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O-Zone: Come Monday

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Nate from Visalia, CA:
Unless we have a three-down back on the roster, it should be a priority. The teams in the playoffs this year, and those that typically have success, have a primary three-down back. Running-back-by-committee is a relatively new idea and isn't successful unless an offense is well-established. It's nice to have a change-of-pace back, but I believe the success of this offense will be hindered without that primary back.
John: I don't get the idea Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell is against having a primary, three-down back. But he said this week that was one of the last pieces he wanted to put in place. Remember, the Jaguars had a mammoth build ahead of them when Head Coach Gus Bradley and Caldwell took over in January 2013. As exciting as free agency and the draft appear each offseason, it's not possible to build an entire roster of good players in one or even two offseasons. Knowing that, Caldwell had to pick what areas to build when. You got the idea listening to Caldwell this week that running back will be more of a priority soon. How soon remains to be seen.
David from Oviedo, FL:
I disagree that the running back position has been devalued in the NFL. I'd argue when you have a young quarterback, you need a top-tier running back to carry the load, not just guys that are good enough.
John: It is apparent from your argument that you, David, have not devalued the running back position. As to whether the NFL has devalued it, that is a different matter.
Sam from Boulder, CO:
I'd assume there's a very slim chance of either Denard Robinson or Toby Gerhart not being on the roster next year. Additionally, for what he brings to special teams as well as the plays he made at the end of the season, it seems Jordan Todman has earned a roster spot for next year. Since we already have three running backs wouldn't that suggest not only that we wouldn't add one in the offseason, but that it's possible Storm Johnson could end up off the roster by the end of training camp?
John: The Jaguars have several good running backs. My guess is that would preclude them from drafting another good running back. I doubt that would preclude them from drafting a great one or very good one if one was available. As for Johnson, he was inactive much of the season. That doesn't mean he won't be on the roster next season, but he's certainly not guaranteed anything, either.
TD from McAlester, OK:
I got out of this season exactly what I wanted to see. The team was much more competitive even though they had a worse record than last year. I heard so many commentators talk about how hard and how fast they play. Now, I was as frustrated as any fan, but you can see the potential. Two or three plays made … Bortles makes one more good decision … the receivers catch a couple more balls and we get our red-zone offense going … The W/L columns would look a lot different.
John: Yes.
Trit from York, PA:
How much better would our offense be with Greg Roman or Marc Trestman as our offensive coordinator, especially with the quarterback situation? I think either one would be a good fit to teach Bortles since that's what they're known for.
John: Roman and Trestman are two names being thrown out for the Jaguars' offensive coordinator position, though there's no evidence at this point that "thrown out" means they are being officially considered for the position. Roman was previously the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and Trestman was previously the head coach for the Chicago Bears. Roman and Caldwell were college roommates, and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley and Trestman are said to be close. Trestman has had success with quarterbacks such as Rich Gannon, Scott Mitchell, Jake Plummer, Steve Young and Jay Cutler. Roman has been the 49ers' coordinator since 2011 and has worked with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick during that time. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown, who played for Trestman in Chicago, speaks highly of Trestman and has lobbied for Trestman as a candidate for the Buccaneers' vacant offensive coordinator position. Roman also is reportedly interviewing in Tampa Bay. How would either fit with the Jaguars? How much better would the offense be with either? That remains to be seen. Both are highly thought of in NFL circles and have strong resumes; both are also looking for work after disappointing seasons. Such is life in the NFL.
Hunter from Orlando, FL:
I think Gus led a lot of folks down a rabbit hole with his "difference in philosophy" comment regarding the firing of Fisch. While there is certainly an element of that, it seems obvious the main reason was the offense showed little signs of improvement. Young and inexperienced? Yes. But they should have been better than they were late in the season. That's on Fisch.
John: A lot of people think that. And while it's doubtful Fisch would have been fired had the Jaguars been in the Top 20 in the NFL offensively, difference in philosophy was far and away the primary reason for the dismissal. Bradley understood the obstacles facing the young offense.
Mike from West Des Moines, IA:
I hate parsing words. You say you hope the Jaguars draft best available player after their first pick. I recall Caldwell saying he is a needs-based drafter. Were you saying you hope Caldwell does what he has been doing, drafting good players that will help this team long-term instead of being tempted to draft for need now in an effort to bring up the team's win total short term? Am I reading between the leaves too much?
John: I don't know how much you're reading between the leaves or the lines … or whatever. I was saying I hope Caldwell drafts the best available player after the first round for a couple of reasons. One, Caldwell said this week that the roster is getting to the point that rookies shouldn't necessarily be depended upon to start; that's the ideal situation and that hasn't been the case the last two years. Two, the more you can draft based on talent and potential and not for need the better chance you have to build a talented roster.
Nick from T-Dot:
Wasn't this supposed to be the offseason where Blake delved into the offense, and truly became an expert on it? With Bradley sounding like he'll take his time finding the replacement, Bortles probably won't see a playbook until April or May and he'll be back to where he was when he was drafted. This was supposed to be a productive offseason for him. I don't see it anymore.
John: I imagine Bradley will hire a coordinator well before the end of January. I imagine Blake Bortles will get a playbook pretty soon after that. That's not to say there won't be a lot of learning and a lot of adjusting for Bortles. I've said before that's undoubtedly the risk involved with Bradley's decision to change coordinators, but let's wait and see before we say Bortles won't be productive this offseason.
Theo from the Midwest:
So, Fitzgerald has a huge contract next year and I'm thinking he gets released. What are the chances he wants to be reunited with Sullivan and comes here for cheapish? I think his veteran presence would help Bortles and this receiving squad tremendously. You think Caldwell would look into it if he gets released?
John: I'm not sure how cheapish Larry Fitzgerald would be and even though he respects Jaguars wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, I doubt he would take much less than market value … but yeah – I'd think that's something Caldwell would consider.
Manuel from Jacksonville:
Two questions. Do we cut Ace or does he get another chance to compete for a roster spot? Are we set at center or do we look for a veteran in free agency and Bowanko as the future center?
John: Two answers. I think Ace Sanders will be in training camp next offseason, and I think Luke Bowanko will start at center next season.
Phil from Coral Springs, FL:
John, an offseason question ... for the guys that are rehabbing ... are they allowed to rehab at the facility with the training/strength staff, or are they left to their devices? I'm assuming that 'no coaching' doesn't refer to the training/strength staff. Can you explain?
John: Players are allowed to rehab at the facility. All players can work out at the facility. The strength-and-conditioning staff can observe and instruct the players in such a way to help the player avoid injury, but the staff cannot supervise the activity.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
Is 2015 a contract year for you O-man? Whatever you are making, you deserve more.
John: My contract is pretty much "Do what we say when we say it, and if you're lucky your security code will work each morning." As of Wednesday, the code still worked. That was the last day of 2014. We'll wait until Monday to see what 2015 brings, I suppose.

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