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O-Zone: Middle of them woods

Posted Apr 20, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Chris from Jacksonville:
The NFL schedule is being released Thursday. How much impact do you think the order of games will have on the Jags’ success this season? Seems like the Jags would be much better off starting with the Rams and Browns (hopefully two wins) and getting some momentum instead of the Steelers and Seahawks (very tough games) and looking at 0-2 going to London.
John: I’ll say now about the Jaguars’ 2017 schedule what I’ve always said about NFL schedules and what I’m sure I’ll say about the Jaguars’ schedule when it’s released later Thursday: you have no idea how easy or difficult an entire NFL schedule or even a part of a schedule is until you’re a few weeks into the season. Jaguars observers thought the 2015 regular-season opener against Carolina was a “winnable” game and it turned out the Panthers won 15 games that season. A two-game late-season stretch against Denver and Minnesota at home last season looked brutal before the season and it turned out those should have been winnable games for the Jaguars. Would it be good for the Jaguars to go 2-0 and get momentum? Sure, but the Jaguars need to start winning before we decide certain games are winnable and certain ones are tough. What’s the best scenario for the Jaguars early? To paraphrase Jim Mora, people will think they know, but they just … don’t … know.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
Talk is cheap and easy. I'll believe it when it translates into victories on the field.
John: OK.
Rob from Jacksonville:
John, after consulting a list of big Jacksonville musical acts, I came to a conclusion: Jacksonville needs to grow better music. Limp Bizkit trailed only Lynyrd Skynyrd. I realized somewhere, somehow, Jacksonville had really screwed up.
John: I suppose you can take one of two approaches here. One would be to bemoan the lack of a bunch of legendary acts hailing from Jacksonville. The other would be to realize Lynyrd Skynyrd achieved greatness on a level few bands ever reached by accomplishing one of the rarest feats in music: producing a timeless sound and energy with songs written in a clear, timeless true voice that assured the band a place as pioneers and legends. Perhaps a city only gets one of those. And maybe one is enough.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
If we pass on Deshaun Watson this franchise is going to be set back many years. Next year with Blake Bortles starting we are looking at 8-8 at best thanks to the help of a great defense. From here, we are picking in the middle of the draft where Deshaun Watson quality of players are much harder to land.
John: Hey, one fer Deshaun Watson!
Mike from Section 238:
Do you think TC's definition of "voluntary" is closer to Edgerrin James' or United Airlines'?
John: It doesn’t really matter because the definition that does matter is outlined in the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Micky from Jacksonville:
There are rumors that the Jags will select Joe Mixon at No. 35 if he is still on the board. Is that a pretty solid indication that the Jags have absolutely no interest in drafting Mixon?
John: Not particularly. The 2017 NFL Draft is still a week away, and I imagine we’ll see reports in the next week of the Jaguars selecting Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, Cam Robinson, Malik Hooker, Leonard Fournette, Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams and so on and so on and so on. The reports/rumors/speculation around Mixon heightened this week with a report by Jason LaCanfora of CBS that the team would take him at No. 35 if he’s available. How valid is that report? As valid as any pre-draft report, I suppose, because so much is speculation and guesswork and projection. Any report involving Mixon is more intriguing than most because of his off-field issues and because of the well-known, hard-to-get-past video that most NFL followers by now have seen. I don’t have access to the Jaguars’ draft board, and I don’t expect to know if Mixon is on or off their board. I’m on record saying I believe there’s a chance the Jaguars take Mixon, and I’m on record that I’m OK with that because I’m not a huge believer in bringing off-the-field incidents into the draft process; if a player is legally allowed to be in the NFL then a player is allowed to play in the NFL if a team wants him. I feel that way mostly because it takes a lot of the gray area out of the process, and because I don’t see the NFL as an ethical/morality stage as much as I see it as a business and a sport. But I digress …
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
John, can you explain the differences of the linebackers in our defensive scheme? Do they line up on the same side of the field each play or will Telvin Smith and Paul Posluszny swap sides depending on the offensive formation? Will Myles Jack actually stay in the middle or is "middle" linebacker really in name only?
John: The Jaguars are making some changes to the defensive scheme, so it’s difficult to define exactly the roles of the linebackers, but I expect Jack for the most part to be a true middle linebacker, with Smith a true weak-side linebacker and Posluszny a true strong-side linebacker. Strong-side linebackers generally line up to the “strong” side of the defense, which means to the side of the blocking tight end. Weak-side backers typically are faster in pursuit and lineup opposite the tight end. I expect Jack and Smith to stay on the field in passing situations with Posluszny likely coming off the field in favor of a fifth defensive back.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
I read today the Jaguars’ owner gave $1 million to Trump's inauguration. I am never buying another ticket or piece of Jaguars apparel as long as he is the owner.
John: OK.
Scott from Daytona Beach, FL:
I think we all knew this already but POZ is an awesome person. I wish we had more POZ's in the league.
John: True. I having built a lifetime on questionable decisions, low character and scant initiative typically find myself uncomfortable around high-character, motivated, classy people. Despite this, I respect and admire Paul Posluszny quite a bit. I can’t help it. He’s that good of a guy.
Cornel from Santa Maria, CA:
John, help me understand Poz being moved to outside linebacker. They’re taking a guy who has played middle linebacker for a decade and moving him to outside linebacker, which to me would require more speed. They are then taking a guy who has more speed and moving him to middle linebacker. This one is hard to understand.
John: The Jaguars want to get Jack on the field on three downs compared to one or two per series. This is the way to do that.
James from Destin, FL:
John, over the past seasons I've written you talking about players being prima donnas. Brandon Allen is just another one. There are very few players in the NFL today that would have held up playing back in the 70' and 80's. If I was coming into a new team under his circumstances I'd be on the field showing what I could do to EARN a bigger contract, not sitting home sucking a pacifier. I would also like to add if you print this or if you tell him, I'm in section 208 and I'd be happy to tell him to his face. Make sure Khan builds a safe place for him to go, he'll need it.
John: It’s Branden Albert and he’s not doing anything wrong.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
Any idea yet on the dynamic of the new front office? I have been assuming that Tom Coughlin has final say on basically everything football-related. As far as who gets drafted and where, is that his call? Or is he leaving that to Dave Caldwell? It's a little confusing to have Coughlin in the position that he's in. Is he essentially acting as general manager with regards to free agency and the draft?
John: I see how this is confusing, but it’s actually relatively simple. Caldwell reports to Coughlin and acts as general manager, overseeing scouting and evaluating players, etc. The two meet and discuss personnel matters pretty much constantly, and presumably reach a consensus on many things. But yes – Coughlin has final say, so in that sense he acts as the ultimate general manager on all Jaguars matters when it comes to free agency and the draft.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I am so very disappointed in me. You mentioned Calais Campbell as one of our best players and I didn't even know he was a Jaguar. What's wrong with me? I am serious about this!
John: As the great Southern poet Charlie Daniels said in The Legend of Wooley Swamp, “There's some things in this world you just can't explain.”

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