JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … David from Oviedo, FL:
So, in your recent answer, you indicated you don't anticipate much competition at the running back position, with the four or five spots pretty much set. If Branden Albert doesn't hold out, there wouldn't seem to be much competition on the offensive line – with Cam Robinson assuming the left-guard position. We didn't draft a quarterback, so we can pencil Blake Bortles in. Which leads me to my question: what position(s) are up for grabs?
John: There realistically are few starting positions on NFL teams truly "up for grabs." Most teams know the great majority of their starters for the ensuing season entering the offseason, and they sign and draft players having a pretty good idea which ones will start and which ones will be backups. While there certainly is competition, a job truly being "won" in training camp or preseason is rare enough to be notable. Most competitions realistically are for roster spots. That's pretty much the Jaguars' situation entering this offseason. I expect competition for roster spots on the offensive line, at wide receiver, tight end, defensive line, linebacker and secondary. I don't really expect much mystery about the starting lineup.
Aaron from Bethlehem, PA:
Would you trade Tom Brady in his prime for a kicker who was guaranteed to make all his field goals and extra points and had a max field-goal distance of 70 yards?
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
I find it interesting that almost every fan of this team was jumping for joy when Tom Coughlin came home because they believe he knows how to win and will make the decisions we need to be successful. But now, many of those same fans are upset about many of our offseason moves so far (all of which TC signed off on and many of which were likely his idea in the first place). I, for one, am glad Tom is here and I trust his judgement more than my own on any football matters, so I don't have an issue with anything he's doing. But hey, I guess fans gonna fan right?
John: Coughlin won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants following seasons in which there were rumors about his job security. He has coached more than 20 seasons in the NFL. He has won division titles and conference titles. He has finished out of the playoffs and he has lost jobs. My point? No one knows better than Coughlin that fans are gonna fan.
Billy from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Zone, kind of a silly question, but if you had to form a team comprised of just rookies in a draft year with a couple more NFL-ready quarterbacks, along with every other rookie you wanted on that team, do you think those top 90 selections brought to camp and narrowed down to 53 after final cuts could win three games that season?
John: I think three would be about right. On second thought, how good is the quarterback?
Herbert from Midstate Office Supply Accountz Receevablez:
Why are the Jags so scared of competition at the quarterback position? The last time there was a legitimate competition we made the playoffs.
John: Fear obviously has nothing to do with it. The Jaguars believe Bortles is the best option at quarterback, and they didn't believe any of the viable competition worth the cost. This may not sit well with fans, and it may prove to be bad decision. Or it may prove a genius decision. Whatever the outcome, "fear" of competition was not a factor.
Rob from Orange Park, FL:
What is your best guess on how well Myles Jack will do at playing middle linebacker in Game 1? Big splash, solid job, serviceable and learning, lost, or something else...
John: Serviceable and learning – with a splash play or two in the mix.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
When reading your stuff regarding the Jaguars' potential record next year, I got the sense that a five-game improvement is very rare in the NFL. I agreed with you that 8-8 would be very difficult because they would have to achieve that rare feat. Then I looked it up and realized, it's not really that rare. It's not necessarily common, but it's not rare. On average over the last 10 years almost 4 teams per year improve by five-plus games. In addition, nine out of the last 10 seasons has seen one team go from worst to first in their division. Those sorts of feats may not be statistically common or easy, but they happen every year. I think as fans it is reasonable for us to expect a five-game improvement ... teams do it every year, why not us?
John: There's nothing wrong with fans expecting a five-game improvement. As I've written often, I have no illusions that I can control expectations. My point when discussing a potential five-game jump is neither to curb expectations nor to tell people that it can't happen – and based on your numbers, it's hardly a statistical outlier. My point is to say that a five-game improvement is difficult and it's not something I'm going to predict will happen. But the biggest point I'm trying to make in all this is that a four-game improvement would be a solid improvement for a franchise with a new head coach and a roster that is going to feature a slew of new players. There are those who seem to think 7-9 or even 8-8 would be a colossal disappointment. There seem to be those who would lump such a season into the abyss of losing seasons in the last five years. I would see a four-game improvement as a significant step for a franchise that has struggled mightily in recent seasons. Considering the recent history, I just believe it's hard to "expect" a four-game jump. But for those fans who want to expect it … hey, expect away.
Mike from Section 122:
On Thursday's show I heard Jeff Lageman saying the fans booing Roger Goodell was too much. Well, fans boo him because his decisions make the owners plenty of money, which is why they have him in that position. But the fans dislike his decisions because they are ruining the game of football. All in the name of safety, but he doesn't advocate for rule changes that would cost the owners more money. He doesn't want officials that get the plays correct, or allow such things as more coaches challenges because it would cost more and bother the sponsors' bottom line, which means less money for the owners.
John: Lageman's point as I understand it is that Goodell should remove himself from announcing the first-round selections in the draft because the incessant booing Goodell endures is bad for the league. I don't necessarily buy that, and I actually believe the fans' booing of Goodell is far more about booing for the sake of booing than anything else. It's become trendy to boo Goodell when he appears in public so fans do it. As for Goodell, I don't feel strongly about him either way, I don't see him as someone who's ruining the game with his decisions. The league's move toward player safety is far more about the owners' attempting to preserve the game's future at a time when it is under serious criticism from many groups concerned about player safety. I'm not a big believer that hiring full-time officials is going to make a huge difference in the number of calls the league gets right because I think you're apt to lose some good officials who don't want to leave successful careers to officiate full-time, but whatever: if the league does go to full-time officials it couldn't hurt. And yeah, a lot of the league's decisions are about generating revenue. That's not unique to Goodell's tenure and it's not going to change. Revenue is cool. Owners like it.
Perry from Orange Park, FL:
I understand wanting to establish the run and our physicality, especially with Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory in the backfield, but doesn't ball-control, run-heavy offense lower the margin of error for Bortles? It would seem that turnovers would be even more devastating with a deliberate, slow-paced offense?
John: That's one way to look at it, I suppose, because if you're giving Bortles or any quarterback fewer opportunities the quarterback's mistakes indeed will stand out more. But the way NFL teams look at it is that an effective running game will create better down-and-distance situations for Bortles. It also should allow Bortles to see more defenses geared to stop the run, which in turn should mean more single coverage with linebackers and safeties crowding the line to stop the run – and with more defensive lineman focused on the run rather than rushing the passer. Put it this way: there's no way an effective running-game should hurt Bortles, and it's hard to imagine it not helping him.
Chris from Palatka, FL:
Picture me this, Johnny O! Two-minute offense with the Jags going four-wide with The Allens, Lee, and Westbrook, and Fournette in the backfield. Think on it!!!!! #whoyougonestop #DCnightmare
O-Zone: Picture this
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … David from Oviedo, FL: