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O-Zone: Fighting chance

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … John from Jacksonville:
What do the Jaguars need more? A defensive back or a pass rusher?
John: This already has been asked quite a bit this offseason and will be asked again. Indeed, aside from, "How much weight did Boselli gain before getting paid to lose it?" it likely will be the runaway choice for Most Asked Question of the Jaguars 2016 offseason. The good news for the Jaguars is it's not as if they have to make a choice and simply address pass rusher OR safety – or pass rusher OR cornerback, for that matter. I suspect they will address all three positions in free agency – bare minimum, I expect they will address free safety and pass rusher at that point. That will allow them some draft freedom because if they have what they feel are starting-level players at free safety and Leo No. 1/Leo No. 2 they can truly take the player at No. 5 they feel will make the biggest impact. All of that said, I'd say they need pass rush over defensive back. Pass rush trumps all.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
Can you tell us when?
John: Later.
George from Jacksonville:
At what point are the free agents informed they get to ride with Shadrick to the airport? I hope it's early in the negotiation. Can't wait to see who gets shotgun this season.
John: The post-free-agent-signing Ride Along with Shadrick is something the team strategically keeps very, very quiet until after the player is signed. Very quiet.
David from Jacksonville:
Who would you take right now if you could only pick one: Justin Blackmon (supposing he never got into any trouble) or Allen Robinson? We're just debating this at work; I am picking ARob and everyone else is going with Blackmon.
John: It's a tough question because they're different types of receivers. Robinson's ability to win jump balls and make big plays is off the charts while Blackmon's natural physicality and gifted hands were equally off the charts. The problem with your question is you can't take the off-the-field away. Robinson's dedication, work ethic and drive have helped him improve dramatically from the day he was drafted until now; Blackmon never gave himself a chance to improve. If I were choosing between the two on the day both were drafted, I would take Blackmon; if I had to make the choice based on where they were two years into the NFL, Robinson would be the easy choice.
Mark from Basildon, England:
Dear John, if a rookie misses the whole of his first season in the NFL because of injury – as Dante Fowler Jr. did – on his return is he still classed as a rookie?
John: No. Fowler will be listed as a second-year veteran next season.
Cameron from Ottawa, Ontario:
Please tell me that the Jags are going to cut Chris Clemons and Toby Gerhart this offseason.
John: I think there's little question the team will release Clemons. I think it's less certain with Gerhart, though I think there's a strong possibility he is released at some point before next season, too.
Richard from Jacksonville:
John, I know we haven't yet had free agency, the draft, an offseason to rest/work out/get better/faster/stronger, OTAs, practice, preseason … but I need you to within a +/- 6.25 percent to say how many times out of 16 will we score more than our opponent next year. Thanks.
John: Eight.
Max from Wyckoff, NJ:
Say Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, and DeForest Buckner are on the board at No. 5 … who do you take and why? Who do you think are the Top 3 players the Jaguars will target in free agency?
John: Bosa because pass rush. Olivier Vernon, Eric Weddle and Bruce Irvin because defense/availability.
Perry from Orange Park, FL:
If the Jaguars were to appear on Hard Knocks – obviously way more fantasy than reality – who do you think would be the biggest stars? Are there any fringe-roster, underdog types that would capture the nation's hearts or any hidden charismatic gems among our established vets?
John: It's hard for me to know who's hidden and who's not; I'm around the players a lot when others aren't. Still, if that were to happen – and I doubt it will – Jared Odrick, Sen'Derrick Marks, Telvin Smith, Blake Bortles and Luke Bowanko certainly stand out as some of the more charismatic players in the locker room.
The Grabster from Jacksonville:
You're the Jaguars' general manager. Denver places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Von Miller. You can acquire him for a six-year, $120M, with $60M guaranteed and give up the two first-round draft picks as required under the rules of the franchise tag. Do you do it?
John: No.
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
The likelihood of free agents coming in and fixing our defense enough to win games next season is very slim. Couple that with a lame-duck coach and we just wasted another season. You say they'll have a winning record next season. Have you not been paying attention to who we play? They want us to hurry and sign up for tickets. For what, another five-win season? Sounds like a real good time.
John: You make a good point at the beginning, Alan. If the Jaguars were just depending on defensive fixes in free agency to improve the team enough to win games, that would be foolish. The thing is, they're not. The return of Dante Fowler Jr. and Sen'Derrick Marks will be important, as will the return of Brandon Linder. As will the improvement of an offense that can and must become more efficient. Those things have to happen and if they do, the addition of a few key defensive free agents – and perhaps an impact first-round rookie – could make a difference. And I don't know that I ever said "they'll have a winning record next season." I think they have a chance to do that, but they certainly have to add personnel and have current personnel develop to do so.
Frankie from the Mean Streets of Ponte Vedra, FL:
If the Jags pick up Weddle in free agency, do you see any scenario where they draft Ramsey for the future while playing him at corner in the interim?
John: Yes.
Peter from Maribor:
When/if some day Blake is forced to give an interview after the Super Bowl loss I don't want him to be polite, politically correct and scripted-answered. I want my quarterback to be mad, sorry, angry, throwing some shades on nosy reporters - one at Ryan O'Halloran would seem appropriate - and out of his mind for losing the game. I much prefer real persona; it shows character and passion. You just lost the Super Bowl and you are polite to Pete Prisco? Really?
John: No one likes to lose. You can be angry, disappointed and hate to lose and still behave with class. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Nate from Visalia, CA:
A lot of people are going gaga over Von Miller's performance – and rightfully so. It was dominant; he is dominant. His Super Bowl performance was worthy of the Most Valuable Player award. I do think, however, it should have been a co-award. With Cam's ability to get out of the pocket and take off ... you would think he would have been sliding away from Miller by the end of the first quarter. Except he would have been moving closer to DeMarcus Ware. Miller was a man handling the right side, but Ware was moving like a spry 25-year old after a couple of Red Bulls. The guy showed some outrageous movement and reaction speed. It just seems that he was equally responsible for the outcome. Only without the strip sack for a touchdown....
John: Yep. When it comes to pass rushers, you need two. Or three. Or four. And interior push.
Mike from St. Johns, FL:
Watching the Super Bowl, I couldn't help but feel a little nostalgia over Peyton Manning. I kept thinking of the crafty Colt, constantly adjusting routes and spotting holes in a defense, knowing exactly what's going to happen before the ball is even snapped, and being just in general a complete pain in the behind! I didn't see him at all Sunday, and I felt kind of sad about it. Even though he terrorized us for years, I guess I always kind of rooted for him when he wasn't playing us, and I'll definitely miss the way he played. Andrew Luck though, he can just #@$%!!
John: Like him, love him, hate him or loathe him, Manning certainly helped define the NFL for the past 15 or so years. His retirement will be the end of an era, and it's OK to be nostalgic at the end of eras.
Steve from Nashville:
With Denver, Green Bay and Minnesota coming to town next season, do you think we can get a prime-time home game, and I don't mean Thursday?
John: I doubt it, but the chances are better than they would have been last season. Then, I would have put the chances for a Jaguars Monday/Sunday night game at 0.00 percent. Now, I'd say it's in the five-to-10-percent range.

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