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O-Zone: A pride thing

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Marcus from Jacksonville:
From 2014 to 2015, the Jags went from 31st in the NFL to 18th in total offense, 31st to 10th in passing and 32nd to 14th in points per game. Can we reasonably expect a similar statistical improvement from the defense this year, or is that too much to expect?
John: It's reasonable to hope for such an improvement, and it's perhaps even reasonable to expect it. But I don't get too hung up on total yardage statistics as the ultimate measure for NFL offenses and defenses. For instance, the Jaguars could improve significantly offensively this season without a mammoth total-yardage jump by improving third-down efficiency, red-zone efficiency and the run game. The Jaguars' defense ranked 24th in the NFL in yards allowed, 31st in points allowed and 31st on third downs last season. Improving in yards allowed would matter, but what would really matter is an improvement in third-down defense. If that happens, a lot of other things could start looking a lot better in a hurry.
Greg from Running Springs, CA:
John, will this be the year Jeff Fisher finally gets a seventh winning season in his storied 22-year head-coaching career?
John: We'll see.
Mike from Navarre, OH:
Does the release of Jaden Oberkrom solidify Jason Myers' spot as the kicker for 2016?
John: Oberkrom's release less than three weeks after he signed might suggest Myers' spot never was all that "unsolid."
Duval Doom from Section 217:
Nah, Johnny. No more dousing expectations. It's time to win. If the draft was really as good as so many are saying, if Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey really ARE the players we think they are, then they should be able to contribute this year. Will the defense be better in '17 than '16? Sure, probably, but it needs to be decent this year. I'm sorry, man, but it's a winning record or bust for me with regards to Gus.
John: OK.
John from Cape May, NJ:
There has been talk in recent days about Marqise Lee's impact this year. You have said you see him on the outside with Hurns kicking into the slot on packages. My question is why? I personally would like to see Lee operate out of the slot. He has the speed, quickness, and suddenness about his game that would excel in the slot. Even in the slot, you can still take the top off the defense with seam and post routes. Just my opinion.
John: You're right that Lee has the physical attributes to play slot, and I wouldn't necessarily rule out the possibility of him playing there as time goes on. For the short-term, the Jaguars want to find a role for Lee where he can get comfortable, play on a consistent basis and produce. He has missed a lot of offseason time in the last two years and the hope is an offseason focused on one area can provide him a role in which he can excel. The thought long has been that he is an outside receiver first, and for now that's the role he's going to play.
Rabbit from Jacksonville:
Hey John, after watching the Seattle Seahawks last season, I began to see offensive coordinators figure out their defensive schemes. With everyone comparing Jags to Seattle, do you think teams already know the game plan of how to beat our defense? I understand all teams run similar versions of defensive schemes; I just wonder if we are making it too easy for them? I guess I am getting carried away. If our defense is even remotely as good as Seattle's, we definitely have a shot at the division. In Gus We Trust.
John: The Seahawks finished second in the league in total defense last season at 291.8 yards per game, second in passing defense at 210.2 yards per game and first in rushing defense at 81.5 yards per game. Just think how good they might have been if all of these genius offensive coordinators hadn't figured them out. I'm going to go out on a really long limb here and say that you're right – if the Jaguars' defense even approaches being as good as the Seahawks … yeah, it will be a good year for the Jaguars.
Bill from Hawthorne Woods:
It seems Tom Coughlin he wants to stay involved in coaching, but at 70 and this late into the year it clearly won't be as a head coach. Given his love of the community, and history with the team, is there a way he could contribute to the Jags without diminishing the role of Gus as head coach?
John: There's probably a way, though I'd be very surprised if it happens. Coughlin is a head coach and I'd find it hard to picture him on a staff as something other than the leader/general at this point in his career.
Michael from Jacksonville Beach:
I would bet my next year's salary that KC from Jacksonville would not bet his next year's salary.
John: I would bet my next year's salary that you're probably right. But I'd also bet my next year's salary on KC, too, because that's how I roll. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Catherine from Jacksonville:
John: "No. I still have nearly all of the sports cards I collected from 1972 or so through about, say, 2001 or 2002. If I had to guesstimate, I'd guess I had between 20,000 or 25,000 – and that's probably low. I have no real inclination to part ways with the collection, but I also haven't actively collected or been into the hobby in about 15 years." Wow. Nice retirement plan.
John: Unfortunately, not even close.
Vince from Jacksonville:
This team has enough talent that we can talk about "minor" position battles in the offseason leading to training camp. Rashad Greene seems like a lock for punt returner. So does Prince Amukamara for nickel corner. What about third down/passing game running back? Neither T.J. Yeldon nor Chris Ivory would be considered "quick-twitch" athletes, and Ivory caught fewer passes than Yeldon's pedestrian 36 receptions despite playing in three more games. Denard Robinson also failed to take control of the position last year. So who do think will be the Jags third-down running back?
John: I think it will be Yeldon. The Jaguars like his ability in pass protection and as a receiver out of the backfield. You call Yeldon's 36 receptions pedestrian, but it was about 20th among NFL running backs. Considering he missed three games, that's far from atrocious for his rookie season.
Kyle from Ohio:
I know why you didn't go to Stephen's house. He never offered booze. He offered video games and food, but not booze. If I offer everything he did and add booze, will you come here?
John: No … wait … what kind of booze?
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
I'm not a big fan of power rankings, but I thought it interesting that the latest ESPN version has the Jaguars at No. 23. Below average. Not surprising considering we haven't had a winning season this decade, and what looks like really, really good draft/free agent pickups have yet to prove themselves. My question, John, is this: do players use these power rankings for motivation? Do they even pay attention to them?
John: It's my experience that NFL players honestly pay little attention to team power rankings. That's particularly true in the offseason, but it's pretty much true year-round. That's because they really don't matter. Now, if a team is having a particularly good season and that team still is generally ranked lower than their record might suggest is appropriate it might become a topic because there's nothing better than a good "They-Don't-Respect-Us-And-Not-Being-Respected-Is-the-Worst-Thing-in-the-World" postgame soundbite … but for the most part it's a non-issue.
Samuel from Jacksonville:
I don't like how the players and the media refer to our area as Duval. Have some respect for our city and call it by its real name! Jacksonville!
John: I hear this sentiment from time to time and I understand it's out there. But the "Duval" thing has nothing to do with a lack of respect for the city or the area or the franchise. "Duval" in recent years has become a rallying cry for a lot of people in the fan base, and it's a fun thing to say. Try saying it out loud and extend the "U." "Duuuuvalll, Duuuvalll …" Now, imagine saying it amongst friends where it starts to sound like a chorus. See? Fun! My experience when I hear people say it or talk to people about what it means to them is that "Duval" absolutely is about pride above all else – pride in the area, pride in the franchise, pride when faced with people criticizing either the area or the franchise. #Duuuuvallll #DuvalTilWeDie #DTWD If those things aren't about pride, what are they about?
David from Orlando, FL:
O-man, Q: What do these players all have in common: Ryan Griffin, Antonio Gates, Ben Watson, Zach Miller, Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce and Eric Ebron? A: They are all tight ends playing the Jags this year that are getting shut down and JACKED-UP!
John: #DTWD

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