JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Does the re-signing of Chad Henne pretty much assure us that the Jaguars will not bring in a quarterback to legitimately challenge Blake Bortles for the starting quarterback position?
John: Bortles and the quarterback position unquestionably represent the Jaguars' No. 1 2017 offseason issues, but re-signing Henne doesn't change that dynamic one way or the other. The issue with bringing in competition for Bortles remains what it has been all along: how realistic is it that the Jaguars can truly bring in a legitimate upgrade for Bortles? Is there someone in the draft that makes sense? Is it worth trading for a quarterback or signing a free agent for what essentially is starter money to compete? Those are questions that will be debated hotly in the coming weeks among Jaguars fans. Some believe it is necessary to sign some veteran quarterback – any veteran quarterback – at any cost because they believe Bortles is truly terrible. Others don't see anyone available in the draft or by trade/free agency that's a truly dazzling upgrade. It's a legitimate argument and we probably won't know how the Jaguars truly feel until we see their approach beginning in March. But whatever they do, the re-signing of Henne won't preclude them from making a move.
Jonathan from Jacksonville, FL:
So, O. Is it make or break then for Bortles if he is the starter this year?
Chris from Orlando, FL:
In regards to Glen's email about signing Jay Cutler to a one-year deal … while I understand it's hogwash, I do not understand why everyone wants Cutler. He has not shown the ability to lead the team to the playoffs since his Denver days. Why not try to pick up A.J McCarron? We already see what Cutler can do. McCarron has not really had a shot, but he looked better than Cutler to me when he did get starts.
John: The reason many people like Jay Cutler is simple, and it's not ability to lead a team to the playoffs. He never did lead the Broncos to the postseason during three seasons in Denver, and he led the Bears to the playoffs just once – in 2010, when they won the AFC North. People like Cutler because he has arm talent. Arm talent is cool, and it's really cool when it's exceptional – as is the case with Cutler. When he is "on," he can make throws few other quarterbacks can make. McCarron isn't a talent on Cutler's level. That doesn't necessarily make McCarron a lesser option, but it's the reason some prefer the idea of Cutler.
I'm the real Jerell from Columbia, SC:
I know you will look at this question because I lied and put my name as Jerell. It's actually Matt from the Mattcave. Now that I have your attention, what players do you see the Jags targeting in free agency?
John: Whoever you are, I'm so confused now that I'm not sure I can answer your question.
Chris from Mandarin:
Dave is right, John. You're too close to the team to see Bortles for what he really is ... on his way to becoming a career backup somewhere.
John: Yep, if Bortles doesn't get better he's not always going to be an NFL starter. I suppose I should have pointed that out at some point over the last 12 months.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
What are the Jaguars strengths going into this season?
John: Interior defensive line, linebacker, cornerback.
Bryan from Yulee, FL:
In all seriousness, the Jaguars could sign two of the three top guards on the free-agent market and have this line fixed once and for all. Draft Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook with the fourth pick and this team is going to be in the playoffs every year for a while. I'm living in fantasy land, aren't I?
John: If by "fantasy land" you mean there's no way the Jaguars take the approach you mention … no, I don't think that's fantasy land. I actually think there's a relatively good chance the Jaguars take an all-in approach to improving the running game this offseason, though of course it might not look exactly like the approach you champion. If by "fantasy land" you mean that taking such an all-in approach will guarantee year-in, year-out postseason appearances, then yeah … that's probably fantasyland. Making the postseason every year is tough. It probably will take more than an offseason move or two to do it.
Billy from Orange Park, FL:
Zone, how come we don't make fun of Shadrick on here anymore?
John: Give it time, Billy.
Zane from Washington, DC:
Zone, it would be ludicrous to think Tom hasn't requested your expert opinion, and while we understand he made you promise not to reveal anything about his board, we're wondering if you can tell us whether you agree with his rankings; or if you had to set him straight on a few things?
John: Coughlin hasn't requested my opinion yet. He did look me up and down and "hrumphed" as he passed me in the rubber hallway the other day. I'm assuming the part where he requests my opinion is the next step.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Last year I remember you telling your readers that you did not think Chad Henne would be back with the team in 2017. What changed?
John: I admit I was surprised when the Jaguars restructured Henne. I figured the route would be to sign a veteran to compete with Bortles and have the loser of the competition as the backup. But remember: the 2017 season hasn't started yet, and there's no guarantee Henne will be on the team. When the Jaguars signed Henne for 2016 the contract was structured in such a way that it was very unlikely he would be released before the season. I don't yet know the exact details of this restructuring, but it's set up in such a way that makes releasing Henne far more feasible.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
Making the deal for Garoppolo is a no-brainer. Giving up a second-round pick for a surefire franchise quarterback is a steal and far less risky than taking a quarterback with either a first- or second-round pick. These opportunities are exceedingly rare and the front office would be foolish to not be sprinting to the phone right now. Why hasn't this happened yet? And please no "well we need more time to evaluate Bortles" blah, blah nonsense." We don't and all of us know it. CMON, JOHNNY!
John: If Jimmy Garoppolo was a sure-fire franchise quarterback who could be acquired for a second-round draft selection I have no doubt the Jaguars and multiple other teams would have long since sprinted to the phone.
Rob from Jacksonville:
You said you believe the Jags would not trade for Garoppolo. Many teams pick a quarterback in the Top 5 with no insight in regards to performance. We have a snapshot of his NFL ability. With that being considered, if he was in this year's draft … would ya pick him at four?
John: Yeah, I probably would even though I think he's a huge risk. Here's the reason: While he indeed is a huge risk because of his limited NFL repetitions, the reality is a high percentage of all "starting-quarterback acquisitions" are huge risks. If you're acquiring a quarterback to start, you're almost always either drafting a quarterback or signing a relatively unknown/unproven entity from another team. Seeing that it's almost impossible to acquire a quarterback without some element of risk, then by definition teams must accept that risk as part of the equation when trying to find the league's most important position. Am I confident that Garoppolo would be worth the risk to trade the No. 4 overall selection for him? No. I am not confident of that. But at some point you're going to have to take the risk and he certainly seems as good a bet as any among the options – be it rookie or veteran – this offseason.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
How many of these submissions do you read every day and how do you choose what makes the cut?
John: I almost always read all O-Zone submissions every day. The only exceptions to that are some days during season when the sheer numbers simply do not permit me to read all in the same day. When that happens, I do eventually read every submission – ideally within the next day or so. I do this because I truly value the time and effort readers put into their questions, and I truly believe if a reader cares enough to take the time to ask a question then I have the obligation to – nay, the privilege to – answer their question with as much passion, insight, effort and thoughtful consideration as I can possibly muster. The sanctity of this forum deserves no less, and to be any less than fully committed, fully engaged and fully driven in this endeavor is cheating the reader – and indeed, myself – to the core of my soul. As far as how I choose which of these sacred submissions makes the cut … I don't know … I tend not to give it much thought.
O-Zone: Fully engaged
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Marcus from Jacksonville: