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O-Zone: Sad reality

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Herbert from MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevablez:
When does the rookie minicamp start? I can't wait to see all of those draft picks out there doing the Oklahoma drill.
John: Oh, Herbert, Herbert, Herbert … you almost certainly know this, but for the record: the Jaguars haven't done the Oklahoma Drill in practice since Jack Del Rio's final season as head coach in 2011 – and they never to my knowledge did it during rookie minicamp. They did it early in training camp, which although an unusual choice at the time did seem popular with fans. It was a tradition of its time and not one I anticipate ever returning. Also for the record: the Jaguars' rookie minicamp will be far less taxing this year than past offseasons. That means less live work and less team-type stuff and more individual drills and meetings. This is the aftereffect of Dante Fowler Jr. sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury on the first day of rookie minicamp last offseason. The theory is rookies do little football-oriented work for the four months leading to the draft, so why rush them into anything close to risky situations a week after the draft? Honestly, rookie minicamps weren't too taxing anyway, but if you can keep your No. 3 overall selection from being lost for the season by backing down … by all means, back down.
Chris from Mandarin:
It's easy for players to be sorry after they get caught cheating – as if that makes it OK. Aaron Colvin broke a rule and with the emphasis on not taking performance-enhancing drugs, he obviously did so deliberately ... which means he did not make a "mistake," which also makes him disingenuous … so basically, human. I'm not bitter though.
John: How awesome it must be for you … getting to enjoy the view from up there on that horse.
Tim from St. Petersburg, FL:
With regard to building a franchise, it is all futile if you don't get the quarterback. If the Colts had gotten Ryan Leaf, they could still be the laughing stock of the NFL. The Patriots lucked into Tom Brady and now everyone thinks Bill Belichick is genius. If you don't have the MAN, you got jack.
John: There is a lot of truth in what you say. But while no one believes in the value of the quarterback more than I, the truth to your statement is in degrees. If you want to be an elite, contend-for-the-postseason-with-a-chance-for-the-Super-Bowl franchise every season for upwards and onwards of a decade, then yes … your quarterback must be elite along the lines of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, etc. Recent history has shown you can succeed with a functional quarterback if you have a really well-built franchise around him; the Seahawks with Russell Wilson, the Bengals with Andy Dalton and even the Ravens with Joe Flacco come to mind. Still, your point is correct: the better your quarterback, the better your chances of winning consistently in the NFL over the long term.
Richard from Lincoln, RI:
I am tired of losing sleep over this stuff. Let Dave choose whoever and I will be happy!!!
John: #DCTWD
Ivan from Hollywood, CA:
Do do you really think the Jags might draft a center in the second or third rounds or is this part of an orchestrated effort to mislead the opposition as general managers scour your columns trying to get a read on the Jags' draft strategy?
John: If NFL general managers are smart – and I'm not saying that's a prerequisite for the job – they're aware of my track record for knowing Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell's draft-day thoughts beforehand. If they haven't studied it – and I'd be stunned if they had – I'd offer the advice my family long has followed with wolverine-like ferocity: don't trust me; it rarely works out well for anyone.
Andrew from Panama City Beach, FL:
But does your wife know you are awesome?
John: Yes, but she doesn't want to admit it. But fortunately for me, that's a trend that only dates back 20 years.
Christian from Jacksonville:
With all of the offseason additions, do you think we'll win the AFC South this year?
John: I don't think the Jaguars are the preseason favorites, and I'd honestly be surprised if they win the South in 2016. I think that's a fair assessment for a team that went 5-11 last season. But I do think they'll be above .500, and I think they have a chance to be better than that. I also think they have a better chance to win the division than they have had any time since I returned to the Jaguars in 2011.
Kyle from Ohio, FL:
I feel like a kid on a car trip. Is the draft here yet? No. Is it here yet? Is it here yet? Is it here yet? I will be in really deep trouble after the draft. Help me, I need a hug.
John: Don't make me come back there.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
Do you think we will sign anymore quality free agents this year (excluding undrafted free agents)? And if so, do you think it will be after the draft to address needs we weren't able to get there? Are there any true value free agents left at this point?
John: I don't anticipate any significant roster moves between now and the draft. I would think you'll see one or two free-agent or waiver-wire acquisitions between the draft and the beginning of training camp, but I don't think you'll see high-impact signings during that time.
Jay from Atlanta, GA:
Not a football question, but one for Dick Suddath. He was great, great gentleman.
John: Yes.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
There are 12 defensive linemen on the roster. Is it safe to say we will not be picking one in the draft?
John: I wouldn't say that at all. In fact, I'd be a little surprised if the Jaguars don't take at least two defensive linemen.
Mike from Jacksonville:
I know anything can happen between now and the draft, but it seems more and more likely the Jags could be selecting Myles Jack. If so, how good is he really? And what will our defense look like, not in a year or two, but five-plus years down the line?
John: I don't know that the Jaguars selecting Myles Jack seems any more likely now than it did three or four weeks ago, and I don't know that we'll have any idea the likelihood of the selection before it actually occurs. It's the nature of the draft that what we think we know often is proven incorrect once the draft begins. That's because one surprise selection at the top of the draft can lead to many unexpected selections thereafter – and because conventional wisdom doesn't always reflect how general managers are truly thinking. Your first question: How good is Jack, really? We'll find out. He looks like he has potential to be a game-changing, above-the-Xs-and-Os player, which is what you want when picking in the Top 5. As far as the Jaguars' defense five years down the line … goodness, I have no idea. You would think Dante Fowler Jr. and this year's draft selection would be key players – and perhaps, Telvin Smith. You know how you said "anything can happen between now and the draft?" Think of all that can happen in, say, five years.
IT guys from the Florida Keys:
John ... You are the supporting cast. The website admin and tech crew are the real stars.
John: Yeah, those guys are incredibly valuable and nothing happens without them. Just ask them.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I see Rashean Mathis will sign a one-day contract this week and retire as a Jaguar. Instead, how about him signing a four-game contract? Just sayin'.
John: I was going to come up with some clever answer, and then I was going to give a straight answer talking about why this was a bad idea. Then, I thought about it …
Mike from Navarre, Ohio:
Zone, when will the NFL release the finalized game schedule for 2016?
John: Later this month, and probably before the April 28-30 2016 NFL Draft.
Adam from Section 124:
Rashean Mathis's last years in Jacksonville were sub-par, but most of that was not on him. Mathis was an excellent corner when you allowed him to play man-to-man. When he was forced into zone and given a lot of hand-off responsibilities in the secondary, he was average (at best). I was so frustrated with Del Rio at the end of Mathis's tenure here because they kept forcing Mathis to do things that played AGAINST his strengths.
John: You probably have a point. What I know is in the time I covered Mathis – which wasn't long – he was really good.
Mike from Green Cove Springs, FL:
You are right that people are never truly happy and fans will always be writing the O-Zone to complain about something. What they don't realize is that, the more they complain, the longer God makes them live!
John: Hell, now I have to live forever.

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