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O-Zone: No layoff

Let's get to it . . . Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
Many articles I have seen project us taking Werner from Florida State with our first pick in the draft. I am curious what you see as being the greatest defensive need for the Jags currently? I shudder to consider a linebacker core with Poz, Smith, and Jarvis Jones starting. That would be very, very good.
John: Don't shudder. Wear a sweater. But yes, that would be a very good linebacking corps. The question then becomes several-fold. One, is Jarvis Jones a 4-3 linebacker? Many believe he would struggle to fit into that scheme. Two, would he fit as a hybrid end/linebacker in new Head Coach Gus Bradley's 4-3 scheme? Perhaps, but there's a ways to go in the evaluation process on that front. Three, is there enough value in that hybrid position to take at No. 3? As of now, early February, I'd be surprised if Jones is the selection, but that's me playing long-term amateur prognosticator and it could change dramatically by March.
Nicholas from Anchorage, AK:
I have not watched any of the media coverage leading to the Super Bowl and realized I don't feel I missed anything important. After all, it is just a game between two good teams. Why do people get so intrigued with all the minor storylines?
John: People like things that are on television.
Tucker from New York, NY:
I'm intrigued by the new staff, but they seem as green as the owner/GM who chose them. Is there a record of such a young, inexperienced organization being successful in the NFL?
John: The staff isn't actually all that green. Jerry Sullivan and Mark Duffner were retained as position coaches. They have 36 years NFL experience between them. Bob Babich and Jedd Fisch have 10 and nine years experience in the NFL, respectively, and Gus Bradley has been a coordinator for four years. That's enough experience to know what's going on. As for inexperienced staffs, Jimmy Johnson had no NFL experience nor did Dave Wannstedt when the two became the Dallas Cowboys' head coach and defensive coordinator in 1989, and the tandem helped Dallas to back-to-back Super Bowls. The experience at the head coach and coordinator positions of this group is fine. Having position coaches with less NFL experience isn't a major issue.
Duran from Rapid City:
If you covered this team back in the beginning of the mid 90's, then it must be a little exciting for you, deep down, seeing the potential of the franchise since Khan has taken over.
John: No question. I remember the mid-to-late 1990s around the Jaguars as a time of optimism and enthusiasm, and of there being a general expectation that things were going to keep improving. It's easy to remember it that way, because looking back, there indeed was a gradual improvement from 1995 until the end of the 1999 season. However accurate my recollection of that time, your point is accurate, that there is a feeling right now around the Jaguars that things are at Square One and it's time to move forward. The cynical reader might say, "Well, you were optimistic this time last year" and that cynical reader would be right. That said, this is the start of something and Gus Bradley and David Caldwell seem to fit the profile of people who can lead the franchise to success. So, yes, it's a little exciting deep down. Absolutely.
Evan from Ocoee, FL:
If I had heard that the Jaguars had acquired "that quarterback from Florida," I would have been forced to relinquish my fandom for the Jaguars. Glad it didn't come to that. It could have been a really awkward post in the O-Zone . . .
John: Glad you're still around. My understanding is that's exactly why David Caldwell made the decision and subsequent announcement. Anything to please you, Evan.
Brian from Statesboro, GA:
The more I think about it, the more I am bothered by the Anger pick. It was an attempt by Gene Smith to keep his job. He knew the team lacked talent (his job) and would have difficulty winning games, so he tried to win by field position and keep the game close. It was a stall attempt. It was a risky attempt. If you win, you cause a worse team to have a worse draft slot. If you lose, well, we saw what happened there. It was a pick that admitted defeat and focused on covering up problems instead of addressing them. That being said, Anger seems to have taken all the criticism really well and I hope the best for him, he's a talented guy. I just hope that the Jags have to use him less.
John: I think your "Anger" may be a little extreme in this case. We can debate the Anger pick from now until the end of his career. I didn't have the huge problem with it many others did, although I certainly understand the argument that Round 3 is way too early for a punter. In time, I think that selection will be viewed more favorably than it is now, but either way – what's done is done. At the time of the selection, Smith and the higher-ups believed the starters were solid and that the team was going to have a chance to be competitive. Toward that end, the decision was made to draft a player they believed could significantly impact field position. In retrospect, it would appear Smith misjudged the roster. But while that seems to be true, to think that Smith made the pick for selfish reasons is incorrect. Criticize Smith's selections all you want, but his passion and loyalty to the Jaguars shouldn't be questioned. He made moves to try to help the Jaguars win. Nothing else. As it turned out, he didn't do a good enough job in that area, but to think that he was making moves just to keep his job is to not understand the nature of the man.
Jeff from Waynesville, NC:
I attended NDSU when Gus Bradley played and attended many games while he was a defensive coordinator. Many of us Bison fans got to know him personally. He is one of the most competitive and hard-nosed guys I've ever met. Not just on the field, but off of it as well. He has this innate ability to inspire, and a likability to him that is infectious. But, he doesn't get distracted from the job at hand. How do you see the current roster accepting this type of energy and drive?
John: If they want to play for the Jaguars, I see them accepting it pretty whole-heartedly and enthusiastically. What's interesting about Bradley's approach is that while it's infectious, and while he's easy to like, you don't get the idea that it's based on making things easy and saying things people want to hear. He emphasized this last week while discussing Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll, noting that while Carroll made things fun he was in no way scared to make difficult decisions. I'd expect that to be true of Bradley as well.
Kevin from Orlando, FL:
Gus Bradley spoke about the team playing fast. However, the current roster seems to lack players with overall top speed. Would this mean a change in the type of players that the jags would target? I know the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys targeted team speed even though the players were smaller at positions.
John: Bradley certainly wants a team that can play fast. Every coach and general manager in the NFL these days wants to be fast, and if you think about Seattle's defense this season, you certainly come away with an impression of a unit that plays very fast. However, I don't get the idea Bradley wants to sacrifice everything else at the expense of speed. The Seahawks played a very aggressive coverage scheme with big, physical corners whose size was just as important as quickness and speed. They also had big defensive linemen to play the run. My guess is Bradley wants to play fast while not sacrificing size to be physical.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
I've got an issue I get the sense you have some experience with. I make a lot of jokes, but no one ever seems to laugh... at the joke at least. Often times people actually get angry or just look at me like I'm a weirdo. I don't get it because even after looking back afterwards, the jokes seem very funny to me. I've sort of ignored it for years up to this point but I am starting to think there might be something wrong with me. Should I be worried? Should I lay off the jokes for a while?
John: Lay off? Absolutely not. Just because people don't laugh, or just because they dislike you or even exclude you from "the group" doesn't mean you stop. Ever. I mean, who needs the group, anyway? Who needs friends? Not us, Nick – nooooo, not us. Run tired jokes into the ground. Alienate people. When they tell you you're not funny, Nick, what they're really saying is, "Yes. You're funny. We're faking it when we ignore you." This tact may yield not companionship or joy, but what the hey! You'll have the smug self-satisfaction of being a "laugh riot" even if you spend most of your time alone. Now, that's it for today, Nick. I have to go. There's television on.

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