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O-Zone: A real pleasure

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Marlin from Jacksonville:
It is good to know the Jags are improving at the end of this year. However, they improved at the end of last year, but it didn't carry over to the first of this year. What will be different in 2015?
John: The most-obvious thing that that should be different next season is the offense likely won't be starting essentially from Square One. Remember, while in one sense this build is finishing its second season because Gus Bradley and David Caldwell are finishing their second seasons with the organization, in a very real sense this was Year One for the offense. This irritates some people and sounds like an excuse to others, but there's almost no other way to look at a team that started a rookie quarterback, played three rookie wide receivers extensively and pretty much completely overhauled the offensive line. There certainly will be changes this offseason on both offense and defense, but neither side of the ball should realistically be considered in its first season next season. That in theory should mean a chance for some carryover from whatever improvements we've seen late this season.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Who coaches the Senior Bowl this year and how is that decided? Seems like it was a very good thing for the Jags last year.
John: It appears the staffs of the Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in line to coach the Senior Bowl. The first opportunity goes to the coaching staffs of the teams with the two worst records whose head coaches are returning. If one of those teams should pass on the game, it likely would be offered to the Jaguars, who almost certainly would take it. That's because it was indeed a good thing for the Jaguars last offseason.
Seth from Omaha, NE:
How would you assess Red Bryant's impact this season? I don't remember his name being mentioned much in any capacity. I know he plays an unglamorous position so maybe that doesn't say much. Was he a good signing or not?
John: Red Bryant has had a significant impact on the Jaguars' defense. He and Tyson Alualu have played the five-technique defensive end spot and for the most part have played it well. The responsibility at that position there is to be stout against the run far more than to impact the pass rush. If you believe the Jaguars' defensive line has played well this season, then yes, Bryant was a good signing.
Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
It's great that McCray and Colvin are playing well, but what's that say about Gratz? He's the third-round pick, not the others! Granted, Colvin was rated very highly before the injury but it should be Colvin and Gratz, shouldn't it? It's disappointing that a third-round pick lost his job to a seventh-rounder.
John: Sure it "should" be Gratz starting if you went solely by draft position, and I suppose we can stew on that until the end of time. Ideally, all of your draft picks would work out perfectly, start and make the Pro Bowl. Reality is different. Reality is that not every draft pick becomes a long-term starter and core player. Realistically, comparatively few do. If you get a couple of "core" players that you sign to long-term contracts out of every draft, then you're doing very, very well. As a Jaguars fan, you can be disappointed that McCray started over Gratz or you can be happy that it appears McCray has a chance to be a really good cornerback. It doesn't make a whole lot of difference which one it is; the idea is to have good players.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Depending on how the Jaguars address free safety in the offseason, do you think there's a chance Alan Ball is re-signed and tried at the position? He played some safety in Houston. Got to think he's valuable enough to play somewhere in this defense despite the progression of our young corners.
John: I'd be surprised if the Jaguars go that direction.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
This is best quote I've seen about the Jags from the national media: "Given the quality of the team, the Jaguars fans are by far the most loyal in the league." (Credit to Mike Florio and ProFootball Talk)
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
The Broncos went into Foxborough this year; seemed a bit lopsided. The Patriots have those chess pieces on defense, (Jamie Collins, Revis, etc.) and they still have Tom Brady, and now a running game. I see the Patriots playing the Seahawks or Packers.
John: I don't know what chess has to do with it, but you may be right. The Patriots may represent the AFC. I can't see anyone going into Seattle and winning, though. We'll see.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
This organization picked Gabbert 10th overall and passed on JJ Watt, 11th overall in 2011 draft. Then to make matters worse they picked Bryan Anger in the 2012 draft and passed on Russell Wilson. Those two would've been the foundation of this team and would've been competing for a playoff spot this year!
John: Sure. And a ton of teams passed on Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers and Richard Sherman and a whole lot of other good players, too. I'm not saying the Jaguars wouldn't be better with Watt and Wilson, but every team has woulda, shoulda, coulda in their past. It's the nature of the draft.
Brad from Lima, Peru:
Hey, John … love the O-Zone. I'm writing in from my vacation down here in South America to show my support. It's kinda neat walking around down here in my Bortles jersey. Here's to him torching the Texans on Sunday!
John: #LTWD
Jim from Palm Bay, FL:
What is the status of Tandon Doss with the Jaguars? I know he has been on injured reserve all year, but will he be back? He was a real offensive weapon for the Ravens in 2013, and he never got to play this year.
John: Tandon Doss is on injured reserve. I expect him to be with the Jaguars when the team opens training camp next season.
Andrew from Toledo, OH:
While Justin Blackmon may not be the No. 1 wide receiver we knew he could be, he is still worth a shot. We can let Cecil Shorts III go and still have three solid wide receivers going forward. Adding Blackmon to the mix does not hurt that group and gives us leeway to spend draft picks on other positions. I think Lee and Robinson can be starters at wide receiver with Hurns a good third wide receiver. But Blackmon will come back and be serviceable no doubt as long as he doesn't mess up again.
John: I know we've been talking this to death – even to the point where people are calling for brake-pumping – but I apparently have far less doubt about Blackmon than a lot of people. I don't know where he would rank among NFL receivers, but I am pretty confident he would be a lot more than serviceable and that he wouldn't be a No. 4 receiver for the Jaguars.
Anthony from Jacksonville:
John, I hope 20 years later Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson and Bortles can have a Football Life episode.
John: We shall see.
Dave from Jacksonville:
So far, the 2014 draft class looks much better than the 2013 class. But I just realized something encouraging. Dave Caldwell took over the reins in January, 2013 - well into the personnel year. Therefore, he was relying on scouts, etc., from the previous regime. It wasn't until after the 2013 draft that he was able to truly make over the personnel department with his own staff. In a sense, 2014 was his first "full" draft. I'm hoping that is a harbinger of good things to come...
John: I wouldn't go overboard with this. Yes, it stands to reason a scouting department would get better in its second year together – and the 2013 draft was widely considered a weak draft from top to bottom, so it would make sense that the 2014 draft is considered better for most teams. Still, while Johnathan Cyprien and Luke Joeckel have been written off as bad players by some, that's just not true – and Denard Robinson and Demetrius McCray have the look of significant contributors. The 2014 draft has a chance to be special, but let's not write off that 2013 draft yet.
Preston from Waterbury, CT:
A lot has been made about the Jaguars' chance to make history; if Lee has five catches this week, the Jaguars will become the first team in history with three rookies to have more than 40 catches. This is really cool and says a lot about the future of this position, but do you think the Jags will "force" the ball to Lee this week?
John: Not for that reason, no.
Roy from St. Augustine, FL:
Thanks for the wonderful job you have done this year, both informative and entertaining; it's been a pleasure to read/watch your work.
John: Go home. You're drunj.

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