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O-Zone: In search of genius

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Chris from Jacksonville:
I can't tell if the Jaguars brass is genuinely interested in Geno Smith or if it's just feeding the hype machine? If it's the latter, let's get more picks!
John: Let's not get caught up in the internet/twitter buzz of genuine interest and hype and all the buzzwords here. At least not to the point where we lose sight of the reality of the predraft process. The Jaguars right now are interested in Geno Smith enough that they sent five people to Morgantown, W.V. to watch him throw. He's probably the best quarterback in the draft and the Jaguars are selecting in the Top 10. They're also not exactly set at quarterback. So, as of March 17, they're interested to the point where they're considering it. That's not hype. That's due diligence.
Joe from Jacksonville:
Is there an elite version of free agency, that has all these right tackles and cornerbacks Keith spoke of, that the Jaguars do not know the password to?
John: If there is, no one else has the code, either.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
Based on what you have seen from Geno Smith, does GM John Oehser select him with the #2 overall pick?
John: Not yet, but I'm warming to it.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Really like the Roy Miller signing. Heard nothing but good things about him. I know Forsett is a quality back, too. I like it so far. You?
John: I do, because they have laid out a plan and seem to be sticking to it. They feel like they got a real bargain in Roy Miller, and it seems he and Tyson Alualu have a chance to be a very good starting combination. There's a long, long way to go in this. Putting together pieces like Miller – finding them where you find them and building the roster piece by piece – that's where we are right now.
Larry from Section 118:
O-man, this is the happiest I've been as a Jaguars fan in a decade. Caldwell is truly sticking to his guns and it's working. Finding young, solid, affordable players who fit the vision. I don't remember us ever taking this approach to building our roster.
John: It's not time for backflips and shouting from the rooftops. We won't know for sure if it's working for a while, but yes, this is the right approach.
Zakk from Elkhorn, WI:
Hey O-Man I grew up watching the jags in the glory years. Seems like in the late 90's we were constantly competitive. I'm sure that had something to do with the expansion draft or whatever it was called but we had some solid teams even in the Leftwich Garrard era too. We did make it into the playoffs at 12-4 one year. I guess my question is when did we as a franchise "shoot ourselves in the foot" so to speak and just kinda plummet to the bottom of the league and why?
John: How much time ya got?
Darrick from Jacksonville:
With so many outside people being down on Blaine Gabbert, I would have expected to see mock drafts projecting Jacksonville to take Geno Smith or Matt Barkley. I know mocks can't be taken seriously, but why do you think no one sees the Jags taking a quarterback? Are the talking heads secretly not as down on Gabbert as they claim?
John: It's usually best not to waste too much time analyzing the mocks of others. Getting remotely close to correct on one of your own is hard enough. But in this case, my guess is in the early mocks a lot of people were taking the stories last month about the Jaguars giving Blaine Gabbert a chance to compete as indication they weren't going to take a quarterback in the first round. If you couple that with a general feeling that Smith wasn't worth a Top 10 selection – or that the Chiefs would take him if they felt they had a quarterback need – that may have pushed people from mocking Smith to the Jaguars at No. 2. Given the team's attendance at the Pro Day Thursday, I'd expect more mocks to have Smith to the Jaguars, which of course, means nothing once you surf away from that mock to another web site.
Jim from Meridian, ID and Section 230:
I reached out to the new free agents and suggested each of them leave a 6-pack of Sierra Nevada on your porch. Keep a lookout.
John: Just checked out front. I must say, Jim, I'm not thrilled.
Mike from Houston, TX:
Being a University of Houston graduate, I'd love to see Kolb get a deal similar to Cassel and see if he could challenge Gabbert. Any chance of the Jags taking a look at him or has he used up his chances in the NFL?
John: I don't know that he has used up his chances. I also doubt he will join the Jaguars if he and his agent are commanding any sort of a significant signing bonus. The Jaguars this offseason are taking the approach that they want even competition in training camp and throughout next season. The trend thus far has not been to weight the future down with big signing bonuses to free agents this offseason. I don't expect that trend to change – not this offseason, anyway.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
What are the odds that the Bills trade up with the Jags to get to Geno before the Raiders?
John: Three-point five to one. No, wait. Three-point seven to one.
Alex from Austin, TX:
First wave of free agency is over and Eric Winston is still without a team. So is Vollmer. Hopefully that means they're one step closer to being affordable enough for Caldwell to consider signing them.
John: We shall see. I wouldn't spend much time hitting refresh waiting for that. The market probably has to slow down quite a bit more before the Jaguars get into play. Plus, Winston will be 30 next season. That doesn't fit what they're doing this offseason.
Chris from Nebraska:
John, I like the overall philosophy the new guys in charge have set in place. I really do. That being said I am confused by some of their moves. You keep saying that the idea is that the personnel decisions are not based on money but production. How do we justify getting rid of Cox who had four interceptions last year and signing Ball who has three interceptions his entire career or in seven seasons. If it's based on performance, that doesn't make sense. Also the chargers did not break the bank to sign cox and he is still young. What are your thoughts?
John: I understand that there remains confusion on this issue. I understand this because the inbox continues to get these questions. Let's look at it this way, that the players that are causing the most confusion – Derek Cox, Terrance Knighton, Daryl Smith – are UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS. That means they are not under contract. They are NOT being released. There is a difference. While Jaguars fans are well familiar with these players from past seasons, remember the perspective of David Caldwell and Gus Bradley: They see Cox and other free agents no different from a roster management standpoint than they do any other free agent. Therefore, the same philosophy that holds true with free agents from other 31 teams – young, hungry, wanting to be here, affordable to the point where the contracts will not affect roster moves at the position – applies to them. The Jaguars saw Cox in that sense no different than any other corner available last week, and the actions so far make it clear that for this offseason the Jaguars aren't going to play at any level of free agency that requires that sort of long-term commitment to a veteran player. So, remember, from Caldwell's standpoint: the decision wasn't about "getting rid of Cox;" rather, it was about choosing whether to bring him in.
Chaz from Palatka, FL:
This fan base is either desperately reaching for straws or quite possibly insane. Caldwell and Bradley are doing it the right way. The Jag fans have to realize this team had nothing, other than perhaps a handful of really good players. If Caldwell was to sign one high-priced FA, it would do NOTHING for the team. One player isn't going to change a two-win season to a 10 win season. Keep the patience will pay dividends in the end.
John: Fear not. Caldwell knows enough to keep the patience. He knows well from experience that this is the way to go. In his early years with the Colts, fans there clamored each offseason for big free agents. They rarely partook. He knows that in March you must shut out the shrill of the people. It's not out of disregard for their wishes; rather, it's about knowing that in the NFL, the wants of the masses are rarely the wise path.
Joe from Jacksonville:
If your last name didn't start with an 'O', then it wouldn't be called the "O-zone", correct?
John: Phone Mensa. Fast.

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