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O-Zone: One special shelf

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
You mentioned in Tuesday's O-Zone the Jags are $35 million under the cap. Doesn't the practice of allowing teams to roll over cap space create a scenario where a team could do so for a few years, then front-load all free-agent contracts? Say, a general manager takes over a franchise and says, "We will build through the draft." He does so for two years, but isn't getting results in the W-L column. Year 4 rolls around and the team has "$50 million" in cap space. The GM feels the seat getting warmer and front-loads a ton of free-agent contracts in an effort to save his job. I'm probably over-thinking this, but it seems feasible. Who's the "gate-keeper" in this scenario? The owner, since he can stop cutting the checks to free agents? Figured this might be a decent dead-zone question.
John: You're not really overthinking it at all because that scenario is absolutely feasible. Teams under this salary-cap system certainly can budget cap space and use more of it in one year or the other. As far as gate-keepers, sure, the owner has the final say on such matters. But the owner typically hires the general manager to manage the roster and oversee the approach managing the cap. He hires the general manager to run the team, and he must trust the general manager to do that in a way that is best for the team. If the owner doesn't trust the general manager with those duties pretty much implicitly, he probably has the wrong guy.
Gary from Centerville, Ohio:
I can't believe no one has mentioned "Something for Joey" (the John Cappelletti story). What a speech.
John: I remember it. I watched it. And yeah, I cried, OK? I cried.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
Regarding college quarterbacks who were successful in the NFL at another position, I immediately thought of Nolan Cromwell, who enjoyed great success at both positions.
John: You're showing your age a bit, Charlie, but that's OK because you're showing my age, too. Cromwell indeed played quarterback at Kansas, then switched to safety in the NFL for the Rams in the late 1970s and much of the 1980s. He was a three-time All-Pro selection and a key member of some pretty good Rams teams. He also served as a holder. He now is an offensive assistant for the Cleveland Browns. And that's your Nolan Cromwell lesson for the day.
David from Orlando, FL:
O-man, from time to time, your O-Zone segment sometimes does not show up in the "Headlines" section of However, when available, it is always under the "O-Zone" tab. For this reason, some believe that your consecutive streak has ended. But au contraire, the streak lives on! #wereallstreaking
John: What streak is that?
Dave from Jacksonville:
The streak is a big deal, John. Don't try and downplay it because you want a whole day off. How selfish of you.
John: What kind of idiot would do that?
Samwise from Shire:
Is Fowler expected to be at all the practices and games during next season soaking in what he can? Or does he have a limited schedule and just focus on rehab? ... On a side note, I remember when Marcus Stroud was sidelined due to injury and the Jags were penalized because he was recording the game with his own sideline camera.
John: Jaguars rookie Dante Fowler Jr. has had his surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and he has said he hopes to be able to watch practices during training camp. I expect he will be at a lot of practices, games and meetings next season, though I'd be a little surprised if he was at every practice, meeting and game. His priority will be rehabilitating and I don't know that he has to be at all practices and games to "soak" everything in. There certainly is benefit to be gained from being around it, but if he is taken away from on occasional practice/game for rehabilitation that shouldn't set him back any further.
Spike D from Dogtown, GA:
How could you possibly leave off "Air Bud - Golden Receiver," a football classic?
John: My bad.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
There has been a lot of talk about Johnathan Cyprien needing to step up his play this year. It's an obvious need in Gus Bradley's scheme. What has held his play back from doing so thus far in his career?
John: First off, while there indeed has been talk about Cyprien – the Jaguars' third-year strong safety – needing to improve, let's not paint this discussion as Cyprien having been awful. He hasn't been close to awful and in fact has played well at times in his two seasons – and the defense has been better for his presence. What he hasn't yet been is close to elite, and that's what people want from a player selected with the first selection of the second round. What has held him back more than anything likely has been inexperience. He also could be helped by improvement at the free-safety position. There also early on was perhaps an adjustment process from college football to the highest level of professional football. Cyprien according to coaches looked comfortable and played faster with less hesitation in the offseason and minicamp. That's the sort of thing you want to see continue to happen once the games begin.
John from Jacksonville:
"Brian's Song" has to be the best of all time. You didn't see that one?
John: Sure, I saw it. I had television before cable. You couldn't not see it. And yeah – I cried in that one, too. OK? OK?
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Sandy Bullock turns to the kid playing Michael Oher after he says he never has had one before and asks, "What, a room to yourself?" The kid replies, "No, a bed." Then, Sandy's Oscar winning performance choking back the shock and tears after having witnessed true desolation. I can't watch that scene without losing it and I am secure enough in my Gator blood masculinity to admit it loud and proud. That's why "The Blind Side" is the best football movie ever. But since someone already nominated it... "When the Game Stands Tall" was rather good.
John: "The Blind Side" was good (and yeah, I almost cried in that one, too). But not the best. At least not the one I saw.
Ian from Anderson, IN:
Is it true that the Home-Zone is a mythical place of wonder, with bountiful horns full of the most delicious delicatessens and a never ending flow of mead?
John: Nah. But it is a place where they let me sit quietly in the other room, and where if I keep my mouth shut and do a good job mowing the grass I'm allowed my own shelf in the garage refrigerator to keep "anything I want."
Steve from Denver, CO:
John- Can you list the coaches that were interviewed for head coaching job that went to Coach Bradley?
John: Mel Tucker, Brian Schottenheimer and Jay Gruden.
John from Jacksonville:
John, when I was married back during the great depression, I was in charge of the big decisions – what to do about the national debt, global warming, etc. My ex-wife took care of the small things – my allowance, what I would wear, when I could go out and with whom. I am now not the dapper dresser I once was, but the depression has lifted.
John: Give it time. It will come back.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I never understood why a highly-regarded Mercedes Lewis was used more as a blocker than a receiver. Now, we have another tight end that is regarded a real threat as a receiver, but if our game plan does not include using the tight end to catch passes, what difference does it make if we have one or more super tight ends? Second part of this question: what makes Thomas different from Lewis?
John: It's difficult to give a one-sentence answer for how Lewis has been used during his career. This is a player, after all, who has played for many coordinators in many systems during his nine NFL seasons – all of which have been with the Jaguars. There have been times he has been used as a receiver. There also have been times coaches have needed to use him more in pass protection than would be ideal because of issues along the offensive line. There also have been times when Lewis has struggled as a pass receiver. Certainly, the Jaguars' belief is that Thomas is an upgrade as a receiving tight end over Lewis. They wouldn't have pursued Thomas as heavily as they did were that not the case. As for what makes Thomas different, all indications – as well as Thomas' performance in Denver – indicate he is a superior route-runner and pass catcher to Lewis. He also appears quicker and more agile, though not as strong or forceful at the point of attack. That being said, all indications are that the Jaguars absolutely will use the tight end extensively in the offense. That will mean using Thomas a lot, but it also will mean using Lewis a lot, too.

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