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A team in ascension




Busy day expected today.

The Jaguars can announce free agent acquisitions at 6 p.m. My gut tells me we might have some news.

Let's get to it . . .

Paul from Jacksonville:

Love the new linebacker corps, but none of these guys really rush the passer. With a suspect secondary still under construction, is it fair to assume we are leaning almost exclusively on the defensive line to generate pressure?

John: That's pretty much accurate, but in a 4-3 defensive scheme, that's not unusual. In a 4-3, you want your pressure generate from the defensive front with as little blitzing as possible. Don't worry that "none of these guys really rush the passer." That's not what the Jaguars really acquired them to do.

Josh from Jacksonville:

How can anyone not be excited right now? There is electricity in the air and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up. I cannot remember ever being excited like this for an upcoming season. We are spending on good players we have a great situation at most positions. I'm sure safety will be addressed soon enough. In the words of Rick Flair, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

John: If you can't get excited for the '11 season now, I'm not sure what you want. The Jaguars have drafted well, and they are spending in free agency. The fans wanted defense addressed and – reportedly, at least – they have done so. Sometimes, it's OK to get jacked up for the season. Now is one of those times.

Nate from York, PA:

Maybe I'm missing something, but what is the deal with Mike Sims-Walker? Why did we let him go!? I'm baffled.

John: The Jaguars didn't see him as a No. 1 receiver and didn't see him developing into one. Time to move on.

Renee from Jacksonville Beach, FL:

The 2011 Jags are an enigma. Usually I have some type of feeling of what to expect, I don't. This year is going to be fun to watch, just to see what happens. You know, I guess I have no expectations like playoffs, etc but I do expect for the team to play "good" football with great effort. GO JAGUARS!!

John: I believe you can expect that and more. This team has shown signs of improvement in past seasons with a young roster, and from all reports they are filling holes with some young free agents who fit the profile of young, improving player with a chance to develop. You're right in that the early part of the season is tough to predict. Who's to say what effect the lockout will have had, but in the long run, this is a team in ascension.

Chad from Las Cruces, NM:

Right on, Jason from Dallas. I just checked Google Maps; I live 1,672 miles from EverBank. I have never been to a Jax home game, but I am a second-year season ticket holder. Step up, Jacksonville.

John: There are more stories like this than I anticipated. Each one is appreciated. I've been criticized a bit for preaching to the choir in the O-Zone, but if including a story like this is preaching, so be it. This is the sort of story that's necessary to save the whale, so . . . save on.

Roger from Cherryville, NC:

It still needs to be said to all O-zone readers.....ALL HANDS.. STILL...SAVE THE WHALE...THANK YOU...THAT IS ALL

John: We get far more of these than those who don't want to hear it. What's that phrase you guys like to use? Just sayin'?

Andy from Saint Johns, FL:

With this being your first Training Camp as the Senior Editor, what type of hair cut will Ryan Robinson be giving you as part of your initiation?

John: Hopefully something very, very cool for all those male readers who seem obsessed with my looks.

Tim from Jax:

I need to upgrade my entertainment center and I was thinking of the 42" Zizio but I now realize that my friends are expecting the 65" Zony and they won't come over if I don't have one. Any insight would be appreciative; so how can I afford this kind of upgrade without living in Dallas or Washington and what if they still don't come after I buy it?

John: Buy beer. They'll come over then. And if they don't, I will.

Randy from Jax:

In response to Keenana and the simple defense. Ndamukong Suh is going to bull rush, one side of the center, or the other (depending on formation) SIMPLE Defense. He's not going to drop back in coverage. With such a young defense, you have to be good at simple, then add the wrinkles during practice. Putting a young team in a complicated defense is like teaching a kid to drive with a semi. Let him drive the automatic first, then start adding the gears.

John: The Jaguars are approaching this season with the belief that the simpler the scheme, the easier it is to understand and the less hesitation from players. Often, a half a step can be the difference in making a play and not making a play, and the simplification is designed to regain that half step.

John from Westchester, PA:

Why wasn't a deal done with Marcedes, before a deal was done with Posluszny? We should take care of our own first.

John: In most cases, you're right. This time around there was a lot to do in an unusually short time. A deal with Lewis almost certainly will get done soon. Veteran free agents were going to have other teams pursuing them and any hesitation would have been valuable time lost.

Kevin from Jacksonville Beach, FL:

How do you see the AFC South working out this year? Do you think the Jags, or even the Texans can take first place in the division?

John: Experience tells me not to count the Colts out as long as Peyton Manning is the quarterback. A quarterback of that caliber is usually going to keep a team in the division race. But when the Colts are at their best they start phenomenally fast and with Manning's neck issues and some off-season uncertainty, it will be interesting to see if they can do that this season. But to answer your question: yes, I think both the Jags and Texans have a real chance at the division if things go right for them.

Cbuck from Cville, VA :

I was a little upset when I heard we let Weddle go back to the Chargers. Then I saw they intend to make him the highest paid safety in the league and we refused to do so. With no sarcasm, I am extremely thankful we have a smart GM. Weddle is good, but he clearly isn't the best in the NFL.

John: The reality is you're almost always going to overpay in free agency. If you re-sign your own guys, you overpay and you certainly overpay if you're trying to lure a player from his current team. That said, you're right: Weddle isn't the playmaking, momentum-changing safety that would seem to merit the money they paid.

Steve from Jacksonville:

Why does it seem all teams have at least one big name receiver and we have not had one since Jimmy Smith? Porter was a joke. Is that what management is afraid of in FA? Spending big money for a bust? I think he ended up costing us 11 million for one touchdown.

John: I don't know that they're specifically scared because of Porter. There's a hesitancy to spend huge money on free agents in a lot of places around the league because they so often just don't bring enough production to merit the price tag. I know that sounds odd to say considering the contracts reportedly being thrown around, but it remains true that the best way to build is draft and develop. Even though they reportedly are spending some big money on defensive players in recent days, the Jaguars believe in that, too. Build through the draft when possible. The recent days in a very real sense show the problem with free agency. You're always going to overpay for uncertain situations.

Stephen from Jacksonville:

If the Jaguars could sign Ronnie Brown for a cheap, reasonable price, would they consider doing it? Yes, Brown is a 29-year old running back but, the running game faded and was nearly absent when Jones-Drew was injured toward the end of last season. The team has made it clear that, for now, they intend to be a run-first, physical football team. I believe Brown would be an asset as the team's No. 2 running back. What do you think?

John: It would have to be very cheap and very reasonable – even then, I don't see it happening. The Jaguars have made it clear they like Rashad Jennings as a backup to Jones-Drew, and you probably will see him get a few more carries to take some of the load off Jones-Drew.

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL:

What disturbs you more? The fact that so many men seem to fantasize about what you look like, or that when they finally see you, they are disappointed that you aren't what they dreamed about?

John: Are they disappointed, or just hiding their true feelings? Perhaps we'll never know.

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