JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hi John, ever since Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley arrived, I felt like the best way to improve the secondary was to improve the pass rush. Last year was looking good with Jared Odrick, Dante Fowler Jr. and Sen'Derrick Marks until you know what. Now, here we are again: same cast, plus Malik Jackson and end rushers in the draft. Add to that the quality added to the secondary, this defense has a good chance to be elite this year. Of course, injuries and player development need to go our way.
John: There's no question that improving the pass rush indeed is the best way to improve the secondary. That long has been the ideal formula for most NFL teams, and it's certainly the best formula for this Jaguars defense. As for the Jaguars' defense this season, I'd stop short of saying it has a good chance to be "elite;" going from where this team was defensively last season to elite in one offseason is a monumental jump. I have said and will continue to say that this defense has a chance to be vastly improved. It already was a very good defense at times against the run; if it can improve on third downs it has a chance to be tangibly better in a way that matters. Getting off the field more on third downs and creating a few more sacks/turnovers in the process … that may or may not mean becoming elite, but it sure would be a welcome change from last season.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire:
O Mighty Mr. O, can you tell what is the benefit of the Jags hosting the Bucs? How do you stop players "taking out" another player? With our unfortunate luck with injuries, is it a bit of a risk doing this?
John: You're referring to the Jaguars hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in two training-camp practices in August. The benefit of a dual-team practice is a chance to work against another team that doesn't know your game plan, your tendencies, etc. There also theoretically is an added intensity when working against an unfamiliar opponent. I don't actually know that working against another team makes you dramatically or noticeably better, though I am in favor of it in the sense that it breaks up what otherwise can be a monotonous period of training camp/preseason. I wouldn't say it increases the risk of injury much either way. If players are on the field, injuries can happen – and there's not much difference in the contact or injury risk of a dual practice compared to a normal one.
Greg from Running Springs, CA:
"I had a long talk with Gus Bradley about this Thursday." What's so special about this Thursday?
John: It's the day after Wednesday, and you know what that means.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
Hey Zone: What's up with no O-Zone video mailbag so far in 2016? Miss the humor in those.
John: We do 14-to-15 O-Zone video mailbags during the season and they typically are only an in-season thing. Reason: there's only so much O-Zone most people can take, myself very much included.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
I keep seeing questions about the Jaguars' record and performance this year. I am more interested in your performance and record this year. How do you think the O-Man will stack up against the Shadrick? Any significant risk of injury or regression in skill? I think the O-man might actually make the Pro Bowl this year.
John: I thought initially this was a question about my record since joining the franchise, a seemingly emotional topic for a disturbed corner of the internet. Having dodged that topic, I will provide some insight on how I judge myself. It's best illustrated in a story. I long have counseled my son on the virtue of setting a "low bar" – and the benefit of the accompanying low expectations. "You know J.P., right?" I often say by way of illustration. "Unfortunately …" comes the reply after a lengthy pause to remember. "That's my bar," I reply, after which he nods vigorously and says, "OK, I get it." To sum up, I may not make the Pro Bowl anytime soon, but considering my "bar," I sometimes look like a Pro Bowl player.
Clay from Pensacola, FL:
An extension of Bob's recent question regarding "robotic football" - how soon do you think we see technological improvements to the football itself, such as sensors to detect when it crosses the goal line, reaches a first down or when it hits the ground indicating a fumble or incomplete pass? Would this take away too much of the human element of officiating? There would be less and less to complain about at that point - something we all like doing.
John: My thought is this is coming sooner than robotic players. Though somewhat similar technology to that which you describe is used at large tennis venues, the task of installing sensors all over a field is a different one than judging line calls. Still, it stands to reason concepts such as the one you propose will be possible sometime in the future. A major delay at some point likely will be cost of implementation. It's one thing to have one team install such technology at one stadium. It's another thing altogether to have all 32 teams install it. As for now, though, I really don't know that it's a pressing issue. Replay for the most part does a good job correcting calls and I don't know that the improvement in accuracy would merit the cost of someday implementing the technology.
Brian from Duval County:
How many receivers do you think the Jaguars will keep on the roster this season and who do you anticipate making it outside of the obvious four?
John: I'd guess the Jaguars keep five receivers this season with one on the practice squad. I'd expect Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee and Rashad Greene to be your obvious four with Arrelious Benn the fifth if he's healthy and Bryan Walters the fifth otherwise.
Clay from Down the Road:
I just read an article on NFL.com about the best four-of-five man units in the NFL. If we can get a player that will break those up, can we call it the YOKO position?
John: We're probably reaching now – OK, we've been reaching for a while – but this was cute.
Fabian from the Dominican Republic:
I was watching highlights on Myles Jack and realized how insane it was the Jags managed to snag him in the second round. Is there was any possibility that Dave Caldwell might have told him to tell the media during the NFL Play60 Event that his knee "could have microfracture surgery—potentially," which would cause other teams to avoid risking their first round pick on him? Also, if a general manager were to do this, would it be breaking any NFL rules? #DUUUUUUVAAAAALLL
John: There is no possibility this happened. That's because Caldwell by all accounts is sane and no sane general manager would so such a thing. That's because any player would hear such a request, think about the income difference between being a Top 10 selection and a top-of-the-first-round selection and scream, "Are you insane" at the general manager while running quickly away.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Will the new kickoff rule help or hurt Corey Grant's chances of making the Jaguars' roster in 2016? How many running backs do you think the Jaguars will carry on their 53-man roster?
John: Anything that limits the importance of kickoff returns won't help Grant's chances of making the roster. I expect the Jaguars to carry four backs this season.
Poppa Sarge from Jacksonville:
Here is calling Jag Nation to join my call for the Marks Foundation. I've notified Sen'Derrick Marks that every sack he makes this year, I donate $5 – and $2 for every sack from another Jag. The Marks Foundation is a good cause and more participation is needed.
James from Columbus, MS:
So, what is the thinking behind closing the organized team activities to the public? OTAs have been open for years; what makes them change their minds on these sorts of things?
John: The thinking behind closing OTAs to the public is that OTAs typically are closed to the public. There have bene exceptions in recent offseasons, but those exceptions have been rare. One change this year involved rookie minicamp, which usually has been open but was closed this year because the team changed the format of the event to be more of an orientation than a minicamp. The team historically has had at least one day of the offseason-ending mandatory minicamp open in mid-June. I expect that will be the case again this year, though that's not yet official.
Al from the Mean Cornfields of Ohio:
I must apologize for Kyle. Not every person from Ohio is quite so … um … well, I'll let you choose the word.
O-Zone: Perfect choice of words
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL: