O-Zone: Just saying
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
Regardless of who the Jaguars pick at No. 4 overall, they need to be a serious contributor right out the gate like Jalen Ramsey this past season. We have had too many drafts in this regime that have taken long times to develop. Luke Joeckel is still a serious question mark, Blake Bortles may or may not be the foundation quarterback and Dante Fowler Jr. gets hurt and shows serious maturity issues in his first real season. Bottom line: we need to start hitting on these high draft picks while we are still getting them.
John: You indeed must hit on first-round selections, particularly in the Top 10 – and no doubt the Jaguars haven't gotten enough from Joeckel, Bortles or Fowler. The final sentences aren't remotely written on the stories of those three players, but all must improve dramatically to be considered "worth" top five selections. Ramsey, meanwhile, exceeded realistic expectations for a rookie – even for a Top 5 selection – this past season, and certainly seems on his way to an elite-level career. There realistically is a place between Joeckel/Bortles/Fowler and Ramsey that is the Reasonable Expectation for First-Year contributions, but yeah … the Jaguars need to find that place more often.
Charlie from Ponte Vedra, FL:
John, why is it "I before E except after C"?
John: Is it?
Joseph from Dexter, GA:
I agree that the pass protection last year was "good enough." However, isn't there a chance we can escalate Bortles' play by providing him elite protection? Is it easier to take an above-average quarterback and surround him with great tools to make him play at an elite level, or find an elite quarterback? Given the lack of apparent talent in this upcoming draft, I'd try to surround him with elite talent, and I think that starts up front.
John: There's no question the Jaguars' offensive line has room for improvement. It in no way was elite last season, and that's true despite the pass protection improving. The line must improve as a run-blocking unit, because that creates opportunities in the passing game – and that presumably would help Bortles and the wide receivers, particularly Allen Robinson, by creating play-action opportunities. And yes … elite pass protection couldn't hurt Bortles. But the Jaguars' offensive line for the most part gave the quarterback time to throw last season, something that was even true a good percentage of the time in obvious passing situations. That's improvement from 2014 and 2015. It can improve more, and I don't think there's any question moves will be made in that area this offseason, but the unit played well enough to allow for quality quarterback play last season.
Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I realize there were only a few practices under Doug Marrone, but what did you notice will be a major difference from a Bradley practice?
John: The media observes only about 20 minutes at the beginning of three practices a week during the regular season. This time consists mainly of warmups, individual drills and special teams, so no outside observers got an opportunity to notice much difference.
Dave from Duval:
What do you think the odds are that the Jags take a quarterback with their first pick this draft? If Tom Coughlin really likes, say, Deshaun Watson, this Bortles-is-our-quarterback talk is what I would expect him to put out there anyway.
John: I think the odds are relatively low the Jaguars select a quarterback in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft because I doubt there will be a quarterback there at No. 4 worth that selection. It remains to be seen if Mitch Trubisky or Watson projects in the Top 5 – and if either does project that well, he may be gone before the Jaguars select at No. 4. Does Coughlin believe those players are the future? And would he be willing to trade up from No. 4 to get either player? Is either player worth giving multiple draft picks to move up? Those are questions yet to be answered, but that's the point: a lot of questions have to get answered "yes" for the Jaguars to go quarterback in the first round in April. I don't anticipate enough yeses to make it happen.
Thomas from Jacksonville:
I guess the losses are finally dragging me down. Last season was the worst of all after all of the hype. Even with Coughlin coming in, my enthusiasm is at an all-time low. Will I renew? Of course, but I'm not sure how many times I can continue to go through the whole offseason build up to failure. Sometimes, I feel like the fool, when everyone around me thinks I'm crazy to keep buying tix. The ads with Coughlin and Marrone just seem hollow, regurgitated messages and promises. Yeah, I'll fork out the cash against my wife's wishes, but I am not going to buy into any hype or predictions. I expect a 2-16 season again next year. If the Jags start to do better. Wake me up. I'll be in my seat at the game.
John: It's perfectly understandable you feel this way. I don't sense you're alone. The Jaguars have lost too much for too long to expect all fans to assume they will succeed. They must earn people's excitement. That's their reality, and that's OK. Its professional sports: it's OK to be expected to win.
Ryan from Fremont, OH:
You said that paying big money for a quarterback like Jay Cutler doesn't make much sense, but since it is such a valuable position, wouldn't the risk be worth the reward if in fact the quarterback we'd bring in is a little better than Bortles?
John: Your question asks about the risk being worth the reward if a quarterback is "a little" better than Bortles – and therein lies the core of the question. How much better does a veteran quarterback need to be than Bortles to be worth $9, $10, $11 million a year? It's an expensive question with an expensive answer. We'll see how the Jaguars address it.
Hunter from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Dude, I'm a Coughing fan. It's like he stepped off a battlefield somewhere and said, "I'm going to run a football team now. My job here is done."
John: Dude, I'm not a coughing fan. It distracts my co-workers, and if it goes on for a couple of days I usually wind up with sore stomach muscles. I also get this weird look my face just before break into a loud, awful hack. Coughing is very definitely not cool. I do not like it.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Everything Khan mentions as a possibility does seem to end up becoming a reality. Everything, that is, except a winning football team.
John: This is a keen observation, and it's certainly not a new one. Khan by any measure has done remarkable things in five years as owner. Pretty much everything about the Jaguars within his control has improved dramatically. What's tough to control is results on the field. That's why winning is so cool in professional sports when it happens. It's, you know, hard.
James from Jacksonville:
Watching YouTube highlights it's easy to get excited about a prospect, but Leonard Fournette looks like a pro playing against high schoolers in his. Yet, I don't get that same feeling watching Dalvin Cook. If you were general manager of a team that is going to take a running back, who would be your pick?
John: I think both Cook and Fournette will be good NFL backs. I like running backs who make people miss and have a lot of shift in their games, and I've seen a bit more of that in Cook than Fournette. For that reason, I lean a bit toward Cook. Either way, I'd lean away from taking a running back at No. 4. I may shift on that before the draft if no other position seems to make sense at that spot, but for now I just believe it's too high for the position.
Mandy from Section 414 and Tallahassee:
Hello Mr. O. Well, I've been a season-ticket holder for a very long time and I've seen my Jags go somewhere between 40-95 during that time and watched just nine – count them – nine home wins in the last 5 years. I just renewed for another season this week. My question is; "Am I insane?" On second thought, don't tell me, I may not want to know the answer. ;)
John: No, probably not.
Darren from Jax:
This is important stuff. I took an online quiz about Jags trivia and it asked how many people have worn the Jaxson DeVille costume and I said two because I thought Curtis retired after 2015 and it said I was wrong and only Curtis had worn it. So, I'm asking you, who wore the costume this past season?
John: You were right. As far as who wore it this past season, I'm not saying it was this person and I'm not saying it wasn't. All I'm saying is I'm just saying …