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O-Zone: Culture club

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Mark from Archer, FL:
Jeremy Mincey is yet another example of a player having one decent year, then being given a bigger, new contract. While his contract was not huge like some other stars, I never have understood this pattern in the NFL. A player has a breakout year, gets a huge contract extension and basically sucks after that. Why doesn't NFL wait on giving that big contract? If I were an owner, I would want to see a player playing consistently at a high level for a few years before giving a big contract extension.
John: Let's keep the Mincey deal in perspective. He played two seasons for about $10 million, and although that's a lot of money, it doesn't exactly register when stacking up the worst contracts of all-time. Mincey, remember, had eight sacks during the 2011 season, with five coming in two games against a struggling Colts team. So, a pretty strong case can be made that he didn't digress after signing the contract as much as he was the same player – i.e., a high-effort guy who wasn't a Pro Bowler but who very definitely could be a contributing part of a good defensive line rotation. As far as the NFL waiting to give players big contracts, sure, owners ideally would do that, but this isn't about the "league" giving the contracts; rather, it's individual teams. Had the Jaguars not signed Mincey in 2012 the Chicago Bears probably were going to sign him at a similar salary. Free agency is a "free market," and that means prices are about what the market will bear.
Daniel from Johnston, IA:
Is there a concern we might be overhyping the improvement of, say, our offensive line? You said the team that starts the season is not necessarily the team that ends the season; isn't it also fair to say the team that ends a season isn't the team that starts the next season (regarding performance)? I love the increased performance but I would still like to see significant upgrades to both lines in the offseason...
John: Well, it sounds like you're concerned, so apparently there is "a" concern, but it doesn't matter how much hype either line is receiving. The people running the Jaguars realize that even with four victories in five games, this is not a complete, mature roster. Upgrades are needed at nearly every position group. The fact that the Jaguars are playing better in some areas doesn't mean the front office and coaching staff will stop looking to get better there.
Andrew from Duval, FL:
I'm so confused about the quarterback situation going forward. What will the Jaguars do with Blaine Gabbert? Will they try to get something for him? What will be the role of Chad Henne if they draft another quarterback, or get one from free agency? And what about Matt Scott's role going forward?
John: I'm sorry you're confused. Confusion can be, you know, confusing. The Jaguars' quarterback situation is a bit confusing because the season hasn't ended yet and roster decisions are in no way final until after the season. Blaine Gabbert probably won't be back, and while the Jaguars will probably try to trade him, it seems more likely he would be released. Chad Henne's status will depend on his wishes as well as the Jaguars. He is a free agent, and the team is likely to trade for or draft a potential starting quarterback, so Henne and the team must decide if it makes sense for him to re-sign and compete. There's no way to know that until the sides discuss it in the offseason. Matt Scott is a practice squad guy for now, so he also is a free agent. He's still developing, so the Jaguars could decide to re-sign him and have him compete for a role next season, but he wouldn't be considered an early favorite to compete for a starting position next season.
Chris from Crestview, FL:
Players and not plays. I have heard time and time that locker-room chemistry is overrated. In releasing Mincey, however, that appears to not be correct. Can you expound on the situation?
John: I'm as confused as Andrew after reading this question. But Mincey's release wasn't about locker-room chemistry or "players not plays." It was about Mincey apparently being distracted by non-football issues and Gus Bradley deciding it was time to part ways with the veteran.
Jesse from Panama City, FL:
On All-Access Lageman said there were some explosive plays on defense from Tyson Alualu and Paul Posluszny. He teased them for Film Room Friday, yet they were not on there. Does Lageman usually tease you like this??? Time to make a stand O-man, and make Lageman "keep it tight"!!
John: Who's Jeff Lagamen? And what's, "Film Room Friday?"
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
Do you see David Caldwell sticking with the same draft philosophy as last year in selecting for need moreso than for best available player? I don't want to regurgitate the BAP-philosophy thing all over again but I was just curious if you think the overall philosophy would change at all given the improvement of some guys in positions we considered needs earlier this year.
John: I think David Caldwell will draft pretty much as he said would be the case when he took over the Jaguars. He thinks it's important to draft with need in mind, and he generally prefers big-school players. There obviously are people who get waaaaaaaaaaaay too theoretical and philosophical with this need-versus-best-available-player thing. Perhaps I've even fallen into that bottomless trap. The reality is while we can talk it to death and outline theories, the draft – like the NFL – is not done in a laboratory. No one drafts strictly for need and no one drafts strictly best available player. You put your board up and there are players in groups and a lot of those players after the first round are graded very, very close. When players are close, generally speaking need becomes a factor in the selection. That's not the entire draft in one paragraph, but it's a general idea.
Darrell from Starke, FL:
Did the San Diego win eliminate our chance to win the Super Bowl?
John: No. The Jaguars are still mathematically alive for the postseason. San Diego, Miami and Baltimore must lose out and other teams must lose. The Jaguars also must win out. It's remote, but it's still possible.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Pushes you while you're using the urinal #shadricksightings
John: It's why I keep a change of clothes in my office.
Chad from Jacksonville:
If you had to pick right now who are the Jaguars taking in the first round?
John: The player they like best when they draft.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Will the Jags be in the market for a different starting guard for next year? I would sure love to see them get another Manuwai-type player again.
John: That may be an area they examine once the season is over, and the entire interior struggled as a group at times early in the season. At the same time, bear in mind that the Jaguars – like all teams – will evaluate their roster in the months after the season. Until that process is complete, anything about offseason roster moves is speculation.
Etheric from Spaceville, FL:
Since Jaguars will pick outside Top 5, what would it take to trade up to No. 1 and select Bridgewater providing Caldwell likes him enough to be franchise quarterback? So they can win and STILL get Teddy?!
John: If, say, the Jaguars had the ninth overall selection that likely would take that selection plus a first-rounder the following year or a couple of second-round selections spread out over seasons. It's not likely, but there's also not much to indicate that any team loves a quarterback in this draft enough to give up a basket full of draft picks.
David from Kingsland, GA:
If it takes time for these guys to understand what the coaches are trying to do, and if the chemistry we are building is making all the difference, won't we pretty much have to start all over again if they do what you suspect and have another huge turnover in the offseason again? I realize it's all about adding talent, but if we win six of the last eight games with the guys we have – and with a quarterback who is just OK – do we really need to replace 15-to-20 guys off of this 53-man roster again?
John: Most teams turn over double-digit players or close to it nearly every season. Do the math: most teams keep pretty much their entire draft class and maybe one rookie free agent, in addition to two-to-three free agent signings. That's not scientific, but you get the idea. The difference in last offseason to this offseason for the Jaguars will be the core of players returning will be completely bought into Gus Bradley and the direction of the organization. They get what he's about inherently now, and that means new additions can fall in line rather than everyone having to reinvent the culture.

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