ORLANDO – Let's get to it … Thomas from Williamsburg, VA:
Am I the only one who didn't have a problem with the previous catch rule? It seemed complicated (it really wasn't), but it took most of the subjectivity out of the call. We got to that point after years of complaints about the previous rules and their subjectivity. Now they're going to fix the rule by making it subjective again? Now, people are just going to complain about what a "football move" is. Oh well, how have you been, man?
John: I agree, and I was fine with the NFL's former catch rule for the very reason you cite – that it came as close as is possible to taking the subjectivity out of the call. The league for years has tried to take referee judgment as much out of the officiating equation as possible; the reason for this is the league wants a game played on Thursday in Miami to be officiated as similarly as possible to a game played in Seattle on Monday night. Mandating that a catch must be completed to the ground – the core of the league's most-recent "catch rule" – leaves less room for interpretation than mandating that a receiver make a "football move," the latter of which seems to be the core of the new rule. I also agree that the controversies now will be shifted rather than eliminated. It's very possible – even likely – that next year's Big Controversy will focus on what constitutes a football move rather than whether or not a catch was completed to the ground. Will that be better? Worse? Who knows, but at least it will be different. And I'm not doing well. Not at all, in fact.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Jaguars Fans in Previous offseasons: We haven't had a good season in years! We're going to stink this year! Jaguars Fans this offseason: Oh no! This one successful season is causing us to lose players and draft low! We're going to stink this year! The sky is always falling. Fanning fans going to fanning fan, fanningly.
John: Pretty much, yes.
Shawne from his back:
Dear John - MJD was not a finesse back. Thank you.
John: No, but he could make people miss – so it's probably fair to say that his prime Maurice Jones-Drew could be a finesse back when the occasion called for it. He could be a power back, too. The ability to be either is what made him special.
Brian from Orlando, FL:
Since the Jags are winning now, the Zone doesn't need as many silly wacky questions in the offseason –and since I didn't play football past junior high gym class I am now content to just listen to the experts but I am alive and well! Thanks.
John: Did they teach you how to stay in your line in junior high gym class?
Brody from Pensacola, FL:
Do you have any information on which pro days the Jags are visiting and any particular prospects they have met or worked with?
John: Not in any detail, no. Here's why: While attendance at pro days, and pre-draft visits – as well as meetings at the NFL Scouting Combine, Senior Bowl and postseason all-star games – are often breathlessly tweeted and reported throughout the pre-draft process, most NFL teams at some point meet with most draft-eligible players. And most teams attend most of the major pro days in some capacity or other. Remember, too: teams have area scouts that have spent time on pretty much every college campus at least once if not more every calendar year. It's not that the meetings between teams and prospects aren't valuable; if they weren't, teams wouldn't do them. But they're not a particularly accurate gauge of what a team might do in the draft and they're not particularly newsworthy.
Bill from Melbourne, FL:
The Jets will pick a quarterback in the draft and the Jags will sign Teddy Bridgewater as Bortles' backup. Count on it.
John: I don't know that Bridgewater will be released with the Jaguars' signing him, but a scenario in which a team drafting a first-round quarterback releases a veteran? Yes, that absolutely could be how the Jaguars find a backup quarterback this offseason.
Dave from Dallas:
Hey, Mr. O: One good thing about Allen Hurns's departure. That "Sun Pass" ad goes. Also, can I be your drywall dude? There must be so many head-shaped indentations in them, I'd be long-term rich making them good.
John: Kidding aside, a guy always can use a good drywall guy.
Vince from Jacksonville:
I am not a quarterback expert by any means so I will pose this question to you. Looking back at how Blake Bortles played last year, it seemed to me that he played very well at times and pretty bad at other times such as the Bills game. I would say if he can play that well the challenge would be to play that way more often. What is your assessment of Bortles and what holds him back in your opinion from playing at that high level more often?
John: If I knew how to get Bortles to reach his highest level more consistently, I would be making millions as a quarterback whisper – though that indeed is the challenge. One thing to remember, though: While games such as the one Bortles had against Buffalo in an AFC Wild Card victory in January are understandably held up as an example of poor play because of accuracy issues, the Jaguars as a team didn't have a major problem with how Bortles played in that game. The Jaguars, remember, won the game with a clutch second-half drive with Bortles playing a critical role running and passing. Fans may overlook what he did to win the game; the team does not.
Ed from Jacksonville:
With regards to players having to pay state income taxes in states where they play a game, why is this done? I have read this is the case in other sports too. When I go to other states to work for my company here in Jacksonville, I don't pay state income taxes on those states. My guess is when you are working in other states you don't either, so just wondering why players have to?
John: Your guess is incorrect. And the answer is I don't know.
Julio from So Cal:
O, is there a big difference in contracts between Pick No. 29 and say, early second round? Could the Jags benefit from trading down salary cap-wise? I think they can still get a quality starting player early in the second round.
John: There is a difference in salary and bonus from the bottom of the first round to the top of the second, but the difference is not enormous. The primary difference is that first-round selections are subject to the fifth-year option rule, which gives teams the option of keeping the player under contract for an additional year after the player's four-year rookie contract expires. It's why generally speaking if you're going take a quarterback in the second round it's better to trade up and take him at the end of the first. You have control over that player for an additional year than otherwise would be the case.
Paul from Jacksonville:
May the fan be with you.
John: And also with you.
Roy from St. Augustine, FL:
O-Man: Why so sanguine about getting a quarterback backup? We are in that famous "window" and what if Bortles does go down, even for three or four games? We need a backup who can come in and keep that window open. I see early draft pick and a veteran quarterback are top needs, no?
John: The regular season has not started. Neither has training camp, or the offseason program. The draft has not been held. There are plenty of opportunities to acquire players.
Ryan from Dearborn, MI:
John - when is the State of the Franchise address this year? It's one of my favorite things every offseason.
John: The State of the Franchise will be held
Eddy from Miami, FL:
Going off what you said that you believe the Jaguars take a running back in the draft, you just don't know at what point – I, too, believed this. But listening to Ryan O'Halloran, he made some good points. The Jaguars are then looking to have four running backs and a fullback on the roster? Grant is receiving close to $3 million, and he is essentially a change-of-pace back that plays special teams. That is a lot of money for someone who will touch the ball five times per game, so I am assuming he will be on the field more often because of his contract. Where would another running back fit?
John: I assume Grant will be on the field more next season, but I don't expect his role to increase enough to make it unreasonable to select a running back in the draft.
Tom St. Johns, FL:
Dr. O: Your answer to David regarding the Hurns release, was an outstanding example of superior journalism. It not only was a great explanation of a common conundrum, it was also an almost exact representation of my sentiments. Thank you for the effort, and hopefully you can continue to take the load off my shoulders as it relates to explaining management decisions.
John: That wasn't me.
O-Zone: Not I
ORLANDO – Let's get to it … Thomas from Williamsburg, VA: