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O-Zone: Familiar feeling

MOBILE, Ala. – Let's get to it … Greg from St. Johns, FL:
O, does it makes sense to draft defense again early and often (and sign free agents on defense) with the thought being that the only way to beat elite quarterbacks in the league is to have an elite defense? I think the other way is to have your own elite quarterback. Not picking on Blake Bortles at all, but even if he ends up being a mid-tiered quarterback, it might be more important to have that elite defense to get by Tom Brady, Big Ben etc. … Assuming we get to the playoffs. Just looking at big picture … thoughts?
John: I think the unquestioned No. 1 best way to give yourself the best chance to consistently be in the postseason and therefore give yourself a chance to get through the playoffs – and to the Super Bowl – is to have an elite quarterback. If you don't have one of those, then get the best quarterback you can and surround that guy with good players. If you can surround a good quarterback with good offensive players – and get a few pass rushers to pressure the opposing quarterback when you have leads late in games – you can win a lot of games. If you can get a few pass rushers and enough other good defensive players, then you can defend your way into a lot of success for a long time – a la Seattle in the last half decade. But the best way to assure yourself a chance over the long haul is to be as good as you can at the quarterback position. As for the Jaguars' approach this offseason, I think they'll look very hard at the quarterback position and try to determine their best approach there. I also think they'll be active and aggressive in free agency. The idea is to win. Now.
David from Oviedo, FL:
Johnny-O, some Jags players complained about the Jags' defensive schemes last year. Does Todd Wash listen to what is being said or do coaches coach and players play?
John: For the good of all that is holy and right – and for the sake of the team – let's hope that the coaches coach and the players play. You don't want to see what happens otherwise.
Chris from Mandarin:
Until the defense is good enough to stop Tom Brady, none of it matters.
John: None of it?
Gabe from Washington, DC:
If we were to assume Blake Bortles has a ceiling of a top 15-20 quarterback in this league - which is far from certain - does it make sense to lock him up to a long-term deal? Don't you need a Top 10 guy to win it all? And if you do, does it make sense to waste a huge amount of cap room on a middle-of-the-road (at best) quarterback?
John: I would be stunned if the Jaguars approach Bortles about a long-term deal before next season. If after next season it appears he has a chance to be a Top 15 quarterback, then sure … a long-term deal makes sense. We have a lot of time and frankly Bortles has a lot of improving to do before that's a consideration.
Al from Coldwater, OH:
I saw on E$PN that the Patriots would be willing to trade Garoppolo for a first-round round pick. I say we offer Blake Bortles and a second-round pick.
John: I'm truly, truly, truly, truly not trying to be snide here, but why would the Patriots see value in that trade right now?
Garrett from Jacksonville:
Hey John, I'm curious as to when some information will be given about what the new schemes will be offensively and defensively? Is there going to be a press conference with the coordinators any time soon? I'm not expecting every little detail. I'm just dying to know what the new schemes will be.
John: I expect the Jaguars to address these issues when they know enough details about the answers to discuss them. Doug Marrone just finalized the hires of defensive coordinator Todd Wash and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett within the last week and a half or so – and the staff has not yet been finalized. Once that happens, then I imagine we'll hear more details.
Alan from Ellington, CT:
I liked what Dave Caldwell was doing collecting talent. Did you get the feeling that he needed someone like Tom Coughlin to help him along? It always felt like the coaches weren't able to put everything together on the field.
John: I truly believe Caldwell is a good, competent general manager and I believe he has laid the foundation for a team that can begin winning soon. I believe it remains uncertain whether or not Bortles is the quarterback who can get this team to the postseason, and I believe there are a few more pieces that need to be put in place aside from quarterback. Coughlin has the experience and vision to make the right choices, so I believe there's a good chance the Jaguars can succeed soon. I'd hate to use the phrase "help him along" because I think Caldwell can succeed without help … but however you want to phrase it is fine.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
I remember reading an article in "Sports Illustrated" called "Why Can't Johnny Read?" about a young quarterback who in his fourth season was still struggling to read defenses. He eventually got better at reading defenses and turned out to be a pretty decent quarterback. His name was John Elway. Do you think Blake Bortles will ever figure out how to read defenses?
John: I don't know how accurate it is to say that Blake Bortles can't read defenses, though decision-making remains an area he must improve. Do I think he will? I suppose the question now will be whether he will have time to do so. He is three years into his NFL career and realistically needs to improve quickly to remain a starting quarterback – and it will be difficult to improve as a decision-maker if he's not starting. Fair or unfair, there is urgency to Bortles' situation. The time is pretty close to now.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, the NFL Playoffs so far have been frankly bad. Only two games have been competitive, and one of those games saw a team win without scoring a single touchdown – by kicking six field goals. Is this so far the worst NFL Playoffs that you can remember? Why do you think the games have been so noncompetitive? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: I was actually thinking about this Sunday during the AFC Championship Game because there's no doubt the games in this postseason have been more one-sided than usual. I don't really see a particular reason for that, though I have gotten the impression all season that there was a big difference between the elite teams – New England, most obviously – and the next level. This is not all that unusual, because the reality is that "parity" long has been a myth in the NFL; it simply does not exist. I suppose the biggest reason the playoffs haven't been entertaining is you've got a lot of cases where teams have been a lot better than the ones they're playing. My guess is it's a one-year blip more than a trend.
Jordan from Mandarin:
I would make resigning Alualu a priority. He's been such a solid player for the Jaguars since Day 1.
John: I would re-sign Tyson Alualu, too. I don't know what the Jaguars will do on this front because until key decision-makers – read: Coughlin – delve deep into the roster we don't know the answer to many questions.
Chris from Houston, TX:
I was reading your article about the Senior Bowl. Is it normal for many of the seniors who are projected to be drafted early not play? Do they not want to get hurt/lose draft stock? Most of the players mentioned in the article were second-round picks with most being mid-late round picks. Or is it a possibility of more juniors coming out this year that much better?
John: Most players who are projected in the Top 10 or even in the Top 25 or so in the draft forego the Senior Bowl. For those players, there's nowhere to go but down and the risk of injury outweighs any positives.
Joe from Hall of Fame City, OH:
Hey Mr. John, I for one am very pleased about TC coming home. He not only brings experience, his newly formed position creates a solid front for the team. No games allowed in Duval anymore … everyone knows or will quickly find out. At the very least Shad Khan would get a blueprint for how to win for a long time #DTWD
John: #TCTWD
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
With the London game so early (Week 3), do you expect we will see the bye week in Week 4, or would the team consider going the path of the Colts last year and playing the following week?
John: I hope the Jaguars delay the bye week because I hate the bye so early. I believe there is a good chance the Jaguars will do as I wish. If they don't, I suppose I will be disappointed yet again.

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