MOBILE, Ala. – Homeward bound.
Let's get to it … Chad from EverBank:
Does Shad Khan have any plans to improve the Senior Bowl stadium? He seems to be all about improving our home turf, so it seems only logical he would try to improve our home-away-from-home turf. Kidding aside, let's hope this is our last opportunity to coach the Senior Bowl for a loooonnnnnngggggg time. We've been through enough that it'd be super rewarding to experience something different.
John: Ah … nothing like a good Senior Bowl-as-the-Jaguars'-home joke to close out jaguars.com's coverage of the 2016 Reese's Senior Bowl. That's as good as any joke, I suppose – and better than many of mine. But yeah … no doubt: everyone around the Jaguars would lo-o-o-o-o-o-ve for this to be the coaching staff's last stint coaching this game for a long while. The game is great. The week is great. The hospitality is great. Shadrick gets an annual chance to experience the whole Mobile thing. The whole darned experience is valuable, wonderful and productive, but it's time for someone else to coach the South team next January.
Daniel Since Day One:
Don't you think Denver's defense was so effective [Sunday] in large part because New England's offensive line was injured and had lacked depth? Perhaps the greatest quarterback in NFL history, near the peak of his game, couldn't win when he was being hit constantly ... we still need big improvement on our offensive line to be highly successful.
John: Of course, the state of New England's offensive line was a factor Sunday – and of course, the Jaguars must improve the offensive line next season. But the biggest thing to remember about that game – and indeed, Denver's entire season – is the impact an effective pass rush can have on a game. Remember, New England played a lot of teams this past season with that same offensive line. No team wrecked the Patriots' game plan quite like Denver.
Jon from Southampton, UK:
So, Johnny, was the plan when we drafted Dante Fowler Jr. to play him as the Leo? Or was it to move him around? This offseason the "moving around" seems to be a popular idea, but I thought he was going to be an every-down Leo! If we do sign another guy to play Leo, is there a player on another team you would describe Fowler's new role as similar to? Thanks.
John: The Jaguars drafted Fowler with the idea that he was not only a good pass rusher, but that he also was a player who could make impact plays wherever he lined up. The idea now is to put him in situations where he can excel. I would imagine a scenario in which Fowler plays Leo on first and second downs, then moves to try take advantage of matchups in passing situations. At the same time, I expect the Jaguars to try to sign/draft at least one more pass-rush-oriented player. Remember, the Jaguars have been playing multiple Leos on third downs the past two seasons. It's called their lightning package. It was very effective in 2014 and not so effective in 2015.
Herbert from MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevablez:
In his season-ending press conference Dave Caldwell said the reason the defense was so bad this season was because Dante wasn't out there. Now, he says Dante needs help and he's no longer a LEO. Did I miss something or did the defense get worse in the last few weeks?
John: Herbert, I'd say you're better than this question, but history suggests otherwise. First, neither Caldwell nor anyone else around the Jaguars ever said the only reason the defense struggled this past season was Fowler's absence; he said Fowler's absence was a factor, and I think he's correct saying that. He also never said Fowler's not a Leo; he said he can be a Leo and also do other things. Does Fowler need help next season? Of course, he does. One pass rusher – rookie or not – does not a dominant pass rush make. Caldwell never said otherwise.
Terrence from Laurel, MD:
Do the 2015 Carolina Panthers remind you of the 2015 Golden State Warriors? Both teams were young, energetic and had a star with a great smile and unique skillset leading the team. The teams both had a special type of fun about them and let it all hang loose on the field and court. More interestingly, Steph Curry is a diehard Panthers fan.
John: I do know they remind me of one another in the sense that they're both really good.
David from Hathaway, MD:
What's the plan for a healthy Marqise Lee next year? Slot guy with Hurns remaining on the outside? Let's not forget Lee's potential. Where would that leave Green? Clearly a great "problem" to have...let's hope he can stay healthy!
John: The plan for next season isn't formulated yet; that's what the next few weeks/months are about. I can't see Marqise Lee being a true slot receiver. At the same time, I do believe the Jaguars need to find ways to get him on the field.
Mark from College Park, MD:
O-Man, the real reason Gus got the contract extension was in regards to attempting to even the recruiting battle in free agency ... right?
John: There without question is an element of this, but as big a reason was to provide the assistant coaches with a year of security. It's tough for coaches to be effective if they're focused on where they're going to be coaching next during the season.
Michael from Jackson de Ville:
John, I keep hearing this "Jags run defense" is one of the highlights to pull from the atrocious defense we had last year. By almost any metric you can find, the Jags were middle of the pack at best among NFL rush defenses. That's supposed to be the highlight our D? I thought we saved mediocrity only for our records.
John: The Jaguars' run defense was very, very good much of the season. It wasn't nearly as good against Tampa Bay or in the last few games. However, a key metric the Jaguars use in this area is yards per attempt. They finished fifth in the NFL in that category.
Tim from Atlantic Beach, FL:
With Tom Brady being more of a pocket passer and Cam Newton being more mobile when confronted, if you were the defensive coordinator for Denver, what would be your strategy?
John: I don't think I'd change all that much because I just got enormous pressure rushing four linemen. I would usually have at least one player spying on Newton. Mostly, I'd be worried about the Panthers' running game. That's as big of a factor as Newton.
Jon from Chapel Hill:
O, what are the biggest hurdles for a Leo-type kid coming out of college to become a good-to-great pass rusher in the NFL? Certainly speed and leverage, but I see a whole bunch of kids that were dominant coming out of college and not making a dent even after several years.
John: The biggest hurdle facing a Leo pass rusher is the same as facing any NFL pass rusher. He is suddenly facing one of the best 32 players in the world at his position every week whereas he rarely if ever faced anything close to that in college. The speed moves that worked in college often aren't enough and technique must be mastered. That often takes time.
Dale from Jacksonville:
I believe we must do four things in free agency to set up the draft: 1, sign Olivier Vernon at defensive end; 2, sign a center; 3, get either Sean Smith or Janoris Jenkins at cornerback; 4, get either Damon Harrison or Ian Williams at defensive tackle. We could then focus on FS, Otto LB, RB, ILB, backup G/C, CB and SS. Any thoughts on this approach?
John: I like your first three, then it got to be a bit much.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Why is it such a ridiculous concept to some fans for the Jags to sign or draft another pass rusher? The teams with the best overall pass rush almost always have two or more elite pass rushers. In fact, the reason guys like J.J. Watt, Von Miller and others are so good is because they have other really good pass rushers that the offense can't ignore. That's not to say that they aren't incredible players, but if the Texans had no other decent pass rushers and offenses could double team Watt on every play, he would probably look much more pedestrian. I long for the day that the Jaguars have to make the difficult decision of which elite pass rusher to keep and which one to let walk because they can't afford both of them...that's a good problem to have!
John: The Jaguars' scheme easily can withstand the burden of having too many good pass rushers.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
Given that Mobile is his hometown, is there any evidence Shadrick returns to the dark side when he's there?
John: Considering the events of Tuesday afternoon, I don't feel comfortable talking about this.