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O-Zone: Cup of Joe

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Mike from Brunswick, GA:
While Khan shells out real dollars this year for the signing bonus, isn't that money actually spread out over the life of the contract as far as the cap is concerned? Jag management doesn't want to get to Years 2 and 3 when the team is looking good and then have no cap room to sign free agents when you need them because we went out and spent a lot of money the very first year in a rebuild. No?
John: That's a big part of it, no question. But also remember, the fundamental, absolute truth to free agency is you are almost always inheriting problems – and by definition, you are signing an older player another team opted to not retain. Older players often come with injury issues at a high cost, and they are closer to being past their prime than a younger player. That's why the Jaguars are trying for the most part to target younger free agents – when they partake at all. As for why they're not paying bigger money, in some cases, it's simply a matter of timing. The idea right now is to get back to Square One and start laying a clean foundation. You can't release every player on the roster – nor would you want to – but if you can get as many young guys competing and buying in, then you have the chance to reset the foundation.
James from Orange Park, FL:
Can I have a dollar?
John: If I had one, you could have it. That's the kind of person I am. Giving.
Michael from Orange Park, FL:
Is BAP vs. needs really this hard? It's a spectrum! Just because we have a need (say, quarterback) doesn't mean we draft a quarterback at No. 2 if he's not a franchise quarterback. Just like you don't necessarily pass up on a franchise left tackle just because you have a good left tackle. I bet every once in a while a general manager drafts somebody just because "there's just something about him" that doesn't fit BAP or need.
John: I wouldn't quite go so far as to say a general manager drafts a guy because "there's just something about him." But your point is that the draft process is more subtle than simply putting a huge chart on a wall with grades and blindly going down the list and crossing off names, and on that point, I absolutely agree. Bill Polian used to talk often about not wanting his scouts to ever say "I like a player." He wanted to know why. He wanted hard data. He wanted to take the "gut feeling" out of the equation. At the same time, there's a human element to selecting people for any endeavor and that's true of drafting and signing football players, too.
Nick from Fort Benning, GA:
Why are people on and ESPN knocking Geno Smith's accuracy? I just saw he had a completion percentage of 71.2 last season. Isn't that good?
John: It is, though the knock on Smith you hear, too, is that a lot of his completions were under 10 yards. Completion percentage, like pretty much any stat, is a tool. You have to take the stat, use it as a starting point and a gauge and then figure out how best to use it in the overall context of the player.
Jim from Jacksonville:
I am hoping that the 53-man roster will change by 25-30 players. How do you see the change?
John: That may be a bit high, but not by much. The Jaguars already have parted ways with Laurent Robinson, Guy Whimper, Derek Cox, Dawan Landry, Terrance Knighton, Eben Britton, Rashean Mathis, Rashad Jennings, Aaron Ross – just to name the most high-profile guys. A roster typically changes 10-to-12 players so to think the Jaguars could double that in this season of competition/transition isn't much of a stretch at all.
Steven from Fernandina Beach, FL:
How do you assess our receiving corps? I want to believe, but Blackmon and Shorts are young, and each has had 6-8 good games. Shipley as a third wide out does not excite me. Do you see this as an area of need?
John: I do, because pretty much every position on the roster could be improved. In general, I think your assessment of the receiver position is pretty accurate. Shorts and Blackmon have shown they can be productive players. Shipley has shown he can get open in the middle of the field and get yardage, but I don't know that he's yet shown he's a receiver for whom defenses must game plan. For that matter, I don't know that Blackmon and Shorts are quite there yet, either. That's not to say they won't get there, but they're not quite there yet. The area has improved since this time last season, but to say the Jaguars couldn't upgrade there wouldn't be accurate.
Brian from Mandarin, FL:
I heard there were 11 cases of offensive-helmet hits that would have been subject to penalty with the new rule. Another quote was 34 or so. I have never heard of an injury as a result of this type of hit. Have there been any? How severe? Other than pride that is.
John: The statistic I heard at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix was that when the NFL reviewed video from Weeks 10 and 16 this past season, they found 11 plays that would have been penalized under the "crown-of-the-helmet" rule. It was split relatively evenly in terms of infractions by offensive and defensive players. What I didn't hear, and what I haven't seen, is how many concussion-related incidents have occurred from this sort of hit. At first glance, this type of hit does not seem as dangerous as hits on "defenseless players," because these types of hits almost always occur with each player preparing for impact. But Competition Committee Co-Chair Rich McKay said it best this week when he said whereas a lot of the previous rules have been about protecting defenseless players this one is more about protecting players from themselves.
Debs from Jacksonville:
Mr. Ozone, I have some questions. Is it me or is there a lot more re-negotiation to decrease player salaries this off season? Am I just paying more attention this year? Considering there is a rookie salary cap, the owners have more money and they have to spend 89 percent of the cap, why all the re-structuring?
John: There does seem to be a bit more restructuring this offseason, although there is a certain amount of restructuring each year and always has been. The 2001 Jaguars, for example, structured pretty much their entire roster in an effort to stave off cap issues. The reason for the restructuring this offseason is that the cap increased only minimally this offseason. Because of that, a lot of players whose salaries were to increase next season found themselves with the choice of restructuring or being released.
Vince from Farmington, NM:
Urlacher? Tell me that doesn't at least intrigue you...
John: OK.
Steve from Ponte Vedra Brach, FL:
I know you are frustrated with the BAP questions. But you should understand how those of us that read Vic for years were "trained." His message was PURE BAP. Need did not factor in at all.
John: I understand.
Nick from Washington, DC:
It's more than just due diligence, John. Gus Bradley said he had high expectations for Geno Smith, and that Smith surpassed them. It's one thing to send a group of people to WVU to watch him throw and to then subject him to a lengthy interview. That's due diligence. Doing all of that and then having your head coach state that he had high expectations for Geno Smith and that Smith surpassed them is far more of an external showing of interest than one could infer from mere information gathering. Whether it was a truthful statement or not, it's just something that wasn't in the Jags' interest to say no matter what. If the Jaguars want Geno Smith, then they shouldn't make that apparent to the public. If they don't want him, then they should want to trade down with someone who does want him (and that should be an option since the Raiders definitely aren't letting him get past #3), which means that the Jaguars should not create the impression that they're interested in Smith and cause teams to feel they need to trade to #1 to get him.
John: You lost me somewhere around "external showing of interest" or so. The Jaguars went to watch Smith work out. They are now considering several players for the No. 2 selection in the draft, and it's safe to assume that Smith is legitimately one of them. If I had to guess, right now I'd guess that they won't take Smith and that they will go defensive end/pass rusher. That's because I don't know that Smith has shown enough to make you really sure he's destined to be a franchise quarterback. We're still a month from the draft, so there's time to change my mind and perhaps I will. Often.
Paul from Gainesville, FL:
"I'm about worn out on this whole BAP-versus-needs thing." Whoa! You've just made my Ask Vic coffee cup obsolete! When are you offering the "O-Zone worn out on BAP" coffee cup for sale? Or, you could call it the "just worn out" coffee cup.
John: I'm just worn out. Go drink your coffee.

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