JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
The Jags' nickel and dime packages seemed to give up way too many third and longs last season. What personnel do you see in those packages this year? And how much improvement can we expect?
John: The Jaguars "seemed" to give up too many third and longs last season? That's a kind assessment considering third-and-long failures pretty much defined the season defensively. If not for third and long, in fact, this wasn't a bad defense. Improving on third down is the primary objective facing the Jaguars' defense as next season approaches. They spent the offseason not only improving personnel but revamping their approach to those situations schematically. I'd expect more blitzing and I'd also expect multiple looks in the front seven designed to get more pressure on quarterbacks in passing situations. To get into all of the differences and wrinkles we will see next season would take paragraphs, but suffice to say if you're playing defensive line or defensive back you're going to be involved in some capacity. I expect the Jaguars to be improved in this area. How improved? That will depend on how quickly players such as Dante Fowler Jr., Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey develop.
Chad from St. Augustine, FL:
If it comes down to Denard Robinson or Corey Grant who do you think will make the final roster?
John: It probably will depend on which one wins the kickoff-return position. Honestly, if you ask me tomorrow I may say differently, but for today … Robinson because experience. Maybe.
Vince from Jacksonville:
John, some teams use the practice squad as a place to develop players. Others simply use it as a "taxi" squad, essentially as an extension of the active roster, shuffling players in and out of the 53 and placing them on the squad to keep them around the team so they can use better resources to remain game ready as opposed to being street free agents. In your opinion, which approach is more reflective of the Jaguars' use of the practice squad?
John: I'm not sure there's as wide a range of practice-squad philosophies around the NFL as you might think. Teams typically keep players there who can provide good "looks" in practice with an eye on keeping players who potentially could contribute and move to the active roster in the event of injury. The odds of a practice-squad player eventually becoming a core player are pretty long. Though it happens at times, it's rare enough that it's not generally considered a spot from which you're going to eventually find an irreplaceable player.
John from Cape May, NJ:
I'm interested in seeing our cornerback package when we go to nickel. Assuming Davon House and Jalen Ramsey start in base packages with Prince Amukamara coming on the field against three-receiver sets, how would they line up? Would Prince be in the slot or Ramsey? I don't recall Prince playing much slot for the Giants. I would like to see Ramsey there. Cornerback is very much a reactive position and success is usually based off how fast a player reacts. So, besides learning technique I don't see nickel being too much for Ramsey to handle.
John: This will be a storyline in training camp, and probably will develop during that time. The Jaguars likely will begin August with House opposite Ramsey and Aaron Colvin/Dwayne Gratz playing a lot of nickel. Once Colvin returns from his season-opening four-game suspension I expect him to be the nickel. Until then, though, you need someone to play there. The Jaguars began the offseason planning to let Ramsey play one position – outside corner – until he mastered it. But Ramsey's skill set fits the nickel that it has to be tempting to play him there in the short term. Tune in in August.
Zach from Knoxville, TN:
Hi John, the Jags look good on paper from free agency and the draft. Do you think they can hack it in the regular season?
John: If by "hack it" you mean improving from last season, being in most games, looking a lot better than last season and probably having a real chance to get above .500 – yes, absolutely. If you mean looking like a team with a legitimately bright future – yes, absolutely. If you mean absolutely making the playoffs – no, I can't say that. Not yet.
Antonio from Duval:
Do you think the Jaguars will be getting rid of Telvin Smith or re-signing him next year?
John: This is one of those questions that people want answered right now but that needs time to play out. Smith has two years remaining on his contract, which expires after the 2017 regular season. Two years is a long time, and I believe we'll know a lot more about this after the 2016 season. If he establishes himself as a core player, then I think he gets re-signed. If it appears after this season that players such as Fowler, Ramsey and Jack are going to emerge as core players, then that's probably a different answer.
Nick from Deltona, FL:
A few weeks back you answered my question about pass-interference penalties when I was hoping they would be included in challenges. You basically said it would never happen because often times even the referees disagree on that nature of call. So, why would the NFL allow a call that can be seen both ways be a 40-to-50-yard penalty or even more when it's possible that the call isn't even correct? Is it possible we'll see a standard yardage penalty at all?
John: I doubt it. There would be too many potential scenarios in which a defender could intentionally take a 15-yard penalty intentionally to avoid the possibility of a 40-yard penalty.
Jay from Atlanta, GA:
The rule that kept Myles Jack out of OTAs is hypocritical because he has been out of school. Apparently, he wasn't taking any finals or graduating. Am I assuming or is that what a lot Jags fan are thinking?
John: No one ever said Jack was taking finals or graduating, and remember: the NFL can't control whether a player remains in school, but it can control whether a player is able to participate in organized team activities. I don't know if the rule is as much hypocritical as it is ineffective, but if your point is it's not a particularly good rule – no, it is not.
Richard from Lincoln, NE:
Speaking of dreaming a dream, I would love to see the Jaguars knock the New England Patriots out of the playoffs this coming season. John, what are our chances?
John: Let's let the Jaguars win a couple of September regular-season games before we start talking about their playoff opponents, shall we?
Brad from the Southside:
We hear a lot of talk about which defensive is going to play "inside," "outside" or "nickel" corner. Can you explain the differences between them with regards to coverage, assignments, etc.?
John: There are multiple differences and multiple nuances to this answer, but the easiest way to understand it is that inside and nickel corners are pretty much the same thing. They typically play in passing situations with their role being to cover a slot receiver – often in the middle of the field. They are often a bit more physical and need to be more field aware than outside corners because there's a lot going on in front of them and behind them. An outside corner plays more exclusively on the outside against outside receivers and usually doesn't have to be quite as physical.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
How often do defenses crack the code of what a quarterback is calling during an audible or hot route? Are these the types of things Poz does that make up for him being a liability in coverage?
John: Defenses sometimes "crack codes;" other times defenders have the field awareness to sense something in voice inflection or eye placement to be in the right position. Yes, these are among the reasons Posluszny is valuable – and among the reasons his "coverage liability" sometimes isn't quite the issue many believe.
Powers from Baltimore, MD:
With the addition of Tashaun Gibson, and the $39 million dollar contract to play free safety, what do you think that means for Josh Evans' future in the NFL?
John: Gipson's acquisition certainly means Evans won't be starting at free safety for the Jaguars this season; not unless there are some injuries, anyway. The Jaguars' moving Peyton Thompson from cornerback to free safety puts Evans' role as the backup in jeopardy, so that move is probably more damaging to Evans than signing Gipson.
Ben from Jacksonville:
No questions really. Just wanna say this is your time. I believe in u guys … stand up!
John: Thanks, Ben. The upcoming month indeed is "our time" around jaguars.com, a chance to first retire to our collective studies and reacquaint ourselves with Maugham, Tolstoy and Chekhov before hanging at the beach to grill and wow those around us with our wit, intelligence and – it goes without saying – our beach-ready physiques. #Grillup
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL: