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O-Zone: One lost soul

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Charles from Midlothian, VA:
I am no fan of Henne's, but knowing that some teams have gone deep into the playoffs with a "serviceable" QB and a BA Defense… I am REALLY feeling good about next year and we haven't even made it to the draft yet. Am I getting too excited?
John: I'm never one to tell fans how to feel. I don't tell them not to be angry at 0-8 and I'm sure not going to tell them not to be excited at a time of year when fans are supposed to be excited. What I will say along these lines is the moves this week don't fix all of the Jaguars' issues, and they don't yet put the Jaguars among the NFL's most-talented teams. David Caldwell is taking steps as general manager to improve the Jaguars' roster. They are significant steps. When he took over last offseason, there was a LOOOOOOOONG way to go. There were some strides made last offseason and there have been some strides made this week. There is still a LOONG way to go, and because there are a few less Os in that word, that's a good thing. But the Jaguars probably don't need to book time on Dynasty Week just yet. The build will continue. Jaguars fans should have a better feeling that things are on the right path after this week – and it appears they do.
Richard from Jacksonville:
For the first time in several years, I am cautiously optimistic about the Jaguars' future.
John: That's just what you should be.
Jon from Philadelphia, PA:
If we do end up drafting Watkins, and Justin Blackmon ends up getting his act together and becomes a productive piece for the Jaguars, how do the roles of guys like Shorts and Sanders change in the scheme of the offense?
John: In that scenario, Cecil Shorts III and Ace Sanders would probably share some time in the slot, and I'd expect Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch to be pretty creative with a lot of four wide-receiver packages. It would be what is known in league circles as a "good problem," and I think all four receivers would be very involved.
Judson from Jacksonville:
My seven-year-old son, Jameson, just started reading the O-Zone on a daily basis. How about a shout-out to your newest reader?
John: JAMESON!!!!!!!
Marquise from Little Rock, AR:
Is our D-line really getting that much better, or are we just signing a bunch of old guys that no one else wants? I'm glad David is making moves, but how much do we really expect to get out of Babin and Clemons?
John: We shall see. I think the Jaguars line will be better next season, though not as good as it will be in the future as the team continues to draft and develop players on the defensive front.
Kevin from Richland, WA:
Just between you and me and Connie Chung, you are running through the halls of EverBank Field giddy as a schoolgirl this week, aren't you?
John: #Shadricksighting
David from Jacksonville:
Clemons at age 32? Have to question that one, O-Man.
John: That is indeed a question around Clemons. That's not to say it's not a good signing, but it's a departure from the general model the Jaguars had been following of signing fifth- or sixth-year players in free agency. The key to straying from your free-agency model is to make sure you stray for a reason. In this case, the reason is that Clemons is an experienced leader who shouldn't have much of an adjustment period to a new scheme. That's a big plus.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Put me down as one fer continuous loop.
John: Word.
Brian from Mandarin:
Wow. Good stuff. How good will this defense be if we draft Mack? Better than if we drafted Clowney?
John: The answer to your question obviously depends on who is a better NFL player – Clowney or Mack? That's an impossible question to answer, and I think the consensus is there's a very good chance a team could be a lot better in a year or so by having either player. Something to remember is this: the moves this week don't reduce the chances of the Jaguars drafting either player. There's still a very real chance the Jaguars could go pass-rusher at No. 3 – just as real a chance as quarterback or receiver. This week's moves don't change that.
David from Jacksonville:
Why would you not talk about the Culligan commercial? Are you that afraid of your wife?
John: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Nick from Cherry Hill, NJ:
It's tough not to be excited about this defensive line. The competition is going to make everyone better. The attitudes of the players seem right. The age mix seems right. The coaches seem excited. As you mentioned in your editorial, they may not be a great group this year, but no question they are going to be much improved.
John: I should clarify my comment in the editorial. When I said they may not be great, it was to encourage reasonable expectations. When I think of great lines, I think of lines that control games and dominate opposing offenses on a historic level. I don't think the Jaguars' defense line will be that next season. I think they have a very real chance of being a lot better and that would be extremely good for this defense and the building process.
James from Socorro, NM:
I'm really excited to see one of the new defensive linemen the Jaguars signed: Soggy Hood. I think the sacks will rain down and we'll get a flood of defensive stops.
John: It was indeed a watershed moment.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
I'm fired up, John. I like these moves we are making, how 'bout you?
John: It's hard not to like them. I'll reiterate something I've said all week – that what is perhaps best about the moves is they're not over-the-top, break-the-bank moves. They're also not designed for an all-out, one-year-or-bust Super Bowl run. They're designed to try to improve the Jaguars' talent level to where they are more competitive while the front office continues its stated goal of working toward a more homegrown roster by building through the draft. These signings – while costlier than last year's signings – won't mortgage the future and won't preclude the team from re-signing drafted players as warranted. As long as there is room to gradually move toward a more home-grown, draft-oriented roster, then the path is a prudent one.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
I like the free agent signings because it fills some positions of need that make it easier to select best available rather than draft for need.
John: Yes.
Michael from Fruit Cove:
What are the financial details surrounding Babin opting out of his old contract then resigning for less money? Could he have continued to play under the old contract and been paid more?
John: His old contract was for more, but the Jaguars weren't going to pay him that. If he hadn't opted out of his old contract, the Jaguars would have released him from it.
Rob from Orange Park, FL:
Can you reiterate to fans that Tyson Alualu is still under contract, and is undoubtedly playing a role in our defense next season? I know fans expect more production from a Top 10 selection, but give the guy a break.
John: Hey! One fer reiteratin'!
Cody from the 508:
We only have Chad Henne at quarterback, right? So is there a chance we pick two quarterbacks in the draft? I mean, we were all willing to have three quarterbacks when Blaine Gabbert was still around. So why not take two rookies and if one doesn't work we have another? We have now 11 picks. Seems like it could be a possibility … right?
John: Yes.
John from Jacksonville:
Would it benefit college football to transition back to the pro-style offense? It seems college football is partly meant to prepare players for the next level and a future at pro football. There is a level of reducing preparation for the success of college quarterbacks by some of the offensive schemes that have become so popular in college. As a result, we often hear about their draft stock being reduced or risky.
John: College football won't and shouldn't change its rules or make any widespread moves to help quarterbacks prepare for the NFL. The job of college coaches and college programs is to do what's best for their programs, not to act primarily as a feeder for the NFL. Now, if a coach wants to take advantage of this and run a pro-style offense with the idea of luring quarterbacks with the talent and skill set to play in the NFL … well, that might be something that a few colleges coaches might do to get an advantage. Sure, it might be.
Shannon from Brunswick:
Good talk, Russ! Who is Russ?
John: I feel so sorry for you, Shannon.

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