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O-Zone: Feel the feeling

Posted Mar 19, 2018

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Marcus from Jacksonville:
John, why is it people will look at Allen Robinson's down year in '16 and blame it on the fact that Blake Bortles had a bad year, but at the same time they will look at Donte Moncrief's struggles and blame him and ignore the fact he has been playing with second- and third-string quarterbacks for nearly two years? I'm not saying the two are comparable; everyone knows Robinson is the better player, but why doesn't Moncrief get a break for the parade of misfits he's had throwing the ball to him recently?
John: Questions about why people do things are tricky. People come in various shapes and sizes and are entitled to opinions that as often as not are as unfortunate as the sizes and shapes. As for why people – particularly Jaguars fans – see Moncrief and Robinson differently, the best guess is many Jaguars fans have become so accustomed to blaming Bortles for all that ails the organization that they blame Robinson’s difficult 2016 season on Bortles by default. Is Robinson better than Moncrief? Yes, probably, but both have been hampered by injuries and both have had inconsistencies easy attributable to struggling quarterback play. As far as how people will assess things moving forward, fear not: I doubt it will take long for people to start attributing Moncrief’s mistakes to Bortles (should Moncrief make them). People tend to adapt pretty quickly.
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
So, it appears no news is news as it relates to Allen Hurns. It appears he plays for the $7 million number this year. Given the salary cap space and need at wide receiver, I suppose it makes sense, but I highly doubt he will play under the $8 million salary in 2019 - too many others to sign with a bit more cap pressure. Not to mention, some expected progress at talent acquisition at the position. Now, it seems to be a question tabled for a year ... true?
John: Not necessarily. Many observers had a sense of urgency about Hurns last week because of the widespread belief he was due a $4 million guarantee last Friday. That proved to be incorrect, which took away the Friday deadline. It doesn’t necessarily change Hurns’ situation for next season. If he’s a key player in the rotation entering training camp, he likely would play at the $7 million salary. Could that change if he’s the fourth or fifth receiver? Perhaps. There’s time on this one.
Frankie from London, England:
John. What happens if a team spends beyond it salary cap?
John: It actually can’t happen. If a team is above the salary cap during the league year – which began last Wednesday at 4 p.m. – the league terminates contracts beginning with the most recent contract executed until the team is under the cap.
Wayne from Atlanta, GA:
One thing we know for certain when it comes to David Caldwell's draft plan is we know nothing for certain.
John: But we absolutely know that. Certainly.
Dave from Los Angeles, CA:
Barring injury, do you see Marqise Lee stepping up to assume the responsibility of de facto No. 1 wide receiver for this team next season? Any chance he surpasses 1,000 yards? I’m not totally sure what his ceiling is, but that would be nice to see.
John: I don’t know that the Jaguars will have a true No. 1 receiver next season. It seems far more likely Lee, Moncrief, Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook will play in a pretty heavy rotation. It also could be tough for any Jaguars receiver to reach 1,000 yards in that rotation considering how this team probably will play offense.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, how are five-to-seven rookies going to make this roster? Does this not seem like a team positioning itself to move up in the draft by giving up some picks? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: Five-to-seven rookies can easily make the roster – and I expect that will happen. There’s no reason one couldn’t make the roster at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, safety, cornerback, linebacker or defensive line. Wait, is that pretty much every position? Why, yes it is.
Gabe from Washington DC:
At this point, how surprised would you be if the Jaguars drafted a defensive lineman Day 2?
John: Minimally.
Dean from Orange Park, FL:
Zone, the way we're checking boxes in free agency makes it harder to agree with you about the Jags not looking for our future under center in the first round. Mason Rudolph now feels like the pick, John ... with a receiver in the second, and competition on the right side of the offensive line in the third.
John: You check boxes in free agency so that you are free to draft the best possible player without regard to need. I still believe that’s what the Jaguars will do. Maybe that will be quarterback, but I don’t necessarily think the choice is pre-ordained at this point.
Kevin from Jennings, FL:
What will the Jags do at linebacker now that Poz is retired?
John: That question may not be completely decided before the draft in late April – or perhaps not until training camp in late July. I would expect the first option would be to have Blair Brown start at strong-side linebacker or middle with Myles Jack starting at the other and Jack and Smith playing the nickel roles. Stay tuned.
Edward from Los Angeles, CA:
A second-round tender seems like a lot for a third-string running back. Will we finally see the Jaguars utilize Corey Grant more in 2018?
John: Yes, though I don’t think that means using him as an every-down back.
Antony from Columbia, SC:
O, out of all of the wide receivers on the Jags’ roster, Jaydon Mickens to me seems to have more of the type of quickness you want in the slot than anyone else. The fact that I never hear his name brought up when people talk about the wide-receiver unit for this upcoming season makes me think he doesn't have a good shot to play a big role in the offense if everyone is healthy. Do you think he has a good shot to be a significant contributor on offense, even if everyone is healthy?
John: He has a chance and he will get a chance to earn time during training camp. He’ll get that opportunity because he’ll have a very good chance to earn the punt-returner position. How the receiver position sorts itself out will be interesting. Right now there’s not really a true slot receiver unless you consider Westbrook to be that player. He played predominately outside last season, so where the Jaguars go there will be something to watch.
Chris from Mandarin:
If the Jaguars do not draft another lineman this offseason (unlikely, but who knows what round), what do you think about the possibility of Tyler Shatley playing right guard instead of AJ Cann? Shatley has consistently played at a solid level when starters go out with injuries. Is he better than Cann or about the same in your opinion (not that I think Cann is bad at all)?
John: If the Jaguars thought Shatley was better than Cann he would have started over Cann at some point in the last three seasons. Maybe that will change.
Dakota from Fleming Island, FL:
My questions this time are not for you John, but instead for some of the fans. We went from a joke to nearly winning the AFC Championship last season in Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and Head Coach Doug Marrone's first full year at their respective positions on the team. As knowledgeable as I feel I am about football and our team, I can’t even come close to the understanding Coughlin alone – much less the rest of our organization – has. Do you trust your own beliefs over theirs? Personally I wanted A-Rob and Aaron Colvin back. But with our current team identity I understand the decision and trust our staff. They have done so much good in one season for our franchise and I think they deserve to be trusted. Of course fans are gonna fan and I understand voicing your opinion but we must also realize that this is a business and our front office wants to win as much as we do, and they know much more about making that happen.
John: You ask good questions, Dakota – and I sense in those questions a certain level of stress. This is understandable. Being faced with something illogical, prone to fury and elation mixed with fits of rage and giddy laughter … well, being faced with such a thing can be intimidating and overwhelming. Why, sometimes it can all be a bit much I tell ya!! When it gets to that point, when it feels like it’s all getting away from you, do what I do. Tell yourself, fans gonna fan. Do that and feel the stress of the moment drift away like a calm, cool sea. Or something like that.

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