O-Zone: Dominant performance

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mark from CP, MD:
What reasons do you believe that this team will be relevant unlike the five or six years?
John: I don't know that I've said or written that I absolutely believe the Jaguars will be relevant next season – at least if by relevant you mean playing in the playoffs. I have written that I believe the Jaguars have a chance to get to around .500 next season. I believe that because I believe the defense is good and can get better. I also believe the players next season will believe in the direction under Head Coach Doug Marrone, and I believe Marrone is a capable head coach who can get the most out of a team if players buy in. The reasons I'm not banging the table that this will be a playoff team are the same reasons I didn't bang the table that this was a playoff team entering last season: the offense has yet to show it can be consistent and productive in crucial situations, and the pass rush has yet to show it can pressure quarterbacks consistently in crucial situations. The offense is the most important area, and it begins with the quarterback – and Blake Bortles or whoever is playing quarterback must play at a higher level for the Jaguars to reach playoff-level relevance.
John from Nowheresville:
Hey O! I have heard several different things related to Julius Thomas' contract. Did a deadline pass for the $3 million Friday? Or, is the $3 million at the beginning of the year? And, do you think he'll be back next year? Thank you! #DTWD Go Jags!
John: There is $3 million in guaranteed money in Thomas' contract that kicks in if he is on the roster on March 9, which is the start of the new league year. I think it makes sense to bring Thomas back because I think he's a talented player, but if I had to lean right now I'd lean toward him not returning.
Frankie from London, UK:
Mr. O, it appears to make more sense to me to establish the potential for a strong running game by improving the offensive line and getting more productivity out of both Chris Ivory and T.J.Yeldon before drafting a running back. Does it make sense to get a first-round-worthy running back if you can't run the ball effectively?
John: That indeed is the dilemma. I'm a believer that most running backs depend on the effectiveness of the offensive line, so I'm not a big running-back-in-the-Top-10 guy. We'll see if the Jaguars go the other direction.
Fred from Jacksonville:
Trade Thomas and a pick for Jimmy G. Can you imagine Brady with Gronk and Thomas? What kind of pick would it take to do the deal?
John: In Madden or, like, for real?
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Blake Bortles over the past two seasons: completed 58.7 percent of his passes for 8,333 yards with 58 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. His 2016 quarterback rating was 49.2. Kirk Cousins over the past two seasons: completed 68.9 percent of his passes for 9,083 yards with 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. His 2016 quarterback rating was 71.7. I know that statistics don't tell the whole story, but shouldn't statistics at least prompt some interest in Cousins as an unrestricted free agent?
John: Those are awesome statistics, and I agree that Cousins would be worth pursuing as an unrestricted free agent. I wasn't sure a few years back, but he has played well enough to merit consideration. But there's a long way to go before free agency, and I would be surprised if Cousins isn't under contract with the Washington Redskins by the March 9 start of the new league year.
Scott from Jacksonville:
I've hated those clock rules. They're designed to keep the clock running except near end of halves and games. Fewer plays run per game always felt like a rip off to me.
John: OK.
James from Duval:
Goodbye, JT. It wasn't fun and too damned expensive. With the free-agent market slim on tight ends, do you think we will draft one in the higher rounds and who stands out as a good pick?
John: I doubt the Jaguars will select a tight end early in the draft, but we'll see. As far as Thomas … yes, he has been expensive and hasn't met expectations, but Thomas did catch nine touchdown passes in two seasons, so there have been worse free-agent signings in NFL history. It turned out Thomas hasn't been a core player and he hasn't been what the Jaguars hoped when they paid a wild amount of money to lure him from Denver, so … hey! Welcome to NFL free agency!
Jeremy from Dodge City, KS:
O, what are your thoughts on the Jags drafting Jamal Adams at No. 4? I think he is another play maker that will help make our defense elite!
John: If the Jaguars look at Jamal Adams and believe he is a player who can be a core player and a foundation of the franchise, then by all means they should take him. That matters more at No. 4 than position.
Edward from Los Angeles, CA:
Tupac or Biggie?
John: Sexton.
Mark from Archer, FL:
Once more the media bias against Jacksonville shows itself. The All-Rookie team is listed and Yannick Ngakoue is not in the defensive linemen. Only one of the rookie defensive linemen I can agree being over him, and that was Joey Bosa. Yannick played better and put up more numbers than the other three. Why do we get no love? It can't just be about winning because they had rookies from other teams that were horrible this year. Dang it when a player plays really well he deserves recognition.
John: I can't get passionate about the lack of postseason recognition for players from a 3-13 team. Yannick Ngakoue made the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team. He didn't make the one that you saw. OK.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
O, Man, would it shock you if the Jags drafted a quarterback in the first round of upcoming draft? It is possible you know ...
John: Yes, as of of right now it would shock me if the Jaguars selected a quarterback at No. 4 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. But I've been shocked before and I don't mind it all that much.
Baguar from Jacksonville:
"but people were projecting Bortles at the top of the draft …" Who, exactly? Bortles was a reach.
John: Some analysts had him early and some had him anywhere from Top 10-to-20. In the days before the draft, many people around the NFL projected him in the Top 10 or Top 5. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell believed there were teams interested in taking Bortles in the Top 10, so he believed he needed to take Bortles at No. 3 to get the player he believed would be the Jaguars' franchise quarterback. It's always difficult to know what's real in the draft and what isn't, but that's why Bortles went as early as he did. If you believe in a quarterback you take him when he's there and don't risk losing him.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
The draft of 1997 might be a good indication of what Tom Coughlin might look at. He wanted Curtis Enis and he got Fred Taylor. He got that pick from the Rob Johnson trade. If you have to pick that special player in the draft it has to be Leonard Fournette. He has the speed, the size, the hands, he keeps his pads low and has that vision and can take it to the house on any play just like Fred! You never know but Fournette looks to be one of those gifted players. Go Jaguars!
John: Hey, one fer Leonard!
Cameron from Kearney:
Hi John. In response to Paul from SoCal reference Boselli, I remember watching Tony at games and I was present at Alltell Stadium on January 15, 2000. In the most lopsided playoff game in NFL history, who was that lining up for the Dolphins at right defensive end? That player did not line up on the left side to take advantage of Brunell's blind side, and he did not record a single sack. One NFL playoff game does not make a Hall of Fame career, but it goes a long way when you look at the players Tony faced one-on-one, don't ya think?
John: Boselli indeed fared very well against Taylor when the two played, and Taylor recently said as much publicly. But while the Jaguars' 62-7 victory over the Dolphins on January 15, 2000, indeed was the most lopsided playoff game in NFL history, it says nothing about Boselli's dominance as a player. He missed that game with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

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