JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Trent from Fernandina Beach, FL:
The Jaguars were Top 5 in the NFL in sacks this year with most of our defensive linemen returning – and we need a pass rusher in the first round? Even though our top wide receiver could otherwise be second-year player Allen Robinson? Haven't been blown away with any of our wide receivers enough to feel comfortable with all the same guys next year.
John: Your view on this is understandable, and it's shared by many fans. And in a sense it is indeed counterintuitive to draft defense early in an offseason after a season in which the offense struggled mightily. Fans and many observers look at the offense this season and see a mess that must be addressed immediately with a slew of new players. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and the Jaguars' coaching staff look at the offense and see young players who will develop and improve. That's not to say there's no way the Jaguars will take a wide receiver No. 3 overall. If Caldwell believes a player there could be a game-changing, franchise-defining player he would consider it. At the same time, the Jaguars also could use a game-changing, franchise defining player just about anywhere – particularly on the defensive front. As we get into the offseason, remember the overriding truism of the draft is you don't draft for the first eight weeks of the following season, or even the entire following season; you draft for the next four or five seasons and to build your franchise for the long term.
Corey from Orange Park, FL:
Are referees ever punished for missing calls or not making calls correctly – not challenges, but more along the lines of penalties?
John: Punishment for referees typically comes in the form of game assignments. Officials are graded on their performance. Officials who don't grade out well don't receive postseason assignments and can be graded down enough to be replaced.
Daniel Since Day One:
I will always be a serious Jaguars fan, but David Caldwell's philosophy and comments sure are making it hard to be excited about next year. If he focuses on the offensive line, we may get to the Promised Land, but if not I believe his time should be up. He doesn't have the skill set to match his staff with his players. I think Jedd Fisch wanted to leave. He never seemed to have the Bradley Bubble of excitement around him, and Caldwell set him up to fail this year. His philosophy didn't change and neither did Bradley's. That's a bogus excuse for a paid resignation.
John: You are without question entitled to your opinion and excitement level, but I couldn't have a more different opinion about Caldwell's philosophy and comments. When Caldwell spoke this past Tuesday, I heard a general manager confident in his approach and planning to stick with the building process. He indeed said the offensive line will be addressed, and in fact was pretty specific about the positions needing addressing. As far Fisch, it feels like we're to the point of talking this subject out … still, despite your passion and conviction on the subject, he didn't want to leave and the philosophical differences were real.
Doug from Jacksonville:
Six of the 13 losses came to teams playing in the playoffs this weekend. Just sayin....
Scott from Atlanta, GA:
Will Hurns be re-signed to a larger contract since he was playing under one signed as a free agent out of college? Will David Caldwell get any special privileges as part of one of the team's coaching the Senior Bowl (beyond having his coaching staff there)? Does he get unlimited access? How many cheerleaders return to cheer again? What's their average career length? Things I gotta know. Thanks.
John: I doubt the Jaguars will address Hurns' contract this offseason, though that would make sense if he plays the next season or two at or above the level he played as a rookie. Caldwell will be able to be around Senior Bowl players, but the biggest advantage is the coaches being able to be around players extensively throughout the week. As for the cheerleaders, many return to cheer again, though the Jaguars do have a five-year limit on cheerleader careers. I don't know the average length of a ROAR career. I do know it's somewhere between one and five.
Joseph from Oviedo, FL:
I'm thinking this whole "Justin-Blackmon-is a-luxury-and-we-aren't-depending-on-him-coming-back-this year" is a smoke screen so the Jaguars can keep as much draft strategy in the dark as possible. Do you think this all could be just a bluff? Do you think Justin Blackmon will be playing in 2015?
John: I'm on record saying that I think there's a good chance Blackmon plays for the Jaguars in 2015. But that doesn't mean the Jaguars' stance on Blackmon is a smoke screen. Their stance is simply based on logic. The Jaguars risk nothing by retaining Blackmon's rights and if he returns they have the services of a player who could be very, very good. If he doesn't return, they are building their roster at receiver enough to feel good about the position going forward. It truly is that simple.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
If it turns out that Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston go No. 1 and No. 2 in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Jags' Thursday night win over the Titans wind up costing the team additional valuable draft picks. We'll likely never know, but it sure would have been nice to be in a position to have other teams offering a bundle of picks to move up and draft "their franchise QB." Think Dave Caldwell would like having extra picks in the upcoming draft?
John: Sure, he would. The Titans' game was played in Week 16. Were the Jaguars supposed to intentionally lose that game? What week is it OK to start doing that? Week 15? Week 14? All season? Should they just start playing for draft positioning in Week 1 from here on out?
Nate from Visalia, CA:
Soon, like, April/May-soon … Like first pick, second round- soon … like, don't miss out on your anchor just because it's the first round- soon...? Its Year 3 … lets lock up a bell-cow. I strongly believe that IS a priority for Caldwell this off season. Aside from some veteran lineman, what is the offense missing? Not much … other than an OC, and a bell cow...TE, too, but I'm thinking free agency addresses that.
John: Somewhere in there I think you're saying you think Caldwell will draft a running back with the Jaguars' first selection of the second round. I don't think that's out of the realm of possibility.
Gereg from Section 147:
Outside of a major character flaw, what can change between now and the draft when it comes to certain guys? Surely a lot of weight isn't placed on combine stats, right? The tape should be all Dave needs, right?
John: Many things can change, though it's accurate to say that the primary factor that can cause a major change of opinion on a player at this point usually is character. Combine measurements and performances – just like All-Star game and Pro Day performances – are pieces of a big puzzle. Things can come up during the offseason that raise red flags – an unusually slow 40-yard dash time or an unusual measurement – but such an occurrence usually triggers second looks rather than huge moves down draft boards.
Jason from Dallas, TX:
David Caldwell this week said left tackle, right guard and center are in good shape. What happened to his big free-agent signing at left guard in Zane Beadles? Why is left guard not mentioned as being in "good shape" as the other positions?
John: Because Zane Beadles struggled at times early, though Caldwell did say that Beadles played better in the second half of the season. I'd expect Beadles to start next season, but it wouldn't be a surprise if there was a veteran brought in for competition and depth at guard.
David from Oviedo, FL:
O-Zone, we've all heard the expression "You should never quit your job until you've got another one lined up." Doesn't it make sense that you shouldn't fire your offensive coordinator unless you have found his replacement? Do you think the Jags already have their guy – or, in this case, it just doesn't work that way?
John: I'd like to think Bradley has a pretty good idea the direction he wants to go.
Kenny from Rochester, NY:
Concerning the rise in popularity of dual-threat quarterbacks, do you think it is because of the new NFL rules? The success of some quarterbacks in this role? Or, the success of it in college and those college coaches getting jobs in the NFL?
John: I'm not sure how popular they are, really – and I guess I'm not seeing this "rise" of which you speak. Russell Wilson is having success in Seattle; Colin Kaepernick wasn't nearly as successful this season as the past two in San Francisco. There's Cam Newton in Carolina … beyond that, I don't know how many "dual-threat" quarterbacks are really playing at a high level in the NFL. This is a league in which quarterbacks must stay in the pocket, read what's going on downfield and make plays with their arms. That's how it has been for years, and for the most part, it hasn't really changed. It's still the same game.
O-Zone: Same game
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Trent from Fernandina Beach, FL: