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O-Zone: A little forecasting

Posted Jan 7, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Tom from Charleston, SC:
We keep reading ‘Have patience … rebuilding takes time.’ Jag fans have been very patient; three coaches and now two general managers have told us how THEY are doing it the right way. Doesn't seven years of being patient supporters give fans the right to expect more than just a slight improvement? The thousands of dollars that fans have spent in the name of patience have been hard to come by in especially hard times. I certainly hope what Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley are doing is the right thing, but with the past seven years as the gauge, fans can't help but be leery. Time will tell, but until it happens, you can expect fans to continue to question their moves and motives.Your thoughts?
John: My first thought is that although I never say fans must be patient, rebuilding indeed takes time. My second thought is that I get variations of this question a lot, and while I understand the feeling, I wonder what answer people truly want. Yes, Jaguars fans indeed have been patient. Very patient. But how does that fact change the mission facing Gus Bradley and David Caldwell? Are they supposed to sign free agents willy-nilly in an irresponsible way simply because fans have waited a long time for a winner? Or because those fans have spent a lot of money? Your question implies that Caldwell and Bradley are somehow purposely not winning now and avoiding “The Real Way to Win Immediately.” Caldwell and Bradley aren’t approaching this building process in a deliberate, measured manner to test the character or patience of fans. They’re approaching it this way because it’s the best way to build a team. There is no other motive.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
Do you see the Rams trying to trade out of the No. 2 draft slot in May?
John: Yes.
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
During the past week, we've seen two teams (Green Bay, Indianapolis) score touchdowns when one player on the team fumbles (Aaron Rodgers, Donald Brown) and another picks it up and advances it toward the end zone (Jackie Boykin, Andrew Luck). I could have sworn that in the NFL, a fumble cannot be advanced by the offense by anyone other than the ball carrier who fumbled – as a result of the 1978 Raiders-Chargers debacle. Could you explain this to me?
John: Yes. The rule you’re thinking of exists, but it only applies in the final two minutes.
Terry from Leeds, England:
John, could you give a brief individual review on how you feel the 2013 draft picks got on for us this year? Would be interesting to see your thoughts.
John: Let me preface this by saying most people judge rookies far too harshly. The reality is most rookies in the NFL don’t perform anywhere near where they will in Years 2 or 3. That said, here goes. Luke Joeckel struggled at times in four games at right tackle, but did nothing to indicate he won’t be fine at left tackle. Johnathan Cyprien improved at strong safety and Dwayne Gratz performed well during most of his reps at cornerback when he was healthy. Ace Sanders showed signs that he may be better than his fourth-round draft position, and Denard Robinson obviously has to work on ball security to get the most out of his eye-popping speed. Josh Evans showed potential at free safety, but was inconsistent. Demetrius McCray showed some good athleticism at corner, and Jeremy Harris was injured too early to assess.
Mike from Moline, IL:
Caldwell said he won't take a quarterback if he feels there aren't any they believe is the guy. That's great. I would have hated them wasting a pick on Geno Smith because we needed a quarterback. I would not at all be unhappy if Caldwell drafts Barr at No. 3 and gets much needed help at other spots. Having talent and stability on the team can be beneficial for any rookie quarterback.
John: Maybe you won’t be unhappy, but you will be in the minority. In all seriousness, you’ve hit on the most impressive and most important thing about Caldwell – that it seems he honestly won’t mind if many people are unhappy on draft day about his selections. That’s the sign of a general manager who believes the right move is more important than the popular one. That’s the sign of a good general manager.
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
John, did you see the Tim Tebow update by Trent Dilfer on SportsCenter? Now before you bash me – because I'm not a Tebow guy – Dilfer said that every general manager should look at him because of the progress he has made. Do you think there is a chance that he is LOOKED AT by Caldwell? Or is he so taboo that even if he was a more polished product that we would not give him a chance.
John: I didn’t see the Tebow update by Dilfer and believe me, I am lesser for it. No, I don’t think Caldwell will sign Tebow and I doubt it’s something that will be considered. It’s not about taboo as much as the Jaguars moving in a different direction.
Combo from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I’d love to see MJD finish his career here. He has been amazing for the franchise, city, and fans. Although he has obviously lost a step, he still does a lot of things really well. If another team gives him money and he leaves, do you think the Jags try to bring in a new starter or would they feel comfortable with Todman and Robinson and bring in depth?
John: I think if Maurice Jones-Drew isn’t the starting running back they will bring someone in to share the load with Todman.
Bruce from Gotham:
According to reports the Jags had just over 43 million in "dead money" this year [for example, they were still paying Kampman- though he was from far the most expensive]. Next year that will go down to about 5.5 million [unless they add to it]. Why doesn't it have more of an impact on overall cap space?
John: The Jaguars had plenty of cap space this season and they will rollover that cap space into next season. Getting rid of the dead money is nice because if means you’re not wasting room on players who aren’t here, but cap space isn’t an issue in either year.
Charles from Bangalore, India:
Certainly, Johnny Manziel’s fire is desirable in the game, but my questions are about his sideline and maybe locker-room demeanor. He seems to have a free reign on the full gamut of his emotions, with no hesitation in being very, very demonstrative with his fellow players or coaches. Will this be a problem in his transition to the NFL? How will this affect his rating in the draft? Is this viewed as a negative and will coaches try and corral this behavior? Does this raise questions with his possible fit with Bradley and the Jags?
John: Those things are desirable if a guy is a good player. They’re perceived as a negative if he stinks. I don’t believe Manziel’s demeanor will be a negative. The only question is whether his size and style works. The off-field “issues” won’t hurt his draft stock as much as some believe.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Who makes up the Draft Advisory Board and what information do they use to come up with their grades?
John: The board is made up of general managers and scouts. They use their knowledge of the draft process to give prospects a general idea of where they might be selected.
Tommy from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
John – Please, please tell me you are a Blake Bortles fan. The kid had true talent across the board with a fresh, clay-like mind that can be molded to an NFL-caliber level.
John: I don’t need to be a Bortles fan. You like him enough for both of us.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Sign of improvement for this year: double the wins from the previous year. Sign of improvement from next year: opposing teams no longer consider a loss to the Jaguars a firing offense.
John: This is a storyline that has gotten way too much play. People make a big deal out of the statistic that all of the teams the Jaguars beat fired their head coach. The Jaguars beat three teams this season. The Browns. The Texans. The Titans. All three fired their coaches, but it’s not as if the Jaguars beat six or seven teams. Let’s keep this statistic in perspective, shall we?
David from Durban, South Africa:
I think Caldwell knows that the crop of 2014 free agents is populated with a number of RBs, like Darren McFadden, Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, Ben Tate and Joique Bell (restricted). MJD will be entering a crowded market as an older back and will realize that the Jags will probably offer him the best deal. Ultimately, I expect to see MJD back in teal next season.
John: I think you may be right.

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