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O-Zone: Coach 'em up

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Michael from Tupelo, MS:
Can you see us going out and getting the two best guards available in free agency and a tackle to take the job or compete with Jermey Parnell? We would have major depth at that point. We then address defensive needs in the draft. Let's make the offensive line both a strength and priority. Extremely difficult to be tough without a very good offensive line.
John: I would be stunned if the Jaguars don't sign at least one guard in free agency. I don't know that they need to replace A.J. Cann, because I don't think he was the liability last season many fans believe. General Manager David Caldwell in fact said Monday on Jaguars Today that the team sees Cann as a player who can be a high-level NFL guard, so two veteran interior linemen may not be the free-agency direction. As far as right tackle, that will be intriguing in free agency and/or the draft. Caldwell said on Monday that Parnell played well when healthy late last season, so it's not as if the Jaguars can't function at that position if they don't upgrade. Still, if an upgrade is attainable … yeah, I think it's a real possibility.
Mike from Section 238:
I know you won't print this because it's not the party line, but after reading your column the past several years I think I finally figured out what needs to happen to satisfy the fan base: Shad Khan must get on his knees and apologize to the fans; the players have to cry, throw their helmets like Jared Odrick, and be generally inconsolable during the offseason and after every loss; Dave Caldwell and Doug Marrone need to guarantee a Super Bowl victory next January no matter how unlikely that is; and Tom Coughlin needs to announce that the league has passed a rule that free agents cannot turn down any reasonable Jaguars offer. Can you make that happen soon please so I don't have to listen to any more whining about spilt milk?
John: /drops mic
Mark from Archer, FL:
Tom Coughlin has been a great coach in his career. But just like past failures from a coach do not mean he won't be successful, neither does past success guarantee future success. My point: all these moves that Coughlin is making, everyone is saying Coughlin was great, etc. There is a sense that to many he can do no wrong and all his moves are smart. Are there any moves he has made thus far that you do not agree with?
John: You say "all these moves," but the only things of roster-shaping significance the Jaguars have done thus far this offseason is release Jared Odrick, trade Julius Thomas for a seventh-round selection, trade for left tackle Branden Albert and opt to not exercise the option for left tackle Kelvin Beachum. I said "only" in that previous sentence because entering the offseason Odrick's release felt pretty much like a foregone conclusion and I doubted Thomas would be back. So, the one that stands out is acquiring Albert and not retaining Beachum at left tackle. That move did surprise me because I thought Beachum played OK last season, but Albert is a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle who is considered a better run-blocker than Beachum. Would I have let Beachum go? Probably not. Would I have let him go had I known Albert was the replacement? Yeah, probably.
Kim from New Smyrna Beach and Section 130:
John, I need some help. I've been a Jaguars fan for a long time and a season-ticket holder for 10-plus years. For the first time ever, I am having a really hard time hitting that renew button to spend another season at EverBank Field. Please, John: I need some inspiration, a pep talk - give me a reason to renew!
John: Kim, I'll be honest: I don't in this forum "encourage" fans to buy season tickets or any type of ticket. It's not that I don't want fans to do this, and I hope they do. But that's not my job, and it would feel false if I went on this website and pumped answers full of unreasonable hope as opposed to trying to write as accurately and honestly about this team I know how. Now, I can tell you that the fan experience at Jaguars games is really cool and that there are far worse things to do on a Sunday than go to an NFL game. I can also tell you I foresee a time in the coming few seasons when the patience and perseverance of this fan base will pay off, and I have to think it's going to be cool to be in EverBank Field when that happens. I also can tell you that I believe the Jaguars have a chance to be improved next season. I believe these players will play hard for Head Coach Doug Marrone, and I believe Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett have a chance to get more out of quarterback Blake Bortles – and therefore more out of the offense – than he produced last season. I also think the defense will be improved. And I do sincerely believe that Marrone will be able to get a lot out of this team, and that the Jaguars have a chance to push to be around .500. I think that would generate a lot of excitement because it would be a five-game improvement. I also think that would bode well for the future. I don't know if that's a pep talk, but that's what I tell readers, friends, family, etc. who ask about the Jaguars. I believe there is a core of good young players here, and I believe it can be an exciting season if Bortles takes some significant steps to improve. Is that enough to renew? Only you can decide that.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
We can move around players and improve the defense all we want. But until Blake Bortles can prove with consistency he is the guy, we will never hit the 8-8 the fans are looking for.
John: Kim's not going to like that statement, Ed.
Aaron from Chantilly:
I'm loving Coughlin's attitude and respect for the team. He doesn't go out of his way and paint a negative picture of someone, but you can tell he isn't pleased with a number of performances/players from last year, which is appropriate given our record. Very excited about free agency and the draft.
John: Tom Coughlin is a professional football man and carries himself as such. The Jaguars have struggled for a long time and lost 13 games last season. It stands to reason he might look at the roster and figure some adjusting was needed.
CC from Duval:
Quick question. Everyone is freaking out about the Jags possibly letting Johnathan Cyprien walk in free agency, but if the team decides to go running back No. 4 overall in the draft after addressing the offensive line in free agency what do you feel the organization feels about James Sample? I know his health is a concern but I haven't heard anything on him in a while. What do you think about him being Cyprien's replacement?
John: James Sample has talent. He also has played in four games in two NFL seasons. It's not out of the realm of possibility that he plays a role for the Jaguars next season, but if the Jaguars don't re-sign Cyprien I think it's safe to say they'll draft or sign someone outside the team to address strong safety.
Bo from the Highlands:
Can you tell us your thoughts on the running back position excluding the draft – Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon, Corey Grant, D-Rob and Joe Banyard? Do you sense a trade? And do you think Grant could take the No. 2 running back spot? C'mon: Ivory and Grant's speed.
John: I don't sense a trade for a veteran running back happening, and I do think the Jaguars will draft a runner in the first three rounds. I think Yeldon has a chance to be a very good player as part of a rotation and I think Ivory has proven he can be effective in the right situation. I also think Grant can be an effective reserve/special teams player. But overall, there is not a game-changing back on the Jaguars' roster. My gut is the Jaguars will try to change that during the draft.
Jeff from Keystone Heights, FL:
Would you agree if a team releases a starter it's not only because they believe they can upgrade the position, but they may also want a different type of player to fit a scheme or philosophy? For example, releasing Julius Thomas doesn't mean they don't think he's capable of being a productive tight end … they may envision a better blocker or quicker style than what he brings. A 3-13 record, multiple losing seasons and new staff must bring these types of thoughts and decisions. Surely, no one thought we would have the same starting 22 and just coach them up.
John: Apparently some people did think that. They were wrong. And stop calling me Shirley.

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