O-Zone: Onward

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jordan from Mandarin, FL:
John: I love this team; nothing will ever change that. Last year was a magical season and many people would say it was enough to warrant trusting the football decisions being made. I just don't, though. I think a lot of things went right last year and we were just as close to losing a few more games and missing the playoffs as we were making the Super Bowl. That's the NFL. Here's my issue: I just don't think the ground-and-pound offense is how you win in the NFL. We do have a dominant defense that creates a window of time to win, but Seattle showed us how quickly that goes away. It's all about a franchise quarterback – and right now, I don't think Blake Bortles can be elite. So yes, I would trade up and mortgage away our picks to get a top quarterback in this draft. Maybe I've been listening to Pete Prisco too much, but I just don't believe in the smash-mouth offense the Jaguars are running.
John: Yes, a lot went right for the Jaguars last season – and had a few things gone differently they indeed would have missed the playoffs. But as your email indicates, that sentence would describe the vast majority of playoff teams last season – and the vast majority of playoff teams in any season; the NFL typically is a league of one-score games. I agree with you and Pete that the ideal formula is to have an elite quarterback, and that a team that has one has a long window of opportunity. But when you say mortgaging "away our picks," what do you mean? Trading away a third-rounder and fourth-rounder in a single draft? Maybe. Trading a bunch of future first-rounders and therefore truly mortgaging your future? I wouldn't be for that. Here's the thing: it's great to want a franchise quarterback; it's much harder to find one that's truly worth having as the core of your franchise. The Jaguars don't have that right now and they're not paying Bortles as such. They're trying to win as best they can without that. That's the path. I will say this about your question, though: Like it or not, this is the Jaguars' offense. It ain't changing for the foreseeable future.
Cody from Boston, MA:
Psst … John, someone should tell Jerell NFL offensive guards don't score touchdowns; they stop the quarterback from getting sacked – and our new addition didn't let up one all last year.
John: Who's Jerell?
Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
With all the talk around Allen Robinson, Aaron Colvin and Paul Posluszny, I feel like a huge issue is being missed (hopefully not by the front office) for discussion. I sure am glad Blake Borles is such a stout, healthy guy, because we got no backup quarterback. I think we made a major mistake not getting someone like A.J. McCarron, who cost about the same as Chad Henne did – and who could have possibly been a starter if he outperformed BB.
John: McCarron signed with the Buffalo Bills for around $10 million over two seasons. The Jaguars weren't going to pay that much for a backup quarterback this season. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell addressed this Thursday, saying that the team had a plan for the backup position. As for whether that plan is to draft one or sign one … he opted not to say.
Nate from Visalia, CA:
Couldn't get Niles Paul the last time around, but got him this time. Great move. Why do I feel like I'm the only one excited about this? Maybe people don't realize what he's capable of because he's been playing behind a Top 3 tight end up until now. Good for him. Great for the Jags.
John: Hey! One fer Niles Paul.
Travis from High Springs, FL:
What are the rules for retired players in the NFL? If the Jaguars were to suffer an injury early in the season, would Poz be able to come back and play if he wanted to? I guess I'm just not ready to see him go; it seems unreal.
John: Retired players can return to play in the NFL. I doubt you'll see that in this situation, though. Not that former Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny wouldn't be able to still play, but he worked and trained diligently throughout his career to be at his best. I would have a hard time seeing him playing if he felt he hadn't trained and prepared properly to do so.
Tim from Doboy Island, FL:
We paid D.J. Hayden how much!? Do we have a guy on staff that negotiates contracts or do we just pay what the agent asks for? Are the Jags hiring? I want $500k a year to put chlorine in the pools. Where do I sign?
John: It seems you missed your calling. Fear not; you're not alone.
Nelson from Los Angeles, CA:
The decisions on both Allen Robinson and Aaron Colvin came down to being financially reasonable rather than giving into emotion and overspending." Didn't we overspend on Andrew Norwell, Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief?
John: Of course. You always overpay in free agency. The Jaguars chose to overspend on Norwell because they want to be dominant on the offensive line and they chose to overpay in more reasonable fashion on Lee and Moncrief because they could structure the contracts in such a way that made more sense for the long-term than Robinson and Colvin.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
Three words: Salary Cap Hell ...
John: Those are three words. They're not three words that apply to the Jaguars, but they are indeed three words.
Greg from Carlsbad, CA:
O-Man, based on your comments I made this up: Tom, Dave and Doug looked at some film of A-Rob in '16 – his down year – and determined a true No. 1 receiver would have been able to overcome what the defenses were doing to him. Close?
John: I think anyone who watched 2016 knows that a lot went wrong for the Jaguars' offense, and that Bortles' struggles were a huge part of it. I think when the Jaguars as a whole looked at Robinson they believed he was a very good receiver who could be a No. 1 receiver but who probably wasn't on the game-changing level of the very best at the position. That's why they believed they had to stop this week when the price started getting into the range of the elite receivers.
Bob from Sumter, SC:
The Giants won four Super Bowls (1986, '90, '07, '11) without a Top 10 receiver on the roster. Strong defense, run the ball, efficient quarterback play, win championships: It's the TC formula and one being used to build the Jaguars. That's why Norwell got the big bucks and Robinson didn't.
John: Yes.
Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brasil:
Will Norwell acquisition this year have a similar impact to Calais' last year?
John: That's a big ask – and it's probably not fair to expect any free agent to have Calais Campbell's combination of on-field and off-field impact. But Campbell was a first-team All-Pro selection last season for the Jaguars and Norwell was a first-team All-Pro selection for Carolina. It's certainly fair to expect something close from Norwell this season. The contract merits that expectation.
Jim from Neptune Beach, FL:
I think I finally get the plan. It's a "Moneyball" plan. The Moneyball plan was to not pay the absolute top price for the most critical (expensive) skill positions. But surround the skill positions with top quality players so as to lessen the dependency on needing elite play at the most expensive positions (quarterback and wide receiver). In this case, surrounding our quarterback with a great line and running game lessens the need to go find a $25-30MM-per-year quarterback. Next season, we won't need to have our quarterback be the sole indicator of our success. I like our quarterback, but I like the idea that we might not have to have him play lights-out every game, every play, in order for us to win. That was the Moneyball idea in baseball, get enough good players in the right combination, playing well, put them in the right situations, and you don't have to spend a ton of money for the one guy that could hit 60 homeruns a year. That's why we didn't need to go after Cousins or keep Robinson, and why we won't need to spend a lot of money on a #1 WR.
John: OK.
Roger from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What is the status of Mychal Rivera? Is he considered a tight end that can stretch the field, a red-zone specialist or a blocking tight end? How does he fit in with the Jaguars' plans at that position?
John: Rivera became an unrestricted free agent Wednesday at 4 p.m. and is no longer with the Jaguars. I don't expect him to return.
Dave from Duuuval:
Dear John: It's on to the draft and let's win there.
John: OK.

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