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O-Zone: Just being difficult

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Dave from Orlando, FL:
Last year, many experts and fans believed the Texans were on the verge of big things. This all changed when Matt Schaub went from stud to spud. What happened to Matt Schaub?
John: The easiest thing when a team slips dramatically is to blame the quarterback. The reality is while Matt Schaub didn't play well, that wasn't all that happened to the Texans this past season. The team began losing close games early in the season, and after that, it appeared to struggle mightily when things went wrong. The Texans' management apparently believed that could be fixed by a coaching change. As far as Schaub, he probably wasn't as studly as many believed and he probably wasn't quite the spud you believed, either.
Sashca from Cologne, Germany:
Let's keep the draft simple. As Chuck says, "Never fall in love with a guy." Take the best player available at that point or trade back.
John: Well, yes. Trading back isn't quite so automatic as your question indicates, but overall … yes.
Donny from Jacksonville:
If I were a general manager, I would have a major concern with Clowney. The way his production dropped and several mentions about his work ethic, it would seem once paid that he likely won't put in the extra effort to realize his full potential. It might be with that first contract and signing bonus. He might show potential through that first contract, go all out in his contract year for a huge second contract then disappear (Albert Haynesworth). Or, he might go all out from the start, gets a huge signing bonus, then disappear once he gets paid (Jags David Garrard and Mike Thomas not long ago). Basically, he protected himself in college to be drafted high and make big money; what's to say he's going to have motivation once paid to be the player he was drafted/signed/PAID to be? I know this is a risk teams have to take with many players, but his history suggests he's much higher risk than most. What say you O-Man?
John: I say I'm not so sure his history does suggest that. Remember, if Clowney indeed was protecting himself, he did so amid a rare set of circumstances. He almost certainly would have been the first selection in the draft the year before had he come out and he was NOT ALLOWED to declare for the draft. He also had people for a year saying he was a can't-miss, guaranteed superstar whatever he did in college. He also had played with Marcus Lattimore, who had his draft status significantly hurt by collegiate injuries. I imagine he's not the only one who might have had an instinct to protect himself under his circumstances – if indeed that's what he was doing.
Tom from Virginia Beach, VA:
This is supposed to be a deep draft. Does the general manager look at future drafts when considering who to pick this year? For instance, next year may have great quarterbacks but no receivers?
John: There is an element of that, certainly. A general manager usually has a broad, general sense of the depth of positions in future classes. At the same time, there are no guarantees in the draft and teams aren't picking entire classes; rather, they're trying to find 10 or so good players to draft who can help the franchise. In that vein, you don't worry too much about future classes. Players develop and players get injured. You pick the best class you can each year.
Josh from Zephyrhills, FL:
I heard Santonio Holmes is going to be waived by the Jets. With the expectations being that the Jets are going to release Sanchez, can you see the both of those guys on the Jags next season? To start with, they are familiar with each other and Holmes is from the Jacksonville area. Would you take a shot at that duo?
John: I'd be surprised if the duo is on the Jaguars next season – and not just because Holmes is from Belle Glade.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
"and [what] you feel about he and Rosenthal really doesn't bother me either way." You're still doing it, John. It should be "about him and Rosenthal." Maybe that sounds wrong to you, but I hope you realize that I am correct on this.
John: If you don't stop sending me emails like this, I and Shadrick are going to find out where you live and …
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
When it comes to predicting who the Jaguars will pick with their first pick, this is the most unpredictable year I can remember. I shouldn't complain though, because having too many good people to choose from is definitely a good problem to have!
John: I wouldn't say it's the most unpredictable year; there have been plenty of years when the Jaguars were picking later when few had any clue who they would draft. But there's certainly more drama around the selection. That's what happens when you're perceived as having a quarterback need in a year with a bunch of uncertainty about a bunch of quarterbacks projected near the top of the draft.
Mike from East Moline, IL:
David Caldwell passing on a quarterback in the first round doesn't mean we aren't getting our quarterback of the future in this draft. There are a few options after the first round with Jimmy Garoppolo, AJ McCarron and Zach Mettenberger. I am excited about the possibility of getting playmakers like Sammy Watkins, or Clowney/Mack/Barr in the first round and maybe the quarterback of the future in the second round. Every year quarterbacks with the talent of not top ten picks get pushed to the top of the draft due to supply and demand; let's take a breath and think about this. Caldwell has done a great job so far. What do you think. John?
John: I think this is a long question and I think there's a lot of "stuff in it," but I think you're right about the gist of it – that just because the Jaguars might not take a quarterback in the first round doesn't mean the team can't get a franchise player at the position. And yeah, that other stuff, too …
Liam from Cardiff, Wales:
Happy St. Davids day, O!
John: Thanks, I hope you enjoyed Eisteddfod.
Tucker from New York, NY:
Hey John, can you explain why the salary cap is projected to rise to $160 million in 2016? It seems like a very drastic change over a short period. Will this have a significant impact on players' contracts and/or the ability of teams to stack their rosters?
John: The salary cap is based on projected revenues from teams. The television revenue is projected to go up over the next few years, which is always a contributing factor when the cap increases.
Trent from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Concerning the franchise tag, if a player gets tagged and can still opt for a contract with another team, what is the point? I know the tag requires you to pay the player the average pay for the Top 5 players at that position, but you can still do that with a normal contract.
John: A tagged player can sign with another team, but if that happens, the player's previous team gets two first-round draft picks from the player's new team. That's the non-exclusive tag. The exclusive tag prevents the player from signing with another tram. The point? Well, the point is to allow teams to protect valuable assets.
Mark from Thomasville:
Even if he's released..
John: #neverfoget
Will from Jacksonville Beach:
Two questions that have kept me up at night, lately. Why are general managers so underpaid compared to the players? Do you make more than the average used car salesman?
John: Two answers. I don't know. I actually kind of doubt it.
Charles from Bangalore, India:
John, could you please clarify this for me. Here is a recent quote from the media concerning Caldwell: Because he and the new coaching staff had inherited the roster, there was no loyalty to the impending free agents and that quickly became evident. This does not imply that the NFL is strictly business? Any substance to the quote?
John: I'm not sure I completely understand the premise of the question, but I'll try to explain. Caldwell did inherit the roster, and when a general manager takes over a team he looks at the roster with fresh eyes. There undoubtedly will be players in whom the previous general manager believed that the new general manager doesn't favor. I assume the comments were in reference to free agents such as Daryl Smith and Terrance Knighton. But the Jaguars' free-agency decisions last season weren't so much about loyalty as about trying to build younger with the idea of building a roster that can contend and be sustainable for the long haul.
Kim from Orange Park:
John - I'm mad at you. I sent you an email earlier in the week regarding the combine and you didn't answer it. I thought it was a decent question that I had not seen asked before. What gives? In case you forgot the question, I wanted to know how the coaches were picked for the positional drills at the combine. Thanks!
John: If you thought you were mad before, I bet you're really mad now.

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