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Improvement doesn't mean perfect

Carson from Yacksonville:
People say Andre Branch will need "time to adjust before being the full-time starter." It really irritates me. We got this guy early in the second round because we couldn't rush the passer and HE CAN. Well, at least he did at the college level. I think the only difference between the two levels for a pure 4-3 DE is that the O-lineman is much, much better. Aldon Smith came in as a rook and had 14 sacks last year. Not asking Branch to do that, but I think he could easily have a six-sack season. Based on what you have seen/read/heard, who will start for us on the DL?
John: Branch quite likely will need time to adjust before being the full-time starter. That's far from unusual. Most defensive ends do too, for the very reason you mentioned – that the offensive linemen are much, much better in the NFL. I find it curious that you used Smith as an example of a rookie who contributed. He did. He had 14 sacks. He also did not start a single game. As for the lineup, if Aaron Kampman isn't healthy, I see the Jaguars' starting line being Jeremy Mincey, Tyson Alualu, Terrance Knighton and Austen Lane across the front with Branch absolutely playing in passing situations. That's the guess. It's May 25.
Andrew from Jacksonville:
Please stop taking Scobee questions. They're getting progressively more ludicrous and the answers are nauseatingly repetitive. Thanks in advance.
John: Skim.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I know one of the needs many like to point out for the Jags is pass protection. How big an impact should improved receivers (including players, coaching and new offense) have on pass protection? I would think receivers actually getting open would make the line's job much easier.
John: Receivers running correct routes and getting open will have a dramatic impact. If it makes the difference in even 25 percent of the sacks, that would get the number down from 44 sacks allowed last season to around 33 next season, and if you knock a few more off that accounting for Eben Britton returning and Will Rackley improving you're into the high 20s and that's significant improvement. Often lost in off-season discussion of needs is that players on the team can improve, and that you can't study every position group in a vacuum.
John from St. Augustine, FL:
You misspell "lead" and then whip out "infinitesimal?" You are indeed a strange and powerful wizard. asdfjkl; asdfjkl; asdfjkl; (repeat as needed)
John: My use of the word "lede" is an accepted spelling in journalism circles. It's the term used to describe the beginning of a story, and "lede" was often used to differentiate it from other meanings of the word lead – or so I read online just now, anyway.
Joe from Fleming Island, FL and Section 104:
It is my understanding that the over/under for Jags wins this season is 5 and a 1/2. I am thinking we should wind up north of 8 and 8. I am not asking for betting advice, I am just wondering, did I drink too much of the Teal Kool-Aid or is there something going on I don't know about?
John: I pay little attention to overs and unders, but I'd be surprised if the Jaguars aren't .500 this season. They are improved as a roster, and I don't think you'll see as many of the mental errors that gave away some games last season.
Garrett from Drewwvall:
In the latest Mathis, Marshall, and Pendleton videos they show some footage from the OTAs. There appears to be a group of referees. Do the Jags pay for these guys to be at practice, are they actually NFL referees?
John: Yes, the Jaguars pay for the referees. They are local referees who work college games and are also in the NFL rotation. Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey has said he wants to cut down preventable, pre-snap errors and penalties and having referees in OTAs is part of that objective.
Cody from Jacksonville:
I'm 17-years old and I've loved and cheered for the Jags my whole life. There's a whole new generation of Jaguars fans out there that are almost old enough to buy season tickets and support the franchise in more ways than just cheering! This isn't really a question, but I'm just letting you know we're out here, and I love the O-Zone!
John: Fans your age are critical to the future of the franchise. I have been struck in what is now close to a year and a half doing the O-Zone how many young fans there are. It's good and bodes well for the future. Keep watching and reading. It's appreciated.
Anthony from Madison, WI:
You wrote recently you didn't know that the Jaguars would rank sixth (or better) statistically. It seemed like an odd statement. I don't disagree anything is possible, but the Jaguars had the most IR players in the league and the worst offense in the league. While having a run-based offense might help defensive statistics a little, the offense consistently went three and out and the defense was on the field all the time. The Jaguars had statistics last year that indicate a good defense, especially considering all the injuries, such as where they placed in three and outs. Healthy, I don't see how this team lands out of the Top 5 in terms of defense.
John: I'd expect the Jaguars to throw more and therefore have a few more series with incomplete passes. That will give opponents a few more chances, and that could hurt the ranking. There's also a chance the ranking could be better. I don't pay much attention a ranking spot or two. The Jaguars' defense was good last season – good enough to be a playoff contender. I'd expect that to be the same this season. If they reach their goal of being a better pass rush and generating a few more turnovers, I'd expect them to be a bit better whatever the final ranking.
Scot from Section 240:
Will there be a scrimmage?
John: You mean, like, ever?
Danton from Mount Dora, FL:
With Dillard getting cut and all the talk about Blackmon, Robinson, Evans, Shorts, Thomas and Elliot during OTAs, I was wondering about Robiskie, West, Cloherty and some of the other returning receivers. They just haven't shined? Don't seem like a good fit? Training Camp bodies? Should I wait for the pads? Please advise, O-zone
John: A lot of the talk in OTAs is based on assumptions, because with the last 70 minutes of practices closed to the media, there's a limit to how much we're all seeing. The assumption is that Blackmon, Robinson, Evans, Shorts and Thomas are the Top 5, and Elliott has looked good at times in the portion of OTAs open to the media. Cloherty is a tight end, and of the two receivers you mentioned, I'd keep an eye on Brian Robiskie. The team likes him and it wouldn't be surprising if he found a roster spot.
James from Charlottesville, VA:
Yesterday, a few of the heads on ESPN collaborated to form NFL Power Rankings ... for 2015. If you get a single e-mail about the Jaguars ranking 30th, I think you should laugh, then question whether or not you've taught these people anything. You might do that anyway.
John: I've gotten a few. I laughed. I sort of liked the criteria ESPN used, ranking the quarterback, the coach, the front office, the draft and the overall roster. The problem, of course, is the same assumptions that contribute to current rankings contribute to these rankings. The front office is ranked low because analysts have ranked the recent drafts low, the most recent draft is ranked low partly because of the punter in the third round, the roster is ranked low because the team went 5-11 last season and Gabbert is ranked low because people don't believe in him yet. If the Jaguars improve next season, I'd expect this ranking to improve accordingly.
Matt from State College, PA:
Have you ever found yourself itching to ask a question in your own O-Zone? If so, what is the number one question you have been dying to ask yourself?
John: Where are my sunglasses?
Bryan from Rancho Cucamonga, CA:
Gabbert threw some errant throws early but for the most part he looked good? Really? I'm a big Gabbert supporter, but throwing some errant throws while the QB controversy is going on with him and Henne, doesn't help him right? I am kind of worried about the errant throws, but I hope you noticed a little bit of sarcasm.
John: Gabbert had a few errant throws during the time we were allowed to watch. He will have more errant throws in his career. Henne will have errant throws. Aaron Rodgers will have errant throws. So will Tom Brady. I once saw Peyton Manning get intercepted in a May OTA. It's May 25.We have talked all off-season about Gabbert needing an off-season to improve? Sarcasm or not, this is the off-season. Improvement doesn't mean being perfect every play. Improvement means working through things, being coached and improving.

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