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O-Zone: Ethics not the issue

PHOENIX – Owners Meeting Ozone. We're here until Wednesday. Tough gig, but I'll take it.

Let's get to it . . .

Sal from New Jersey:
There's a lot of talk about how Geno Smith would be a wasted pick in the first round for the Jags. How? Why? Looks like a no-brainer to me, but ayyyyyy, what the heck do I know?
John: I wouldn't say any selection in the Top 10 is a no-brainer, but I will say the Jaguars are looking seriously at Geno Smith. They have to. Until you determine who your franchise quarterback is, you have an obligation to keep looking at all options.
Brooks from Jacksonville:
John, you said "In life, there really are no guarantees except, perhaps, death." Is there something you're not telling us? Is death not a guarantee for you?
John: We'll see.
Daniel from Johnston, IA:
I'm not concerned with letting players go and not signing high-priced free agents, but I do think that if Jaguars go 4-12 next year the team is going to try to say they're moving in the right direction. Let's be honest, even if we kept all the same players from last year we'll probably still be better than 2-14 in 2013.
John: Daniel, we're a year away from that. Besides, if your big worry is about what the team will say about its direction next offseason, you have a pretty good life.
Greg from Jacksonville and Section 122:
I get the anxiety our fans feel about the perception being presented by the new coaches. Many of us were fans during the successful first years of this franchise and became accustomed to that success. Ever since Coughlin was fired we have been patiently waiting for that era to return and far too frequently told the same thing and seen the same lack of results. Bottom line is this franchise will not get back to that place until it finds the one key element. The Franchise Quarterback. Until then, all we fans can do is wait and be FANS. Thanks for all you are doing, O-man. You don't get told that enough.
John: You're right. I most certainly do not.
Doug from Jacksonville:
We were fortunate enough to attend Tom Coughlin's Jay Fund event Friday night. Caldwell and Bradley were both there as well. I had an opportunity to say "Hello" to Caldwell, but Bradley was like a rock star, surrounded almost every minute. I can tell you, which I don't need to as you have said it again and again, he is full of energy and his excitement was contagious. Granted, it was an event with that atmosphere, but I have seen other coaches at events and not seen that "aura of energy." I was and now am even more excited.
John: I've said it before, and it continues to be more and more true. Bradley has all of the intangibles you want in a head coach. He has the energy and he has the ability to make people believe in him. That doesn't guarantee success on the field, but sitting here now – at Ground Zero, essentially – it's OK to like what we've seen and it's reasonable to believe the Jaguars are in good hands with the head coach.
Trent from Groves, TX:
When reading some of these questions do you prefer the face palm, the slam face on the computer desk, the calm method of getting up out of your seat to go get some fresh air before you lose your mind, or just all 3?
John: I don't do any of those three a whole lot. I do cry often, but I can't in good conscious blame that all on the job.
Marcus from NYC and Jacksonville:
There's a fair amount of concern for the state of the cornerback position, O-Man. I have a feeling one side of the field could be manned by an early-round rookie. Any chance the Jags take a look at FA Tracy Porter to compete for the other?
John: I agree with you about the early-round corner. I'd be surprised if it's No. 2 overall, but it likely will be an option in the second or third round. As far as Porter, the age (26) is correct, but the market will probably have to remain fairly flat for a while more. Just like at offensive tackle and at pretty much any position, the Jaguars probably aren't looking at extending signing bonuses of any significance to veteran free agents this offseason.
Bryant from White Plains, NY:
Looking at what the Jets have done, specifically at quarterback, I love the direction the Jaguars are going. If I were the Jets, I would have released Tebow, never signed Garrard and wouldn't go anywhere near Kolb. Play it out a season. Next year, when the quarterback situation is better, draft your next franchise starter. Not load up on quarterbacks who aren't the answer in free agency and make their circus more of a circus. Through watching what the Jets are doing I have a profound respect for what the Jaguars are doing.
John: I do, too.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
I am glad to see us get Roy Miller, and believe he truly is an upgrade. I am concerned we have not pursued a top-tier right tackle such as Winston, Vollmer, Smith, or Long. I do not want to see us have to use one of our top picks (Rounds 1-3) on a right tackle when I think we need to focus on defense in the draft (LEO, cornerback, weakside linebacker, etc.). I understand the need to be frugal in free agency as long as it does not mean that we pass on all of the top level talent all the time. I do not want us to overspend either, so if we miss out on a top-tier tackle in free agency, so be it. Perhaps after the first week or so, if the price goes down, we can afford a top tier right tackle. Am I engaged in just wishful thinking?
John: Probably. If I haven't said it before – and I'm sure I have – I'll say it now: I don't see any "name" free agents coming to Jacksonville this offseason. The players you list haven't been signed yet, and they won't command the contracts they might have a year ago, but they're still going to command some level of signing bonus that could prevent the Jaguars from taking a player at the position on draft day. That's not where the team wants to be in this first season of building. Could the market dip enough to put one of those players in the Jaguars' target range? Perhaps, but when you use the phrase "top-tier" in free agency it realistically probably pushes that player out of the Jaguars' vision this offseason.
Todd from St. Augustine, FL:
I'm with not spending big money in free agency to an extent. However IF it's such a recipe for disaster, why is it year after year teams throw their entire bank role at high-profile free agents? Are you saying there are that many stupid people in the NFL or are you just saying it to make Jags fans feel good about our shotty situation?
John: Well, I hate to use the word "stupid," but . . .
Mick from New Castle, IN:
I get it...The Jaguars are approaching Free Agency like making great BBQ...Low and Slow. And I love me some great BBQ!!
John: You do get it.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Having played for a coach with the "compete at all positions" mentality, I saw results from a team perspective. Give Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell credit for building a team that will endure over the long haul. Let's hope many of the "want it now" ninnies stop and realize that Rome wasn't built in a day.
John: It was not, and without question, this is going to be a running theme over what could be a long process. Turning a team around and turning a roster over never has been easy in the NFL, but it almost certainly is more difficult in our instant-feedback/Twitter world. There literally is no time to digest, no time for perspective. I tweeted news of three free-agent signings Friday, and within 10 seconds, there was feedback to the positive and the negative. Ten seconds?!!! For a process that everyone associated has said will last at least a season? That's fine. That's the world in which we operate, but those want-it-now ninnies are our reality, and they're not going away.
Bryan from Nashville, TN:
Will you please let your readers know that you are not a P.A. guy? That you don't give answers based on what you are told to say. There are many readers who question your integrity as a writer, and think that you "tote the company line." They obviously don't know anything about the ethics of being a writer.
John: I most certainly am not a P.A. guy. It has nothing to do with ethics, or a dislike of public address announcers. I just don't have the voice for it.

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