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O-Zone: Just a zany guy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Cole from Orlando, FL:
John, you wrote a beautiful piece on Allen Robinson this week. Would you argue that, right now, A-Rob is perhaps the third best receiver in Jaguars history? It's not just hype anymore. He's the real deal.
John: Robinson is well on his way to being elite, the real deal … whatever you want to call it. Is he the third best receiver in Jaguars history right now? I suppose that argument could be made, and I wouldn't argue too much against it. He has legitimate talent. At the same time, I think Robinson would be the first to tell you it's way too early to put him on any all-time lists. He has, after all, played about a season and a half in the NFL. That's my cautious answer. My speculative answer? He has the talent to be as good as any receiver in Jaguars history, but he has a lo-o-o-ng way to go before he approaches Keenan McCardell and a lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ong way to go before he approaches Jimmy Smith.
Mike from Elberton, GA:
I get the frustration over the pass rush, but we are currently in the top half of the league in sacks. It's not like we don't get any pressure at all as was the case in the not-too-distant past. The fact that we fans get disappointed, frustrated and complain about things will never change, but let's at least appreciate the fact that we complain about things now that would have been considered awesome a couple of years ago. That's improvement, right?
John: It's a bit of improvement, but it's awfully hard right now to have very much glowing to say about the Jaguars' pass rush. It's a season-long issue that has cost the Jaguars more than a few games. But your point does speak to the fact that the Jaguars' coaches have done a good job at times scheming to create pressure. Now, there certainly have been times when they could have done a better job – and there certainly have been times that blitzing has burned them on the back end – but to say they have done nothing to create pressure is not correct.
Greg from St. Johns, FL:
I admit to not keeping up with player's contracts (that's what I pay you for, Mr. O), but would you please list the Jags who will become free agents next season?
John: The team's unrestricted free agents following this season are scheduled to be tight end Marcedes Lewis, quarterback Chad Henne, center Stefen Wisniewski, defensive end Andre Branch, tight end Clay Harbor, offensive tackle Sam Young, running back Bernard Pierce and wide receiver Bryan Walters. There are also players such as running back Toby Gerhart, offensive guard Zane Beadles, linebacker Dan Skuta, safety Sergio Brown, cornerback Dwayne Gratz, cornerback Demetrius McCray and defensive end Chris Clemons whose contracts are structured in a way that there will be little or no "dead money" involved with that player in 2016. That's not to say the members of the latter group won't return, but there contracts are such that they will be in the conversation when people discuss players who may not return.
Jordan from Lincoln, NE:
I remember when the Jags were a pass rush away from being good. Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves were the result of that mindset. Hindsight is 20/20, but hopefully in the search for a pass rush, they fare better than the last time.
John: This is like worrying about Allen Robinson because of Matt Jones and Blake Bortles because of Blaine Gabbert and so on and so on. You have to draft players if you're going to draft and develop them, and the results of one player have nothing to do with those of another.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
O-Man, while I agree with the fact that our team is marginally improving, the point that is missed is the other teams – especially within our division – are also improving. Especially if you look at the Titans and Colts, who both have young quarterbacks who appear to have long careers ahead of them. The point is while we might be improving it might not matter because everyone else is improving too. We might become the most contested division in the league in a year or two because I see three potential Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks in the AFC South.
John: So, what is your suggestion? To not improve?
Mark from Green Bay, WI:
What the status of the Shipyards? When we came to the game against the Chargers I showed my wife where they were located and what Shad wants to do with them, but haven't heard anything. Would be great having something to do in town.
John: Without going into too much logistical detail, Shad Khan's Shipyards proposal is still very much a possibility, but because of environmental issues – and the long process of approving/planning a project on so large a scale – it is a relatively long-term project. In the short term, Khan and the city are building a covered flex field and amphitheater adjacent to EverBank Field to the tune of $90 million. It will be cool. You'll like it.
Christian from Titusville, FL:
O', Steve from Seattle never has been to KONA, has he?
John: He probably never hung out at the dunes in Fort Caroline, either. Not everybody gets to do cool stuff.
Thrill from Section 236:
Your answer about changing the defensive coordinator is a great example of why building through the draft is superior to building through free agency. Bob Babich didn't forget how to coach in a single year. The scheme didn't become obsolete in a single year. I'll tell what did happen in a single year: the defensive free agents the Jaguars used to fix the pass rush in 2014 got a year older. That's what happened.
John: Sen'Derrick Marks getting hurt didn't help, either. I'm not a big one-guy-makes-all-the-difference guy, but to think Marks' absence hasn't been at least a small factor is a little naïve.
Andrew from Panama City, FL:
Hey, my iPad has stopped working. Can you just come by and read me the O-Zone?
John: Are you serious, Clark?
Zain from Orlando, FL:
We've talked a lot about the Jags being an ascending team that still needs some seasoning to peak. Optimism is here that the window of opportunity is opening. But can it actually open with all the contributors that may turnover? We might lose significant contributors (whether you believe they contribute or not) after this season in Marcedes, Branch, Wisniewski, Harbor, and Henne. After next year, the Joeckel draft class ... it seems like a lot of turnover for a team that seems to be gelling into hopefully one that is consistently competitive.
John: You listed some more guys where I inserted those three little dots (…). But whatever the names within the dots, the answer is the same: yes, the Jaguars can be an ascending team without re-signing all of the players on the roster. If the Jaguars ascend – and I believe they will – they will do so because their young quarterback is ascending with a group of core players. If you retain the quarterback and the core players, you should continue to ascend. Plus, the Jaguars have a lot of cap space. Re-signing core players shouldn't be a problem for a while.
Ian from Leeds, UK:
Dumb question, but why is it impossible to find the O-Zone on the mobile site?
John: It's in the dropdown menu under news.
David from Oviedo, FL:
Johnny-O, in so many words you said you don't believe Stefen Wisniewski, Zane Beadles, Andre Branch or Chris Clemons will be back next year. In other words, you're saying they're not playing well enough to stay. Has a player ever called you out for something they believed to be untrue or unfair?
John: Yes, and by the way: when I say I don't think those players will return, I'm saying I think the Jaguars will try to upgrade the positions – not that those guys are necessarily awful players. I also think there's every possibility – and actually a likelihood – all will play in the NFL next year. It's possible one or more could play for the Jaguars. But hey, maybe they all will be back. I've been wrong before. I'll be wrong again. Probably a lot.
Joe from Boston, MA:
Hey, O-Zone ... does Telvin Smith have the skillset to play middle linebacker? Obviously he's excelling in his role, and maybe size would be an issue, but it seems like in today's NFL he could slide into the middle linebacker spot once Posluszny is no longer on the team. Thanks!
John: Smith is small for a weak-side linebacker, and he has the athleticism to overcome that and make a lot of plays. He plays in the middle in some situations, but to ask him to play middle linebacker full time … well, that's a very tough "ask."
Ralph from Jacksonville:
John, I am shocked that Shad Khan is spending so many millions of dollars in Jacksonville for the amphitheater, IPF and club renovations on top of the millions already spent when it is clear his intent is to move the team to London. What can he possibly be thinking?
John: I guess he's just nutty that way.

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