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O-Zone: Pressing on

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Josh from Jagsonville:
I understand practice-squad players can be signed by any team, but how do other teams find those players? With no game tape and closed practices, how do does one team know about a good player on another practice squad?
John: Almost every player on an NFL practice squad played in college, which meant they were scouted by many, many NFL teams. Those teams keep files on players they scout, and when they remain on practice squads, teams often opt to sign them to futures contracts for the ensuing season.
Colin from Orlando, FL:
I'm an optimist John, and I'm looking at this offseason as giving the Jags three first-round level players who weren't with them for the majority of last season: Blackmon (assuming he's cleared to play), Joeckel, and whoever we draft this year. That's a pretty good crop of talent to add to a rising team.
John: Yes, it is.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
I get excited when I hear you say Bradley and Caldwell are the right guys for the job; that we are heading in the right direction, etc. Then I remember that was exactly what your predecessor said about the previous regime.
John: I can't control what was said before, but I will say this: no matter who you have in place, there are no guarantees in professional sports. Having been around David Caldwell and Gus Bradley for nearly a year I have no doubt that they are capable of building and coaching a winner. Their approach is sound and their beliefs are in line with what it takes to win in the NFL. The things they are doing make a lot of sense and it's easy to envision those things resulting in long-term contention. At the same, football is a game played by human beings and it's not scripted television. There are 31 other teams and many are run by very good people. Players must develop and many things must go right for a team to win. Bill Belichick didn't win in Cleveland. But what's going on in Jacksonville will give the franchise a chance.
Sean from Atlanta, GA:
I find it highly unlikely that the city of Green Bay will move to Los Angeles.
John: It's very sunny in Los Angeles.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Russell Wilson. How'd that work for Seattle? Little Johnny looks similar to me. I wish I had that crystal ball all our fans have! Glad I'm not David Caldwell having to make these decisions but what is it about Manziel that will put me on the edge of my seat at the scrimmage next year?
John: Your argument, though disjointed, is somehow also spot-on. Russell Wilson's success provides a compelling argument for Manziel, yet there are all of those doubts about Manziel and it's easy to see his shortcomings and just be scared to pick him … then you watch him make play after play after play and you can't wait to see what comes next. It's a back-and-forth, fascinating question and one that will be discussed ad nauseam from now until May.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
It is acknowledged that quarterback is the most important offensive position. What in your opinion is the most important defensive position?
John: Pass-rushing defensive end/linebacker.
Tom from Jacksonville:
Now that our coaching staff has officially been named to coach in the Senior Bowl, will you, J.P. & Lageman be doing any "Inside" video reports from Mobile? Also who, if anybody, will replace the coaches that are going to the East/West game?
John: The plan for now is for Shadrick and I to report from Mobile. That would have been the case regardless of whether the Jaguars' coaching staff was there or not. The East/West game is in St. Petersburg, Fla., on the 18th and the Senior Bowl practices begin the 21. Because of the miracle of modern travel, I think Ron Middleton and Terry Richardson can coach both.
Bryant from White Plains, NY:
How does the later draft affect free agency?
John: Almost not at all.
Russ from Atlanta, GA:
I have an extremely important question ... Can the website keep the Culligan video ad up for next season as well?
John: You're not the first to make this request. I'll see what I can do.
John from Brunswick, GA:
I've been doing some stat comparisons and looking at highlights and mock drafts. One mock draft has Carr as the Jaguars' Round 1 pick. I personally think he is not that impressive. What would you think of either pulling Tahj Boyd or perhaps Sammy Watkins Round 1?
John: I think No. 3 overall would be early for Boyd. Very, very early. Watkins is intriguing if you want to take a wide receiver that high. I'd be surprised of the Jaguars take either player at No. 3, but I've been surprised a lot.
Fred from Jacksonville:
Your final farewell to Brad Meester was excellent, heartfelt and right on the money. When you step aside from counterpunching with the "fans" your work is among the best in sports. Don't go free agency on us.
John: I think you have the wrong email address.
Rudy from Baldwin, FL:
Gus says he knows the importance of winning but feels convicted that his philosophy is the best way to get there. He also has shown, in tough times, his ability to stay consistent. They say a player makes his biggest jump from his rookie year to his second. Is that true of coaching staffs? I'm not just talking wins and losses.
John: Probably the biggest growth that can be seen Year One to Year Two with a coaching staff is the growth of the offense and defense. The Jaguars' offense and defense grew significantly in the second half of this season as players grew more comfortable with the scheme and as coaches learned more about players' strengths and weaknesses. If there is enough continuity in personnel, you should see that growth continue next season. Now, if there is a new quarterback next season then that growth might be delayed somewhat on offense, but overall, that's where you'd see it.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
Do you see the league looking into changing the time of the year football is played? If they moved the schedule to start in June or July, they would not have to worry about the cold-weather problem. Nicer weather means bigger crowds and more money for the owners.
John: No, I do not see the league changing the time of year football is played.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
Is it safe to say that we will either have Manziel, Bridgewater, or Clowney next season?
John: It's safe to say the Jaguars will have a chance to draft one of those players. I wouldn't remotely say it's a guarantee that one of them will be with the Jaguars next season.
Jared from Cantonment, FL and Section 116:
For the people making threats about renewing tickets because of waiting long enough for a franchise quarterback to be found, we drafted one three seasons ago in Blaine Gabbert and the franchise gave him three seasons to prove his worth and it didn't work so now we start over. So, don't say we haven't tried because the staff tried three seasons ago and just hit a miss. Let's hope it's a homerun hit this May.
John: One fer a home run in May.
Charles from Bangalore, Indiana:
Some of the pundits are calling Clowney the most risk-free pick in the first round. After our quarterback drama and roster moves this year, I think we all could use a little stability out of our first-round choice. Quarterback picks in the first round are the most coveted, but sure seem to be the riskiest? Would be nice to have a defensive end of Clowney's ability to help the Jags get back to the sack production we really need. But how risk-free is he? What is your take on this guy? Thanks.
John: There is no such thing as a no-risk player and that's as true at defensive end as quarterback. Both of those positions are far riskier than, say, offensive tackle or cornerback, where it's a bit easier to project NFL success based on skill set. Clowney looks very, very impressive to me and if there has been a defensive end in recent years who seems destined to be an elite pass-rusher, he is it. At the same time, whatever your view on the "quarterback" drama, there's no question it's more important to find a quarterback than a pass rusher. If you can get the quarterback position settled and in good hands, you do it and worry about pass rush later.
BMac from Greenwood, IN:
So who do you like in the BCS Championship?
John: Florida State.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
At the beginning of the season I asked you if it was safe to buy a Cyprien jersey. You told me yes with total confidence. You were 100 percent right on your assessment. My alma mater player was super strong.
John: He played very well in the second half of the season and improved from the first half of the season. That bodes well for your jersey, I suppose.
Jamie from Tallahassee, FL:
I'd like to schedule my vacation during the O-Zone outage! Any plans on taking a vacation on putting the O-Zone on ice for a week?
John: No.

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