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O-Zone: Rolling into the offseason

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Bo from Dresden, NC:
Have you talked to Tony Boselli about the play of Luke Joeckel; if so what does he say about his prospects? This is one of those "You-probably-won't-post-this" questions, but thanks anyway.
John: Why wouldn't I post this? What Boselli thinks of Joeckel and many other things is out there pretty much for all to see all of the time. The man offers opinions to those who want to hear them and those who don't with equal verve. Besides, Boselli believes the same thing most people who have watched Joeckel closely believe – that he needs to get bigger and stronger, and that he needs to do a better job with some protection techniques. He also needs to do a better job against the bull rush. But Boselli also believes – and has said on numerous occasions – that Joeckel absolutely has the talent to play left tackle in the NFL and that he believes he will develop fine into a good player at the position.
Marty from Jacksonville:
O-Man, love the column. You're the greatest. But ... "He wasn't not trying." Why don't you just say "He was trying?" Come on, man. Verbal double and triple backflips are hard to follow.
John: I didn't not stop reading after the second sentence.
Jim from Meridian, ID:
Two questions, sir: What was it about Leon Searcy that told the Steelers it was OK to let him sign with another team? He was a quality free agent at the right time. Two, did the Jaguars know prior to drafting Joeckel that he lacked both strength and technique?
John: Searcy played right tackle and the Jaguars paid Searcy more than the Steelers were willing to pay a right tackle at that time. In answer to your second question, yes, the Jaguars knew Joeckel needed to improve strength upon drafting him. The idea was to begin working on that in earnest in his first extended offseason with the team. That plan was hurt significantly when Joeckel had to spend that time rehabilitating and returning from a broken ankle rather than strengthening – and no, you typically cannot effectively do both at the same time. There's no reason to think Joeckel won't gain strength and bulk; most players do just that as they go through NFL offseasons early in their careers.
Seth from Prosper, TX:
Who, in your opinion, is the most important CURRENT JAGUAR free-agent to re-sign? Saw the Day After II article and got me thinking about that. A LOT of potential defensive departures...
John: I'd sign defensive end Tyson Alualu if the price made sense. I think the Jaguars will address outside linebacker heavily in the draft, which could mean Geno Hayes not returning, and the development of Aaron Colvin and Demetrius McCray could mean the same for Alan Ball.
Mark from Jacksonville:
With Poz stating he would renegotiate his deal to free up more room (on top of the already huge amount of cap space we already have), the Jaguars should be in a good position to have a lot of leeway in the draft if we attack the free-agent market. Do you think the Jags will attack the right tackle and free safety positions in free agency? Brian Bulaga and Devin McCourty are two free agents who could bring a lot to this team.
John: Yes, I think the Jaguars will examine those positions closely in free agency. And if there are players who they believe can help them, I believe they will pursue those positions. What usually happens in free agency is the players available are not as good as their names might indicate. What also happens is the market gets rapidly smaller and less attractive as free agency approaches and teams franchise-tag or re-sign their quality free agents. Will that be the case this season? We won't know that until free agency begins.
Guy from San Antonio, TX:
O-man, what are the rules for the offseason concerning coach and player relations? I have seen that they can have "limited" contact during the offseason. Does limited mean no contact at all, or is there still room for players to reach out to the coaches?
John: They can speak and say, "Hey." They can ask about families. They can probably even talk about their wives' obsessions with Real Housewives of Orlando. They cannot talk football, which means they can't watch video together and means that the player can't call a coach if he has a question about video he might be watching on his own. It's a silly, over-invasive rule, but it's one put in to protect players from overzealous coaches, so maybe in some cases it's not so silly after all.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Do you expect any "big news" of any kind out of the Jags in the next few days? On any front? Seems like there won't be anything "big" to discuss until March.
John: We'll see.
Zac from Orange Park, FL:
How much time do you think Blake will spend with his receivers this offseason?
John: Bortles said Monday he and the receivers have talked about getting together for a few days in the coming two months or so to throw – possibly in California. They also will work extensively beginning in mid-April. That's enough. They should work together. There should be a bond and chemistry. They don't need to be ridiculous about it. Work matters. Rest does, too.
Chad from Pensacola, FL:
Wait, so no public ridicule of passionate fans today?
John: What? No sense of humor today?
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
No question, just observations. Gratz has played his way out of a starting role. You are wrong about Cyprien, Joeckel, and Bortles and I just don't understand your stubbornness on them. You give them a pass now for what they 'possibly' may become. That's what's aggravating about reading your columns. Write about now and let their play 'possibly' catch up.
John: I'm sorry your aggravated … and thank you for the 'advice;' this sort of input is and 'definitely' insightful. As to the approach I take when writing about young players, anyone can see that Cyprien, Joeckel and Bortles struggled at times this season. I have written that on more than one occasion – and in fact, have written it pretty much weekly. But these columns aren't just about writing what's going on right now, and it's incorrect to write about young players and strictly write about what they're doing now. The NFL is a league where the vast majority of rookies don't come close to their full potential, and where some players take longer to develop than others. I try to provide perspective, and try to give people an understanding about why the Jaguars do the things they do and make the decisions they make. Aggravating though that may be, that's what this is.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
Your play-by-play critique of Jerell's nearly incoherent ramblings was, dare I say, masterful.
John: We try to have fun here in the O-Zone. Many people understand this; some don't. That's OK. I learned long ago not every gets the joke. I also learned long ago you can't force everyone to do so.
Steve from Jacksonville:
This team has made me sad... can you talk me out of it?
John: We've got a whole offseason ahead of us. I can try.
Randy from Jacksonville:
Do the Jags rotate with the Raiders each round with the same record? If so, then I can guess the Titans will have top pick in the second. Thanks for your shared knowledge.
John: Yes. Yes. You're welcome.
Robert from Titusville, FL:
With SenDerrick being injured, if his position in the Pro Bowl alternate lineup is passed does he gain the Pro Bowler status or is he completely out of the running now?
John: He is pretty much out of the running. Players who go to the game as alternates are often referred to as being Pro Bowl players in that season, as are players voted to the game who opt to not attend. Players who are alternates and subsequently passed over have no designation. It's a bit of a gray area and a lot unfair, but that's how it is.
Dudley from Jacksonville:
Sen'Derrick Marks ... this franchise is snakebit!!! We'll never be good again!
John: It's a shame about Marks, and he without question has a difficult offseason in front of him. But a torn ACL for a defensive tackle doesn't have to be a career-ending injury or one that diminishes performance over the long haul. And it certainly doesn't mean the Jaguars will never be good again.
Darrick from Jacksonville:
Do you think Gus Bradley and the rest of the coaching staff have put enough on tape to make Jacksonville an attractive destination for any of the top-tier free agents?
John: Bradley's reputation around the NFL should help the Jaguars in free agency. What will help the most is writing a big check, the size of which often directly affects the attractiveness of free-agent destinations.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
Now what, Johnny O?
John: Now, we dance.

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