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O-Zone: Fruit-tasting gone awry

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Chris from Jacksonville:
So, Shad Khan says the Jaguars will draft at least one quarterback, maybe two … I mean, duh, right? But doesn't this sort of lock David Caldwell in when drafting in May?
John: Khan indeed said at the Super Bowl Friday that everyone knows the Jaguars will draft a quarterback this offseason, maybe two. That understandably made national news, and it confirmed what many long have assumed. But it really doesn't change much about Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell's mission in the coming months. He has to figure out if there is a quarterback worth the No. 3 overall selection. If there's not, he needs to figure out the best guy to take early in the draft who will have a chance to start relatively quickly. After that, maybe the Jaguars draft another quarterback to compete and maybe be a backup. That's the storyline for the coming months. Let's see how it plays out.
Mike from Middleburg, FL:
Mr. O, I cannot believe that our Mr. Happy Gus was not mentioned for Coach of the Year. He has my vote.
John: Yeah, I imagine he would have the vote of a lot of people who followed the Jaguars closely last season, too. Bradley indeed did a remarkable job in his first season, and going .500 over the second half of the season was a significant accomplishment. But Coach of the Year typically follows the formula of going to the coach of the playoff team with the most improved record – or something close to that. That's OK. I doubt Bradley is losing much sleep over the issue either way.
Brian from Jacksonville:
Do you think it would help this organization to bring in a quarterback that has had success in the league? Michael Vick will be a free agent. He has taken teams to playoffs in his career, whereas Chad Henne hasn't.
John: Vick likely wants to sign somewhere where he will pretty much be assured of starting next season, and that probably wouldn't be the case if the Jaguars draft a quarterback. Henne would give the Jaguars freedom on draft day to draft either an immediate starter or one who could theoretically not be rushed into starting. That's likely what the Jaguars want from a veteran right now.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
What do you mean by "the rest of the stadium in its current form"? Super Bowl has been hosted two times in Miami and once in Tampa in the last 10 years. Do those places have something we don't?
John: My answer was indeed a bit vague. What I was getting at was this: I think for Jacksonville to host the Super Bowl it will take a stadium upgrade significant enough that NFL owners essentially say, 'Wow, that is such a cool stadium we can't NOT have the Super Bowl there.' The same is true of Miami going forward and could be true of Tampa as well.
David from Charleston, SC:
O-man, why does Connor Shaw not get any love? The dude is big, mobile, can throw the ball to the moon, and hits his receivers in the chest every time. He had an awesome career at USC and isn't even projected to get drafted. Why wouldn't the Jags use a late pick to see what the dude can do?
John: Who knows? Maybe they will.
Justin from Jacksonville:
So, O, how far along is the stadium construction? Haven't heard anything on it yet!!
John: The work has begun. It's in its very preliminary stages. It's expected to be complete by the time the season begins. We'll have more detailed updates as things go along.
Tom from Jacksonville:
If you are looking for ways to make the game better, start with firing Goodell. He's destroying this sport. What separates football from all other sports is the gladiator aspect. You won't know you have gone too far till, then suddenly it will be over. I was a season-ticket holder and didn't renew last year. Why? Not because the Jags play poorly, but this not football any more. I find myself less interested each year. And I was an over –the-top, rabid fan. Love your column, keep up the good work!
John: Well, I appreciate and admire your taste in writing. I also get your feeling. From a fan's perspective, I get that the gladiator part was appealing. But a strong argument is being made lately that the gladiator part also was leaving the sport's players with debilitating injuries later in life. The sport obviously hates losing fans, but if a few are lost in the name of safety, it's probably a trade the league is willing to make.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
If the Jaguars can find a little money in the cookie jar they can sign a great player that is a free agent. MJD32, and Chad Henne too!
John: One fer MJD and Henne!
Eric from Boston, MA:
Fortifying the defense and building it into a powerhouse I believe is Dave's and Gus's mindset. I could be wrong and it wouldn't be the first time. However, if we are to assume that defense is the mindset for the next several months, AND if we don't draft a quarterback in the first three rounds, do you see cornerback or defensive line as a more glaring need?
John: I think defensive line is a larger need than corner by a long shot.
George from Longview, TX:
When a team gets a first-round bye, do the players get paid that week? Hope I didn't wake you.
John: No. Players get paid for the regular season, then they receive bonuses for the postseason.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
Is it an unreasonable expectation to think that your Top 10 draft pick should be a Pro Bowl-caliber player? Alualu is a good player but for where we drafted him he should have produced a lot more.
John: (Yawn)
Martin from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Do you foresee the Jaguars using the franchise tag on any of their unrestricted free agents this year?
John: No.
Steve from Fleming Island, FL:
You have lost your mind if you think MJD will be a Jaguar in 2014. I give his chance to return at one percent. Some other team will take a flyer on him, for sure.
John: You may be right. I continue to think there will be a chance because I think it will take more than a team taking a "flyer" on Jones-Drew to get him to sign elsewhere. If Jones-Drew gets on the market and is offered something the Jaguars think is reasonable, then there is a possibility he could return. But if Jones-Drew is offered big money, then, yes, he'll almost certainly be somewhere else.
JB from Jacksonville:
Would Jaguar "fans" be happy with Alualu if he was a second-round pick?
John: Probably.
Brian from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Why are we (collectively as NFL fans) afraid of free agency? I understand that sometimes players sign lucrative deals, then production drops off. But I have a hard time believing that is the motivation of an NFL player. I would think general managerswould approach free-agency just like the draft – by researching the player ad nauseam – with the difference being, you can evaluate against current NFL-caliber players. Don't other sports do this? The Yankees come to mind. Year after year they sign huge names to huge deals. They also win a lot. Why isfootball so different? I say with a $50 million cap we sign everyone we can. Explain to me why not. Please.
John: This is a difficult concept for many fans to grasp, but NFL teams shy away from free agency because history has shown it's very difficult to build a sustainable winner going that path. There are a number of reasons that conspire to make this so. NFL players typically have a shorter period of prime production than players in other sports, so when you sign a free agent in his sixth, seventh or eighth season, you're often signing a player close to being past his prime. Also in the NFL, teams rarely let their elite players sign elsewhere, so you are usually signing players teams let go for a reason. It's also more difficult for one player to make a huge difference in the NFL compared to other sports, so you often don't get as much in return for your money as you might expect. You're also typically overpaying in free agency and if you overpay enough players to improve significantly you're probably not going to be able to pay them very long. Therefore, a team built through free agency is likely to decline quicker than one built through the draft.
Jarret from Crosby, ND:
The ardor and frenzy for big-name free agency spending never dies. Are no fans capable of learning from the experiences of other teams who followed that dismal road to ruin? It appears they all must follow the same mirage and yearn for the same Dead Sea fruit that turns to dust and ashes in their mouths. Free agency is the opium of the fans.
John: I have nothing to add to this. It was just one of those emails I couldn't not post.

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