JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, you and other analysts have discussed the very reasonable plan of keeping Blake on as the starter and drafting quarterback in the middle rounds. Is there really any value in a draft option like that? Yes, we can all look to Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins and Nick Foles – and of course the granddaddy of such arguments, Tom Brady – as mid-to-late-round-draft-smash successes. But those were all extreme exceptions to the rule that quarterbacks drafted that late don't pan out very often. I hope the Jags roll with Bortles for 2018, but unless he continues improving at the rate he's improving now, the team will be looking to make a change sooner rather than later. Should the team go quarterback in the first round? After all, there are not likely to be any great options in free agency ever.
John: We're actually pretty close to being in lockstep on this issue. While it's fine theoretically to draft a quarterback in the middle-to-late rounds hoping he develops into a starter, the chances of finding your eventual franchise quarterback that way are pretty slim. It's certainly worth the risk, but you can't assume the outcome will be successful. That's why I'm starting to think if the Jaguars keep Blake Bortles as the starter for 2018, they indeed may take a quarterback somewhere in the first three rounds of the draft. A quarterback taken that early would have a better chance of emerging as a starter in the next year or so – and if Bortles plays well enough in 2018 to be the long-term starter, a quarterback selected in the first two or three rounds in April would have a reasonable chance of developing into a quality backup who perhaps could be traded at some point.
Frankie from the Mean Streets of Ponte Vedra, FL:
If we learned anything this season it's that you don't need an elite quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Sometimes, a backup will do. Which is why I can't understand why the Jaguars haven't already announced that Blake will be their starting quarterback next year? What are they waiting for?
John: To be certain.
John from Cocoa, FL:
Big O, is Chad Henne still under contract or can the Jaguars release him? The only time he looked like a good quarterback was in relief of Blaine Gabbert in his first appearance. If the Jags let him go, we may be able to get a good backup quarterback. Here are a couple of scenarios: One, Jags keep Bortles and draft or free-agent a good quarterback. I would love to see this happen because – if I'm not mistaken — not many quarterbacks have taken their team to a conference championship game within their first four years of play. I think another notable Jaguar did it; Mark Brunell. Scenario Two: If the Jags do acquire Kirk Cousins, keep Bortles as backup. He has proven he can get us to the AFC Championship Game and to the Super Bowl – as long as we don't get the bad breaks again.
John: First, Henne is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on the March 14 start of the 2018 NFL League Year. Considering the Jaguars' cap situation is tightening, it's possible he and the team will part ways and that the Jaguars could go with a younger, cheaper backup quarterback – if Bortles indeed remains the starter. But while the belief that Henne is a "bad backup" quarterback is commonly held among Jaguars fans, the fact is the Jaguars could fare far worse. Your second scenario is also terrific except for the fact that the Jaguars wouldn't keep both Cousins and Bortles on the roster; the salary cap would make that unrealistic.
Adam from Richmond, KY:
"Shadrick talked about it last Thursday and I haven't seen him since." Did you check the soft-serve machine?
John: I just did. He's not there. This is serious.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
John, seeing you list nickel corner as a need made me realize I probably didn't appreciate Aaron Colvin enough this past season. When you have two Pro Bowl corners like Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, I'm sure every team's game plan involves attacking the third corner. Colvin held his own all season and the Jags probably don't win as many games without him. So, one fer Colvin. Now, do you think someone currently on the roster could be the nickel corner or is this something that has to be taken care of in the draft or free agency?
John: Nickel corner absolutely will be a need for the Jaguars this offseason – if Colvin indeed does not return. But I don't consider it as much of a given that he will leave via unrestricted free agency as I imagined it was much of the season. Nickel cornerback is an important position in the modern NFL; it essentially is a starting position. The thought here is it will be important enough to the Jaguars to re-sign Colvin. If that doesn't happen, that could force the Jaguars to address the position very early in the draft. The spot is too important to overlook.
Roshandra from Jacksonville:
Hi John, I think removing the tarps is a bad idea right now. Shouldn't we go a couple of years to let the fan base prove itself before we make a move like this? What if the Jaguars have a bad record and the fans don't show up? Or what if the team has a bad year and ticket sales go down the following year? Do we then put the tarps back on? I think we are moving too fast right now. Everyone is talking about how NFL attendance is down across the board, but we are ignoring that and removing tarps. I think management is setting itself up for major disappointment and the team is going to continue to be the laughingstock of the NFL. I think they should just wait and build the demand up and make the change more slowly, but who am I?
John: The phrase "Strike while the iron's hot" comes to mind. The phrase "We all live in a Yellow Submarine" comes to mind, too, but that's because I'm tired; it has nothing to do with this answer. What does have to do with this answer is the Jaguars are removing the tarps for next season for a couple of reasons. One is the momentum gained from last season – and another is that a 2018 home schedule that includes games against the New York Jets, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins gives the organization confidence that demand will be high enough to merit removing the tarps for 2018. Is there a risk involved? Perhaps. What's the phrase I'm looking for? "Tramps like us … baby we were born to run?" No … that's not it … Oh, I remember! "Nothing ventured, nothing gained …" Yes, that's the one. Go with that.
Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I really wanted to see Blake truck someone for a first down in the playoffs. I think he is beastly enough and the defender would be caught off guard. If we make it back to the AFC Championship, I wanna see our big quarterback truck a safety for a first down. just sayin.
John: Well, as long as you're just sayin.
Teal Time Radio:
Hey John: love ya blog. I get all the hate for Bortles, but he has had to deal with two head coaches, a bunch of offensive linemen and butterfingers receivers. During the course of 2014-2017, Jaguars receivers had a whopping 107 drops – and many on key third downs or red-zone opportunities. How can any quarterback succeed or win games on his own like that? He also had to deal with rookie wide receivers and waiver-wire pickups to get any major production. So how is it fair to blame Bortles for all this? Cousins didn't have anywhere close to as many passes dropped. Plus, Cousins had two sure-handed receivers in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson till this year. So, how is he so much better again?
John: While Bortles has had plenty of passes dropped in his career, I can't rightly say that drops are the major cause of all of his issues – and while he perhaps has had a few more passes dropped than Cousins, drops are a part of the game and all quarterbacks must overcome them to various degrees. Cousins almost certainly is a better "pure" passer than Bortles; few people would argue that. Is he a significantly better option for the Jaguars at quarterback? Enough to pay what likely will be a significantly higher salary over a four or five-year period? That is a different question, and the answer isn't nearly as clear.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
The reason the Jaguars lost the AFC Championship game is because the defense could not get a stop on third down with time on the clock. If they make that stop, Blake wins the game. That's my take. With a great season and with great effort from everyone, why play that blame game. It was a great year find something you like about it and let it go.
John: That's a good one. No, seriously …
O-Zone: Funny stuff
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Brian from Gainesville, FL: