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O-Zone: Nailing it

HOUSTON – Final game-day O-Zone of 2014.

Let's get to it … Andrew from Section 410 and St. Augustine, FL:
In your response to Dave regarding Dave Caldwell's second draft being better with his own scouts, I thought he only changed two positions. Is my memory correct and how many scouts are there (college and also NFL free agents)?
John: General Manager David Caldwell did not overhaul the Jaguars' scouting staff upon arrival, but following his first draft with the team in April 2013, he promoted Andy Dengler from Director of College Personnel to Assistant Director of Player Personnel and hired Kyle O'Brien as Director of College Scouting, Paul Roell as Assistant Director of College Scouting and Mark Ellenz as Eastern Regional Scout. He also hired Chris Polian as Director of Pro Scouting. In addition to that, it's not unreasonable to think the scouts already on staff would work more smoothly with Caldwell in their second draft together – 16 months into their time together – than in their first draft. Not including Caldwell, there are 14 scouts on the Jaguars' staff.
Ray from Jacksonville:
I know it might create a slippery slope regarding future decisions, but is a team allowed to pay an incentive bonus if the player does not meet the goal (for example, making the Pro Bowl)?
John: Teams can pay whatever bonuses they choose so long as it fits within the salary cap, but you almost certainly wouldn't see it done. As you wrote, that slope is really, really slippery.
Dave from Section 410 and Jacksonville:
Marks' sack total is especially notable since the offenses he was playing against more often than not had the lead and weren't in predictable passing situations for large portions of the games.
John: That's true of the entire Jaguars' pass rush, which makes the improvement they made this season all the more remarkable. The rush made a significant impact on many games this season when the team didn't have the lead – perhaps most notably in the second-half rally against the New York Giants. That's hardly unprecedented, but it's difficult and it's what makes that area the strongest group on the team this season.
David from Oviedo, FL:
Hey, O-Zone: Do you know if the Jaguars had "high hopes" for any of the following players, all currently on injured reserve: Damian Copeland, Tandon Doss, Bradie Ewing, Khairi Fortt, John Lotulelei, Fendi Onobun or Rashaad Reynolds?
John: The Jaguars like all of the players to a degree or most wouldn't remain on injured reserve after being injured. I expect most to be with the team when training camp opens. I think Doss has a real chance of being the punt returner and fifth receiver and Rashaad Reynolds would appear to have a real opportunity to make the roster next season.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
I don't doubt Blackmon's skills. Still, it would be a season or two before I could comfortably rely on him to be fixture of the offense. Give him an opportunity? Sure. You just can't put too many eggs in that basket with his history.
John: You are correct. That's why the Jaguars repeatedly have said while they will welcome Blackmon back should he be reinstated they have not in any way built their roster or made decisions based on him being on the active roster. That's also why that approach is emphasized here in the O-Zone on a regular basis.
Tom from St. Petersburg, FL:
John: I know it is a little early, but do you foresee any significant coaching changes for next year, assuming all the current staff want to stay?
John: I have a feeling we'll know any news on this within days after the regular season is over. Gus Bradley will undoubtedly take a hard look at the entire staff and must decide if areas that have been unproductive have been unproductive because of talent or coaching. I doubt we'll see changes, but I don't think decisions have been made in this area yet.
Joe from San Antonio, TX:
I get the frustrations and desires to go back and analyze drafts, but can we please pump the brakes on Russell Wilson? Yes, he has turned into a very solid asset for the Seahawks, but – like you keep saying –every team passed on him, and if I remember correctly everyone was shocked when he won the starting job. Plus, who's to say he would have worked out here in Jacksonville? There are reasons he didn't go in the first round, and Seattle's environment may be why those reasons are now negligible.
John: Truth drips from your words.
Sam from Orlando, FL:
Who would you take between Winston and Mariota?
John: Winston. I say that having watched both players minimally and without talking much to people around the NFL about either player. But Winston looks like he has the ability to drop into a pocket and make plays from there. He also looks like he has the ability to stand in the pocket and throw under pressure. He just looks more prototypical, and I lean toward prototypical quarterbacks. That, of course, has nothing to do with how those players actually will fare in the NFL. That's because I'm a senior writer and not an NFL general manager. The reasons that is true run deep.
Steven from Ponte Vedra, FL:
My question is regarding Justin Blackmon's contract. If he does return to the team next year, does the extra year or so get added on to his contract since he was suspended?
John: This year does, yes. Last year does not.
Ben from Indianapolis, IN:
What are the chances that the Jaguars make a run at Mike Glennon in the offseason? Would that move automatically be seen as creating quarterback controversy? It seems that with the amount of quarterback injuries we have seen, the cheap cost of acquiring Glennon, plus his possible upside, that actively pursuing him might not be such a bad idea.
John: That's not a terrible idea, but I doubt it happens. It seems people have sort of assumed Chad Henne won't be back with the Jaguars and I'm not sure that's a correct assumption.
Mike from Mandarin, FL:
I know I have been a little pessimistic this season, but it has been another tough season. Still doesn't mean I don't love this team. However, I do see a stat that I think everyone would have fun looking at after Sunday's game. How about the potential to have a rookie quarterback throw for over 3,000 yards for only starting 12 games. I call that quite impressive! Go Jags!
John: Bortles will have started 13 games and played in 13.5 games. That's OK, though it's not particularly unusual. I'm not as concerned about Bortles' statistics as a rookie as how he looks. He has looked OK at times, and in the last couple of games you are starting to see more things you want to see.
Chris from Dallas, GA:
Telvin Smith's performance has increased dramatically and almost on par with added game time. Do you know how many plays-per-game Telvin Smith had this season?
John: So far, 42.8.
Adam from Section 124:
The Bryan Anger-taken-over-Russell Wilson talk misses the point; the entire league passed on Wilson - multiple times. What's crushing is we picked a punter in the third round, period. I will never forgive Gene Smith for that ignorant move. I will never forgive Mike Mularkey for giving him cover in the face of such a colossal mistake. There are times fans can actually see the stupidity happening - and this was one of them. The hubris involved in spending a third-rounder on a punter was illustrated by the truly putrid team we put on the field. The idea that we couldn't have possibly found another TRUE starter in that round was insulting to anyone monitoring the state of our team. This is not a knock on Anger. He's a fine punter. So are most of the other punters that are picked up as undrafted free agents.
John: You should consider forgiving Smith and Mularkey, perhaps not in the next few years but someday … Living with all that anger might be unhealthy.
Jordan from Denver, CO:
Explain to me why you think there's a good chance Anger is on the roster in 2015. He has not lived up to his third-round draft pick expectations.
John: Anger is under contract for another year. Could the Jaguars release him? Sure, they can release any player, but you don't release a player for not living up to draft status; you release him because you think you can be helped more by a different player.
Ken from Vero Beach, FL:
John, I think the Jags need a tight end very, very much. Is there anyone better than Nick O'Leary?
John: I have no idea.
Jackson from Hastings:
Are Josh Wells and Tyler Shatley long-term players for the future?
John: Not yet. Right now they are players who were worth having on the roster for a season and who are worth developing in the offseason. The hope is that they will be long-term players. Whether they really are or not likely won't be known for at least another year.
Cliff from Jagsonville:
If available do you think the Jags will take Todd Gurley in the second or third round?
John: Maybe, but they may take someone else.

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