JACKSONVILLE – A quick congratulations before we get started …
The congratulatory words are for my friend and colleague Ryan Robinson, the longtime Jaguars' public relations director who on July 31 will join the University of Tennessee as the school's senior associate athletics director of communications.
Many O-Zone readers undoubtedly are familiar with Robinson. He has been an integral member of the Jaguars' public relations team for a decade, and has worked closely with Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell the last two and a half years.
But Robinson has been integral to the Jaguars in more ways than "just" public relations.
Since joining the Jaguars in 2005, he has worked tirelessly to promote the team in the community, to organize player appearances and to assist in setting up team and player charitable initiatives.
He also has helped establish the team's approach of transparency with the fans and the media, an approach that has allowed jaguars.com to be one of the best team websites in the NFL in terms of bringing fans closer to the organization.
It would take too long to go into detail after detail of what Robinson has meant to this team and this website. Suffice to say he his impact has been great, and he will be missed here greatly.
Let's get to it … Robert from Orange Park, FL:
How much pressure is on the 2013 draft class to improve this season? Our first four selections haven't exactly shown they're capable of being our core players. Not to say they've been terrible, but if there's not significant improvement is it safe to say the front office will be looking elsewhere next year?
John: There's pressure on every NFL player to improve/play at a high level each year, so I don't know that the Jaguars' top picks from 2013 are feeling more individual pressure than most other young players. As a group, though, the top three selections from that class – Luke Joeckel, Johnathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz – certainly need to play better. I don't get the sense the organization is close to moving in a different direction from any of them, primarily because the players haven't played as poorly as many observers seem to believe.
Greg from Carlsbad, CA:
O-man, putting aside the issue of the players' health (and careers) by subjecting their bodies to two additional meaningful games every year, where will the money come from to pay them if the league moves to an 18-game regular season? I doubt the players will play them for free, just as I doubt the owners will willingly fork over two extra games' pay out of pocket. Will it be television money, or ... you know?
John: It would be from television money.
Mike from Section 122 and Port Orange, FL:
I still don't trust the owner. More London games, giving more years of home games and prime games to boot. To paraphrase the famous Bard, "I think he doth protest too much." Why do the fans keep believing he won't leave and take the Jags to London when he can get the NFL to let?
John: You can paraphrase anything you want as correctly or incorrectly as you want, but you also must look at all factors – not just one. To focus on the fact that there is a yearly home game in London and a growing presence overseas and to miss the fact that those moves go hand-in-hand with increasing commitment/resources in Jacksonville … well, that's missing a significant part of a multi-part approach. If you don't trust Khan, I can't control that. Over time, his actions will ultimately earn trust.
David from Orlando, FL:
Ozone, whenever I hear a recording of my voice or see a video of myself, I'm always surprised at how awkward I look and sound. When you see yourself on video, what do you think?
John: I think when other people watch me on video they almost certainly feel the same way I do.
Nimrod from Toronto, Ontario:
John, why do you hate me? It's because of my name, right? Why have we not talked about a Pro Bowl offensive lineman who is still a free agent (Mathis)? Any chance the Jags make a push for his services?
John: I don't know you well enough to hate you, and your name isn't your problem. The Jaguars signed Jermey Parnell and Stefen Wisniewski in the offseason and drafted A.J. Cann. That's a pretty extensive addressing/restocking of the offensive line. I don't sense much interest right now to do a great deal more in terms of high-profile names.
Bill Katt from Breathed, MN:
Thanks Paul, I read the Zone all the time but learned something extremely valuable this week. Holy Opus!
Sam from Orlando, FL:
Can any comparisons be made between Denard Robinson and Darren Sproles? Would Robinson have made it on another roster as a running back?
John: Robinson and Sproles are both really, really fast so there's a comparison there. But Sproles is more of a quick-twitch punt returner/third-down back and Robinson – when effective – has been a little more about straight-ahead speed. Sure, Robinson would have been able to play running backs for other teams. I don't know that he would be a No. 1 starter/bell-cow back on many teams, but he could find a role and contribute.
Nick from Jacksonville :
What do the people who are reading this and are upset with the lack of football-related question expect? In-depth analysis of the training room? A breakdown of GM Dave's lunch? Or do they want you to grade out Gus' golf game? I mean … come on, people. Enjoy the running themes and just relax until the season starts! #OZTWD
Wallace from Jacksonville:
O-Man, if Bernard Pierce has a strong training camp, do you think he may beat out Toby Gerhart for a spot on the final 2015 Jaguars roster? Or would a more likely scenario be both Pierce & Gerhart make the roster and Storm Johnson be pushed to the practice squad?
John: If Pierce has a strong training camp he could indeed push Gerhart, but the same is true of Johnson. Shoot, if Gerhart has a strong training camp he can push T.J. Yeldon. Right now, I see the running backs as Yeldon, Gerhart, Robinson, Pierce/Johnson, but it's a position where strong and weak preseason performances can move players quickly up and down the depth chart.
Michael from Hickory, NC:
I'm not sure why this Aaron-Colvin-playing-nickel debate is happening. The coaches are basically saying Colvin is a starter guaranteed based on the amount of field time he'll see as a nickel corner. They aren't sure who their second- and third-best corners are, but they believe Colvin is the best also. #dropthemic
John: You're correct to a point. There seems little question Colvin will be one of the Jaguars' three top cornerbacks. I'd stop short of saying the coaches hands-down believe Colvin is clearly the best corner. So, I'd give you a smattering of applause, but I'd probably roll my eyes a bit if the mic hit the ground.
Marty from Jacksonville:
O-man, I am never disappointed in you. Never!
John: Will you marry me?
Jizzy from Jacksonville:
Ozone, nearly all of national media perceives our secondary (namely corners) as our biggest need. I understand they are not as tuned into the team as much as Jaguars reporters, but I feel they single them out because of the lack of interceptions, which is an easy stat to look up. Our corners seem very promising, but why the lack of interceptions and big plays? Inexperience? Thanks.
John: I see cornerback as a pretty solid position entering the season. Do the Jaguars have an elite, front-line, lockdown corner? Perhaps not, but by the end of the season the group has a chance to be perceived as a strength. The lack of interceptions indeed is something of a mystery. I'm a big believer that everything defensively evolves from up-front pressure, and because the Jaguars did a nice job increasing their sacks last season you would expect interceptions to increase accordingly. At the same time, the Jaguars turned pressure into sacks and forced fumbles at a very high rate last season. Instead of causing errant passes or tipped balls – each of which lead to interceptions – the Jaguars got sacks. That's a good thing, but it doesn't help the interception total.
Gamble from Washington, DC:
O-swami: which camp battle along the offensive line will lead to the most unexpected outcome -- left guard or center?
John: Well, if I told you that would mean you were expecting it – and then it wouldn't be unexpected anymore. Seriously, I think Zane Beadles and Luke Bowanko will wind up starting the season. That's really premature, and there's every chance I'm wrong, but that's what I'll project for now.
Fuzzy from Jacksonville:
How about "Heaven Can Wait?" I was a Rams fan as a young kid and loved that movie.
John: You don't just casually keep a talent like Joe Pendleton away from winning a Super Bowl.