JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Scott from Jacksonville:
Quick, O-Zone … final Super Bowl pick?
John: My "final" Super Bowl pick is the same as when this matchup first became finalized two weeks ago. I see the Seattle Seahawks beating the New England Patriots because Seattle usually is able to pressure the quarterback without blitzing. That gives teams with stationary quarterbacks problems. (See: last year's Super Bowl). There are a lot of reasons to like New England, a better quarterback foremost among them … but that pass rush … well, it's just tough to overcome when a team can pressure without having to blitz. So, the pick: Seahawks 27, Patriots 17.
Josh from Jagsonville:
I have a question about rookie contracts. When guys like Justin Blackmon, Josh Gordon or any skilled rookie probably worth more than their rookie deals get in trouble and are cut by their teams, can they sign with another team for whatever salary they can negotiate? If so, it seems like a loophole. Gordon is only getting about $1.3 million and if he was cut, he could probably sign a team-friendly deal to someone else for a lot more than that. (P.S., I am in no way screaming "Cut Blackmon" or "Sign Gordon If Cut").
John: You're overthinking this a bit. First off, if a player such as Gordon or Blackmon get in enough trouble to be released, they also likely have been in enough trouble to be suspended – either that, or they're perceived as enough of a headache that other teams are reluctant to sign them. They also likely have cost themselves a lot of money being fined or by missing games without pay due to the suspension. In theory, a player could be enough of a bad guy to get himself released, but it's not going to benefit him much financially or help his cause much with future employers.
Chad from Jacksonville:
Why have we only re-signed one free agent (Roy Miller) so far?
John: The Jaguars re-signed Miller at the end of the regular season because they were certain beyond doubt they wanted him back, and Miller was sure he wanted to be in Jacksonville. The Jaguars' other free agents being discussed this offseason – defensive end Tyson Alualu, wide receiver Cecil Shorts III and linebacker J.T. Thomas – were less clear-cut decisions. The Jaguars have three young wide receivers that make Shorts' role unclear, and the Jaguars could want to upgrade outside linebacker, which makes the decision regarding Thomas cloudy. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said following the season he wants to re-sign Alualu. That makes sense because there was little-to-no-drop-off between him and Red Bryant at the five-technique defensive end spot. Really, this is not an unusual situation. While teams often approach a player to re-sign late in the season, re-signings more often take place as the league year draws near. Things in the NFL tend to get done on deadline – sort of like in, you know, real life.
Ron from Asheville, NC:
I read an interview with Shad Khan, specifically a question in regards to free agency. He said we have salary cap room and plan on being active. He went on to say that, "We have some critical weaknesses and we plan to fill them." If you had to surmise what those critical weaknesses he was referring to filling in free agency, what would they be?
John: Right tackle, tight end, outside linebacker and free safety. Again, that's my "surmising" and what actually happens largely will depend on who's available in free agency. It's pretty much accepted the Jaguars will address right tackle sometime this offseason, and it stands to reason their first look would be toward free agency. The position is generally considered thin this year in free agency and if the Jaguars agree with that assessment, then they may first target a player or two and then – in the event that they don't get their targeted players – they could look toward the draft. They also could look beyond those four positions if they believe they can upgrade significantly. The plan is to spend significantly more than the past two offseasons, and considering the Jaguars were 3-13 last season, there are probably more than four positions that could be upgraded.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
OK, John … count me down as one that is reasonable and patient in expectations. I understand Joeckel, Bowanko and Linder are the future. I just have a hard time feeling confident in the line's ability to protect Blake without a big-time upgrade at right tackle or left guard whether it be through free agency or the draft. Thoughts?
John: I think the Jaguars will address right tackle by bringing in a projected starter through free agency or the draft. I think the Jaguars will try to bring in competition on the interior through one of those avenues, and I think depending on the level of competition, that could mean significant competition at left guard. I also think some of this will depend on availability – i.e., you must see what's available in free agency before you determine if you're pursuing an upgrade or just an offseason name to make you feel better about your depth chart in May and June.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
Just reading your response to April from Pooler, GA. You forgot to include Frank Scelfo, who is still on this staff even though they already hired Nathaniel Hackett as the new quarterbacks coach. Too many barbers, not enough barber chairs!
John: I see this is going to be an offseason theme. Look, it's up to Gus Bradley to decide the roles of coaches and make sure coaches are fulfilling these roles. Nathaniel Hackett is the quarterbacks coach. Scelfo's title hasn't been announced, but the location of his chair won't be unclear.
Christopher from Richmond, VA:
I know that coaches aren't supposed to talk football with players in the offseason but with how competitive this league is, do they really stick to the rule?
John: To my knowledge, yes. While there is temptation to bend the rule – and while it would in theory be easy to do so – it's also a league of extensive offseason turnover, and such a violation would almost certainly become known quickly.
Jim from Section 142 and Duval:
Hmm, Marshawn Lynch potentially getting fined for wearing his own apparel...Tom Brady has been wearing his TB logo hat for years. Do you think the league turns the other way regarding Tom since he's just so darn good-looking?
John: No, Lynch's potential fine was for wearing apparel that wasn't before approved. The apparel worn by Brady presumably was approved.
Wyatt from Jacksonville:
Ozone, I saw where someone wrote to you to complain that Marshawn Lynch might get fined for using his position as an NFL player to boost the profile of his clothing line while simultaneously showing what a Grade A buffoon he is by demeaning himself, the NFL, the people cover it, and the contract he signed in order to receive life-changing levels of wealth by being allowed to play in the NFL. I'm not sure what he's so angry with the people paid to boost his profile about, but someone really ought to explain to the guy that the people he seems to harbor so much disdain for are just doing their job, just like he should just be doing his.
John: I'm not a huge fan of Lynch not talking to the media, though to pretty much paraphrase my overall feeling on the topic … whatever.
Bryan from Fernandina Beach, FL:
O-Man, do guys with "nasty attitudes" still exist in the NFL anymore? I mean guys like Ray Lewis, James Harrison, Brian Dawkins, Nate Allen, etc. ... guys who put fear into opposing players. I sure would like a few guys with nastiness to them on our team, but it just seems like guys coming into the NFL today care more about headphones and bow ties. Your thoughts ...
John: NFL fans of every era – and former players, too, for that matter – pine for good old days when Men Were Men. When I began covering the NFL in the 1990s, fans wondered if players of that era were as tough as the 1980s, when Lawrence Taylor and Mike Singletary played. Fans wondered in the 1980s if players were as tough as when Dick Butkus played. And so on. And so on. One thing, though: a player wearing headphones and a bow tie after game just means he can afford better clothes and better electronics than me … it darned sure doesn't mean he's not tough.
Doug from Jacksonville:
It seems to me the people saying we can't attract coaching and player candidates should evaluate their comments again. The head coach and offensive coordinator from last season for a .500 team accepted position coaching roles here. One reportedly declined a second interview for an O coordinator job with another NFL team to accept a positional role in Jacksonville.
John: There was absolutely, positively nothing wrong with the assistant coaching hires the Jaguars made in the last few weeks … but never, ever, ever, ever, ever forget ... fans gonna fan.
Randy from Jacksonville:
I'm a man. My wife used to have a list, too. After 10 years it was turned into a book.
John: Wait until you reach 22.
O-Zone: Give it time
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Scott from Jacksonville: