O-Zone: Setting in

HOUSTON, Texas – Let's get to it … Tommy from Pensacola, FL:
John, how does the upcoming draft compare to years past in terms of talent? If I recall correctly, 2013 was thought to be one of the worst talent-related drafts in the modern era. And looking back, that seems justified. What are your thoughts on the depth of this year's class?
John: The 2013 NFL Draft indeed was considered weak overall – though it is true that there is talent in every draft if you find the right players and right fit. The '13 draft was a particularly difficult spot for the Jaguars because they held the No. 2 overall selection and there were few players – if any – worthy of being selected so high. This year's draft is considered outstanding at the top, with defensive end Myles Garrett of Texas A&M and defensive end Jonathan Allen of Alabama considered by many the clear top two players available – with an apparent drop-off after that. But I haven't heard people saying this year's draft is as weak as '13. That one was pretty historic.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
You've mentioned that the Jaguars could/should upgrade the right-tackle position. Did I miss something? I thought Jermey Parnell played well— or at least it wasn't the turnstile that we had prior to his arrival. What are your thoughts on his play? It would seem other positions such as pass rusher and guard would be a higher priority.
John: I do believe veteran pass rusher and guard are probably the Jaguars' top offseason priority – after, of course, determining for certain what level of competition to create for Blake Bortles at quarterback. Parnell has played well enough at times that the Jaguars don't necessarily have to upgrade the spot, but is it a spot that the Jaguars could upgrade if said upgrade was available? Sure.
Wild Bill from Riverside:
O, in response to an unnamed player, how do you win without following a process?
John: I'm honestly pretty close to being over this topic, but people seem at least somewhat interested. There indeed has been much talk since the end of this past season about former Head Coach Gus Bradley emphasizing the "process" instead of talking about winning, and – because the Jaguars went 15-47 under Bradley – it is now vogue to believe the Jaguars lost that much because Bradley talked about the process too much. This is not only wrong and silly, it's categorically absurd. The Jaguars lost enough that Bradley was fired with two games remaining this past season. Doug Marrone was hired as head coach, and because he and Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin both talked about winning in memorable fashion at their introductory press conference, their "emphasis on winning" is now a topic. And that's fine. I like the approach of Coughlin and Marrone. I like their disciplined, no-nonsense approach and believe it will be a welcome change and a positive direction. I believe the players will be on board with it – and if the Jaguars can win games, then I think players will stay behind the duo's approach and success can follow. I hope that happens. It would be awesome for this team and fan base. But it won't mean that the approach of the last four years was horrendous or that the idea of talking about a process is stupid. It's not stupid and "following a process" is an approach taken often in sports. It just happened to not work here in recent seasons.
Jeremy from Bossier City, LA:
Albeit at a reduced role, why was Mike Mallory retained? Special teams have been generally bad under his watch. He should have been fired at least two seasons ago.
John: The Jaguars' special teams actually were generally OK under Mallory's watch. The units really struggled this past season, but the reason he is on staff is because he's a good, capable coach. But if you're worried about there not being a change, don't worry. Joe DeCamillis will be running the special teams. It will be his show.
Daniel Since Day One from Jacksonville:
Go Bo!!
John: #Gobo
Travis from High Springs, FL:
Hi John, Wayne Weaver was a great owner. If not for him, we probably wouldn't even have a team. Shad Khan since taking over seems just as dedicated to the franchise and community. But if the team can't start getting wins soon and being able to sustain itself, is there any chance that we're getting used to a new owner in the next five to ten years? I don't get the feeling that professional sports franchises change owners that often. I guess I'm just wondering, because the only team that I've really followed since I was young just did it recently.
John: I wouldn't sweat this too much. Weaver as you mentioned was the perfect owner for the Jaguars at the time he owned the team and the Jaguars and Jacksonville are fortunate that Khan fits that description as well. His work to improve the business and off-field aspects of the operation goes well beyond what anyone reasonably could have expected when he purchased the team in 2011. As far as Khan's commitment to the Jaguars and Jacksonville, let's put it this way: I'm 50 years old and I will be very surprised if I live to see the Jaguars not owned by the Khan family – and equally surprised if I live to see the franchise not in Jacksonville.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
So, with the Raiders possibly moving to Las Vegas, I have seen where they would have to pay a $550 million relocation fee. I know the NFL probably has this in place to keep teams from moving all the time, but what do they do with that money?
John: They buy a lot of silly hats.
Mason from Palm Bay, FL:
Hey, Zone: Sorry, I just got done laughing at David Caldwell's comments about "Bortles winning a Super Bowl." Whew, that was a knee slapper. Has he ever even beaten a team over .500? I know you won't answer this, so I might as well keep going. Did you see that article Big Cat Country posted recently that showed the roster we would have if Kiper/McShay made the picks over Caldwell? Lol @ this franchise.
John: What's "Big Cat Country?"
Matt from Easton, PA:
One thought keeps surfacing while contemplating the reason why the Jags have been bad for so long, and that thought is that the Justin Blackmon situation severely handcuffed the team, which has yet to overcome it. He looked like a stud wide receiver, which would have lessened the need for drafting the position for years to come, and the selections could have been used on important depth and overall roster quality. It's not the only reason, but it's quite a big one in my opinion. Do you agree?
John: Nah. Not really. Blackmon's situation hasn't helped because it always hurts when a Top 5 or Top 10 selection doesn't work out. That's because you not only don't get production from that player, you also usually have to draft it again, so instead of a Pro Bowl talent you have another young, unknown trying to develop. But the biggest reason the Jaguars have struggled is they haven't gotten good enough play consistently at the quarterback position. That's the biggie.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
So, I know this could be considered a conspiracy theory, but could you see where the Patriots drop off a duffel bag full of money at Tom Brady's house? The reason I say this is because of his contract compared to other quarterbacks and it helps the team with their salary cap. I know they would be fined and loss of multiple draft picks, but if anyone could keep that secret from getting out it's the Patriots and Brady.
John: I don't believe the Patriots pay Brady "under the table." The reason I don't believe this is to do so would require people aside from Brady and Patriots Owner Robert Kraft knowing. That means there would be risk of it getting discovered. And if something like that would ever get discovered … well, if you think the fallout from SpyGate and DeflateGate was bad …
Saif from Washington, DC:
You're saying that the organization's focus will be more on the short term. While I want to win just as bad as everyone, do you think management will make sure not to mortgage the future too much for the sake of immediate wins?
John: I think that's the daily/monthly/weekly balance every NFL team seeks. A case can be made that the Jaguars focused too much on the short term in the 1990s and a similar case can be made that they focused too much on the long term in recent seasons. A case also can be made that there is a place somewhere between the extremes.
Ed fom Ponte Vedra, FL:
Since I'm football bored for the next few months I'm going to make a wild prediction. Marrone and Coughlin will go at each other throwing punches by the third game next season.
John: Wow. You are bored.

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