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O-Zone: Looking quite logical

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Clay from Raleigh, NC:
I wish everyone would calm down. General Manager David Caldwell is purging a loser-infested roster with a deeply entrenched losing culture. This needs to be done, so let it unfold. Why is everyone upset over losing 2-14 players? I really don't get that.
John: You make a good point, and in light of the anger/panic in the inbox lately – including the reaction to the release of wide receiver Laurent Robinson Wednesday – I gave this matter quite a bit of thought. Why indeed are people upset with losing players, particularly ones many of these same fans criticized and wanted released last season? Mostly, I imagine, it has to do with the combination of losing players, and with not signing high-profile free agents. This is the nature of free agency, particularly in the internet/Twitter age. Fans see analysts giving other teams high "grades" for signing familiar players, and they assume that because the Jaguars are not similarly active that they are doing nothing, cheap, not trying to win and even purposely getting worse. Yes, as ridiculous as that seems, I have heard the last theory. Yet, history will tell you quite clearly and inarguably that free agency is not the way to build a team, particularly during the early stages of the building process. For a team that was 2-14 and needs to improve across the board to spend wildly on overpriced veterans to fill a few holes is not only the definition of irresponsible, it would almost ensure another building process in a few years. Now, it's easy to say, "Well, they've been rebuilding for years now." That's probably true, and that makes this process all the more difficult. But Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley can't make decisions based on fans frustration or the past failures of the organization. They can only make moves that, as Bradley put it, follow their vision, and that's what these moves are about.
Andy from St. John's, FL:
John, since you have yet to take a day off from the O-Zone now going on two-plus years, let's say you continue to write for for the next 50 years. Then you pass from this great earth; will the O-Zone still continue? Will you be like Tupac or Biggie, who are still releasing albums years after their death? Will we be reading new O-Zones 10 years later?
John: Don't worry. To paraphrase what my friend Alfie Crow once said or stole or something, "I plan to live forever. So far, so good."
Tony from Section 133:
Why release WR Laurent Robinson now? With this year's $9 million cap hit, aren't we still on the hook for all the guaranteed money? We could have easily waited until a later date and maybe traded him to a team with injury issues before the regular season. Not understanding why we are dumping players so early in the league year if there is no cost savings? He was only a $1.6 million cap figure for future year. Was he due a bonus or something we are not aware of?
John: Don't overthink this. The release of players isn't about money. It's about ridding the roster of players Caldwell and Bradley don't believe fit the future.
Greg from St. John's, FL:
At least you get paid to read 'em.
John: That's about right.
Tony from Jacksonville:
"I look at the direction the franchise is going and believe that by the end of next season, you'll start seeing Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell's vision coming together and by extension, you'll see the team improving." Didn't you say the exact same thing last year? What makes you think you're correct now? More importantly, all they have done so far is cut a bunch of players and have yet to sign, draft or coach anyone? How are you able to make that statement with nothing to go by?
John: If I hadn't made this clear before, I will now: I did expect the Jaguars to improve by the end of last season. I expected that because typically when a new head coach comes in and the team buys in and gets on the same page, there is an adjustment period followed by a period of improvement. I was wrong. I misjudged it. For whatever reason, it never worked under Mike Mularkey, and after starting bad last season, it just got worse. What makes me think I'm correct now? Aside from a blind, silly-grinned belief in my own beliefs and a desire to further irk readers who already dislike me, there are some football reasons. I like what I see from Bradley as a motivator, and I love what I've seen of the roster moves so far, particularly for the long-term. Avoiding early free agency and releasing underperforming veterans as opposed to looking for a short-term fix is exactly the way to go. The blueprint is the correct one, and while it may take more time than Jaguars fans want, this is the right path. That's not say this is a guarantee. There are no guarantees in the NFL, but this is the correct way to start and that's all you can ask for right now.
Artis from Norfolk, VA:
Scott Pioloi said on NFL Network the Patriots signed 20 free agents before their last Super Bowl win.
John: They also drafted Tom Brady in 2000.
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL and Section 106:
Your answer about being a friendly place for college free agents made the light go on. What's the conventional wisdom, from Round 4 on there's not much difference from the CFA's anyway? Bring them in - lots of them. No college tape. No combine stage. Get them in front of the coaches and see if they want to play. I'm starting to like it!
John: Yes.
Anthony from Madison, WI:
Caldwell might not be actively saying, "alright we're going to lose 15 games this season and get the elite QB next year," but he is most definitely playing for the future and this organization is most certainly sacrificing short-term success for long-term success. Landry might not have been elite, or even that great, but the chances that a player we take in the mid-to-late rounds or in UDFA is going to be more successful than him are astronomically low.
John: No, they're not.
Don from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Come down off your ledge. Let me explain. You are a journalist, not someone like Bill Polian with years of experience as an NFL General Manager. You have this great job as a journalist and a column through which you can give your opinion. Frankly, there are many of us out here who are at least as smart as you, and who have seen many more years of football than you have. We don't HAVE TO accept your opinion on things like "Are the Jaguars building the right way?" because, frankly, your opinions on such topics are no more informed than our own. So, don't take yourself so seriously as a FOOTBALL ANALYST that you get hurt or frustrated when we don't agree with you. Now, how about some journalism- Please dig and report to us: the Jags current cap figure; the Jags rookie pool amount; the NFL's minimum cap figure which teams must spend; and what actions the NFL can take if a team fails to meet the minimum cap. I'll respect your reporting abilities, if not your general manager-in-training abilities.
John: Don, first, that's no ledge I'm on – it's a pedestal. Second, thanks for reminding me of my shortcomings; my wife's been busy lately, so it's appreciated. To your point, if you've been reading at all, you know taking myself seriously isn't among my many flaws, and while I am easily hurt and often frustrated, I assure you the contents of my inbox have neither effect. I will say this: after 18 years covering the NFL and interviewing people who build franchises for a living, my opinions about the right and wrong way to build a roster may not be correct, but they are absolutely more "informed" than those of most people, including most readers. As for whether you agree with me or not, that matters not a bit, at least not to me. The Jaguars, incidentally right now are about $30 million under the cap, through that changes daily. The rookie pool is expected to be in the high $7 millions, though that could change of the Jaguars trade selection. The minimum cap works like this: teams have a four-year window from 2013-2016 in which over that period they must spend in cash at least 89 percent of the salary cap over that same period. That means there is no set dollar amount this offseason the Jaguars spend, so there will be no penalty. Maybe now you'll respect me. If so, boy, will I sleep well.
Jordan from Los Angeles, CA:
Think you're better than me John?
John: I don't think that, but apparently, Don thinks I do.
Franklin from St. Augustine:
Wow, great job of selecting emails to make your opinion look like the most logical one. The front office is releasing/not resigning players that are not "their" guys. It has very little to do with talent. Prediction: three years from now we will be told that we are a couple of key pieces away. They will spend big on them, they will be busts and we will be told that it is time to start from scratch again. Can't wait to be told the whole way how smart the front office is while all that takes place....again.
John: Thanks, Franklin, though to be honest, selecting emails that made my opinion look logical this week was not difficult in the least.

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