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O-Zone: A true gift

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Darrick from Jacksonville:
There are an awful lot of former head coach/general manager types on the Jaguars' payroll. Not sure if this is going to be good or bad. On the one hand, we could end up with too many chefs in the kitchen. On the other hand, Mr. Caldwell may be assembling one of the most dynamic brain trusts in sports history. Praying for the latter. How do you see this playing out, John?
John: Your question refers to the announcement Thursday that the Jaguars had made changes in their personnel/scouting department, with Chris Polian being promoted to director of player personnel, Chris Driggers being promoted director of pro personnel, John Idzik being named special assistant to the general manager and Casey Belongia being named a scouting assistant. While the changes are important, this isn't a case of upheaval in the ranks. Polian has been on staff two years; Driggers, for 21. Idzik worked in a similar capacity before the draft to the role he will have now, so while there indeed is an impressive amount of experience with Polian and Idzik having been general managers before, the structure and decision-making process within the department doesn't change significantly with Thursday's moves. It will play out as it plays out, but the experience level of those involved shouldn't in any way muddle up the inner workings of the franchise.
Ric from Jacksonville:
Hi, John. I went to a Jaguars practice a few years ago and they ran the Oklahoma drill. It was pretty entertaining. Do they still do that drill and is it more for the fans or does it have any kind of significant benefit to the players?
John: The Jaguars do not do the Oklahoma Drill any longer. That ended with the departure of former Head Coach Jack Del Rio and I doubt it will return. Though fans do enjoy the drill, the benefits for NFL players do not outweigh the risk.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
Last year, Geno Hayes was good enough to start for us. He played over a few players currently on our roster. I believe he's still a free agent and depth at linebacker is a big concern and becomes greater in the event of an injury. Why do you think the organization hasn't extended him a one-year, veteran minimum offer? I didn't see where he was a "bad" player last year. Did you?
John: Hayes wasn't a bad player by any means, but sometimes it's time to move on from a player. The Jaguars signed Hayes for two years with the idea that they likely would draft/upgrade the position sometime during that time. While Hayes indeed played well at times, the organization is moving forward with Telvin Smith at weakside linebacker and Dan Skuta at the Otto, with rookies and/or younger players at the backup positions. Those players also can play at a high level on special teams, which is what you want from backups at the linebacker and safety positions.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
I have seen several interviews with Julius Thomas and I must say I am impressed. When he left Denver, the locals and a number of players trashed him as being lazy and not a team player. From what he has said and shown so far, he is a great addition. He seems willing to put in the time and effort to be a key member of THIS squad. He appears to want to help the younger players improve and maximize their potential while still improving his game. I admit, I was a bit skeptical when he was first signed and I saw what the Broncos were writing; but now it really seems that he may be more than what anyone in Jacksonville expected. Has he changed that much; or is this just a case of the people in Denver stomping on sour grapes?
John: I can't speak for what Thomas was or what was said or written about him in Denver. I know he dealt with injuries last season, and I also know when people leave organizations things are sometimes said after they leave that wouldn't get said if the person was still there. I also know that by all accounts Thomas looks very good and looks like he is a good fit here. Until something happens to prove something otherwise, that's how the Jaguars see him, too.
Worm from Windsor, Ontario:
So, do you think Chris Clemons would be in the OTAs if Dante Fowler Jr. was healthy? When Dante went down with the injury, that certainly put less pressure on Chris Clemons to be at the OTAs.
John: Fowler was the No. 3 overall selection the NFL Draft. I don't think anything Clemons did or didn't do in OTAs was going to change how much he played in relation to Fowler, so I don't think Clemons was going to be here for OTAs regardless of Fowler's injury. Let's remember: OTAs are voluntary and Clemons is a pass-rushing defensive end who has played in this system for the last five seasons. I don't think he's going learn all that much the next few weeks.
Michael from Tucker:
If, for some odd chance, Sergio Brown does not win the free safety job, do you anticipate him being cut due to huge salary?
John: Sergio Brown is scheduled to make $2.5 million with base salary and roster bonus in 2015. That's a big salary to me and perhaps to a few O-Zone readers, but it's not huge by NFL standards. So, whether or not he starts – and I figure he probably will – he figures to be on the team this season.
Keith from Summerville, SC:
It's time to replace that old cathode ray tube television that's in the background of your jaguars.com live videos.
John: I mentioned this to Mark Lamping last time I saw him. He smiled, thanked me for my input and went on about his business. Considering my clout around here, I'm pretty sure that means this situation is getting resolved.
Cody from Duval:
Sooo ... how much DO you squat? Also, what position will most likely see more depth from that empty fullback slot in your opinion?
John: With the Jaguars not carrying a fullback next season, I expect the Jaguars will either carry an extra tight end or running back. Let's go with an extra tight end, because that position can play the lead-blocking role previously played by a fullback when necessary. As for the squat question, this is in reference to Blake Bortles' appearance on Jaguars.com LIVE Wednesday, during which he discussed a busy offseason schedule that includes –among other tasks – weight training. While discussing the weight-training part, he looked at me with something between a condescending smirk and a very condescending smirk and said, "You could squat." I'm still trying to figure out what "squatting" means. I'll let you know when I find out.
Joe from Pennsylvania:
O-Man! Best guess at who emerges as Blake's go-to? Some good young weapons around him; if I were to guess I'd say either Julius Thomas or Allen Robinson. Robinson displayed an ability to just get open and with a top-tier tight end now at his disposal, Blake should have a safe option and a solid third-down outlet. What say you?
John: I'd say one of your two options stand out from the crowd as the best possibilities. If the early days of OTAs are indication, there's a very good chance Bortles will develop rapport with and trust in tight end Julius Thomas very quickly. But don't forget that Allen Robinson was starting to show some good signs – particularly in his ability to convert third downs – before his season-ending injury. Early on, I'd expect the go-to guy to be Thomas, but keep an eye on Robinson. If he's healthy, he could be special.
Troy from Anaconda, MN:
John, given we have made some strides this offseason and most of our rookies are in second year with certain ones returning from injury do you think continuity could be an issue? Also, how does the team deal with bad continuity?
John: You play players and hope they stay healthy enough to develop better continuity.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
I know the Jags believe they have their "Bell Cow Back" in T.J. Yeldon, but at this same time last year they were saying that about Gerhart. The more I look into Yeldon, he is remarkably similar to Gerhart coming out of college except Toby was faster and more productive. Do you think we are hyping Yeldon too much? And should expectations be more in line with Gerhart's production?
John: Time will tell if Yeldon is being overhyped. I firmly believe he is not – and I don't see many similarities stylistically between the two, either. From my point of view on the sidelines, Yeldon looks very good, very smooth and looks faster than Gerhart. I think he will be more productive. We'll see how it plays out.
Steve from Hudson, FL:
Is the O-Zone made fresh every day or do you sometimes make a double batch and give us leftovers (they are so good nobody would complain)?
John: It's fresh every day. It just feels stale. That's my gift.

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