!
John: RALPHIE!!!!!!!
Bob from Fernandina Beach, FL:
With the new rookie wage scale, and a new management, it would be nice to see the Jags sign all their draft picks expeditiously (as other already have done) rather than wait till the last minute to start negotiations.
John: I’m not certain, but I might detect something in your email as if you’re expecting the team to somehow mishandle this or not act in timely manner – as if that would be par for the course for the Jaguars. There is no par for the course for Dave Caldwell; he is in his first year as general manager. But just as there is no reason to wait to sign draft picks there is also no reason to rush. The contracts will get done. Justin Blackmon didn’t get done until training camp last season, but as we all recall, there were unusual circumstances involved that shouldn’t be the norm. For the most part, I expect draft selections around the NFL to continue to get done far more quickly under the new rookie wage scale, and I doubt the Jaguars will break from that pattern.
Dave from Section 115 and Grafton, VA:
Did I miss video mail bags? No DOUBT!
John: No doubt.
Chris from Jacksonville:
So, Jeff from Jacksonville says we should have taken Sharrif Floyd and Matt Elam? I get it, I root for the same college team, but where was his maniacal rant for a left-handed QB? And didn't we draft a guy named Josh Evans?
John: Huh? What?
Pat from Jacksonville:
What kind of play should we expect from Marcedes Lewis in this new offense and who do you expect to start opposite? I’m sure our first-round pick will help his play and I really miss those one-hand catches; not to mention the need of another receiver in the first four weeks.
John: This is an important season for Lewis, and one in which he has a chance to make a real contribution. I don’t think he would tell you he was thrilled with his last two seasons for a variety of reasons, but from what you hear from David Caldwell and Gus Bradley, he’s going to have plenty of opportunity in this offense. The addition of Luke Joeckel should put Lewis in the passing game more, and while I don’t know that he ever is going to be thought of as an elite receiving tight end, he has shown historically he can be a factor there. The question of who will be opposite Lewis could start playing out during OTAs. Keep an eye on Ryan Otten, an undrafted rookie free agent. Tight end is a place where UDFAs can make a roster, and he was projected as a mid-round selection by some analysts. It was hard to assess him in the rainy conditions of minicamp, but he didn’t look out of place.
Manning from Calgary, AB:
Is it fair to assume that one of the reasons pass rush has yet to be addressed is because Bradley and Caldwell feel Andre Branch and Jeremy Mincey simply had off years last season and will bounce back this season?
John: There are many reasons for the Jaguars’ approach at defensive end, some of which center on only being able to address so many things at a time. The team has Jason Babin to play Leo this season, and the Jaguars want to see how Andre Branch develops, but mostly, it’s hard to find elite pass rushers in the draft outside the Top 10. This year, the Jaguars addressed offensive tackle there.
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
Besides the quarterback position, which single player's performance this season do you think will have the most impact on success? Who should I be keeping the closest eye on thru their off-season and preseason progress . . . I'm not sure but there may be a thing as too much coverage.
John: Once you get beyond quarterback, it’s very tough to separate, but I’m going to go outside the box and say Andre Branch. If he can generate pressure and start showing the potential the Jaguars thought he had last offseason, that will help the entire defense significantly.
Billy from Cynthiana, KY:
Not to make excuses, but I think some people forget Gabbert has only had one real offseason. I think he will continue to improve and people need to hesitate on pulling the trigger on him.
John: The Jaguars haven’t forgotten it. That’s the big unknown with Gabbert. Will a second offseason, and a different message, be the difference? Time will tell.
Peter from Section 242 and Row C:
One-week hiatus? How about a lifetime ban?
John: Baby steps, Peter. Baby steps.

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