JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Alan from Middleburg, FL:
So, the Jaguars have signed Kelvin Beachum … hmmm … what does this mean for Luke Joeckel?
John: Hmmmm indeed – and yes, the Jaguars indeed have agreed to terms with Beachum, an offensive tackle from the Pittsburgh Steelers. As for what it means for Joeckel, it's simple: it means Joeckel and Beachum almost certainly will compete to play left tackle. Beachum started 16 games at left tackle for the Steelers in 2015 and six more this season before sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament, so he is absolutely competition for Joeckel. I for one am a bit surprised the Jaguars were able to create an atmosphere of legitimate competition for Joeckel. I believed it would be tough to convince a starting-level left tackle to sign because of the perception that Joeckel already was the starter. Color me stunned, as they say (though I don't know that anyone actually says that). As for what that means for the line, we'll see: it stands to reason that either Joeckel or Beachum also could move inside to play guard, but the Jaguars also signed Mackenzy Bernadeau last week, so he's a possible guard. If I had to guess, I'd say the Jaguars' offensive line next season is: Joeckel/Beachum at left tackle, Joeckel/Beachum at left guard, Brandon Linder at center, A.J. Cann at right guard and Jermey Parnell at right tackle. As for how the Joeckel/Beachum thing plays out, stay tuned.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I don't understand why Justin Blackmon is still listed on our roster as Suspended by the Commissioner. Your past answers have been to the effect of, "Why not? ... it doesn't hurt." However, I do think it hurts. It is a constant reminder of a horrible failure. I think just cutting the name will allow the psyche of the Jags to move forward in a new year. It's like keeping the phone number of an old girlfriend who dumped you years ago. Forget it and move on!
John: I get this question from time to time. Blackmon is listed on this website as Suspended by the Commissioner because he's on the NFL's Suspended by the Commissioner list – and, no, it doesn't hurt. That's because Blackmon really, truly isn't in the collective psyche around here. Until you mentioned it, I honestly hadn't thought about Blackmon in quite some time. I assure you beyond doubt that players, coaches and front-office personnel don't think of him in regard to anything associated with the football team. Being listed at the bottom of a page on a website doesn't put a player in the team's psyche. The Jaguars, psyche and all, have moved on from this issue. In fact, they did that quite some time ago.
Zach from Jacksonville:
People are upset about Olivier Vernon not signing with the Jaguars because he wanted to go to New York and the Giants were also willing to pay top dollar. He got an $85 million deal with $50 million guaranteed. Why were teams, including the Jaguars, willing to pay so much money for Vernon, but Bruce Irvin was given a deal with a maximum $37 million and only $12.5 million guaranteed? Did the Jags put all their eggs in one basket and really only care about Vernon? I think Irvin could have provided just as big as an impact, but the Jags didn't want to show him the money.
John: The Jaguars didn't agree that Irvin could provide just as big an impact as Vernon – as evidenced by them not pursuing him in free agency; the fact that Vernon's market value was $50 million and Irvin's was $12.5 shows you that the Jaguars were hardly alone in believing Vernon was by far the more valuable commodity.
Robbie from Boise, Idaho:
How annoying is the term "Leo" all the time? I feel like part of the Jags' problems is that they always are trying to fit players into their scheme versus fitting the scheme to the best players. If I hear the term "he is not a Leo" one more time, I think I am going to burst.
John: I don't get the idea watching the free agent moves and listening to the coaches this offseason that there is a lot of stubbornness in terms of trying to make players fit scheme. I think the acquisition of Malik Jackson and talk of using Dan Skuta as a pass rusher more are indications of increased flexibility. As far as hearing the word "Leo," … yeah, I won't pretend I'm not a little worn out, too.
Antony from Columbia, SC:
Hey O, here's what no one is remembering. In 2014, when Marks was healthy, Clemons had eight sacks, largely due to Marks' presence in the middle. Most of Clemons' sacks didn't come from beating a left tackle one on one. A lot of the games/stunts that Wash had them running made things easier for Clem because of the pressure Marks brought up the middle. Fowler has experience rushing from different angles, and his athleticism will allow him to take advantage of Marks' & Malik Jackson's penetration in a similar way to what Clem did. There will be a veteran presence at Leo because Skuta will get his share of snaps there. Also, Ryan Davis will return to 2014 form because he'll be used as an inside rusher beside Marks or Jackson, which will open things up for him. The pass rush won't be elite, but it will be fine this year.
John: I don't know that we need to overuse the term Leo in terms of Skuta, but overall … yeah, you make a lot of good points.
Dave from Orlando, FL:
O-Man, some quarterbacks are great adjusting their cadence to pull the defense offside. It makes sense that if a defender is drawn offside he would be more hesitant in trying jump the count. In the last game against the Houston, it seemed like J.J. Watt and friends were getting off the ball so quickly that our tackles didn't have time to react. Is there an emphasis put on this in practice?
John: It's something that indeed can be practiced, and it's a skill quarterbacks can improve. It's an area I expect Blake Bortles will improve. Remember, there was still a lot of beginner stuff going on last season with a young quarterback in the first year with a coordinator and the coordinator's offense. You should start seeing more veteran stuff at the line of scrimmage as time goes on.
Don from Richmond, VA:
Looks like Dave has assembled a competitive group of BIG defensive guys. Any chance the team loads up on linebacker in the draft and switches to more of a 3-4? The linebacker group has a long way to go, but Dave can do a lot with eight picks.
John: I don't know that you'd see the Jaguars switch to a 3-4 with a bunch of rookies providing all of the additions at linebacker. I do think you'll see a bunch of sub-packages next season that don't fit what the Jaguars have done in recent seasons. How the Jaguars approach their scheme with their recently acquired personnel has turned into perhaps the major offseason storyline.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
I wonder has there been any thought to sliding Luke Joeckel inside to guard if the Jags were to acquire another tackle? I just wonder if you thought that would work?
John: Yes, there has been some thought because the Jaguars think about a lot of things about a lot of players at a lot of positions every offseason. I don't know if it would work or not; I don't know that Joeckel's skill set fits guard all that well. At the same time, he has run-blocked well throughout much of his career, so perhaps …
Jared from Downtown O-Town:
Hey, John O: Here's a non-draft/free agency question for you. Can you explain what made the 46 defense so effective in its day and why it hasn't been used since? Thanks.
John: Its effectiveness stemmed from having a slew of dominant players who could win one-on-one situations up front, and by playing those players in an aggressive scheme to which offenses hadn't yet adapted. It became less effective when teams became more proficient at maximum protecting and when quarterbacks became more proficient at getting passes away quicker to negate the all-out pressure.
Jason from Jacksonville:
Where would you say the defense is in terms of being "built"? In the last two off seasons they have added starters: Odrick, Fowler, Jackson, Skuta, House, Gipson, Amukamara. That is a larger part of the front line defense. Sure Caldwell hasn't signed a bunch of edge rushers this offseason, but it is really hard to say he hasn't been working to build the defense. It is also easy to see that the roster of 53 will have 10-15 new faces this year. That is still a lot of turnover. I hate all the recent losing, but this level of activity clearly shows they are still in building mode.
John: Maybe you'll forgive me if I steer clear of using the word "built" this offseason because … well, you know …
O-Zone: Not this year
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Alan from Middleburg, FL: