JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Vince from Jacksonville:
I see references to Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett running a West Coast offense. By definition, that refers to an offense that emphasizes passing more than running, characterized by short, horizontal passing routes in lieu of running plays to "stretch out" defenses, opening up the potential for long runs or long passes. To me, that sounds nothing like the Jags' offense. Would you characterize the offense that way?
John: Hackett does believe strongly in the West Coast offense, and he often is associated with the scheme partly because his father – longtime NFL coordinator Paul Hackett – was a strong believer and pioneer of the scheme. Paul Hackett was an assistant under Head Coach Bill Walsh in San Francisco in the mid-1980s when the 49ers were in the early days of popularizing the scheme. But remember: the nature of offensive schemes is that they change and adapt over time; few teams these days run a pure West Coast offense in the sense that the 49ers did in the 1980s and 1990s – although Kansas City and Philadelphia do run versions of it. There also is quite a bit of debate over just what is a West Coast scheme these days. But however you define it, you're correct that the way the Jaguars play – very much running to set up the pass – is very difficult to define as a West Coast scheme.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
O, is it the new uniforms that got you down? The tarps coming off? The wait for the draft? What's got you down????
John: This isn't helping.
John from Jacksonville:
Josh Lambo rocks! From sliding into midfield to his running around with a funky arm move, I was hoping he could compete for backup quarterback. This raises a question. Can a quarterback kick the ball through the goal posts for a field goal on a fourth-down play if he senses the play will fail?
John: A quarterback or any player can kick the ball through the goalposts for a field goal on any down so long as the ball touches the ground before his foot connects with the ball. This is called a drop kick, and it was common when the ball was rounder in the 1910s and 1920s. Although still legal, it is rarely used in the modern NFL. The only successful drop kick since the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger was by Doug Flutie of the New England Patriots in the final game of the 2005 NFL season.
Gary from Fleming Island, FL:
I used to be happy . . . until you told me to shut up. Now I'm unhappy. Can I join your unhappy club?
John: You weren't happy. You just thought you were. And there is no club. Only loneliness.
David from Orlando, FL:
O-Zone, the AFC South is going to be a tough division to win this year. Everyone's roster is full of talent; it just seems the division is truly up for grabs. Can you remember a time in the last 20 years where the AFC South has been this strong?
John: The AFC South does look better on paper than it did last season. The Houston Texans indeed may be better, the Jaguars are predicted to be strong and the Tennessee Titans made the postseason last season. But the Texans also have a quarterback (Deshaun Watson) coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament and entering his second NFL season, the Titans have a new head coach (Mike Vrabel) and a quarterback (Marcus Mariota) who struggled much of last season and the Jaguars must show they can handle expectations that follow their most successful season in nearly two decades. So, yeah, the South looks better. Will it actually be better? Stay tuned.
Ken from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Mr. O: When considering draft picks on Day 3 and undrafted free agents afterwards, do Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager Dave Caldwell use just the scouts' grades to pick? And why does it seem that more UDFAs make it on 53-man roster than those chosen in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds – with a few exceptions?
John: I don't know that your perception matches reality in this case. Since Caldwell began drafting for the Jaguars in 2013, the only drafted players to not make the roster have been linebacker/defensive end Tyrone Holmes (sixth round, 2016), fullback Marquez Williams (seventh round, 2017) and tight end Ben Koyack (seventh round, 2015); Koyack spent a year on the practice squad and the last two seasons on the active roster. Why does it seem more UDFAs make the roster than late-round selections? The answer may be numbers: Remember, anywhere from 12-to-18 or so rookie free agents are often signed each offseason compared to three or four players selected in the draft's final few rounds. It makes sense that you might see more contribution from the larger group, particularly considering there's little difference in terms of talent between sixth- and seventh-rounders and many top rookie free agents. As for how the Jaguars choose undrafted rookies … the evaluation process is pretty much the same as how they choose drafted players they wish to target: They scout players extensively, grade them, then discuss them as a staff. As the draft nears an end, scouts and personnel officials began making calls to undrafted players and their agents. This is one of the more hectic periods of the NFL year, with many teams often competing for the same players. It's a strikingly competitive process considering you're talking about players who went undrafted, but there's a lot more to it than just the general manager using scouts' grades to "pick" players. It's actually pretty intense with a lot of man hours and planning.
Matt from Philadelphia, PA:
Big O, who you got in the Masters?
John: The what?
Kevin from Jacksonville:
John, I think you constantly misunderstand my point. I have nothing against Blake Bortles. I actually don't mind the contract the Jags gave him. My issue with your argument is you constantly use the fact that the Jags made the AFC Championship Game as justification for Jags retaining him. That is a flawed argument. Football is a team sport and many teams have achieved similar results with bad quarterbacks. The fact that Jaguars reached the AFC Championship Game should have no bearing on how we view Blake Bortles as an individual player. So, my problem isn't with Bortles. My problem is with your stupid argument. But feel free to keep mocking your readers with corny, old man jokes.
John: There are a lot of reasons the Jaguars retained Bortles, and I have discussed them ad nauseam. Chief among them: Bortles' improvement last season, his leadership, his toughness, his affordability under the salary cap as it relates to building the rest of the roster, the lack of availability of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. I could cite any of those as legitimate reasons the Jaguars retained Bortles. The reason I emphasize the championship game so much is it irritates you. That's the fun stuff. It makes me feel something that would feel like happiness … if, you know, happiness existed.
Justin from Virginia Beach, VA:
I'm not a big believer in Keelan Cole. He had some good stats for us, but I feel like he is the fourth best receiver at best. The position needs one more upgrade.
John: There remains a good chance the Jaguars will continue to try to upgrade the receiver position, and that could happen early in the draft. But don't be surprised if Cole is in a three-man rotation with Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief extensively next season. The Jaguars seem to like Cole much more than you do.
Mason from Palm Bay, FL:
Just wanted to remind you and Brian from Gainesville that Jimmy Smith is the best free-agent signing in our franchise history. I'm sure you accidentally left him off, but I got your back.
John: It actually wasn't an accident. When I discuss free-agent signings, and when most people discuss them, the discussion centers around players who signed as an unrestricted free agents from other teams during the so-called free-agent signing period each offseason. Smith was a so-called "street" free agent, meaning he hadn't been with a team before the Jaguars signed him. Whereas players such as Jeff Lageman signed as UFAs after the start of the league year in that 1995 offseason, Smith actually signed in January even before the expansion draft. This isn't to take away from Smith's status in Jaguars history – and it in fact makes his story that much more remarkable. But it is tricky to include him in a discussion of the best "free agents" in Jaguars history.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
No, John. The argument can be made that if it wasn't for our defense we wouldn't be in the playoffs. Watch the Chargers game again. #Fact
John: The problem with arguing is people too often interpret opinion – almost always their own, ironically enough – as fact. #fact
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Vince from Jacksonville: