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O-Zone: One simple word

Posted Mar 14, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Chris from Houston, TX:
With all of these releases and signings, it seems we may be transitioning to more of a 3-4 defense: Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell on the outside, Dontari Poe (rumored to be visiting Jacksonville) and Abry Jones at the nose. Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue at the outside-linebacker rush, Paul Posluszny, Myles Jack and Telvin Smith at linebacker … Seems to make some sense on paper to me. What are your thoughts on this?
John: This does make sense on paper, and it’s fast turning into the Storyline of the Week among Jaguars observers. Is this more than a paper story? Ah, that is the question. The Jaguars have said little publicly regarding the defensive scheme moving forward under second-year coordinator Todd Wash, and any official talk from Head Coach Doug Marrone, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell since mid-January has been mostly about general and minor changes. A move to 3-4 would seem “major,” but the Jaguars’ scheme run in recent seasons – first under Bob Babich and last season under Wash – long has been referred to as a hybrid 3-4/4-3 scheme, primarily because of the pass-rushing (previously “Leo”) end position that is something of a cross between a 3-4 outside linebacker and a 4-3 pass-rushing end. Could the personnel being acquired fit a 3-4? Yes, but it also can fit a 4-3. I still don’t anticipate a drastic change in the front-seven approach, but we’ll see. There’s enough going on that it’s a legitimate topic.
Armando from Vacaville, CA:
Any chance we could get Christian McCaffrey?
John: Sure. The chances are about three-point-one percent – or approximately one in 32.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
Let's say the Jags somehow acquire Tony Romo this offseason. Would you expect Blake Bortles to be the backup and learn from Romo with the intent of taking over after Romo is done? Or do you think it would be the end of Bortles as a franchise quarterback?
John: The first thing I’ll say to this is I don’t expect the Jaguars to acquire Romo this offseason. The second thing is while people love to talk about quarterbacks learning from other quarterbacks, I don’t put much stock in the concept; if another quarterback is here and starting he will be here to play and win, not to be a teacher or a tutor. As far as Bortles’ future if Romo or another quarterback starts here, history tells us “franchise quarterbacks” don’t start three seasons for a franchise, sit for a season or two, then return to be a long-term franchise quarterback. I often caution against using history as an end-all guide to the future, but in this case it’s a decent tell.
Matt from Orlando, FL:
John, Bortles? We are rolling the dice on him again. My question to you: If Bortles can’t get it done early next season, who will be our insurance?
John: My question to you: what does “quarterback insurance” mean? If you have a quarterback you believe is good enough to be great insurance – i.e., a quarterback who can win if the starter falters – you probably would start that quarterback.
James from Duval:
The consensus among Jags fans is that since we spent so much on top-tier defensive players in free agency that the Jags’ administration will draft mostly offensive players in the draft. I disagree. I believe with the upcoming draft being so deep in defensive talent the Jags will continue their trend and draft depth on the defensive side of the ball. Your thoughts?
John: Wow. You’ve talked to and/or polled the vast majority of Jaguars fans and come up with a consensus. Even for a small-market team, that’s serious heavy lifting. As for your question, I agree with you – and disagree with your consensus. I think there’s a good chance the Jaguars go defensive line at No. 4 overall because you can never have too many pass rushers, and because you ideally want your draft selections to be far more about the future than the present. I do think there’s a good chance they draft offensive line a couple of times after that. Beyond that, I think you’ll see at least a couple of really fast defensive back-seven guys because there’s something to be said for developing depth there – and there’s a lot to be said for having fast, athletic guys to play special teams.
Brad from Duval:
Do the recent free-agent pickups by the Jags increase the chances they trade down to pick up an offensive guard and some extra early-round picks?
John: It’s possible, but I doubt it. The Jaguars have the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. That means by definition they have a chance to select at least the draft’s fourth best player, which means they have a chance to select a premium talent. If there is a player available at No. 4 they believe is such a player – and the chances are good that that’s the case – they should stay there and pick that player. They will have a chance to select an offensive guard in the second. You can get good ones there.
John from Brentwood, UK:
John, people seem divided on the Calais Campbell signing but, given recent performance, is it a case of "any port in a storm?”
John: I admit I don’t pay as much attention to what people think about the Jaguars’ free-agent signings as perhaps readers do, but I consider it the best signing the team made last week. Given his recent performance, I wouldn’t call it any port in the storm. I’d call it signing a veteran player who brings immediate production, talent and leadership to the locker room – and it’s a huge signing for this franchise. A.J. Bouye may be the best signing for the future, but Campbell is big now.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
We addressed corner, safety, defensive line, tackle and special teams. Can we now safely believe the Jags will trade the No. 4 overall pick since we have no need for a safety or defensive-line players?
John: No.
Thommy from Miami, FL:
Ooookkkk, if I understand correctly that Bortles' offseason routine - which had served him so well before the 2015 season - was interrupted by then-OC Oley, why is it that no one thinks it important? Seems awfully germane to me ...
John: You’re referring to the story that then-offensive coordinator Greg Olson wasn’t crazy about Bortles working out in California in the offseason, and the possibility that was a reason Bortles didn’t go to California to work on mechanics as he had in 2015. This became a widely-held theory about why Bortles struggled with mechanics in 2016 after improving in that area in 2015 – and yes, there’s probably something to the theory. A couple of thoughts on your question. One is there indeed are people who think it was important; a lot of readers certainly do. Another is that while it’s easy in retrospect to blame Bortles’ 2015 offseason approach for his issues, there were few signs during the offseason or even during training camp that his mechanics were faltering. He appeared to be throwing well during organized team activities and early in training camp. As for blaming Olson for the decision, I don’t know. Olson wanted Bortles to stay in Jacksonville and work with his receivers, and at the time – considering that Bortles had played pretty well in 2015 – few thought that was an awful idea. It only became an issue in retrospect when Bortles had a difficult season for many, many reasons – with mechanics only one of them.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
Just draft the best available player that isn't a running back, tight end or special teams with the first pick. If we do that, we'll be a better team and not letting them walk in free agency in four years. We just need great players.
John: Yes.
Jamie from Santa Rosa Beach, CA:
O-Man, what do you think about Davis Webb from Cal in the second round? He's intriguing to me. I'm just wondering if he could push Blake? I'd like to hear what you think of him as he hasn't got much attention as the other quarterbacks in this draft for some reason. Thanks!!
John: I like Webb. He looks like a quarterback who might sneak into the latter part of the first round – or who might be available early in the second round. I don’t love his motion because it seems he aims the ball just a bit, but that’s less a scout’s view and more the view of someone who has watched him on a few occasions. Could the Jaguars draft him in the second round? I wouldn’t rule it out, but I have a hard time seeing any of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft “pushing” for a starting role as a rookie – and that’s true whether or not the Jaguars draft one of those quarterbacks.
Mo from the 804:
One word, sir Zone: JAGUARS! That is all.
John: OK.

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