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O-Zone: Keeping it going

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – O-Zone, Teddy Bridgewater Pro Day edition …

Let's get to it …

Brian from New Hampshire:
I really just don't get the fans' problems with Marcedes Lewis. Yes, he makes a lot of money. Yes, his production is down, but when he's asked to block more often than run routes and is better than most of our offensive line the last few years then he's worth the money. If the line can tighten up I can see Lewis putting up Top 3-tight end numbers pretty easily to go with being by far the best blocking tight end in the league.
John: The fans' problem with Lewis is his receiving numbers aren't there with the best receiving tight ends in the NFL. There are a number of reasons for that, the Jaguars' struggles offensively around him in recent seasons chief among them, but that's the easiest measure of a tight end, so that's where most opinions begin. Lewis is a very good player and the Jaguars are better with him than without him. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is pretty confident that Lewis can have a significant role passing and blocking in the offense next season. Whatever problem fans do or don't have with him, that's where Lewis stands right now.
John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Do you think the starting center for this season is on the roster? If not, do you think he will come from the draft or free agency?
John: I think this is a toss-up right now. The Jaguars have the option of working Mike Brewster/Jacques McClendon/Will Rackley at center and right now – because they're the players on the roster – the odds are you'll see someone from that group starting. You might see a rookie drafted there, but there may not be a rookie in this class who can be ready to start right away. It's open-ended, I tell ya! Open-ended!!
Bryce from Algona, IA:
So, apparently you DO have an idea of what we're talking about.
John: Wait! What?
Mike from White Plains, GA:
There are quite a few folks manning the defensive line these days. Am I wrong in thinking that it isn't because they are all going to be playing and splitting snaps, but more just to up the competition and that some of these guys won't be on the opening day roster, most likely?
John: It's safe to say all of the defensive linemen on the roster now won't be on the roster at the start of the regular season. Teams release players at the end of training camp and there's little doubt there will be defensive linemen released. But the Jaguars want a deep rotation on the defensive line. Red Bryant, Tyson Alualu, Sen'Derrick Marks, Roy Miller, Ziggy Hood, Chris Clemons, Jason Babin, Andre Branch. That's a pretty good eight with which to begin.
John from Section 105:
I'm realizing that the best thing about this free agency period for the Jags is that a lot of the urgency and anxiety about the draft is gone. They have the freedom to take who they want and not press as much because the roster already got much better. Here's one for breathin' easier!
John: No doubt.
Tim from St. Petersburg, FL:
Do the signings of Clemons, Dekoda Watson and Babin indicate that the front office is not too sold on Andre Branch?
John: Not necessarily. The signings of those players and the potential selection of a pass rusher early in the draft simply means that the Jaguars don't feel they have enough pass rushers – not that any team ever does. Branch is entering his third NFL season and his second season in this system. He improved last season and must improve more. They're not sold and they're not not sold on him. He's a young player who hasn't reached his potential, and at this point, he just has to keep getting better.
Darrick from Jacksonville:
Eyes not on the road and hands off the steering wheel? #Shadricksighting
John: That's our boy.
Mike from Clyde, NC:
If MJD is not resigned, who do you expect will be the face of the franchise? Poz? Scobee?
John: This "face-of-the-franchise" thing is an obsession to some, and I've never quite grasped it. Faces of the franchise happen organically. There is no designation or committee or fan vote. We'll know it when it happens, but there's no rush or even necessity.
Spencer from Satellite Beach, FL:
Even with all the signings and the remaining need at quarterback, I still think we should draft Khalil Mack. Start him at SAM. Or have him rush inside or from the Leo spot in the lightning package.
John: Hey! One for Mack!
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Do you think Chris Clemons signs with the Jags if Red Bryant hadn't already signed? Somehow, I think the signing of Red Bryant adds much more than just a "good player" to the team. He was considered to be a key leader on the Seahawks' defense. Do you think Dave and Gus pursued him in part because of his leadership qualities as well as his talent to play the run-stuffing DE position?
John: It's really hard to say what Clemons would have done had Bryant not already signed; he had already signed, and Clemons did sign, so we are where we are. As for why Bradley and Caldwell pursued him, I don't think there's any question leadership qualities were a big part of it. There's a feeling that a veteran is needed in the defensive line room whocan lead by example and set a tone. The idea is for Clemons to be that guy.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Let's just pretend that MJD comes back on a one- or two-year deal and splits carries with Gerhart. It sure would be nice to see him returning kickoffs again! He was the most electric returner we've EVER had and I think some forget about what he brought when he did do it. One of my most memorable plays ever that's up there with the glory years of the late 90's is Mojo's return against Pittsburgh in the playoffs!
John: Wow. If you're throwing out scenarios under which Maurice Jones-Drew returns kickoffs again you really are pretending.
Mark from Archer, FL:
For the most part I love what the Jags did in free agency. However, I would have much rather seen them spend a little more money and get Jared Allen rather than Chris Clemons. Allen is a proven defensive end. Yes, he would have cost more money, but he would be well worth it. He probably has three or four more good years left. Do you think there is still a chance we go after Allen?
John: No. The Jaguars pursued Clemons because he not only has a familiarity with the Jaguars' scheme, but because he has a clear role in the scheme. He can rush the passer from the Leo position and he also is a good defender against the run.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
What do you think we need to do in free agency now?
John: Relax.
Mike from Jagsonville:
I bet you didn't know there IS a water cooler in the commercial.
John: What commercial is that?
Clint from Victoria, British Columbia:
What position will Ziggy Hood be playing? I'd assume defensive tackle, but he's listed as a defensive end on the roster.
John: He may play at times in the Jaguars' five-technique defensive end position, but he mostly is expected to play defensive tackle.
Ruben from Jacksonville:
So, I don't hate the Toby Gerhart signing, but I don't love it, either. What was the opinion on Ben Tate? He got two years, $7 million and is young, has been productive in a zone-blocking scheme and has been learning behind one of the best running backs in the league. I prefer to keep Maurice Jones-Drew, but if we were going to pick up another, Tate seemed like a really good fit for us.
John: The Jaguars believed differently. They believed Gerhart was the best fit.
Evan from Yankton, SD:
I feel like Ryan Davis is being forgotten in this whole defensive line talk. He made some huge plays last year for being an unknown player. What are the chances he can stay on the roster with this new defensive line and linebacker overhaul?
John: I think the chances are relatively good. The Jaguars like him, and they like having multiple pass rushers. He won't be first on the depth chart, but he wasn't first on the depth chart last season and he managed to carve out a niche by the end of the season.
Emily from Boulder, CO:
If your predictions about the starting defense are correct, then only one starter remains from two years ago. That's some serious rebuilding. Here's to hoping it works! #indavewetrust
John: Hey! One fer hoping it works, but you're right that it has been a significant rebuild. As of now, the Jaguars have players they think are good fits at most positions defensively. Now, over the course of time, the idea will be to draft players who can develop in those positions and improve over time.
James from Socorro, NM:
How long can we keep the "Soggy Hood" thing going? I'm guessing
John: Don't you rain on my parade.

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