O-Zone: Getting his due

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Marcus from Jacksonville:
You make it seem like bringing in another quarterback to compete for the starting job is a challenge because you pay two guys "starter money." The problem with that argument is Blake Bortles isn't making "starter money." He is still on his rookie deal, so if you bring in another guy for more money, it's not like you're paying two guys $15 million-plus a year. Bring in one of those guys via free agency or a trade, let them compete through the offseason and preseason, then cut the one that doesn't win the job.
John: I can't speak for how I've made it seem, though I can tell you there often is a difference between what is read and what is written. I can tell you that the Jaguars' challenge in acquiring a quarterback to compete with Bortles has nothing to do with paying two players starter money. It does have a lot to do with not wanting to pay a player starter money – or trade for such a player – if you don't see him as starter. It also might be difficult to sign a player such as, say, Tony Romo or Jay Cutler, if that player believes he's coming in to compete rather than be the starter. It also might be that the Jaguars legitimately don't see a quarterback available who's clearly a better option than Bortles – and who therefore is worth paying front-line money. If they don't see such a player, that could very well preclude them signing a quarterback, and that has nothing to do with how much money Bortles is making.
Go git 'em Oehser:
A.P.! A.P.! A.P.! A.P.! A.P.!
John: Stop.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
JPP getting the franchise tag has crushed my free agency dreams.
John: Good players are cool. Teams tend to like them, and they tend to find ways to keep them.
Thomas from Williamsburg, VA:
Hey, wasn't Jimmy Smith a free agent? That should end that debate.
John: I assume the debate to which you refer is the one about the best free-agent signing in Jaguars history. Smith indeed was a free agent, but he was a "street" free agent, meaning he had been released by the Philadelphia Eagles and essentially was out of football when the Jaguars signed him early in the 1995 offseason. The discussion to which you refer was more about "unrestricted" free agents, which refers to players who become free agents after the expiration of the previous league year. If the discussion included street free agents, then yeah … Smith would be the best in Jaguars history, and there wouldn't be a debate.
Dave from Orlando, FL:
O-Man, Tom Coughlin has placed a major emphasis on toughness. Do you have any plans on toughening up your act?
John: Does weeping count?
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
How difficult is it to get our best three linebackers (Telvin, Puz and Jack) on the field for the majority of snaps?
John: It was pretty difficult last season, and the Jaguars didn't do it enough. I don't know how much more difficult or easy it will be next season, but I expect it to happen a lot more.
Mike from Jacksonville:
What do you think about Tony Romo being signed to compete with Blake and – if nothing else – to be the No. 2 guy? Seems Blake could learn a lot from Romo as far as being a legit in-pocket quarterback that can run.
John: I don't think Romo will sign anywhere to compete and possibly the No. 2 guy.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Of course Bortles needs to play better and getting a big-name running back would be awesome, but with Tom Coughlin running the show do you anticipate a focus on building up a dominant offensive line and defensive line? It seems the teams that are consistently good have solid big men.
John: I do think the Jaguars will focus on improving the offensive line and defensive line under Coughlin. I think the Jaguars focused on those areas in recent seasons, and I think they were more successful in the efforts defensively than they were offensively.
Jim from Neptune Beach, FL:
Maybe not a question but I, for one, will be glad to not watch the previous seasons' conversations rattle on about Leos and Ottos and why any particular player fit a Leo scheme and/or an Otto scheme. To me, going back to the traditional position schemes will be a treat.
John: You're not alone.
Nick from Fort Pierce, FL:
Why does Davon House seem to be on the outside looking in? If I recall, he was our No. 1 corner two years ago and did a decent job on the best wide receivers in the NFL. I don't mind him opposite Jalen Ramsey if A.J. Bouye doesn't pan out and Prince Amukamara leaves. We have bigger fish to fry, what say you?
John: I like House and the Jaguars like him when he is playing at a high level. He was inconsistent at the beginning of last season, and has been inconsistent at times since joining the Jaguars. I think the Jaguars will try to upgrade the No. 2 spot beyond both Amukamara and House.
JP S from Tuscaloosa:
So, it sounds like the new offense could best be termed "exotic smashmouth."
John: I get the reference, because there do seem to be some similarities between how the Jaguars may wind up building their offense for 2017 and how the Tennessee Titans built the offense they began calling "exotic smashmouth" last offseason. But those comparisons as of right now are premature because the Titans signed DeMarco Murray and drafted Derrick Henry last offseason and the Jaguars have yet to acquire a running back this offseason. Also, the "exotic" part of the Titans' scheme had a little to do with the running/escapability of quarterback Marcus Mariota, and while Blake Bortles is mobile, he perhaps isn't as "exotic" as Mariota. But I do sense there's a chance the Jaguars could be moving in a similar, physical direction to that of the Titans. Right now, that's just speculation, but it has a similar early feel.
Bryant from White Plains, NY:
Do you think there are veterans on the roster that the Jags are interested in cutting, but they are waiting to see how free agency and the draft plays out before doing so?
John: I wouldn't say the Jaguars are "interested" in that, but there are positions where veterans could be released depending on future acquisitions. House, right tackle Jermey Parnell, running back Chris Ivory and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks could be in that situation.
Darren from Arlington, TX:
OK, I'll try again. … I really like Amukamara opposite Ramsey. Do you have any insight on how the organization feels about him? If you're playing GM, how much are you willing to pay to keep him here?
John: Thanks for continuing to try. I get many emails every day and answer a lot of them, so sometimes your efforts may result in failure. That's OK. Failure is good. It builds character. The Jaguars liked Amukamara last season, and there likely is a price at which they would want him back. I get the sense that that price won't likely match the lengths and terms Amukamara believes he will get on the open market.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Draft Fournette!
John: I think this is a possibility, and the best part would be that a strong running game would really help quarterback Blake Bortles. Isn't that right Jerrel? Jerell? JERELL!!!???
Joe from Woodbridge, VA:
I asked the question about the importance of the pass rush. The point was to question the logic of the importance of the position. If you look at the playoff teams of this past season what teams were actually dominant on the defensive side of the ball? The Jags play the Texans twice a year and I think you can walk away saying you don't fear the Texans as currently constructed even with a fully healthy JJ Watt. Is it nice to have a dominate pass rush? Yes. Is it necessary to win a championship? You can look as far as this past Super Bowl with Atlanta and the Patriots. The feared pass rusher was in that game was Vic Beasley? How did he do? Successful teams every year have solid quarterback play and running game – two things that the Jags have not had both at the same time since the productive years of 1996-2000. Am I wrong here?
John: I understand that your question was to question the logic of the importance of pass rusher, and believe me: no one who knows the NFL is going to question the importance of the quarterback position. But while a running game is important, the ability to pressure the passer is absolutely critically important to success in the NFL. Is it more important than a running game? In this era of the NFL, yes … I would say that's the case.
Shane from Atlanta, GA:
I didn't see Tinker mentioned on your toughest list. I'd watch my back if I were you.
John: Fair point.

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