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O-Zone: Man on a mission

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Aaron from Chantilly, VA:
Before we go too far applauding the offense, we all know the team had a lot of come-from-behind yards (kinda like Seattle-Carolina) and a lot of three-and-outs in 2015. I never got the feeling the offense was a well-oiled machine. I saw a ton of single great plays that made me believe maybe in the future we will be a solid offense, but we aren't there yet despite some of the stats ... agree?
John: Without question – and without question the Jaguars' offensive improvement in 2015 must be kept in perspective. The Jaguars were one of the NFL's least-productive offenses in 2014. They became an offense capable of explosive plays – as well as an offense with some really good young playmakers – in 2015. That's a huge step to take in one season. That step does not mean the offense is "there" yet. For the Jaguars to become that well-oiled machine of which you speak, quarterback Blake Bortles must improve his efficiency, the running game must become more effective and the offense as a whole must improve on third down. Those things are intertwined, and those things should improve with time and maturity. Was the offensive improvement we saw in 2015 real? No question. Does it need to improve more? Also, no question.
Parker from Boston, MA:
Mr. Zone, your column about looking ahead on offense contained the following statement, "Bowanko, who started as a rookie in 2014 before playing a backup role this [past] season, also remains a possibility." Interestingly, this is the most Bowanko has been mentioned as a part of the line all season. I have remained in a state of wonder as to how a lineman who was just beaten out for a starting role, and subsequently designated as the "sixth lineman," could fall so far off the radar. Is his ceiling too low to be considered a long-term solution at center? I can understand why Wiz got the nod in Greg Olson's offense, especially if center is responsible for calling protections, but I expected Bowanko to be mentioned as competing for the center position, not relegated essentially to "also on the team."
John: The Jaguars like Bowanko, and I don't doubt he has a chance to compete for a starting role next season. Remember, too, that Stefen Wisniewski remained healthy and started every game this past season, which was a major reason Bowanko wasn't mentioned very much. As far as the future, the Jaguars want to upgrade the interior of the line. It's only logical they would explore outside options before starting a player who didn't earn a starting job the previous season. This is not to say Bowanko doesn't have a future on the Jaguars' offensive line. It is to say the Jaguars want to give themselves a chance to be as good as possible at the position.
Herbert from MidState Office Supplies Accountz Receevablz:
Do you believe like [Florida Times-Union Jaguars writer] Ryan O'[Halloran] that the Jags will name Wash DC before they leave for Mobile early next week? If so, do you think Gus will call the plays?
John: I've believed since the beginning of the Jaguars' search for a defensive coordinator that elevating Todd Wash from defensive line coach was a good possibility. I still think it probably plays out that way. But I'm not quite convinced it was a slam dunk from the start. Jaguars Head Coach Bradley indicated from the start he planned to handle this move as he did last offseason when hiring Doug Marrone and Greg Olson as offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. That meant he planned to take his time in the interview process, speak with a lot of different people and determine the best course of action. Maybe that meant hiring Wash, or maybe it meant finding another route. If Wash is coordinator, does it mean Bradley calls the plays? I sort of doubt it, but I do think Bradley will be intimately involved with the defensive game-planning either way.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, I imagine your response to this is going to be something like, "We don't know if they offered anyone else the job" or "Remember the hand-wringing over the hiring of Greg Olson last year? That worked out well," but I'm going to say it anyway. The Jaguars come off looking like unprepared amateurs with the way this defensive-coordinator hire played out. It appears everyone they wanted passed on the job and they had to make a move, so they just promoted one of their own. I hesitate to even ask this, but do you agree this hiring looks to have been mishandled? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: Hesitate all you want. I wrote since the beginning of the process that it would probably be handled very similarly to how Bradley handled Olson/Marrone last season, and that's how it played out.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
I heard a theory about Seattle's defensive scheme – that Seattle has sent numerous coaches to other organizations that have taken the scheme with them; therefore, offenses have seen it more often. The theory is offenses have caught on and figured out how to beat their defense – hence, Seattle being less dominant than they were a couple years ago. They argued the same thing happened to the Tampa 2, where it was dominant when first introduced to the league then faded as it became popular. This theory would obviously affect the Jaguars if there was any truth to it. I am a big believer in players, not plays but the idea interests me. Your thoughts?
John: The Seahawks allowed the fewest points in the NFL this past season and the second-fewest yards. Maybe that's dominant, and maybe it's not, but those good players on the Seahawks still seem to be getting it done. Schemes evolve and get tweaked as time goes on, and the principles of one become part of others. One thing that's usually consistent is teams that can stop the run and pressure the quarterback play good defense.
Eddie from Jacksonville, FL:
I know this may be several years down the road, but judging by the comments Blake Bortles makes about how much of a benefit Chad Henne is to his development, do you think he could make a good coach if he chose to go that route?
John: Yes.
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
I think we need at least four starting quality linebackers. When Telvin and Poz went down with injuries, our defense missed a beat. Also, Poz will be 32 at the start of the season, with a lot of mileage. What are your thoughts on the state of our linebackers?
John: I think the Jaguars need to get faster and deeper at the position, and I think they will make a concerted effort to do so this offseason.
Maurice from Potomac, MD:
Dream free agent wishes... Sign Oliver Vernon, Trumaine Johnson or Janoris Jenkins, Sign Alex Mack if he opts out of his deal, and MAYBE sign Mario Williams if his price demands arent too high. Doing all of this while cutting clemons, gerhart, and MAYBE beadles would give us even more cap space. Depending on the price,l i think we could afford all of them. Hear me out, By signing vernon AND williams, this allows dante fowlers transition to the NFL to be smooth and slow. I get that some ppl expect him to come in and have 12 sacks, but i just dont think thats realistic to start his career, since hes coming off injury and hasnt played a snap. Adding vernon and a possible short term plug/mentor in williams and adding another pass rusher in the draft would REALLY help fowlers development without putting too much pressure on him early. Plus, Williams had some of his best years with the bills under doug marrone, so we could already have someone in the building to help lure him in, if we would be interested. Plus, Caldwell said during his press conference, he wouldnt be opposed to adding a older player this time around, while admitting thats a mistake he made last year. Do you think these free agent targets are realistic? Especially williams, mack, jenkins/johnson? Your thoughts.
John: Can you repeat the question?
Will from Jacksonville:
Why do you think Anger won't be back? Where he was drafted isn't the issue. Do you think the Jaguars will find a better punter to replace him?
John: I think Bryan Anger won't be back because I have heard nothing as of yet to indicate that he will be back. I don't know if the Jaguars will find a better punter, but I do believe they will try.
Brett from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What is David from Orlando talking about? In the first article you ever wrote on you said how you believed Tony Boselli was a Hall of Famer.
John: Believe me, I know. Tony mentions that to me eight out of ten times I see him. The other times he asks if I have any snacks.

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