JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC
I know the defense has ranked well over the last few years, but I attribute that much more to personnel. Obviously, I'm not privy to all the ins and outs of what Wash does, but from the outside it looks like it's mostly the same zone concepts. Not a lot of creative coverages or blitzes. Maybe that's the best approach. Maybe Wash has excellent ideas but is being "kept in a cage." But it seems like he's a pretty mediocre to average coordinator. And if the defense ends up ranked 5-to-10 this year, it will not be good enough. They need to be a Top 3 unit to carry the offense, barring some shockingly dramatic improvements on that side of the ball.
Mediocre indeed means average, so it's evident you believe Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash is pretty … average. That's fine for that to be your belief, but I always am at a loss for how people judge coaching in the NFL. I mean… of course it's about personnel. Without good players, a coach's "brilliance" doesn't matter. And while people attribute blitzing to "creative" and brilliant coaching, blitzing is by no means a measure of a good coordinator. It's just as often the measure of a desperate one because a blitz often means the coordinator is saddled with a pass rush that can't pressure quarterbacks in base personnel. And blitzing often hurts far more than it helps – particularly when done just because a coach has no other answers. Wash has done a good job with this defense; it has been ranked in the top six three consecutive seasons, and it has played very well far more often than it has not – though he admittedly isn't a huge believer in blitzing. Now, just because Wash has done a good job doesn't mean he won't eventually get fired. It's quite likely he will – because the norm in the NFL these days is to fire coordinators and head coaches with little reason or cause. But I also think Wash is going to be a capable coordinator – and perhaps eventually a head coach – in the NFL for a long time. Being criticized – or even fired – doesn't preclude that from being true.
Jeff from Jacksonville
Mock drafts are the Power Rankings of the offseason.
Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington
How about if a player gets injured and lost for the season say, by Game 9. Can their current contract can optionally be extended another season, thus enabling the team to retain the player with less cap cost? Or would the NFLPA hate such an idea? I dunno...something like that...
A player placed on injured reserve for the season accrues a season toward free agency. The reason the rule is in place is to prevent just the scenario you put forth – i.e., for a team to place a player on injured reserve with the idea of extending his contract. And yes … The NFL Players Association absolutely would hate teams being able to do what you suggest.
Unhipcat from Mas Fina Cantina
Hi, John. What are your thoughts on Le'Veon Bell? Is he a consideration in the running back room or a problem child we don't need? What are the financial considerations?
Bell is a really good running back, and I don't know him well enough to call him a "problem child." I do know that considering the Jaguars' salary-cap situation I would be surprised – nay, stunned – if the Jaguars invested Le'Veon Bell money in a veteran running back.
Ethan from Fort Walton Beach, FL
I know you say that it is time to move on from Blake, but is there any chance that they are considering keeping him as a veteran bridge or a backup next year?
Anything's possible as long as quarterback Blake Bortles is on the Jaguars' roster, but I would be surprised – nay, stunned – if he is with the team next season.
Ryan from Jacksonville
So far this offseason, I have heard many rumors about the Jaguars releasing running back Leonard Fournette. If this is solely based on this past season where his production dropped because of injuries and how he had some on field behavioral issues, I don't think it's right to simply cut someone after ONE season of poor production and behavior. If it continues to be a theme, then yes … by all means send him walking. We kept Bortles all this time even though his performance was inconsistent throughout his time here. Who's to say that Fournette won't have a great five-year stretch where he is a Top 5 or Top 10 back each year?
My sense is that you can relax because I don't see the Jaguars releasing Fournette this offseason – and I doubt a team will offer enough in trade for the Jaguars to go that route. But the reason parting ways with Fournette has been a topic are legitimate – and they go beyond one season. He has had discipline and durability issues in both of his seasons with the Jaguars – and while he was far more productive as a rookie than he was in Year 2, he has yet to show the consistency needed from an elite running back. Yes, it's still possible that he has a five-year stretch of being a Top 5 or Top 10 back, but he hasn't been that yet and he must play much better for a long period for that to happen.
Hulk from Las Vegas, NV
Draft possibilities!!! I don't THINK the Jags are willing or even in position to foot the inevitable bill for Foles. It feels financially irresponsible to dump that kinda scratch into him with all the glaring needs on offense and I imagine the front office would agree. And it's no secret that – BB5 aside – the offense lacks severely on playmakers. Would it be a bad idea to draft say T.J. Hockenson Iowa at No. 7? Do you get the feel that the front office would make that kinda of call? Would it be better to trade out of the top ten and grab him if he's available and a quarterback in the second? What would you do if this was up to you?
I'm "meh" on drafting quarterback in the second round. It's possible, but your percentages of success go way down outside the Top 10. I would lean toward drafting the best quarterback available at No. 7 and developing him behind a bridge free-agent quarterback. I'm conservative with a long-term approach by nature and that's the best percentage, long-term approach for finding a franchise quarterback. But here's what I think is a real possibility for the Jaguars: signing Foles as a free agent and selecting Hockenson No. 7 overall. As time goes on, that feels more and more likely.
Neil from Cheltenham, UK
Dear Sir. I remain fascinated by 'mock drafts' even though I now know they have absolutely no validity whatsoever. My question is as to why they are so incredibly inaccurate?
Mock drafts are inaccurate because one mistake at an early spot causes everything after it to change, therefore causing more mistakes. And because no one really knows what teams are thinking. And because teams put out misinformation. And because a lot of analysts are guessing. And …
Laz from London, UK
I wonder how many more times will people ask about your opinion on acquiring Foles and drafting or not a quarterback ...
More than a few, less than infinity. Or maybe it will be more than infinity. Anything's possible at this point.
Paul from Ponte Vedra, FL
Mr. Aut"O"matic … Why is everyone is putting so much stock into just a couple (two or three) possible draft picks this season at quarterback? The combine is not for a bit ... and each and every year, inevitably players will lose value or raise value – sometimes drastically. Shouldn't all the hype wait until we have all the needed data? AND ... should this be a pause in the $20 million decision for Foles?? Just wondering.
Hype waits for no man – or woman – and that's particularly true when it comes to quarterbacks and the NFL Draft. But remember: While stock sometimes rises and falls a bit based on the combine, a players' draft status usually doesn't – or at least shouldn't – change dramatically based on results there. The combine is a part of the pre-draft process, but it's best viewed as a piece of the puzzle. As far as the combine serving as pause in the $20 million decision for Foles … again, the combine will be a part of the puzzle. But I don't imagine anything that will happen in Indianapolis next week dramatically changing the Jaguars' approach at quarterback. If they want Foles, they'll pursue him no matter how quarterbacks fare there. If they don't want him, Indianapolis also won't change that.
Keith from Palatka, FL
Are you sure you don't have a photogenic memory?
You're thinking of my face and upper torso.