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O-Zone: Seeing is believing

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Bill from Jacksonville:
Kirk Cousins, A.J. McCarron, two-to-three more free-agent quarterbacks and about seven draft-able quarterbacks will be available over the next couple months. Yet, I get the uneasy feeling the Jaguars' quarterback room will be Blake Bortles and Chad Henne when the 2018 regular season begins. Please tell me why fans should be excited about the status quo. Thanks. Go Jags!
John: Wow! Your question is complex – dealing not only with feelings of excitement, but unease. Talk about your double doozies! Fortunately, longtime O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know I long ago stopped trying to control how readers feel. They also know I equally long ago stopped telling fans what should or shouldn't excite them. I do know we have a little less than four weeks before we know for sure what the Jaguars are going to do about their quarterback position next season – and I also know I would be surprised if they don't try to get to acquire the best quarterback possible that makes sense financially. What I also know – and I know this beyond a shred of doubt – is the Jaguars came within a play or two of the Super Bowl last season with Bortles and Henne in the quarterback room. If that doesn't excite fans, then it's quite possible football never will.
David from Houston, TX:
How about A.J. McCarron for quarterback? Young and very good upside. I respect BB, but personally think he would be a better No. 2. And Cousins is not worth the money. #DTWD
John: McCarron undoubtedly will draw a lot of interest in the free-agent market, and I don't doubt he's someone the Jaguars have explored – and possibly will continue to explore. He indeed is young, and it's possible he has good upside. It's even possible he is better than Bortles or has more upside. Neither is something he has remotely proven – and neither is close to a given – but either is possible.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Seems strange to see our first pick of the draft being at No. 29. Do you see draft position having an impact on the Jaguars' pursuit of free agents?
John: The Jaguars' draft position will have minimal effect on how they approach free agency. It might cause the team to take a slightly harder look at a veteran at the position it selects in Round 1 or 2 if the team doesn't have complete confidence the players selected could start … but even that's a reach.
Jon from Brentwood, UK:
Zone, did Shad Khan put Jacksonville forward to host the NFL Draft in 2019/2020? If so, seems we've been overlooked yet again.
John: The Jaguars and SMG – the company that operates what now will be known as TIAA Bank Field – indeed last November made a pitch to host future NFL Drafts. The NFL announced this week that Denver, Tennessee, Cleveland/Canton, Kansas City and Las Vegas are the five finalists to host the 2019 and 2020 draft. I know Khan wants the draft to be in Jacksonville, and I continue to think he and the Jaguars – and the city – will make that happen. My guess is the proposed developments to the Shipyards and Lot J could have significant sway over that.
Ric from Jacksonville:
I'm gonna miss all that extra cap space and those top five draft picks. But you know what? I like winning better.
John: #DTWD
PJ from Phoenix, AZ:
Zone, which position group has historically shown the easiest rookie transition and ability to quickly make an impact between wide receiver, tight end and interior offensive line?
John: You're asking a couple of different questions. Interior offensive line historically is an easier position at which to transition to the NFL than wide receiver and tight end. The other side of that is that a guard or a center typically isn't going to have the same noticeable impact as a wide receiver or tight end.
Ryan from Dallas, TX:
O-Zone, the great and powerful, in your opinion, how much does the talent level of a team play into a high-profile free agent's decision? Do you think, with all thing being considered, someone like Cousins would rather go to a Super Bowl-ready Jags team or a less Super-Bowl ready Broncos (or other) team?
John: This answer of course varies depending on the player. It also depends on the player's perception of how close a certain team is or isn't to the Super Bowl. Cousins might see the Jaguars as Super Bowl-ready – or he might see John Elway in Denver along with what is still a pretty good defense and decide the Broncos are more Super Bowl-ready. Either way, the money better be right. A free-agent might take a touch less to have a chance at the Super Bowl, but only a touch. Remember: free agency often is a player's lone chance to change the financial future for himself and his family. That often outweighs all else – and understandably so.
Jerry from Hero, FL:
John, help me out, ESPN reported that Matt Ryan was the only quarterback to take all offensive snaps for his team this season. How many snaps did BB miss and – if it's not too much trouble – who were the top guys on both offense and defense as far as percentage of snaps played this past year?
John: Bortles played 1,103 snaps in 2017 and Henne played 23, meaning Bortles played 97.96 percent of the Jaguars' snaps on offense; that was the most on the team with guard A.J. Cann playing the second-highest percentage of the Jaguars' offensive snaps at 91.74. Linebacker Myles Jack and safety Tashaun Gipson both played a team-high 1,013 snaps – 97.87 percent – on defense this past season.
Bill from Melbourne, FL:
I don't know the answer to this question. Do you?
John: Google it.
Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Do you see any chance we go after Tyler Eifert?
John: Is there a chance? Sure. But considering Eifert's injury history, it almost certainly would have to be very "prove it" and very team-friendly. I also don't know that it could stand as your only move at the position. You're talking about a player who has missed 14 or more starts in three of five NFL seasons. That's about as major an injury concern as you can have and still be playing in the NFL.
Matthew from Fort Worth:
Top 5 free-agent targets? As I see it: 1) Kirk Cousins quarterback, 2) Jarvis Landry wide receiver, 3) Andrew Norwell offensive guard, 4) Sammy Watkins wide receiver WR, 5) Isaiah Crowell running back.
John: Is that all you want?
Bryan from Reston, VA:
O-man, perhaps you can help explain to us what the risk or potential downside is to removing the tarps? If the blackout rule was lifted in 2015, what difference would it make and why wouldn't they have done it already?
John: Blackouts indeed have been no more since 2015. As for why the tarps have remained at EverBank Field – and at other NFL stadiums -- is a little clunky to explain, but it involves local revenue. Teams essentially must give the league a certain amount of revenue generated by home games each season. That amount is based on what the team determines to be the team's stadium capacity. The higher the capacity, the more the team must pay the league – so for teams with large stadiums, you don't want to list a huge capacity if you're not filling the stadium enough to earn revenue to counter what you're paying the league.
Gerry from Jacksonville:
Our best guard is playing center. Shouldn't the Jaguars try to get a center in free agency to improve the line? Any available player at that position for them to be looking at?
John: There are centers available in the draft, but it's not a particularly strong area in free agency. As for the premise of your question, would it be better to write an email saying "our best center is playing guard?" That likely would be the case if you moved Brandon Linder. If there isn't a better center available than Linder available in free agency – and there's not – I don't know that there's any reason to be in a big hurry to move him.
Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Drew Brees should be offered $100 million for three years. We sell out to win three Super Bowls and then back to the struggle. I'd give up Marcell Dareus, Chris Ivory, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Aaron Colvin, Posluszny and Bortles. Tell me it's possible!?!
John: Sure, it's possible – and if Brees indeed becomes an unrestricted free agent, I have little doubt the Jaguars would seriously consider pursuing him. And they might even pursue him to the all-in degree your email suggests; there's no point in pursuing him if you're not all in because a deal like the one you suggest is what it will take. Still, I've said it before: I'll believe Brees hits free agency when I see it. I can't believe I'll really see it.

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