JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Marc from Oceanway:
Wow! What a great group of passionate men we have signed. I haven't been this impressed with a Jaguars free-agency class since ... well … forever, really. Gave me chills!
John: Good eye, Marc. The Jaguars' three high-profile 2017 free agents – A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell and Barry Church – indeed all appear to be the sort of focused, professional, committed players that Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin specifically talked a couple of weeks back of the team needing. On that front, the class' makeup should be no surprise. Coughlin clearly wants players who approach the game in a certain passionate, professional way – and this trio seems to fit that description. It also should be no surprise that Branden Albert fits the same description. Does that mean all four will be "home runs?" Who knows? It is the nature of free agency that we probably should not expect all four of those players to be front-line performers over the next four seasons. As bizarre as it sounds – and as easy as it is to forget during the giddiness of free agency – huge impact from every free-agent signee simply rarely happens. But considering the type of players and people these four appear to be, it seems likely that the foursome has a decent chance of being productive on the field and being positive factors off of it. If that happens, it would be cool. Coughlin would like it.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
How do you correctly pronounce "Bouye?"
Rob from the Duuu:
Zone, do you think Blake Bortles will be on a shorter leash this year? Is the plan really to have only Chad Henne as the backup when and if Bortles does get pulled? Really? I want Leonard Fournette but wouldn't mind picking up a quarterback at some point because not having a backup plan at quarterback is just stupid. The Patriots drafted one when they had Brady ...
John: A few thoughts on your thoughts … One is I suppose Bortles will be on a shorter leash this year because he wasn't really on much of a leash at all last season; had he been on a leash, he likely would have been pulled from a game or two when he was really struggling around midseason. The plan for now is to have Henne as the backup, but remember: the offseason began less than 72 hours ago, so there's a long way to go before we see the precise nature of the quarterback plan. My feel right now is Bortles will be the starter, but that's less a dead-solid-lock feel and more a semi-educated-reading-the-tea-leaves feel. As far a backup plan at quarterback … look, let's keep in mind the NFL reality – that it's nice to talk about having a backup plan at quarterback, but that few teams have good backup "plan." That's because you simply don't know how an unproven quarterback will play, and if you love your backup plan, then you probably shift that from a backup plan to a Plan A. And yes, I include the Patriots and Brady in 2001 in that category. The Patriots didn't know what they had in Brady. If they had, he would have been drafted before the sixth round in 2000 – and he would have been starting before Drew Bledsoe got hurt. There also wouldn't have been uncertainty about Brady remaining the starter after he took the job in Week 3 in 2001. Brady is a phenomenal quarterback – one of the best ever. But before he solidified himself as an elite quarterback, he was what just about every quarterback in the modern era of the NFL has been at some point – an unknown entity that some team is hoping will work out and solve their quarterback problem.
Don from Duval:
What would concern you more as a fan: Bad quarterback play or an immature team that finds ways to lose close ones?
John: It's my experience the two aren't mutually exclusive.
Tony from St. Louis, MO:
With Tony Romo, this team makes the playoffs and maybe the Super Bowl. With Blake Bortles, we're hoping for a .500 record. What are we waiting on?
John: Wow. You really like Tony Romo. And you really think highly of the Jaguars' talent at 21 positions. I like Romo, too, and I think quarterback is the Jaguars' position that needs the most improvement. I also think the Jaguars have some good young talent. I would not go so far as to say they would contend for the Super Bowl with Romo. The talent on this team is good, not great. Not until more players play, you know … great. There's no "great' offensive lineman. There's no "great" running back. There's a cornerback who looks like he's going to be great and a wide receiver who had a very good season, and some free agents who should be able to make an impact. That's a roster with a chance, but it's not a great roster until it proves itself as such. Do I think this team would have a chance to reach nine or 10 victories with front-line quarterbacking? I don't know, but I do think better quarterbacking can give it a chance to push above .500 and get out of the abyss into which it has sunk in recent seasons. That's the first step. Can Romo do that for this franchise? Perhaps – if he's healthy for 13-to-16 games. That's obviously the ultimate question with Romo. If it were me, yeah, I'd make a run because I believe that strongly in Romo … and because, why not? I don't get the sense that will be the Jaguars' move. We'll see.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
I said if the Jags sign the Top 5 free agents and get "A" grades on all their draft grades, I still wouldn't be excited for this year. Seems as though the team took that as a challenge. … Color me intrigued.
John: Welcome back. Fanning is cool. People like it.
Steve from Hudson, FL:
What kind of cautionary lesson should we as fans learn from the saga of Brock Osweiler? Grass isn't always greener? The flavor of the month doesn't always remain that sweet? General manager duties are harder than what they appears? Just money can't always bring titles and happiness? Or maybe just how much monetary value is put on draft picks? I'm just glad it's happening to a division foe and not us.
John: The cautionary lesson is one any NFL executive with a few years of experience well knows – that front-line quarterbacks are incredibly rare commodities that every team in the NFL either has or needs. If you don't have one, you're trying to get one – and because the only way to get one is to acquire an unproven one, there is high risk involved whenever you acquire one. The Texans tried to acquire one in Osweiler and they believed after a year he wasn't going to be their guy. But let's not pretend they're the only team to go after a quarterback and have it not work out. It's a pretty large club, and membership isn't cool. People do not like it.
Alan from Ellington, CT:
Does the NFL regulate the value of players? For example, could the Patriots trade Tom Brady for a seventh-round pick.
John: No. Yes.
Bernard from Tucson, AZ:
I love Tom Coughlin's touch on this free agency. Dave historically mostly signs the "promising" talent, which doesn't always pan out. No complaints; he has made us more talented. What I like is that now we are also signing older "proven" athletes. There's a risk to both sides. Considering both types of signings can only be a great thing for us. At least this time, Dave can hold back Tom a little to prevent salary cap problems like before. #jags4life
John: There's a touch of truth to what you say, partly because the first two years of free agency under Caldwell were by design about going after lower-priced, place-holder, prove-it type free agents. The Jaguars didn't invest much front-line free-agency money in 2013 and 2014 – and the result was they rarely got front-line free agents. Caldwell's signings the past two seasons were sometimes more expensive with varied results. We'll see how this year's signings work out. Right now, in the giddy aftermath of the first wave of free agency, there is a lot of reason for optimism. All of the players feel like good fits and it feels like the Jaguars improved themselves. Then again, most teams feel like that when they partake in front-line free agency. We'll see how it works out.
James from Socorro, NM:
Mike DiRocco (some hack for a no-name website) posted an article stating the Jaguars have spent the most money of any team in the NFL the past three seasons, but have the fewest victories during that time span. Signing big-priced free agents is exciting, but it means nothing unless it translates to victories on the field.
John: How do you pronounce Mike DiRocco's last name?
O-Zone: Good question
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Marc from Oceanway: