JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Kevin from Sacksonville Sagwires:
I love me some Tom Coughlin. I just am not sure how much impact he had on the Jaguars' success last year. I know he set the tone and the clocks, but from a player-acquisition perspective, more credit should be going to David Caldwell.
John: I'm never sure how to know if someone gets enough "credit." The word gets thrown around a lot in the white noise of Twitter, comments sections and 24/7 NFL analysis, but truly knowing who is responsible for a team's success is tricky. I hear General Manager David Caldwell's name in that noise, though not as much as Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and probably not as much as Head Coach Doug Marrone. All have received a lot of "credit" – and deservedly so. What's the right amount for each? How much should Caldwell be mentioned compared to Coughlin? Hell, I don't know, but Caldwell's doing a good job. The Jaguars' 2014 and 2016 drafts can only be described as epically good. There's a lot of good young talent on this roster. The Jaguars won an AFC South title last season and played in the AFC Championship Game. That's probably the credit Caldwell wants – and deserves. Bottom line: the three-headed leadership group of Marrone, Caldwell and Coughlin has worked far better than most observers imagined and maybe even better than the three of them originally anticipated. But it's working. And that's what matters.
Ambuj from Minneapolis, MN:
It's hard to believe that Yannick Ngakoue (Mr. Strip Sack Six) is only rated as the 88th best player in the league by his colleagues. I can understand that the Pro Bowl voting is a little biased because we are a small-market team. But it is crazy that league players didn't take notice at 91. I tell you what; people will notice this year and those quarterbacks facing us in 2018 better watch out.
John: You're referencing Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue being named the No. 88 player in the NFL Network's Top 100 for 2018. There are a lot of teams (32) in the NFL and a lot of players (53 times 32, whatever that is). Being in the Top 100 means you're good and getting noticed.
David from Oviedo, FL:
Johnny-O, why is Taven Bryan's lack of production in college not part of the conversation? He played on a mediocre football team and couldn't make the starting lineup until his final season; when given the chance, he didn't blow anybody's socks off and registered just 37 total tackles and four measly sacks. So, if he wasn't so dominant in college, what makes coaches think he can excel at the next level?
John: I admit I get worn out when people throw out a lack of sacks as a negative on a player – and I get worn out, too, when people over-focus on college statistics when praising or criticizing a player. Factors such as the performance of teammates, teams focusing on a player and style of play all influence a player's statistics. The Jaguars' scouts and personnel people – as well as many analysts and other teams – like Bryan's skill set and believe it will translate (with development) to NFL success. As far as Bryan not starting until his final season, Florida has been very good on defense for a very long time. It's not surprising that a very good player could be a reserve there.
Red from the O-Zone Comments Section:
John, might Allen Lazard turn out to be "the Allen Hurns" of 2018? Both were quite productive in college, but went undrafted because they were viewed as not being outstanding enough in any one area to warrant being drafted. The ultimate irony would be if Lazard wound up wearing the 88 jersey, no?
John: I don't know if that would be the ultimate irony, but it would be at least a touch ironic. I learned long ago that it's difficult to predict success or failure for undrafted free agents. It is often the case that the free agents about which teams are most excited never come close to making the roster while obscure players from tiny schools (remember Keelan Cole and Kentucky Wesleyan) sometimes make major impacts. Lazard has the size to play in the NFL. Does he have the speed? Can he separate from defenders? Can he make plays at this level? We won't find that out until the preseason.
Todd from Jacksonville:
With Brad Nortman's release, and the potential release of Malik Jackson in a future season, I was wondering would it make sense for a player to take a lower salary, but for longer time, to avoid being a "Cap Casualty?" I understand skilled players will want to get paid, but it feels weird knowing that a player is talented, but us letting him go because he wants too much.
John: There are times it makes sense for a player to restructure his contract and take a more team-friendly deal with the idea of being able to play another season or two. But players that do that usually do it for the short term rather than the long term. It's too early to know what the future holds for Jackson, but he is one of several defensive players whose contract situations will be major issues for the team following the 2018 season. But to call Nortman's release a salary-cap move really isn't accurate. Yes, the Jaguars saved money under the cap with the move, but punter is important to this team's approach. If the Jaguars had been happy with his on-field performance, they would have paid what his contract called for him to earn.
Chris from Goodnight, TX:
One thing concerns me about DJ Chark's college games: He is a "body catcher," much like Marqise Lee. In the NFL, where receivers are often hit immediately after the ball reaches them, body catchers are unreliable and have untimely drops. However, during the combine (particularly, the gauntlet), I thought Chark showed that he could become a hands catcher. One fer hoping that Coach McCardell can turn this kid into a hands catcher. Also, here is a hot sports opinion: Allen Lazard will make the final 53 man roster and have more touchdown receptions this year than Chark.
Michael from Jackson de Ville:
Khan wanting to host a Super Bowl game to London on top of the Wembley comments? Is he actively trying to upset NFL/Jacksonville fans?
John: No, but if Khan or anyone associated with this team worried about upsetting the fan base every time they spoke not a lot would get said.
Todd from Jacksonville:
The Wembley Super Bowl question got me wondering, what is Wembley's seating capacity in relation to the largest capacity NFL stadium? I think it could be an ideal situation, aside from fans for the teams in it having to travel overseas. You know it's going to be a truly neutral site. It'll be in a city that has all the NFL is looking for in a host city.
John: Wembley's current capacity for NFL games is around 84,000. The only NFL stadium with a larger listed capacity is Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 93,607.
Brian from New Hampshire:
I don't get the hate on our draft by fans. I get fans are going to fan but where's the line of just complaining? Taven Bryan will replace Malik Jackson next year. Ronnie Harrison will replace Barry Church next year. We have a potential No. 1 wide receiver. Will Richardson Jr. will replace Jermey Parnell next year. That's a draft to sustain a long-run, playoff-caliber caliber team and to free up cap space to resign the key pieces to our defense going forward.
Chris from Mandarin, FL:
The Jaguars' first training camp was held in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. It was not held there the next year because it was too hot. Summer is hot. Also, water is wet in case you were wondering.
John: You're correct with parts of your email, though not in the key point. The Jaguars' 1995 training camp indeed was in Stevens Point and it indeed was hot there that summer. But heat wasn't the reason the Jaguars changed training camp sites the following summer. What is now EverBank Field was still under construction in the summer of 1995, so training camp couldn't be held there. The Jaguars, in fact, played their first three preseason games away from Jacksonville to allow more time for the stadium to be ready. The stadium and practice facilities had been completed by the summer of 1996. Then-Owner Wayne Weaver always wanted training camp held in Jacksonville as a way to connect to the local fans and camp was going to be there when the facility was ready.
Bruce from Jacksonville:
I can't understand how you can be so understanding of those who don't understand when you are obviously such an unprofessional professional journalist.
John: It ain't easy, Bruce. It ain't easy.