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O-Zone: Defining success

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Jason from Virginia Beach, VA:
I'm a little confused by the recent releases. I get the idea of building through the draft and limiting money spent on free agents to build a long-term contender. However, we only have seven draft picks and not all of those picks will be able to start Week One. You said the roster wouldn't be turned over as dramatically as fans would hope for. I would argue these releases show the roster will have a complete turnover. Who from our secondary is left? We can't use the whole draft on cornerbacks and safety.
John: Let's take a deep breath and step back. Look at the depth chart. Defensively, the Jaguars have opted not to re-sign two cornerbacks – Rashean Mathis and Aaron Ross – who were unproductive last season for different reasons (Mathis because of age and injury; Ross . . . well, he just was). It also appears very possible cornerback Derek Cox will not return. While he was effective when healthy, that wasn't as often as it needs to be to re-sign a player to a huge contract. If the Jaguars and Cox can find middle ground, he obviously would be an asset. They also released safety Dawan Landry, who while reliable since signing as a free agent two seasons ago, hasn't been exactly a difference-maker. Outside of the secondary, though, it's not as if there's a mass exodus of productive players. They're attempting to re-sign center Brad Meester and fullback Greg Jones to short-term deals, which makes sense and could happen. Linebacker Daryl Smith without question will be a big short-term loss, and he likely will have a productive year or two elsewhere, but defensive tackle Terrance Knighton by any measure has been too inconsistent to sign to a big-money deal. Again, if he's back at the right price, he makes sense. The rest of the departing free agents? Eben Britton, Rashad Jennings, Steve Vallos, Jalen Parmale, Antwaun Molden, Jordan Palmer, Will Middleton? These are exactly the sorts of players who change teams when teams rebuild. To extend this too-long response a bit, the defensive line is essentially intact (Jason Babin, Andre Branch, C.J. Mosley, Tyson Alualu, Jeremy Mincey), with Paul Posluszny, Russell Allen, Dwight Lowery and Mike Harris returning in the back seven. Offensively, Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon, Blaine Gabbert, Marcedes Lewis, possibly Jones and the entire offensive line except for right tackle appears to have a good chance at returning. So far, we're talking losses at secondary and outside linebacker; that's not a dramatic turnover. Stay tuned.
Kris from Green Bay, WI:
I have to just say this and I want to precursor this remark with the fact I have been a lifetime Jaguar fan: If the new regime thinks releasing basically the entire starting secondary is going to be rebuilding for the future to be competitive, I weep for the future.
John: Really? I don't.
Joshua from Saint Johns, FL:
Instead of just railing on each individual move, I have a question to cover the larger scope here: We have lost four defensive backs so far. We have seven draft picks, several needs, and are not going to be active in free agency. My question is this: How can we have enough NFL-caliber players with this strategy if nothing else changes? By selecting and signing good players, then developing them. Look, the Jaguars aren't going to be active early in expensive free agency. That doesn't meant they're not going to acquire enough players to field a team.
John: Perspective? Please?
Bo from Dresden, NC:
Do you ever get anyone that says they can't wait for the draft to see who we pick? I'm fired up with the new regime and what is taking place!
John: I think there are a lot of people who feel that way – or at least they should be. They just seem to be logged out of their email accounts this weekend.
Patrick from Dixon, CA:
Have you heard any buzz around Arizona quarterback Matt Scott? I feel like he's getting talked about more lately and I read that a good number of the staff were at his Pro Day. In my opinion he'd be great as the quarterback to come compete with Blaine in either the second or third round depending on how high the team actually values him.
John: He's a guy who's getting more attention lately, and the Jaguars were indeed well-represented at his Pro Day this week. There is a connection there, with new Jaguars quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo having coached him two years at Arizona. I'm always wary of making too much of such past connections. General managers don't sign players just for that reason, but it makes sense that Scott is on the Jaguars' radar.
Austin from San Antonio, TX:
Can you see, in any way, Jacksonville being the place Vince Young receives another shot in the NFL?
John: That would shock me.
David from Durban, South Africa:
Surely the release of Ross and Landry, coupled with the lack of interest in resigning Mathis and Cox, means that the team is constrained to draft a corner in April. That being the case, there is a significant drop in talent after Milliner that he represents value and fulfills a need. Why not Milliner? Oh yes, he is not 6-2. Well, then we better draft Ziggy Ansah.
John: Gee, David, the negativity just seeps from your email. "Constrained" to draft a corner? Maybe David Caldwell looked at this roster and said, "You know what? We need to get better at this position?" Maybe Gus Bradley said, "Yeah, I have a different vision for the position, one based on guys playing press coverage?" Maybe they see guys in the draft who can play that and maybe one of their names is Milliner and maybe it isn't. My guess is they go pass rusher early, and focus on corner in the second or third round, but that's just a guess. I also guess they'll sign a veteran corner at a reasonable price in free agency. My overriding point is let's give David Caldwell and Gus Bradley a chance to do the job they were hired and trained to do before we assume they don't know what's going to fit best.
Marion from Section 437:
Since becoming a season tickets owner in 2007, for casual wear I have worn only Jags gear. But I will never wear the new logo. It looks like a bad Japanese anime cartoon sketched for a grade-school mascot. Instead of messing with the existing fan base with fluff like this, why don't they just focus on winning more than two games?
John: You're right. The time spent on the logo is certainly why they've struggled on the field. Honestly, the more I think on this, I'm kicking myself for missing this storyline. I'll get a story posted on this, and I'll forward it to Ryan O'Halloran over at the Times-Union, too.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
There is not going to be a lot of heroes on a 2-14 team.
John: Wherever you go, there you are.
Barry from Jacksonville:
As there is a mass exodus of free agents exiting the roster, are we in line for gaining any compensatory picks as a result? How does this work?
John: The Jaguars would be in line for compensatory selections from this free agent class, but not until next offseason and the selections would be based on players such as Daryl Smith, Terrance Knighton, Derek Cox and Rashad Jennings – providing those players leave. Those players are unrestricted free agents, meaning they played out existing contracts and entered the free agent market. Players such as Dawan Landry and Aaron Ross would not count toward or against the awarding of compensatory selections.
Sandro from El Paso, TX:
I had a long question to ask you but I shortened it to this. What would you consider a successful 2013 season? Just because we only won two games last year does not mean that three-to-four wins is a step in the right direction.
John: No, but considering what the Jaguars are doing with the roster, I'm not sure how much the season is going to be measured in victories and losses. Gus Bradley is talking about the team getting better every day, and while fans who hear that every now and then may hear it as CoachSpeak, I assure you it's something he stresses constantly and lives by. What's that going to mean for the Jaguars? It means that while the Jaguars want to win, they mainly want to see improvement and steps in the right direction, particularly early next season. By the end of next season, I want to watch the Jaguars from the press box and see a team that I truly believe is getting better and truly has the beginning of a core of young players who can set a foundation. I want to see them competing and being in games at the end. I also want to see a team truly believing it's going to be better in 2014, one that spends the 2014 offseason waiting for what it will be a playoff team that season. If we see that, 2013 is a success.

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