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O-Zone: Don't waste time on math

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Paul from Lohrville, IA:
My opinion is in the draft we will target specific defensive players that fit Head Coach Gus Bradley's style. (Big corners, physical safeties, guys that can play the Leo). But I don't get the impression there is a firm philosophy on how the offense will operate. Does this mean needs-based drafting on defense and BAP on offense? It seems that Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch is a guy who can take the players given to him and adjust the offense to fit the players, rather than wanting players that fit his offense.
John: It may be time to ease off the pedal a bit on the BAP-needs based stuff. It's black-and-white terminology when reality is that most teams grade players in the draft, then select the best fit for need from the highest-ranked group of players on the board at the time. There's usually just not this mammoth difference between players available, particularly after the first 10-to-15 selections in the draft. We can keep beating BAP to death, and I get that it has been a long-discussed subject, but to think of it in a pure sense just doesn't reflect the reality of most draft rooms. As for the bigger issue in your question, just because the Jaguars haven't talked about specific types of offensive players doesn't mean there's no plan. The defense has been a source of interest because Bradley brings a specific style and because Seattle was successful with that style last season. Offensively, a lot of the style eventually will depend on the quarterback, but even aside from that, there's a plan. They're going to be a zone-blocking team, which means athletic linemen, and they're going to have Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon on the outside. That's a good start.
Jody from Fort Pierce, FL:
I hope we draft Eric Fisher at No. 2. What's not to like if Joeckel is gone? I think Fisher is the next-best player coming out and with how we have been drafting recently, we would be better off. We have Monroe, so the first round should be grabbing the best player available in that slot. We can stick him at right this year and move him next year if Monroe leaves. Am I crazy?
John: I truly love the pre-draft lead up. What's most fascinating is the ebb and flow of speculation. As one reader mentioned, before the combine, the thought process for many when it came to the Jaguars was all defensive end/pass rusher all the time. Now, since the combine, observers seem to be comfortable with the idea of a tackle at No. 2. In a week or so, that may shift to something else. Right now, we remain very much in the theory/speculation phase because there's still a month of Pro Days followed by a couple of weeks of finalizing the draft board. There remain a number of scenarios for the Jaguars at No. 2, and it will remain that way because someone could always jump them for the No. 1 pick. We're a long way out on this topic, and the ride in is going to be wild and fascinating.
Eric from Boone, NC:
Defensive ends take time to develop; top-drafted cornerbacks often make the Pro Bowl in their rookie seasons. Wouldn't it make sense to draft a cornerback before a defensive end with the No. 2 selection? I'd want a player who makes a difference right away. Grabbing a 3-4 outside linebacker for the LEO role makes no sense either, why use the 2nd pick on a part time player.
John: I want the player who's going to be the best player in two years. I also would prefer the pass rusher to corner. That's because a pass rusher can disrupt the offense and take away the entire field whereas the cornerback can take away one receiver.
Chris from Philadelphia, PA:
Any chance SMU's Margus Hunt lasts until our pick in the second round?
John: There is a chance. Hunt was a hot name at the combine, and drew comparisons to Jared Allen. He's the sort of athlete that's going to draw huge buzz throughout the predraft process, and that could be enough to push him into the late first round. At the same time, it seems doubtful he would go much higher than that, so sure, if things break right, he could be there at No. 33.
Ron from Jacksonville:
Six years, $120 million contract for Flacco??? COME ON! There's no way he deserves to be the top-paid player in the NFL. If it wasn't for the pieces around him, he would be average on any other team.
John: "Deserve" has nothing to do with it. Flacco had a huge year in his contract year and was the quarterback on a Super Bowl-winning team. He also played well and gave signs that he is ascending. He also plays a position that merits huge amounts of money. Everything came together for him. That's how the NFL works sometimes.
Jared from Wisconsin:
How close are we to signing Derek Cox, Daryl Smith, Rashean Mathis and Guy Whimper?
John: Well, the Jaguars released Guy Whimper last week, and there would be no reason to release him one week and re-sign him the next. It appears Cox likely will hit free agency, and there seems a good chance the others will, too. Once a player hits free agency in the NFL these days, it's relatively rare they return.
Dan from Gainesville, FL:
I noticed Mark Lamping keeps thinking we normally have 10 home games a season. I noticed he said it in the State of the Franchise and in the Q and A you had with him. Someone should tell him that we now only have seven games in Jacksonville and eight home games normally.
John: He's including preseason games. When NFL people talk about ticket sales, they include that because they're all sold as part of the same package.
Cody from Jacksonville:
What made the Titans so hard for the Jaguars to beat in '99?
John: They were good, first of all. Remember, that team came within a play of forcing overtime in the Super Bowl. They had a very good pass rush that made things difficult for the Jaguars. They also ran extremely well, and the Jaguars' defense was better with a lead in pass rushing situations than against strong running teams. Mostly, though, it was that the Titans were good. The Jaguars that season played a relatively weak schedule. Except for Tennessee, the AFC Central was down, with Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Baltimore all struggling. They also played Denver the year after John Elway retired and a Jets team without Vinny Testaverde. They got Miami in the postseason six days after the Dolphins traveled to Seattle for the first round of the playoffs. The Jaguars were 14-2, but the reality was they were probably a pretty similar team to the Titans and the Titans matched up very well against Jacksonville that season. That doesn't diminish what the Jaguars did that season, but the Titans were just better enough to sweep them.
Jon from Nijmegen, Netherlands:
Was thinking about the '96 draft class, defensive ends and Tony Brackens. I always felt T. Brack was inconsistent in his play and would disappear during portions of the game. But, oh man, when he decided to show up, he could change the entire game. Given the choice would you choose an effort defensive end (i.e. Mike McCrary) or someone like T. Brack?
John: First, I'm not sure it's fair to imply Brackens didn't give effort. Different players have different styles, and often players are wrongly labeled as not giving effort. Pass rushers as often as not are limited more by circumstance and opportunity than effort. Most need to be in pass-rushing situations – i.e., holding a lead, long yardage, late in games – to pile up huge sack numbers. Brackens remains clearly the best pass rusher in Jaguars history, and his legacy should be that for a significant portion of his career he was that rarest of defensive players – a guy who could truly turn a game around from the defensive side of the ball. He played big in some big games for those Jaguars teams of the late 1990s, and their record during those years wouldn't have been as good without him. That's a pretty strong legacy.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
The Jags have 19 restricted and unrestricted free agents. They have waived three players to date. We have seven draft picks. That leaves 15 available spots. The intent is to fill most of those with college free agency?
John: I wouldn't waste time trying to figure out the specifics of the math – not unless you really want to spend a lot of time adding and subtracting. Gus Bradley has talked about competition a lot since taking the job, and it's pretty clear he sees a similar situation to his second year as defensive coordinator in Seattle. That was when Pete Carroll took over as head coach and the Seahawks had 284 roster moves. It's safe to expect something like that for the Jaguars this season – maybe not quite that high, maybe a bit higher. Either way, it's probably not going to be a mathematical formula we can pin down just now.

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