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O-Zone: Artist at work

Posted Mar 9, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Gray from Columbia, SC:
So, the Red Bryant signing … this is pretty much the end of the line for Tyson Alualu in Jacksonville, right?
John: Doubtful. First, the Jaguars wouldn’t save any money by releasing Alualu, but the bigger reason is he played well last season in the five-technique, “run” defensive end role. He and Bryant will compete at the spot and likely share some snaps, but the Jaguars were clear entering the offseason they wanted to add players up front in an effort to reduce snaps of their starters. You need quality depth up front in any NFL defense, and that’s absolutely true in Gus Bradley’s defense. Bryant helps give the Jaguars some quality depth.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
By saying Chad Henne will probably be the starter on opening day, aren't the Jags just preparing the fans for skipping on a quarterback in the early rounds of the draft? You don’t draft aquarterback early in the first round and not at least have an open competition in training camp for the starting job. Chad isn't a top quarterback – never was, never will be. And the beat goes on …
John: This is an issue that seems to be confusing people, and it probably will continue to confuse people. Gus Bradley on Friday specifically said there will be competition at quarterback, and he specifically said it’s possible a rookie quarterback drafted No. 3 overall could win the job. But he said at this point the plan is to start Henne because whoever the Jaguars draft at quarterback – and it’s probable that the Jaguars *will* draft a quarterback somewhere – may not be ready to start immediately. That’s a difficult concept for many Jaguars fans to digest, but that’s reality. Wherever the Jaguars select a quarterback they don’t want that player to have to start right away. That’s a huge reason for the Henne signing.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
I don't think it is as much about releasing Uche as being a Top 5 team in available cap space. But hey: we will have the biggest scoreboards.
John: You seem to be implying that the Jaguars like being a Top 5 team in available cap space. While it is indeed a good thing to have cap freedom, just having cap space is not the goal. The goal is to build a roster that can be sustainable for the long-term. In order to do that, you first must draft well. Then, you must have cap space available to sign those players to long-term contracts when it merits it. Toward that end, you must be wise in free agency while you are building through the draft. It is not wise in free agency to overspend on average players "just because we have cap room." It is wise to spend on quality players who can help you bridge the period of time until your draft plan has produced the core of your roster. That sort of planning takes a long-term vision, and it’s why the general manager of an NFL franchise is generally considered a difficult and important job.
Wolverine from Ann Arbor, MI:
Dee Ford at No. 3 overall would cause mass chaos in Jacksonville. Almost as bad as trading up to grab Derrick Harvey. …
John: When I think of mass chaos, I think of rioting in the streets, looting and general hysteria. And while I think your scenario might cause some pretty intense Twitter traffic, I don’t know that the Landing and the Baseball Grounds would be overrun with folks carrying pitchforks and lighted torches. Either way, I don’t think you have much to worry about. Ford’s a good player, but he’s not going No. 3.
John from Gloucestshire, England:
Gus Bradley said at the combine that game tape was the best tool for evaluating players. How is it then that the quarterback position is so difficult to evaluate? He is the most visible player on the field. Every snap, every throw, every decision, pocket presence, footwork and pressure situations is there for all to see. Add to that the intense scrutiny from scouts and interviews with potential candidates. What else are teams looking for? Perfection?
John: One issue that has made things in this area more difficult lately is the proliferation of spread offenses in college. Spread offenses differ enough from pro-style offenses that it’s hard for teams to project success. Also, success for an NFL quarterback often is about being able to see the field well enough and read defenses, which is hard to project. The biggest reason, though, is just a simple numbers situation. There are a limited number of people in the world at any given time who can play the quarterback position at a high level, so while some teams are going to be fortunate enough to hit on one of those players a lot of teams are going to miss by taking a guy who’s not in that small group.
Kevin from the Teal Street Hooligans:
People are confused about the Uche release. This reminds me of last year when there was an uproar over players in the secondary being released. People need to calm down. We have five months until preseason and two major events to acquire talent. David Caldwell will get it done.
John: Yes, this is actually very, very much like that. To borrow a phrase from Caldwell, the Jaguars last offseason forced their own urgency in the secondary, deciding that area needed an overhaul, then making moves that necessitated addressing it heavily in the draft. The Jaguars now need to make moves addressing the interior offensive line. It’s safe to say Caldwell is aware of the issue, and who knows? He might even have thought about what he wants to do to address it.
Dakota from Dupree, South Dakota:
If the best way to approach free agency is and always will be as a supplement to drafting well, which I agree with, wouldn't it be better to be after the draft?
John: That’s not likely to happen, partially because players benefit from having free agency before the draft and partially because teams don’t want to wait too long in the offseason before getting free-agents into their own offseason programs. But when teams talk about building through the draft and supplementing with free agency, they’re talking about a long-term, multi-year plan. You want as much as possible to avoid making free-agent and draft decisions on an emergency need basis, anyway. It’s not necessarily about filling needs for the ensuing season.
David from The Draft:
First-round draft picks – I figured there to be about 32 of them. If that's the case, how do we have so many players selected to go in the first round? I must have seen over the past few weeks more than a 100 added, or seems like it. So, if my thinking is right, we will have first-round picks left in the third round? Is that why you call it a deep draft? Thanks, O-Man.
John: I think I get your point – that mock drafters and “analysts” love to project guys as “first-rounders.” This inevitably leads to a whole lot more than 32 guys talked about in that light as the draft approaches. But that’s not why I refer to this as a deep draft; I refer to it that way because many general managers, including David Caldwell, during the recent NFL Scouting Combine said the same thing. Incidentally, you’ll notice our jaguars.com Pro Day tracker includes 32 players; I’m not saying those 32 players all will be first-rounders, but it’s a nice, tidy number.
Mike from Jagsonville:
I hear the airport is being renamed to SeaJax. Is that official yet?
John: Not officially, but you know what? As the Jaguars build, I’m not sure having a few players who were around Seattle the past few years is a terrible idea.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
WHY?!?!?! Why did we pick up Red Bryant? We need a defensive end, but WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY would we get a defensive end that is not a pass rusher?!?!?!?! I get it. He played with Bradley in Seattle, but come on! Two and a half sacks in three years?? We need a pass rusher on the end! And if we move him to defensive tackle, WHY???!!!!??? We just re-signed Sen’Derrick Marks and Bradley wants to run a 3-4 defense, which means we only need one defensive tackle. This move is just asinine. I don't understand this move AT ALL!!!!! Please enlighten me.
John: My goodness, Logan … you’re very upset. Take a breath and listen: yes, the Jaguars need a pass rusher, but it’s equally important to be good at the other end position – the five-technique end. The Jaguars currently have Tyson Alualu and Abry Jones there, and the combination of those two and Bryant makes the Jaguars very good there. They’re not “pass rushers,” but they’re good. The Jaguars almost certainly will address pass rusher in free agency or the draft, but they also need to continue to improve the talent level of the roster, including defensive line. This move does that. Incidentally, I deleted a couple of “WHYS” and a few question marks. I always hesitate to alter the work of an artist, but I think I left the spirit of your work intact.

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