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O-Zone: Hanging tough

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Keith from Palatka, FL:
I believe that Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett will run a version of an "Air Coryell" offense, since this is what they ran at Syracuse and Buffalo. Oversimplified, the Coryell offense is a combination of deep and mid-range passing and a power running game. It should come as no surprise that they are going to build an offensive line that will feature power run blocking and a power running back (like Leonard Fournette). Why are people surprised and angry that Kelvin Beachum, who does not fit that scheme, is being let go in free agency?
John: I believe Hackett's offense ideally will look much like the one you describe, and a lot of the offseason tea leaves indeed look that way, too. I say "ideally," because I believe right now Hackett and the offensive coaches are deep into installing the offense, and I imagine that process is about building a system that these players – particularly quarterback Blake Bortles – can execute well more than it is about designing a particular style of offense. And yes, ideally the Jaguars next season will run effectively to control tempo – and to help Bortles, who has shown effectiveness as a play-action passer. Why are people angry that Beachum is being let go? Because Beachum didn't play poorly last season, and because there's a perception that he was the best option possible at left tackle – and because fans gonna fan, as well they should.
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
Mr. O – Do teams have integrity anymore when signing players that break the law? I'm afraid we're getting to a point where a star player could shoot someone in the street, and they'd still make a roster if that player could score touchdowns and help a team win. I know: you don't want a team of boy scouts, but where do you draw the line … and why does that line (of right and wrong) keep moving based on a player's ability to win football games?
John: There's actually no moving line. If one team believes a player can help it win that player will usually play in the NFL if he is legally allowed to do so. There are exceptions, but they are relatively rare. This has not changed much in the time I have watched and followed the NFL and I don't expect it to change in the foreseeable future. This is not much different than other major professional sports.
Emile from Tallahassee, FL:
Fans during the season: "This team stinks! Let everyone go! Trade them!" Fans during the offseason: "What!? Why are the letting that guy go? How dare they trade him?"
John: Yes. Fans gonna fan.
Genuinejag13 from Jacksonville:
Is there a chance that Bortles and Henne could play special teams or does everyone not mean everyone?
John: C'mon, Genuinejag13 from Jacksonville … be better than that.
Mike from Jacksonville:
A few years ago I hoped the Jags would draft Jay Ajayi. They drafted Yeldon in the second round, whereas Ajayi landed in the fifth. Do I want the Jags to spend the fourth overall pick on running back? No because you can get quality much, much later.
John: You're a long way from wrong.
Steven from Memphis, TN:
Blake is out west working on his mechanics. My question concerns the other area of his game that you have pointed out a number of times. Pocket presence, decision making, seeing the field, protecting the football among others. Will fixing his mechanics correct these mistakes, or are these problems only corrected once camp starts and with coaching and experience? It just seemed to me that Tom Coughlin is not very happy with Blake and I wonder if he sees these problems I mentioned as unfixable? IF Blake cannot correct these issues and we do not get a quarterback in free agency or the draft we are in a lot of trouble next year and the next several years.
John: Better mechanics can't hurt Bortles in the other areas he must improve, but neither will they fix those other areas. Experience should help, as should comfort level in the offense. Hackett certainly is working on creating as many situations in which Bortles is comfortable and as confident as possible. That's not an overnight process, but that's Hackett's objective. As for quarterback-related feelings, I didn't get the impression during his Friday media availability that Coughlin dislikes Bortles, but there's no question Coughlin believes Bortles has to protect the football and make better decisions. I don't think Coughlin's in that belief, though perhaps he addressed it a little more directly than we have heard in recent seasons.
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, I get that after such a horrible season a lot of changes need to be made. I also get that I am just a fan and not a coach or scout or anything. But from my point of view we are addressing the wrong issues. Right tackle to me was the worst spot on our line. I cannot even count how many penalties were on our right tackle last season. My opinion is Parnell should have been the first player cut after the season.
John: OK.
Fred from Naples, FL:
Is Paul Posluszny the best free-agent signing in Jaguars history?
John: He's in the conversation. Leon Searcy and Keenan McCardell are in the conversation, too, and I'd have to put McCardell on the top of my list.
Hunter from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Over-under on a 15 percent chance Luke Joeckel stays for 2017 ...
John: Over. Barely.
J Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
John, my biggest take on the Coughlin presser is that it's not necessarily particular players that need to be replaced, but more-so the overall mental and physical constitution of the "team." I also believe he saw that one of the biggest flaws was special teams play, which is ALL about mental and physical constitution! Am I too far off base here, or was he sending a message to the players more than appeasing the media? On a side note, isn't Jerell Superman's dad or something?
John: I wouldn't say Coughlin's Friday presser gave a message that particular players didn't need replacing. Particular players are starting to be replaced, and I anticipate that continuing. When I asked Coughlin his impression of the state of the roster on Friday, he twice said, "We have work to do." That work is going to be about upgrading players. Now, there's also little question Coughlin believes the overall physical and mental constitution of the team needs work, too – and he clearly believes special teams must be more of a priority. When it comes to the target of his message Friday, I've never thought of Coughlin as one to "appease" the media – or anyone else, for that matter. Was he sending a message to players? I suppose, but mostly he was answering questions honestly about where he believes this team stands. He believes this team has to be tougher mentally and physically, and he was pretty clear about that. As far as Jerell, you know what … maybe he is Superman's dad. That would explain a lot, and it would leave some things unanswered. And I bet Jerell would like it that way.
Eric from Portland via Duval:
Can we tell Joe from Woodbridge that the reason Texans' defense was still the best after JJ Watt went down was because guys like Jadaveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus were ready to step in? This proves the importance of the pass rush and having multiple productive rushers, not the other way around.
John: You can't have enough pass rushers in the NFL. It has been that way since before the modern passing era. It is that way now. I don't anticipate it changing.
Bo from Desden, NC:
If Tom is not sold on Blake do you think we will bring in more quarterback competition or just go with Chad, Blake and Allen?
John: If Coughlin is not sold on Bortles I think Coughlin will explore every avenue to legitimately make the Jaguars' quarterback position as strong as possible this year. That's not a vague answer as much as it is one that reflects the quarterback market this offseason. There does not appear to be a quarterback available at No. 4 overall that is a bona fide franchise guy, and the veteran quarterback market as usual is questionable at best. Are Tony Romo, Jimmy Garropolo or Jay Cutler worth big-time trade or salary equity? Coughlin's not going to tip his hand on this. If he likes any of those quarterbacks my sense is he would pursue them.
Marc from Oceanway:
Coughlin wants and expects toughness in his players. Blake Bortles at least has this going for him. How do you think Bortles fares in the toughness category? Any other Jaguars that stand out to you as being an example of the toughness Coughlin expects?
John: Yes, Bortles is tough. As far as other Jaguars who exhibit that toughness, there are many. Paul Posluszny, Tyson Alualu, Allen Hurns, Roy Miller. There are others, but those guys stand out.

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