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O-Zone: Doin' some schoolin'

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jeremy from Wise, VA:
I'm not one to worry about media perception, but over the last couple of weeks, I have noticed the media starting to come around to the fact this team IS getting better. Mike and Mike, Peter King, Pro Football Talk, etc., have recently said the Jaguars are ascending and will continue to get better. It is nice to hear those things instead of negativity or not being mentioned at all. Of course, hanging a 50 burger will cause that, too.
John: The media is starting to come around to the fact the Jaguars are improving for a fairly simple reason. That's that the Jaguars are … wait for it … improving!! Look, I'm not right all of the time and I'm actually wrong often, but I've been right about one thing since returning to Jacksonville in 2011: that the perception of the Jaguars, this city and this fan base will change when the team improves on the field. People have doubted this idea because the media has bashed the team, the fans and the city for so long. But the reason the media has bashed is because the team and the city have made for an easy target. That's no longer the case. Since Shad Khan bought the team in 2011, everything about this team with the exception of the record has undergone – and continues to undergo – a remarkable transformation. As the team continues to improve on the field, the media will notice that and they'll notice the off-field turnaround, too – and along with that, you'll see more deserved praise. The media likes success stories, and when the Jaguars become one, they'll tell it. Here's what has to happen to be a success story: you have to succeed. The Jaguars haven't quite done that yet. When they do, there will still be critics, but overall the perception will continue to change.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Were you surprised Chad Henne didn't play toward the end of the game Sunday? Was Gus just trying to let Blake experience the big win?
John: I wasn't surprised Blake Bortles stayed in the whole game. The Jaguars really didn't secure the game until 5:59 remained when Denard Robinson scored on a one-yard run. When the Jaguars got the ball back after that, it was on the one-yard line after Johnathan Cyprien's interception return. I wasn't surprised Chad Henne didn't play at that point, though I was surprised Blake Bortles tried to man up on the defender on the rollout on third down.
Joe from Philly, PA:
Hey, John: With the return of Dante Fowler Jr., do you see the Leo position as the primary draft need for this team or would you say free safety?
John: I believe the primary need for this defense is a playmaker – and I'm not particularly concerned about the position that player plays. I also believe there are few positions on the defense that wouldn't benefit from an elite-level talent. That said, if I had to pick one position outside of Leo pass rusher where the team could really benefit from an elite-level talent it indeed would be free safety.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, how do you feel the no-fullback experiment has gone this year?
John: I guess I don't see it as an experiment as much as the Jaguars doing what more and more teams are doing – i.e., going away from a position that more and more is becoming obsolete. It's not as if the Jaguars never line up with a player whose job it is to power run-block in short yardage. It's just that they choose to not have a roster spot solely dedicated to the spot. Tyson Alualu has played that role this season while also playing well on the interior of the defensive line and as a strong-side end. At no point have I thought, "Man, this rapidly ascending offense needs a fullback," so I guess from my view it has gone fine.
David from Oviedo, FL:
Johnny-O, in 2013 the Jags traded Mike Thomas to the Detroit Lions for their 2014 fifth-round pick. Thomas fizzled out in Detroit. On the other hand, the Jags packaged that pick to trade up nine spots with the San Francisco 49ers, allowing us to select Allen Robinson. Without Robinson, it's easy to predict we win fewer games, Bortles looks more like a bust and Dave and Gus are run out of town. We didn't know it at the time, but that trade changed the course of Jaguars history. Could you imagine where this team would be if we hadn't made that trade?
John: It was a good trade.
Chris from Crestview, FL:
John, I see online that Blake Bortles' QBR is low, in the lower third of the league. Looking at this advanced metric it seems to be a good indicator of what a quarterback is really doing. While he has shown drastic improvement from last year, it's still showing him as a below average quarterback. I wanted to know what you think about these advanced metrics, and in particular BB5's numbers.
John: It would be almost impossible to care about something less than I care about the QBR. I looked at the QBR chart for the first time this season when answering your email and I noticed Cam Newton was 11th. Hmmm. I have nothing against the QBR, particularly, and I certainly respect the work people did creating it. I don't spend time disliking it and I'm not campaigning against it. I just don't care about it much when looking at a quarterback, just as I don't think the football world begins and ends with the grades of Pro Football Focus. The QBR and PFF grades can be used as tools, and at times can be used to illustrate points. But they're not the end all. I see Bortles as an improving, young quarterback who's worlds better than I thought he would be at this point. I also see him as needing to improve a lot. His QBR has nothing to do with that opinion.
Andrew from Panama City Beach, FL:
Now that we are winning, do people smile at you in the hallways now?
John: The Jaguars have won one consecutive game, but no.
Thomas from Madison:
Over or under: Jason Myers will miss 1.5 PATs this weekend.
John: Under – and in fact, 1.5 under. I don't think Myers will miss another extra point this season. /Ducks
Cathy from Jacksonville Beach:
John, are all drafted rookies given four-year contracts (with an optional fifth year for first-rounders)? What about undrafted rookies? How soon can a player under his rookie contract have his contract renegotiated and extended? I'm thinking of Allen Hurns, who undoubtedly is playing now for a much smaller salary because of his undrafted status. Could the Jaguars decide to renegotiate and extend his contract after this season?
John: All draft selections are on four-year contracts, and teams indeed have the option to pick up a fifth season on first-round selections. Draft selections and teams may renegotiate after three seasons. Players who sign as rookie free agents can renegotiate after two seasons. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Allen Hurns and the Jaguars seriously consider renegotiating fairly soon after this season.
Thomas from Jacksonville:
How would you grade the middle-linebacker position during the Colts game and will that affect Poz's return.
John: It was fine and it will not.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
Do you sense the last two quarters we saw was some sort of fluke, and that the defense we saw against the Chargers and Titans will be there again against Drew Brees and the Saints? I'm proud of what we are starting to see from our offense but trying to not to be too optimistic about this defense. Thanks!
John: Realistically it's probably somewhere in between. The Jaguars' defense as a whole played well the entire game against the Colts – not just two quarters. But it also was playing a team struggling offensively. If the Jaguars don't get a pass rush on Matt Ryan Sunday, they almost certainly will give up points – maybe a lot of them. That obviously is true of Drew Brees as well.
Noel from Saint Augustine, FL:
Is it too early to start worrying that we may not financially be able to re-sign the hits from the 2014 draft class and the money they'll command?
John: Those are good worries, and remember: the reason the Jaguars haven't signed players just for the sake of signing them is because they want cap space to keep the core of the roster together. If the players who appear to be hits from the 2014 class continue to look like hits the Jaguars have planned well enough to re-sign them.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Could you please let J.P. know that "comfortability" is not a word? The word he is looking for there is "comfort." I know he went to 'Bama, so you'll probably have to tell him a couple times.
John: Actually, comfortability is a word. I know it is because it didn't have a red squiggly line when I typed it in Microsoft word and because I Googled it. Me and J.P. … let's just say we did us some schoolin' now.

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