JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Winston from Duval:
Do you think the defense is good? I ask no snark only because I hope the Jags just take the best defensive lineman available in the draft. Maybe the stats said they were better last season, but they really only got better in a couple spots on the eye test – namely Yannick Ngakoue and Jalen Ramsey. The defense basically couldn't be relied upon, didn't force turnovers, wasn't a force. I hope they go heavy rather than for a running back. Let's get good at something, rather than bad to average in everything.
John: I do think the Jaguars' defense last year was good, but I think we agree in the sense that I didn't think – and never have said – it was great. The defense as a whole actually did play the run well most of the season, and there were games such as at Buffalo when it was near-dominant much of the game. What it lacked was what it has lacked for several seasons: a crunch-time, close-the-door pass rush. Lacking that is why it feels as if it's not a force, and it's the primary reason the unit didn't force enough turnovers last season. Defenses feel dominant when they stop the run on early downs and get off the field in passing situations either by forcing errant throws, registering sacks, forcing fumbles and getting interceptions. A pass rush in obvious passing situations often forces these things. If you lack a pass rush in obvious passing situations, opponents tend to complete passes for first downs, taking the air out of the defense and making the whole unit feel as if it doesn't pass the eye test.
Bryant from White Plains, NY:
John, I think there was a big issue with one of your past questions. One can never have too many IPAs.
John: True that.
J Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Ed from Danvers, MA's question regarding retiring jerseys got me thinking about Rashean Mathis. As I recall, he wanted to retire a Jaguar, like Josh Scobee and Fred Taylor, etc. He wasn't given that opportunity as I recall. Why was he not given that opportunity? He was a great Jaguar, and his late-game interceptions, I don't know, got us into the playoffs?
John: Rashean Mathis signed a one-day contract with the team and retired as a member of the Jaguars last April. I recalled it because, I don't know, Google?
Robert from Kentucky:
Limited Pro Day drill participation is routine when the combine participation was full. All we get with Leonard Fournette is a good weight, adjusted 40-yard dash time and a very poor vertical jump. The people who question his short area explosiveness and lateral agility have plenty of ammo.
John: True, and Fournette has every right to approach the Pro Day as he sees fit. I'm sure there are teams that will not select Fournette for various reasons but I don't think him not doing certain drills at his Pro Day will do much to change people's thoughts on where to draft him.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs FL:
The Jags will pick Leonard Fournette. Or O.J. Howard. Or Jonathan Allen. Or Solomon Thomas. Or … It's so confusing. What does the decision process look like on the inside? Do proponents of certain players get emotional about their preference? Or is it just a reasoned, business decision?
John: The decision process is the scouting process, which this month consists of scouts and coaches meeting and discussing all prospects in the draft, after which key decision-makers such as Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell set the draft board. As far as the first-round selection, the Jaguars will enter the draft with at least four players they consider worthy of the selection. That's because they select No. 4 overall. I imagine they also will have a few scenarios involving trades. Yes, some draft discussions get emotional, but you want to take emotion out of the equation as much as possible before the draft. I imagine Caldwell and Coughlin will work together without a bucket load of emotion, and if there is a dispute Coughlin will solve it relatively calmly by making the final decision.
Abe from Mobile, AL:
I'm always a bit confused by the questions and comments from folks that are worrying about a rookie who skips certain drills at Pro Days or the Scouting Combine and saves it for later and so forth. This concern of, "What does it say about them?" confuses me. What does it say about high school seniors who stop taking the SAT when they get the score they need to get into college? Only that they are savvy enough to hold up when they have established what they need to get into their college of choice, and they don't want to rick being sick or a bad test day to drop them from contention. Same thing with rookies. They are smart enough to know that all they are doing is risking an injury, or feeling ill that day, and then boom, their stock falls.
John: Pretty much.
Brady from Jacksonville:
I love the idea of hosting the draft in Jacksonville, but do you think it will be as much fun when we are picking from 29-32 annually over the next 10 years ?
John: It may not be as fun for the moment between eight and say, 9:30 p.m., on the first night of the draft, but I assure you … oh, I see what you did there. Good one, Brady.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Could Blake Bortles' shoulder injury last year have been part of his bad performance? Is his shoulder healed now and ready for training camp?
John: I don't think there's any question Bortles' shoulder had an effect on how he played at times last season, but it wasn't the only factor in how he played – and he never said or implied that was the case. Bortles recently returned to Jacksonville from working with his quarterbacks coaches in California and said he is ready for the Jaguars' offseason program that begins April 17.
Jag Nissan from Nashville, TN:
You said, "Don't be surprised if Poz takes back the middle linebacker position from Jack." Why put Jack at middle linebacker? If he is a top five talent, then why do we put him at another position? I love Telvin Smith but put Jack at his natural position. I'm sick of us moving players around out of their natural positions. I'm sick of it. Look at the dumpster fire we called an offensive line last year. Nobody on the interior was playing where they did in college. It's the NFL. The highest level of competition.
John: I don't know that there is all that much unnatural about putting Jack in the middle.
Jon from California:
I don't know if this topic gets debated around the NFL, but in regards to the quarterback QB rating, I think the quarterback should get credit for the yards up until the receiver catches it and the receiver should get credit for yards after the catch. Separately, No double-dipping. Just saying. Any thoughts?
John: Nah – and a few reasons. One is that there are times – many times, actually – that the quarterback's throw is a reason for the yardage after the catch. A perfectly-thrown long pass, crossing route or screen pass likely results in more yards after the catch than a poorly-thrown pass. Also, quarterbacks for years have gotten credit for yards after the catch, so to change the formula now would make the already difficult task of comparing passers across decades or eras even more difficult. A final reason is that there already are statistics for yards after catch and yards before catch. They're available, but trying to separate the statistics when it comes to passer rating probably would cause more confusion than it's worth.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
Eh ... I am still ambivalent towards the Jaguars. I WANT to be excited. I'm sure it's going to happen at some point, but I am not there now. You know what I AM excited about? Daily's Place & the three shows I've already bought tickets for. What a great thing for the city. I've got tickets for Train/OAR, Third Eye Blind, and Matchbox Twenty/Counting Crows. Realizing that so far the bands appearing are geared towards a certain time period of music, what have you thought about the new amphitheater & the acts the team is bringing in? Pretty impressive to me.
John: The Daily's Place acts are all pretty cool. People seem to like them. I have to admit your skewing a bit younger than me, which is good for you and expectedly sad for me.
Sean from Jacksonville:
John, as a law enforcement agent that has personally witnessed your imposing physique on display while jogging, I offer warning that you being shirtless in public, whether at a Mexican restaurant or elsewhere, could be construed as exposing a lethal weapon.
O-Zone: Lethal weapon
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Winston from Duval: