JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Eric from Jacksonville:
For discussion's sake, barring any unforeseen injury or known free-agent signings – and the Jags select Jalen Ramsey No. 5 overall in late April – what is the starting defense come September?
John: It's important to say "for discussion's sake," because there is bound to be much discussing – and many changes – on this topic before September. But for discussion's sake, this likely would be the Jaguars' starting defense next season in your scenario: end Jared Odrick, tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, tackle Roy Miller, Leo end Dante Fowler Jr., Otto linebacker Dan Skuta, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith, cornerback Davon House, cornerback Aaron Colvin, free safety Jalen Ramsey and strong safety Johnathan Cyprien. I expect some other changes in there, possibly at Otto linebacker. But that's a good starter list. For discussion's sake.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, I read your column every day, so I am familiar with your take on the Jaguars' offensive line. I agree there are some fine-to-decent-to-maybe-even-good players there. But let's face it, as a unit they do not play well. They have flashes of good play, but no consistency. One is never left with the warming and calming sense that this offensive line will take care of its business. So, why do you think just a little tweaking on the interior is necessary here? It seems something a bit more dramatic is in order to get this line playing well as a unit. Not necessarily personnel changes, but maybe. Not necessarily coaching changes, but maybe.
John: I guess this depends on your definition of "tweaking." I've said the interior offensive line is going to be addressed this offseason and I believe that will mean Brandon Linder returning to the starting lineup at a guard position after missing much of this past season. I also believe you'll see a change at center. That's two-fifths of the line that will be different next season. That's 40 percent. That's not a small number.
Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
It seems clear the offensive line is pretty set with four individuals, who this past year played the guard and tackle positions. If you had to predict, is the fifth starter on the roster, and if the fifth starter is not on the roster, what is the likelihood the new player brought in will be a guard and not a center?
John: I don't think the fifth starter is on the roster, and I'd say the likelihood that it will be a guard and not a center is 42.4 percent.
Richard from Lincoln, RI:
I saw two potential calls against the Patriots that were not called Saturday. Do you think officials favor the home team at all, mainly in the playoffs?
John: I think calls go against teams all the time, and I think generally speaking it evens out. I also think at times home teams get slightly more calls than away teams, but that's just a gut feel.
Cire from Atlanta, GA:
Sir John of O-Zone, what position do we need the ABSOLUTE most right now? Also #DTWD
John: Pass rusher. Pass rusher. #DTWD
Ryan from Chapel Hill, NC:
I may have missed it, but has David Caldwell mentioned thoughts on re-signing Chad Henne? He's a great backup, but he also deserves a ton of credit for how he has embraced his role. So many times it seems that moves like this get ugly for a while and end with the vet leaving as soon as possible. From what Bortles has said, Henne has been nothing but helpful. Would be great to have him back.
John: Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said much the same thing about Henne recently as he did about Marcedes Lewis – that the team will discuss in the next few weeks how to approach those players' futures. The team likes both players and it wouldn't surprise me to see both back. As far as waiting a while after the season to figure their futures, that's the norm for free agents who finish the last season of their contracts unsigned. I imagine the Jaguars would like Henne back, and I know Henne likes Jacksonville. Can they reach a deal that makes sense for both sides? Does Henne want to try to test the market and find a place where he can compete for a starting position? Those are conversations/decisions to be held in the coming weeks.
Jeremy from Andover, KS:
In regards to a reincarnated Tony Boselli at left tackle, he not only played at a HOF level, but he elevated the play of the team around him with his leadership. Joeckel does neither.
John: Right, and neither do 99.9 percent of the players in the NFL.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, with the influx of draft picks and free agents it took the Jaguars' offense two seasons to become an average-to-slightly-above-average offense. So, why is there belief that a defense that needs just as many pieces – if not more – will improve to at least average in one offseason? It just doesn't seem realistic to expect this defense to be anything other than mediocre again next year. Does it? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: First, your concern is a valid one. The defense must improve dramatically, and free agency and rookies are a high-risk way to improve. One reason to think the Jaguars can improve? As Caldwell said, it doesn't take as long to build a defense as it does to build an offense; you need more continuity and time to gel on offense than you do on defense. Another reason is that the defense doesn't necessarily need a complete overhaul; it was a pretty good run defense, so adding pass rush and a playmaker at free safety could have a big impact. A final reason is that there are already a couple of needed pieces on the roster; Sen'Derrick Marks and Dante Fowler Jr. may not be the ENTIRE difference, but they sure can't hurt. These reasons aren't guarantees that the Jaguars' defense will be better next season, but they are reasons improvement is possible.
Eduardo from Ponte Vedra, FL:
John, why are returning kickoffs and punts such different disciplines? Other than the added challenge of fielding a punt, I would think a skill set that includes decisiveness, the ability to make quick cuts, acceleration, etc. would be common to both. So, why wouldn't Rashad Greene return kicks also (on those rare occasions when a return is an option)?
John: It's not out of the question for one player to do both, but the skill sets are more different than many think. Punt returns are more about quickness and the ability to make people miss whereas kickoff returns are far more about using straight-ahead speed to hit and burst through a gap in the coverage. Greene is a remarkable fit at punt returner, and many of the traits that make that true also make him potentially a good slot receiver. I don't doubt that he could return kicks, but I don't know that the fit is quite as perfect as it is returning punts.
Andrew from Never, Never Land:
Home-field advantage and a week off are a bit much. The playoffs need to be expanded so teams do not get such a huge advantage. I am getting tired of divisional playoff games being so slanted to the advantage of the rested home team. You think we see a change in the near future?
John: Teams play 16 regular-season games. I have no problem with teams that perform well during those games getting an advantage in the playoffs. Remember, too – those home teams are usually the better teams, so they often tend to play better than their opponents.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
The Marqise Lee question got me wondering. Who pays for all the travel of these players during the offseason? I mean if Lee wants to fly from Cali to Jax to practice with Bortles, does the team pick up the cost of that or does the player? I know these guys make insane money, but it still seems expensive.
John: Players generally pay for their offseason travel.
David from Durban, South Africa:
Peter King said this in his [recent] MMQB column: "The most glaring omission, I thought, was left tackle Tony Boselli of Jacksonville, whose career was cut short by shoulder injuries. I'm not positive Boselli should be enshrined, but I certainly believe his case should be heard. For five years in the late '90s, I thought he was the best left tackle in football—better, for a short period anyway, than Jonathan Ogden and Orlando Pace. What hurts him, obviously, is having played 91 games. But his 90 starts are three more than center Dwight Stephenson had for Miami; Stephenson made it as the best center for a four- or five-year period. His career was also cut short by injury." I am sensing a ground swell of support for Boselli's induction in 2017. You like that, O'Man? You like that?
John: I do.
O-Zone: I like that
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Eric from Jacksonville: