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O-Zone: Out to stud

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Darren from Arlington, TX:
I'm about sick of the "Brandon-Albert-is-holding-out" talk from these fans. Can you explain again, for the nth time, what voluntary means for those that can't grasp it??
John: I've learned in many years discussing this topic that this is an answer many people won't hear – mainly, I assume, because they don't want to hear it. Teams hold voluntary offseason workouts because those workouts are permitted under NFL rules. Most players attend for a multitude of reasons – fear of losing their positions foremost among them. Media report on players not attending because it's news – and because of that, players who don't attend the workouts are perceived as going against the team's wishes. They are indeed going against the team's wishes, because the team obviously wishes the players were attending. But the team's wishes in this case do not mean the players are required to attend. Voluntary means voluntary, and that means players are allowed to not attend the offseason program. I don't know how to make it any more graspable than that.
Mark from Jacksonville:
If Branden Albert starts at left tackle opening day, do you think Cam Robinson will start at a different position on the line? If so, which position would you think?
John: Guard.
Alan from Jacksonville:
Everyone is saying for the Jags to win half their games would be a quantum leap forward, but after reviewing the stats from last year, we were probably a slightly better than .500 team but for one reason: our minus-16 turnover imbalance. According to stats, a turnover is worth about four points and if a team has one more turnovers than their opponent, they win 69.6 percent of the time. According to a really interesting Harvard student study of 11 seasons of stats, they determined the single biggest factor was luck. So how do you coach turnovers? Hire a Greco-Roman wrestling coach for dealing with pileups, hire Dennis Rodman as our rebounding coach? Whatever it takes, to me this should be a huge focus for 2017. So how do you think we accomplish the goal of adding a in front of next year's turnover stat?
John: I can't prove it statistically, and despite incessant and sometimes annoying begging on the school's part, I opted against going to Harvard. But two decades of covering the NFL tell me turnover ratio isn't luck. Luck is involved in some turnovers, but you increase your chance over time of getting lucky by getting better and smarter quarterback play on offense and generating pressure on the quarterback on defense. Get better in those areas and watch your team become very, very lucky when it comes to turnovers.
Tommy from Rockford, IL:
As a guy who gets a lot of crap from Bears fans in Illinois for wearing a Marcedes Lewis jersey and a Jalen Ramsey color rush jersey I wore to the Bears-Jags game last year, I was wondering how much better do you perceive the on-paper-improved-defensive line helping Ramsey this year? Also if anyone is interested I still have a size large Justin Blackmon and Matt Jones game jersey for sale – if anyone is into that kind of stuff.
John: Improved pass rush always helps a cornerback, so if "on paper" translates to "on field" Ramsey should benefit greatly. As far as the jerseys … well, you may be stuck.
Travis from Jax Beach, FL:
Do Luke Joeckel and Blake Bortles now three and four years in warrant Top 5 draft picks? I am hopeful for a yes or no answer.
John: Keep hoping, because while the world loves "yes" and "no" answers the reality is most answers are more complex. Joeckel in a very real sense clearly was not worth a No. 2 overall selection because he was not signed to a second contract, but the 2013 NFL Draft was historically weak and getting Top 5 value for a Top 5 selection that year wasn't easy. As far as Bortles being worth a Top 5 selection … we'll see.
Keisha from Virginia Beach, VA:
I was listening to a very popular football analyst who has his own show syndicated throughout the entire US. He was discussing the draft class of one of the teams. He started going into detail regarding the strengths and weaknesses of each player. My question is: how would he know that if he is a former player turned radio host? My understanding is that NFL teams spend a lot of time vetting each player throughout the year. I doubt they share their information. It made me realize that sometimes you have to trust a team's personnel decisions because the media has it made. Unlike personnel employed with teams, when a media personality gets it wrong it is never talked about again, when they get it right they pretend to be the smartest talent evaluator out there.
John: Pretty much.
Steve from Nashville, TN :
It is fine to say that it is not reasonable to expect the Jaguars to compete for a playoff spot until 2018, but don't tell us then that our window is closing because we cannot afford to re-sign our talented players in '18 and '19.
John: I suppose someone has said these things at some point. As for me, I generally avoid telling people what to expect – and I've never said the window is closing because of re-signing players in 2018 or 2019. The Jaguars have yet to sign any of the players whose contracts come up in those years. We'll see how many truly merit second contracts. I think we'll get a better idea about that this season.
Nate from Atlanta, GA:
All this angst about Branden Albert missing voluntary workouts. I'm guessing that if most of the people complaining all of a sudden had a "volunteer" week where they get paid even if they don't show up to work, offices would be a little emptier than usual.
John: Ya think?
Mark from Orange Park, FL:
John, another reason I am hopeful for next season. In 2012 the Kansas City Chiefs went 2-14. Everyone thought the team was horrible. Andy Reid came in and the next season they went 11-5. I am not saying Doug Marrone is on the level of Reid. But it shows that with a great coach a team can turn it around in one season. AFC South Champs next season.
John: #DTWD
Brian from Traverse City, MI:
I really like our draft and don't object to any of the picks, but had hoped for one or two more offensive linemen. Could you fill out the starting offensive-line depth chart as you see it working out? Do you foresee any free-agent pickups that could become starters? Are the Jags satisfied with the players they currently have? Thank you.
John: If you were hoping for offensive linemen in the draft beyond about Round 3, you were probably hoping for players who could make the roster but who probably weren't going to start. That was why the Jaguars didn't address line after selecting Cam Robinson at the top of the second round. As far as the starting depth chart, I see it being Branden Albert at left guard, A.J. Cann and Robinson at the guards, Brandon Linder at center and Jermey Parnell at right tackle – and while I don't think the Jaguars would say they are "satisfied" with their line, I don't anticipate any major moves to acquire a starting offensive lineman.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
What is the single-season total team rushing yards high-water mark for the Jags?
John: The 2006 Jaguars rushed for 2,541 yards as a team.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Do you think the Jaguars will sign a veteran tight end after the roster cut down in the preseason? Will the Jaguars' offense feature a single tight end this year?
John: I anticipate the Jaguars will play a lot of two tight-end sets next season, primarily because two tight-end sets are often the best sets for presenting a balanced look between run and pass. I don't anticipate the Jaguars signing a veteran tight end after teams being releasing players unless there's a tight end the Jaguars like better than Lewis, Mychal Rivera, Ben Koyack or Neal Sterling. I suppose there's a chance of that happening, but I won't hold my breath waiting for it to happen. This might actually have been more of a topic before the Jaguars signed Rivera as an unrestricted free agent. He fits what the Jaguars might have been looking for after roster cut downs, only with a much higher chance of being productive.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
The post-draft roster is looking good. But no team can ever stop trying to improve. I'd like to see another stud offensive lineman and another solid tight end. Do you expect any more free-agent signings between now and training camp?
John: I think you'll see a free-agent signing or two before training camp. I don't think they will fit the description of "stud" players at any positions.

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