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O-Zone: Playin' the fiddle

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dave from Oviedo, FL:
O-man, the fact that Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell gutted the roster and did not invest in big-time free agency in his first few years suggests that part of his rebuild may have included drafting at the top of the draft in the first two-to-three years. In other words, losing was a part of the plan? Otherwise, why not invest in some big time free agents and try to win a few more games?
John: This is a common misperception. Losing never was a goal of Caldwell's plan. It's far more accurate to describe it as being a necessary part of the way the Jaguars were built. A huge part of the building process was drafting young players and developing them. It's difficult for young players to develop if they're not given a chance to play and it's difficult for them to play if there's a veteran free agent playing in their place. There also was an element of there being little point in pursuing big-name free agents early in the rebuild. Perhaps the Jaguars could have "invested in some big-time free agents," but would one or two such players really have helped significantly in 2013 and 2014? Would one or two such players even have wanted to join the team at that point? The Jaguars began participating in high-priced, high-profile free agency once they had drafted their quarterback – Blake Bortles – and once they had some semblance of a young core in place. As that has appeared to have become stronger, they have had more success in free agency along with it. That was the plan. Intentionally losing was never a part of it, but it was necessary to build slowly.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Johnathan Cyprien was criticized last year for not having many interceptions. I think he is a solid safety – not spectacular, but solid. Will he have competition this year for his starting job?
John: Yes. James Sample will compete with Cyprien for the strong-safety position in training camp. Cyprien certainly is the leader and I'd expect him to win the job. The Jaguars think he can benefit from the presence of Tashaun Gipson at free safety, which will allow Cyprien to remain in the box more. But absolutely there will be competition.
John from Jax:
No judgement here, just a curious question. Why no comment at all about the Orlando situation in the O-Zone? I feel like someone had to have sent something about the recent tragedy. With all the other random things that get included in the Zone why not at least a statement acknowledging a major event that many fans are thinking about? Once again, no judgement, just find the omission curious. Keep up the great work, Johnny O!
John: There is no hard, fast rule on what questions I answer in the O-Zone. The general rule of thumb is I answer questions about which I feel like I have something to say. They're usually about football and they are also often random. At other times, they involve ill-fated attempts at humor. Regarding the Orlando situation, it honestly was so big, so awful and so overwhelming that I can't imagine what I could have added to the discussion. It's beyond horrible and beyond comprehension. In reading a few news accounts of the incident – and a few of the emerging eyewitness accounts – I can't imagine the horror. Frankly, I don't want to imagine it. I can't imagine being involved and I can't imagine the worry or sorrow had I known someone involved. I suppose you could say something about thoughts and prayers being with the victims, their families, their loved ones … or I could say something about obviously not being able to comprehend how or why someone would do this kind of thing to another human being. But to what end? It all has been said in better fashion by smarter people in more pertinent forums. It's awful. The world is not always a pleasant place; sometimes it's ugly, sad and frightening. Here's wishing it's a long time before we're reminded of that again. Unfortunately, I doubt that wish will come true.
CC from Duval:
I saw James Sample with the No. 36 on instead of 23. Does this mean he agreed to give that number to Jalen Ramsey? If so, when will it be official? Trying to pick it up as a Father's Day gift.
John: I don't know of anyone wearing No. 36 around the Jaguars this offseason aside from cornerback Josh Johnson. I don't get the impression James Sample is going to give up No. 23. I'm sure Ramsey's not thrilled about that, and it sounds as if you won't be, either. Apologies.
Kevin from Duval:
Who the heck is Brad Nortman? You mean to tell me that my "ANGER" jersey is no good??
John: Brad Nortman is the Jaguars' punter. I suppose it's up myself, the local media and the team to apologize for keeping this transaction from public view.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
Who are the top three route-runners on the roster? Who's No. 1?
John: Based solely on last season, I'd rank Allen Hurns slightly ahead of Allen Robinson with Bryan Walters or Rashad Greene very close after that. Marqise Lee and Greene both have looked very good running routes this offseason, so we'll see how that list looks come early September.
Michael from Jacksonville:
OK, THAT'S IT!! I read the O Zone every day, and while I consider you, John, one of the great satirists of our time (Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Weird Al, et al) I can't abide the Shadrick bashing. It was 1000 degrees Wednesday at minicamp, and that Saint Shadrick had to carry his OWN CHAIR TO THE CAMERA AREA! Across a field of able-bodied onlookers, this Great Man labored for our enlightenment. Allow the Great Ones their due ... Long live St. Shadrick – and DTWD ...
John: I'll go on record saying I'm having trouble getting on board with this.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
I watched the Jalen interview … he seems kinda frustrated. Have you noticed this when asking him questions?
John: Ramsey spoke to the media following Day Two of 2016 minicamp Wednesday. It was the first time he had talked to reporters and local media since his meniscus injury/surgery. Yes, he seemed a little frustrated. That's understandable and normal. His teammates are practicing and he's not. He feels good and the team is being cautious. All are pretty much your normal causes for frustration for NFL players.
Jaginator from Section 124:
"It would have been OK because OTAs are voluntary and voluntary means not mandatory." This is obviously correct, and I know fans go over-the-top worrying about attendance at "voluntary" activities. But let's be realistic about a key source of this angst: NFL coaching staffs. You can say over and over that attendance is voluntary, but fans ultimately get many of their cues from coaches. And many coaches get downright angry when some of their keys players are missing during OTAs. That being said, I've never caught that angry vibe from Gus Bradley and his staff.
John: There's no question that coaches like high attendance in OTAs. That's far more true for quarterbacks and young players than it is other positions; for example defensive end Chris Clemons in recent seasons missing OTAs was very close to a non-issue for a lot of people within the organization. That's because he was a veteran who was going to get next to nothing from participating in offseason work. I have no problem with coaches or players getting upset about players missing OTAs. It's a coach's nature to want players there, and it's a fan's nature to believe missing practice in June is an end all. But I also have no problem with players missing those workouts. Why? As I often do this time of year, I'll answer by paraphrasing former NFL running back Edgerrin James who – when responding to an outcry over him skipping OTAs – said something to the effect of, "I may only have gone to college for two years, but I know the meaning of 'voluntary.'"
Carol from Middleburg, FL:
Poz is the best tackler with Telvin … add Jack and you have awesome plus speed. Why not put Jack outside?
John: Who's to say they won't?
Mark from Jacksonville:
You're a fifth grader on the playground picking teams for a sport (any sport). Which kid athlete would be picked first, Jalen Ramsey or Myles Jack?
John: I supposed I'd select Ramsey, but it would be close – and I'll have a better idea the better athlete of the two once I watch them both at the NFL for a while. Personally, I find this question a little disturbing. I was more concerned about getting picked than picking when I was a fifth grader. This concern usually was followed by trying to find my mother to complain about not getting picked, a process that was inevitably followed by her saying, "Shut up. I'm not your mother. That woman over there – the one with the fiddle – she's your mother. And stop crying, for God's sake. You're 16."

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