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O-Zone: Offseason strategy

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Joey from Middleburg, FL:
Am I imagining it, or are there a lot more one- and two-year free-agent deals this year? Is this the product of the new CBA or just the flat salary cap?
John: You're not imagining it. There have been more, and the primary reason is general managers and agents expect the salary cap to remain flat for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. After that, the new television money is expected to kick into the equation, which should raise the cap. In theory, this should mean a huge year in free agency in 2015, though a lot of the players signing two-year deals may no longer be in their primes, which could reduce market value.
Carter from Jacksonville:
Did you hear what Connor Barwin said about Gabbert?
John: I did, and for those readers who missed it, Barwin – a former linebacker for the Houston Texans – took out an ad in the Houston Chronicle after signing as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles. In the ad, he thanked many, many people for his success in Houston, a list that ranged from Texans owner Bob McNair to former Florida Times-Union and current Houston Chronicle reporter Tania Ganguli. Among those he thanked was Gabbert, who Barwin sacked four times in a game in 2011. You know what? This is the type of ad that's hilarious to Texans fans and not at all to Jaguars fans. Did I think it was a little bush league and a little misplaced? Yeah, maybe. But you know what? It's professional football. These guys get paid to entertain and play, so they can pretty much do what they want along those lines.
Bill from Jacksonville:
In your interview with Blaine Gabbert, he said, "Winning cures everything." But it's not just important for the Jags to win, John. Gabbert has to play to the level of a Top 5-10 quarterback AND win ballgames. Ask Alex Smith if winning cures everything. Smith was benched while winning, because he was not playing at a high enough level (and his play was much better than anything Blaine has shown). Does Blaine think he can be a mediocre quarterback as long as the team wins games? I hope not.
John: Really? That was your takeaway from that interview? If Gabbert had come out and said, "I need to play better and I need to throw for 4,000 yards," people would have criticized him not talking about the team. It was an interview. It showed his head is in the right place and he understands it's an important year. Beyond that, nothing he said is earthshattering, because he has to show it on the field. He knows it and everyone else does, too.
Jack from Jacksonville:
Why does everyone from the media to Jags' top brass cite Gabbert's age as a reason/excuse for his underwhelming performance the past two seasons? Do the Jags' personnel people believe fans are that gullible? By their logic I'm gonna be the next pope because I'm way younger than the current one?
John: I haven't heard the Jags' brass use it as an excuse. I have heard them cite it as a factor in assessing Gabbert. The reason is quarterback is a difficult position that does require maturity and experience. It's not the only reason he has struggled, but to ignore it as a factor is just as silly as saying the Jaguars are saying it's the only one.
David from Toledo, OH:
I believe joey fro middleburg was refureing to will rackley the offensive guard.
John: I'm just going to leave this alone.
Emily from Boulder, CO:
I get the recent success of read-option/dual-threat quarterbacks, but is it worth drafting Geno Smith in Round 1 or EJ Manuel in Round 2 versus a pro-style QB? In other words, if we draft a skilled quarterback for that type of offense, what do you think the chances are that the offense type is sustainable?
John: First off, Smith is not a read-option guy; he's a drop-back passer. Second, I don't think you draft a quarterback just for the read option. If a guy can run that offense, then by all means use it, but don't take a guy you don't believe in just because he's a read-option guy. Take a player and use his talents as best you can. As for your final question, I do have a lot of doubts that the read-option is sustainable simply because of the punishment a quarterback will take. We shall see.
Chad from Yulee, FL:
"Look good - feel good. Feel good - play good. Play good - pay good. Pay good - eat good."
John: Eat good – nap good.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
Don't get me wrong, I want the Jaguars to be financially successful, but they are in fact classified as a non-profit organization by the federal government, along with every other NFL team.
John: You would have a good point if it was correct. The NFL itself is a non-profit organization, but individual teams are not.
John from St. Augustine, FL:
What is the status of Jordan Shipley? This guy was a great receiver at Texas. What I remember most about him in college was his speed. I would love for him to have a great season this year.
John: Shipley is one of the more intriguing veterans on the roster. He has shown during his career flashes of being very, very good and he also has been set back by injury. One of those flashes was late last season, when he showed a lot of good things as a third receiver. In a sense, this is a perfect situation for Shipley. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's approach this season will be about competition and earning roster spots and playing time. Whatever Shipley earns, he'll get.
David from the Island:
"Mayock is the best." Maybe so. I enjoy him as much as the rest of talking heads. What do you think MJD's thoughts are on him? I think there's a little Mayock voodoo doll in his locker.
John: There may be. Many players are motivated by things people say about them, and Jones-Drew certainly has used that as motivation in the past. Honestly, though, I don't know how Jones-Drew feels about Mayock. I have time to keep track of a lot of things, but how players feel about members of the media generally isn't among them.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
In reference to the corner takes away one side of the field, pass rusher takes away the whole thing argument, one could argue that, if one were to find a true "shutdown corner," it allows them to roll coverage help away from that corner, essentially affecting the entire field. Another argument for cornerback with the second pick is there is a much better track record of success drafting cornerbacks at the top of Round 1 than pass rushers. Obviously, it comes down to how much you like one player over the other, but all things equal I have to agree with you. If you truly believe that the guy you are drafting No. 2 is going to be an impact pass rusher, you take that pass rusher. The exception might be a Deion Sanders-type talent, and although Milliner projects to be very good, I don't think anyone believes he is a likely Hall of Fame candidate.
John: While agreeing is sometimes boring reading, we do indeed agree. Was Darrelle Revis when healthy worth a No. 2 selection? Sure. He is the closest thing there is to a shutdown corner right now when healthy and I say "closest thing" because as good as he is or Deion Sanders was, there is by definition a limit to how long even the best corner can cover a good receiver on a given play. The receiver knows where he is going and the defense does not, so eventually a receiver will get open. But yeah, if Revis or Sanders or even Patrick Peterson were there at No. 2 this year, I'd say take him, but Gus Bradley's defense seems to be a system where you can find physical guys outside the first round to play it, and that's the more likely route.
Sebastian from Mexico:
Coming off a 2-14 year with no pass rush and where everything is riding on the play of your quarterback, would a general manager be wrong to go offensive line in the first three rounds to boost the chances of having a solid offensive line for your developing quarterback? I tend to think that even with a Pro Bowl-caliber pass rusher getting maybe 20 sacks this season, if Gabbert is on the floor or scrambling to get a completion most of the time, it wouldn't matter how good a pass rush we can have.
John: If the Jaguars were building only for this season, or if they thought offensive line was the only area of need, your plan makes sense. Obviously, that's not the case.
Jay from Jacksonville:
You know it's the offseason when fans start analyzing every word that a player says.
John: I know it's the offseason when Jaguars Insider starts scheduling "meetings" for 3 p.m. in the beaches area and telling our boss, Dan Edwards, the meeting "ran long" and he's "just going to go ahead and head home."

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