O-Zone: Accurate assessment

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

One key thing that must come before any drafting or free-agency talk is a discussion on the identity and direction of the team. Are we going to continue this run-the-ball, blue-collar, tough-defense-first approach? Or do we finally make the shift and accept this is a passing league first –and that if you are going to succeed, you must have a potent downfield attack? When the coaching staff addresses things like this, do you develop a plan then build your roster around that plan? Or do you see what you can get for personnel/talent then construct your plan to meet the resources you have available? In any case, I think we have hit rock bottom and now we can look forward to moving up again next season.

The Jaguars’ decision-makers – Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone – literally have these discussions constantly. The discussions increase each offseason in intensity between the end of the season and the beginning of free agency. But yes … teams do build their roster around such discussions. As to when fans and observers become privy to what’s decided in those discussions … well, that’s another matter. I expect Coughlin, Caldwell and Marrone will speak publicly in the offseason – and that we’ll start to get some idea of the Jaguars’ identity on those occasions. But the reality is that the identity and direction of the Jaguars will best be seen in the team’s actions. You’ll see some players get released as the March 13 start of the league year and free agency approaches, then you’ll see free agents signed and players drafted. The direction should be evident by then. Still, I expect the stated philosophy to remain relatively the same: play big-time defense and be able to run effectively. That doesn’t mean the Jaguars won’t try to improve the passing game. The decision-makers know that must improve. The biggest issue is the Jaguars must improve in the key area of being able to pass more effectively when teams know they need to pass. That has been the deficient area in recent seasons, and it’s the main reason for the offensive changes that are occurring.

Whoaboy from Duval

I don’t understand people that think that cornerback Jalen Ramsey is the Jaguars’ problem. He appears ultracompetitive. He was crying on the sideline two years ago after a meaningless loss (unlike other unnamed players). He’s our best drafted player in years. If you see him, tell him Woahboy says “big woah.”

Probably won’t do that …

Jordan from Jacksonville

They have it all wrong. We're not tanking for two seasons to get Trevor Lawrence. We're winning the Super Bowl next year and then tanking the following season. Please make sure you bring this plan up to management. Thanks.

… or that.

Yoav from St. Johns, FL

Jaguars beat writer Mike DiRocco recently detailed the team's 2018 troubles: Ending No. 1 in most unsportsmanlike conduct/unnecessary-roughness penalties, and beginning with star players skipping up to 10 organized team activities and criticizing numerous NFL quarterbacks in national print. In between players got into altercations in view of the media, getting suspended for a fight during a game, refusing to go into a game and sitting alone on the bench during a game. Is this outside of the norms of an NFL team or being overblown?

It's a bit outside the norm, although I wouldn’t include players missing OTAs as “troubles.” Offseason work is voluntary and missing it is not by itself a sign of a player being a problem. I also don’t consider the things Ramsey said in a few offseason interviews by themselves a cause for concern. The altercations, suspensions and other actions along those lines … they are far less ideal. By the way … who is “Mike DiRocco?”

Ray from Jacksonville

John: Maybe the biggest reason elite players other than New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would not agree to an incentive-heavy contract? Not many are married to a supermodel whose salary is bigger than even a maximum deal in the NFL.

Fair.

Paul from Jacksonville

On the last-place/first-place schedule issue, how many teams thought playing the Jaguars might be a challenge last January? What about by December? Ranking schedule strength in the offseason is all well and good, but all 32 teams will have developments both positive and negative over the next year.

We’ll have a good idea about the strength of the Jaguars’ 2019 schedule around Week 5 or 6 of the 2019 season. Until then, we’ll have a lot of opinions.

Bill from Eagan, MN

What is the solution to the quarterback crisis the Jags had this past season?

Get better at quarterback.

Frankie from London, UK

Johnny O! Could you see the Jags using players to try to move up in the draft rather than trading more picks?

I could see them trying to use players to move up, but selections typically have far more trade value.

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Our defense put a shutout on the Colts. This team is not as far away as people think. We have to make some luck and get a great quarterback. Go Jags!

DTWD

Bryan from Tampa, FL

John, a lot has been said about fixing the tight end position this offseason. Do you expect the team to release Austin Seferian-Jenkins? Tight end doesn't seem like a position where teams should invest both high draft picks and free agent dollars. Would you expect a mid-round pick to be in the mix with ASJ, and perhaps Paul/O'Shaughnessy as special teams/depth guys?

I do expect the Jaguars to release Seferian-Jenkins, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see an extensive overhaul at tight end overall.

Ira

My son is an Oakland Raider fan (me Jags). I proposed to him a trade of Malik Jackson, Telvin Smith and Leonard Fournette for Derek Carr. It would fill a hole for us (experienced QB for a win-now attitude) without giving up draft picks to move up (if needed) and we can concentrate on other offensive positions that need filling. It fills needs that Oakland has and (I believe) gives us a little breathing room on the cap.

trademachine

Daniel from Urbandale, PA

What do you think the interest from the Jags would be in Joe Flacco? Should there be interest?

I expect the Jaguars could have interest in Flacco, though I imagine he could be too pricey to be realistic. I also don’t think the Jaguars will be all that interested in signing Flacco as a long-term solution – and I don’t know how interested Flacco will be in being a short-term solution for a team planning to draft its potential quarterback of the future. I think the Jaguars signing a lower-profile “bridge” veteran quarterback and selecting a quarterback early in the 2019 NFL Draft is more realistic.

Logan from Wichita, KS

I am really dreading the end of the football season. The offseason is going to painful to watch as a Jaguars fan. It's all “Will they won't they” on trading the entire team. Will they draft a bust quarterback too high or pick up a dud veteran quarterback heading for the retirement home? Watching the Jaguars this offseason will be like watching the dumb blonde in a horror movie. We know this will end badly, but the buildup to death keeps us watching and yelling "DONT OPEN THAT DOOR!!!"

OK.

Ryan from Detroit, MI

John I've got a bad feeling that this draft is shaping up a lot like 2011. Teams with needs at quarterback reached and ended up with Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder all drafted in the first 12 picks. We can't afford to waste a first rounder on an average-at-best quarterback because we have a need at that position.

You’re right that this is a concern. Of course, it could also turn out like the 2017 NFL Draft when teams were perceived as reaching for Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Or it could turn out like the 2016 NFL Draft when teams were perceived as reaching for Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. You don’t know how quarterbacks are going to turn out until you draft them, develop them and let them play. People think they know, and the Twitterverse thinks it knows, but you don’t know for a couple of years.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Almost any aspect of the NFL can be broken down into statistical minutia. Analytics are big business. But there are no analytics, no statistics, no ratings data for the writers of team blogs/columns. How, John, are we supposed to evaluate your performance as compared to 31 other senior writers? How do we know if you are overpaid or underpaid? How can we determine your trade value? If we wanted to pursue, say, a Mike Spofford (Green Bay Packers senior writer), could we do that without a significant cap hit?

I’m no great shakes. I think this is well-established.

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