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O-Zone: Essence of Zone

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Tony from Los Angeles, CA:
Hello there, sir. Now that it looks like quarterbacks likely will be the first two picks in the draft, does that mean we automatically win? It always seems like they print the division champion hats before the game anyway. Is it too soon to start printing?
John: Hey … SLOW DOWN there, Tony! And you know I'm serious, because … exclamation points!! (And CAPITAL LETTERS). But indeed, your point is well-taken – that there has been a lot of pre-draft focus/angst/handwringing over what players will be selected before the Jaguars' selection in the 2016 NFL Draft and who will fall to them at No. 5, and whether or not they should trade up to ensure they get the player they desperately want/need/can't possibly win without – even though no one except General Manager David Caldwell really knows who they want anyway … and absolutely, all of this has dominated the last two months to a point that it's mind-numbing, all-encompassing and hyphen-inducing. Your overriding point is that all of the pre-draft angst is one thing, but that even if the draft does happen to fall the Jaguars' way there's a whole lot of other things that matter and that just because things fall your way in the draft doesn't mean you're going to win the division. Um, that was your point, right?
Cathy from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
So John, will Dave pursue Josh Norman??
John: This is in reference to Carolina cornerback Josh Norman, who unexpectedly became an unrestricted free agent Wednesday when the Panthers removed the franchise tag they placed on him before the start of the 2016 league year in March. I not-unexpectedly received a slew of emails wondering if the Jaguars would pursue him. I don't yet know, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did – and it would be awfully hard to argue with the move.
Zach from Jacksonville:
With the news of Carolina rescinding the franchise tag on Josh Norman, should the Jaguars actively pursue him? If (and I say if) they are able to sign him to the deal he wants, how would that affect the draft strategy of the Jags?
John: My first thought is … yeah, they probably should. As for how it would affect draft strategy, it sure would reduce the chances of the Jaguars going corner at No. 5.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
I would be surprised if Dallas keeps its Sunday Night Football game December 11 at the Giants. Both those teams could be out of it by then and a more compelling game could be shown (like Vikings at Jaguars).
John: OK.
Robert from the DUUU:
O Man, could you shed some light on what Myles Jack's injury actually is? I keep hearing of mixed levels of concern, but what is the actual diagnosis here? He looked great in recent workouts. If he's healthy right now, what's the concern? It must be an odd condition or serious long-term thing, but what is it?
John: I can't tell you the actual diagnosis, because I'm not a doctor and haven't examined Jack's knee. My understanding from media reports is it is a meniscus tear with possible cartilage damage. The concern is not necessarily his performance in the short-term, but whether the knee will hold up over the long-term.
Joe from Aurora, IL:
John: OK, I laughed at this.
David from Oviedo, FL:
O-man, I think players suspended for substance abuse should not be banned by the league from a team's facilities; he should be required to stay with the team for professional treatment and support. It doesn't make sense that these players are left to fight their demons alone. Do you think this arrangement will ever change?
John: Players who are suspended for substance abuse are no longer banned from the team's facilities. Players who are banned for performance-enhancing supplements are banned from the facilities, but players banned for substance abuse may attend meetings and be at the facilities during their first such suspension.
Adam from St. Johns:
OK, I'll ask a question then. If the Jags go 8-8, is that a successful season? Does 8-8 keep the coach?
John: Depends.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
What's up with RMIII? Is he still part of the team and if so, what are the expectations of him on the defense this year?
John: I believe you're asking about Roy Miller. He is expected to be the Jaguars' starting nose tackle next season, and the hope is he will be as good as he was last season. If so, that's a good thing for the Jaguars. He played at or near a Pro Bowl level last season and was a big reason the defense was among the NFL's best against the run through much of the season.
Mark from College Park, MD:
For the first and maybe ever - don't that fired up about the Draft...Can you help me?
Chris from Fort Mill:
O, what's the deal with our linebackers? Telvin Smith and Poz were both in the top six for tackles last year, but everything I've seen describes them as average or serviceable. I think two players combining for 250 tackles in one year is pretty impressive. Small market or anti-Jags bias?
John: I can't speak for why people say what they do about the Jaguars' linebackers, mainly because I don't actually pay much attention to what people say about them. It's probably accurate to call the group serviceable. Smith has shown great potential; he's a playmaker and a key part of the team's future. Posluszny is a valuable on- and off-field leader and a very good run defender. Dan Skuta also is a solid player who could provide more pass rush this season, but as a whole the group needs to get faster and must improve in pass coverage. It also needs to get deeper because injuries really hurt the area last season.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Remember when the Texans selected Jadeveon Clowney, and suddenly the Texans had locked up the AFC South for a decade? Or when the Colts got Luck and suddenly their offense was an unstoppable juggernaut? Maybe we should remember why exactly the Titans had the first overall pick to begin with, and maybe shouldn't assume that trading down has brought the end of days.
John: Nah, panicking is much easier – and more fun.
Bruce from Gotham, NY:
I think the NFL really missed on showcasing the Jags-versus-Raiders game. You have two young, up-and-coming quarterbacks from the same draft, Cooper and AR15, Mack and Fowler and also Del Rio coming back to Jacksonville. Lots of potential drama and a great game in that one, don't you think, Mr.O?
John: Yes, I do. And I believe Jaguars fans believe that. I also believe a lot of Raiders fans probably believe that. There also are probably a lot of people who follow the NFL really, really closely who believe that. But you're also talking about two teams that have been down for a lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng time, so to expect the television networks and league offices to assume that the game would have a huge pull on the national football consciousness might be asking a lot.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Perhaps it is Shad Khan's plan to not host any nationally-televised games? He builds a good, competitive team. Renovates the stadium into a must-see destination. Now, unless you are in Jacksonville, you won't be able to see what all the amazing talk is about. People abroad get interested, buy plane tickets, and book hotel rooms in Jacksonville to come see the Jaguars. The increase in hotel usage generates more revenue from bed taxes, which allows more wonderful renovations to be paid for by visitors. Next thing you know, we've got a roof on the stadium. Trust me: it's all part of the plan.
John: No, that is not part of Shad Khan's plan.
Carlos from Jacksonville:
John, I just bought the tickets for my first ever Jaguars' game, the opener against Green Bay, which will also be my first time in town. I couldn't be more excited. Our young team on the rise, entering a new season of hope against a storied franchise against the best quarterback in the game. Just wanted to share this feeling and tell you I'm ready to chant #DTWD or #Moodachay or whatever to our Jaguars in person. Go Jags!
John: #DTWD
Nate from York, PA:
Here's one for you, Johnny O. Just for the ability to deal with people. Some of whom aren't the brightest.
John: Dealing with people indeed is one of my (many) strengths. I firmly believe the ability to see eye to eye with people who might not share my opinion – nay, the ability to soar above pettiness and fundamental differences – to create a culture of coexistence, co-understanding and cooperation is the key to not only positive relationships, but a healthy "ch'i." This approach above all else really is what I'm about. It might best be described as the "Essence of Zone." If you don't believe me, ask the jerks I work with.

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