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O-Zone: Pleading his case

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Steve from Nashville, TN:
I don't think we should get too anxious about Jaguar players getting big contracts or being "overpaid." It is Mr. Khan's money – not ours. If we start getting close to the cap ceiling, that is a different and worthy conversation.
John: I admit I always have been fascinated by fans being upset about players getting "overpaid." I understand the inclination to boo an underachieving player, but always have wondered at the level of concern over how much the player makes – particularly, as you note, when the amount doesn't hurt the team's ability to pursue other players. In reference to the Jaguars in recent seasons, General Manager David Caldwell by definition has been in a situation where he had to "overpay" some players. That's what often happens when you're in a smaller market and you're trying to claw your way back to competitiveness. You could make an argument that that was true of, say, running back Toby Gerhart and guard Zane Beadles in the 2014 free-agent class. It may technically have been true of a few players in this year's free-agency class. But if a team is going to play the unrestricted free agency game, that team is going to overpay. And who in the NFL isn't overpaid after their first contract? That's the nature of free agency. If a fan base wants a team to participate in that game, that fan base must realize that it's an imperfect system. You're going to overpay and you're going to have a player or two who doesn't fit. The Jaguars took the approach in free agency in 2014 that they wanted to upgrade their roster. To get those players, those players had to be paid. This offseason featured more elite-level targets such as Jared Odrick, Julius Thomas and Jermey Parnell. The hope is that this year's class therefore will have a more immediate impact. However it turns out, none of it has gotten the Jaguars in a difficult cap situation.
Bobby from Section 201:
I agree with Remember the Titans but Varsity Blues was pretty solid. "Is that the play where I run around like I'm lost...?"
John: Eh.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Sacks vs. pressure – give me a team that can consistently get pressure on every passing down any day! Why? Because it forces an offense to adjust, leaves players out of routes to protect the passer from the rush … And from a statistics standpoint, more "hurries" from a defense almost always results in more team sacks.
John: Agreed. With or without sacks, pressure disrupts an offense more than anything else a defense can do. Also, you can typically control quarterback pressures more than you can control sacks. What I mean is if you create pressure you almost always force an offense out of its game and the results are almost always good for the defense. You often can't control sacks because offenses can devise ways to get the ball out of the quarterback's hand so quickly.
Eddie from Jacksonville:
"Victory" … oh, wait … that was soccer.
John: I think it was – and all I remember is the crowd at the end putting their jackets over the players and guiding them out of the stadium to FREEEEEEEDOM! That was "Victory," right?
Levi from Bloomington, IN:
Hey John, when you answered Robert's question about the potential for offensive improvement, you mentioned the hiring of Greg Olson. Now, I do think we will be improved on offense this season for many of the reasons you cited, but let's not forget that Olson was the coordinator of the only team worse than us last year. I wasn't really excited about the signing then and I'm not really excited about it now, but I'm willing to sit back and see how it goes.
John: As we discussed often upon Olson's hiring, if you want to judge or base the Olson hiring – or any other coaching hiring, for that matter – based solely on statistics or past results, then that's certainly your right. I would make the case that if you only hire coaches based on that, you're going to miss a lot of good coaches, but I do understand the concern if you're particularly statistics-centric. As for being willing to sit back and see how it goes, what was your alternative?
Fred from Jacksonville:
John, just letting you know that I for one am not superstitious... 'Cause that could be bad luck.
John: Irony can be pretty ironic.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
Am I the only one rooting for you to take a day off … and break the streak?
John: As evidenced by the existence of this email, you indeed are one of the few who care either way. It's a nice little club of well, one.
Mark from Waverly, IA:
You mentioned Zane's change in situation as a reason he struggled last year. I understand they are two different men that play two different positions, but what should be our realistic expectations of Parnell? Early struggles as he adjusts to being the full-time right tackle, then eventually...?
John: I mentioned Beadles being in a new situation as a "possible" reason he struggled – and more specifically, as a possible reason he could improve this season. And your question does bring up a good point about the expectations of free agents. I'm always skeptical in terms of just how much immediate impact I expect from a free agent. I believe more strongly in the core of a team developing and the continuity that comes with that. That said, I'm cautiously optimistic that this year's Jaguars free-agent class can make a quicker impact than normal. Some of that is because right tackle (Parnell) and strong-side defensive end (Jared Odrick) should be positions where the transition should be relatively straightforward and some of it is because tight end Julius Thomas has looked so impressive so quickly. As for Parnell, I do expect – like any free agent – he will improve the time he spends in this new offense with new teammates, but I still think he improves the right tackle position immediately.
Cory from Frankfort:
Rudy can't be in the discussion for best football movie - he was offside on the biggest play of the movie.
John: Yeah, there's that.
Dave from DUVAL:
O-Zone, you rooted against Rudy!! 'The Penguin' will smack you across the knuckles three times with a wooden ruler and no recess for you!
John: I liked Vince Vaughn character, too. I assume it's a character flaw, but I gotta be me.
Sea Bass from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
You've mentioned a defense is as much about players as about scheme. In your opinion, who in our secondary will make his name this year? Aaron Colvin surely is emerging as one of the league's best. But other than him, it must be Cyp in order to have the improvement we all hope takes place. Do you agree? Have you seen such improvement in him this offseason? If so, what's improved? It's Year Three, players around him are much better, what's holding him back in terms of consistency and big-play abilities? And lastly, what is it you expect to see out of this year's secondary?
John: Wow, one e-mail … many, many questions. I have said throughout the offseason that I believe Aaron Colvin appears ready to take a step, and that while he worked mostly at the nickel position in the offseason, I believe the Jaguars will try as much as possible to get him on the field somewhere – either at nickel or outside corner. Cyprien indeed must improve, and he and defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker have said as much through the offseason. Cyprien need to play a little faster and with less hesitation, and really, the mistakes he has made have been more about missing a key tackle or two here or there as opposed to playing poorly overall. The belief is he will be helped by improvement at the free safety position as well as another year in the defense. Walker said during OTAs and minicamp that Cyprien indeed looked faster and more confident during that time. That's a good sign, but strong safety is a difficult position to judge in non-contact work.
Al from Haddam, CT:
Knute Rockne, All American. Showing my age.
John: Well, yeah, you are.
Mike from Jagsonville:
Give a man a statistic and he'll be confused for life. Teach a man to generate statistics and he'll confuse thousands 84 percent of the time. Do you have my meds?
John: Teach a man to correctly analyze a statistic, and he may have some information that will help guide a decision. That's analytics.
Tom from Virginia Beach, FL:
Checking the photos from The Roar's calendar shoot … What a team, playing together to bring out each other's talents … supporting each other in "hot" moments … the true definition of TEAM. You should take some lessons!
John: Fine, OK? Fine … just please, please, PLEASE tell them to stop calling me.

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