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O-Zone: Dressed for the occasion

INDIANAPOLIS – Thoughts continue to percolate, and likely will for some time.

That happens when you see something game-changing and perspective-altering and that's what we all saw Tuesday, wasn't it?

We at immediately flew to the NFL Scouting Combine following Tuesday's Jaguars 2015 State of the Jaguars event at EverBank Field. Throughout the flight, I naturally kept thinking of the presentation of Jaguars Owner Shad Khan's vision for the Shipyards.

Judging from Tuesday's emails, I wasn't alone.

It's difficult to put the presentation into perspective. Stunning in its scope, ambitious in its scale, the Shipyards project if it comes to fruition will dramatically change not only the reality of downtown Jacksonville but its perception nationwide.

That's the first, most-obvious thought, and the second thought is I don't know that anyone – not the media covering the team, not its fans, not casual observers – had any idea when Khan bought the team in 2011 the impact he would make on the team, on the city, on its fans, on the community.

It truly has been remarkable to watch. If this Shipyards vision comes to fruition, we've only seen the beginning.

Those are the initial thoughts, inadequate though they may be. There's more time to discuss and dissect this story. We'll begin today and I imagine we'll continue for some time.

Let's get to it …

William from Section 231:
This is truly exciting to see the identity of this great city being formed right in front of us! Much praise to Shad Khan and vision!
John: I don't even know if it's right to call what Khan has "vision" anymore. It doesn't seem adequate. Whatever it is, it's stunning – and for this city, it has all the earmarks of being absolutely game-changing on an unprecedented scale.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
If the Jags go out and sign Cobb to a big deal does it mean that they don't believe the guys on our roster won't be as good as he is?
John: No, it means they think Cobb is a good wide receiver who can help the Jaguars. You're allowed to have more than one good player per position in the NFL.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
It appears the Clevelander Deck and the new U.S. Assure club areas reduce the total seating capacity of EverBank Field. I assume this is by design for the purpose of matching the capacity to the market. Am I reading too much into this or is it actually a part of Khan's plan for the future of Everbank Field and the Jaguars franchise?
John: You read correctly. It's absolutely by design. EverBank's capacity before the Clevelander Deck renovation was far too large for the market size and it remains a touch too large – as evidenced by 3,000-some seats still being covered by tarps at each Jaguars home game. Khan and Jaguars President Mark Lamping recognized this immediately upon taking over the franchise in early 2012, and searched for creative ways to reduce capacity without decreasing revenue. The solution has been renovations that increase premium seating, which have reduced capacity significantly and enabled the Jaguars to increase local revenue without an across-the-board increase in ticket prices. It's a process, but one that is working.
Robert from Bartram Springs, FL:
Well....I can't speak for everyone, but that would certainly entice me to come downtown more often. #JawDrop
John: I might work my way down there more, too.
Daly from Jacksonville:
There were talks about a practice bubble in the works for downtown Jacksonville. The fields being presented under new Shipyards plan clearly have no protection from weather that can put a damper on training camp and regular practice. Unless there is some kind of retractable roof of some kind to cover the lower and not the above field at the proposed shipyards or an indoor field inside one of those beautiful buildings, it's apparent the practice days will remain under prone weather.
John: Yeah, things apparently aren't as clear as you believe – though I did get several versions of this question. There are three fields in the proposal, two you mentioned and one beneath the higher one you're discussing. The one underneath would be protected from weather.
Cody from Jacksonville:
Wait. Does this mean my $10 game-day parking at the shipyards is going away?
John: Just to be safe, I'd move my car.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
I mean this genuinely: Shad Khan is the best thing that ever happened to the Jaguars and city of Jacksonville.
John: It's hard to disagree and I'm not sure at this point why anyone would.
Jamaal from Duval:
Hey, John! I think if Leonard Williams is available, he is a no-brainer at No. 3. But if he's gone, I'm not sure Randy Gregory is a good pick. He seems like a boom-or-bust-type of prospect and the Jaguars cannot afford to blow this pick. Gus and Dave have yet to draft a bust so far. I think Dante Fowler Jr. or Shane Ray would be better. What do you think?
John: I think with rare, rare exceptions there's no such thing as a no-brainer in the draft and the vast, vast majority of players drafted in the NFL are boom-or-bust.
Paul from Lohrville, IA:
John. I am one for Roy Miller-, Sen'Derrick Marks-type free agents. It seems when you sign a guy to a prove-yourself-type contract they do everything to prove themselves. In return you reward them once they do. That sends a good message to the team. That you will be rewarded for your hard work. Big spending has not been very rewarding for this team. If this is Dave's first go at big time spending let's hope he brings in players whose talent actually matches their name.
John: Yes, no doubt the prove-yourself contracts are the way to go. The problem is this is about supply and demand, and because there is a demand for higher-profile free agents those players don't want to be paid as they go. They want to be paid up front and they will be. As far as Dave Caldwell's first go at big-time spending, yeah, you want to bring in talent that matches the name and the price. It's an expensive, high-stakes balancing act and one that has tripped up many NFL executives. Stay tuned.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
John, trading is the new drafting.
John: Your email is succinct, and but unless I misunderstand you you're saying that trading is a better way to acquire than drafting. I hope there's a joke in there I don't get, because drafting is absolutely, positively the best way to acquire talent, and the best way to improve and build a competitive roster is to develop good, talented players once you draft them.
Paul from Temecula, CA:
So, since it looks like Denver will let Julius Thomas walk, is it because he's a "B" player or are they trying to avoid "Salary-Cap Hell?"
John: First off, I wouldn't assume the Broncos let Thomas walk. With Peyton Manning appearing likely to return, it's not unreasonable to think the Broncos franchise Demaryius Thomas and figure out a way to get something done to retain Thomas. That's the sort of thinking you do when you have a quarterback with a limited time frame, but you mentioned salary cap hell … well, that's a way to get there.
Jon with three months left in Korea:
I was watching Pardon The Interruption on ESPN and they were talking about Peyton Manning. It got me thinking that regardless of whether he plays one more season or five more, don't you think is a guy that could step right into a coaching job? Especially as a quarterback coach? You covered him for a long time. Do you think he has the knowledge and experience to do that or is there a level of experience he would need to gain first? He just seems like a genius on the field.
John: He absolutely has the knowledge and experience to coach immediately. The question is whether or not that's the direction he chooses. Assistant coaching is not the most glamorous profession. It's a lot of late nights and a lot of time in the offseason and it's not as if Manning will need a salary once he retires. I imagine Manning will pursue television or an executive position similar to that of John Elway in Denver once he retires. If he chooses the former, I imagine he'd be exceptional immediately; if he chooses the latter, I think he would have a chance to be very, very good, too.
Christopher from Philadelphia, PA:
If the Jaguars drafted Shane Ray, do you think he would play Otto or Leo?
John: Ray is a 6-feet-3, 245-pound edge rusher from the University of Missouri. If drafted by the Jaguars, he would play the Leo.
Eddie from Jacksonville and Section104:
I can answer what the O-Zone got his wife for Valentine's Day. I saw him walking around Publix on Baymeadows on February 14. A cart full of salt for a water softener and a 12 pack of beer. A true romantic.
John: What's a water softener?
Chad from Yulee, FL:
No tie for the big day at the 'Bank?
John: Oops.

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