JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ivan from Hollywood, CA:
John, I watch the Jaguars at a sports bar in downtown Hollywood (the Octopus): Dolphins, Steelers, Bears and Vikings … but they always save me a screen. This year all of the regulars have made a point of telling me how impressed they are by what the Jags did this offseason. It's a small sample size but I think nationally there has been a sea change as to how the Jags are viewed.
John: The views of the Octopus' regulars indeed reflect the prevailing national view of the Jaguars this offseason. If you talk to knowledgeable people in league circles the consensus is that this team has built the right way – and that the building process at (long) last has reached a point when results should be seen on the field. All of the signs are there. There's no doubt about that. The moves made this offseason – particularly the signing of Tashaun Gipson and Malik Jackson – were necessary, solid signings. There's no doubt about that. The future appears much brighter than the past. There's no doubt that. Will it all mean more victories? Well, there are no certainties about that because this is not scripted television, but there is a better chance for a winning record this season than in recent seasons. Of that there also is no doubt.
Brandon from Jacksonville:
Do you think Luke Bowanko has a chance to move to left guard and become a starter on this team? I really think Luke Joeckel will win the starting left tackle position, but it seems as though left guard will be between Bowanko, Kelvin Beachum, and Tyler Shatley. Thoughts?
John: I believe some combination of Jermey Parnell, A.J. Cann, Brandon Linder, Kelvin Beachum and Luke Joeckel will start on the offensive line. We'll see.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
I know trading future picks is a huge gamble, but if Jaylon Smith somehow falls to where the Jags could package the extra sixth-round selection this year with their 2017 third-round pick to get him, I would be all for it. Imagine a line-backing corps of a healthy Smith with Telvin Smith and Myles Jack behind a front four of a more experienced Dante Fowler Jr., Malik Jackson, Sen'Derrick Marks, and Jared Odrick? It's nice to dream, and probably less than a 20 percent chance Smith falls that far, but is that a trade you would make if he were to slip to the fourth round?
John: First, if Smith slips to the fourth round, I don't know that you would need to trade up to get him – not with the Jaguars selecting early in every round. Second, trading a selection or two in later rounds to move up in later rounds isn't a huge risk – certainly not as huge as dealing first- or second-round selections. The concern with selecting Smith isn't about trading draft selections as much as it is not knowing if he can return to his pre-injury form. The knee injury he sustained was severe, and every team must assess the risk based on its own policies. But if teams knew for sure he would eventually reach his potential he would be gone long before the end of the first round. He's that good.
Matt from Section 133:
"The players on this team undoubtedly believe in Bradley and the direction of the franchise. It's a remarkable thing after three consecutive losing seasons and it speaks to the culture he and the coaches here have built. But yes, confidence is high." Could it also speak to Bradley's "Go-get-em-Tiger, just-try-your-best" coaching attitude, even when you're getting steamrolled? Bradley still "had the locker room" in the last two games of last season when the players didn't even show up. I, for one, have not forgotten that. Yet, I renewed my season tickets. I'm a sucker.
John: Your interpretation of Bradley's coaching style, while a common perception, is off base. He never has said it's OK to "just try your best" and players don't believe losing is OK. I was surprised the Jaguars played so poorly in the final two games after being eliminated from playoff contention, but I saw it more as a team that knew its postseason hopes were done than a team that had tuned out its coach. I won't say the final two games of the season weren't troubling on that front, though. They were.
JJ from Jacksonville Beach:
Two years ago it seemed people were pretty confident about the Jaguars' 2013 draft class. Luke Joeckel was sort of an unknown but Johnathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz looked like building blocks in the secondary. Ace Sanders looked like a weapon on offense. And Josh Evans and Demetrius McCray got valuable experience and did not appear overwhelmed. Now, going into 2016 there is a possibility none will start this fall.
John: The 2013 draft was considered weak overall, and the Jaguars' selections in that draft have been just OK – if that. I think either Joeckel or Cyprien – or perhaps both – could play better this season than they have in the past three, but for the most part the class has been one in which many players have been or could be passed on the depth chart. What happened? Overall, it just didn't work out as well as hoped. At least not so far.
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
Why is it unfair to predict a win total? Hasn't it been said that a winning record is expected? 8-8 can't be looked at as success unless that's what winning here means, I guess. If winning is expected, why shouldn't 9-7 be the minimum record predicted?
John: Alan, Shad Khan has said a winning record is a reasonable expectation. He's on record to that effect. I'm not sure what more you expect from the team's perspective. Teams don't "predict" their own records, at least not NFL teams I've been around. As for me, I haven't predicted a record. I think the Jaguars have a very real chance to be .500 and push to be above that this season. I think this will be the best roster of the Gus Bradley/Dave Caldwell era. I think they will be better than they have been in recent seasons. What all of that will mean in terms of a record, we'll see.
PK from Jacksonville Beach:
Can we stop the Laremy Tunsil madness? It's an irrational line of thinking. Our defense needs the help; we have two experienced left tackles now. What leads people to believe that after picking a left tackle that was slated as a "franchise tackle," "can't-miss prospect" and a Top 3 pick back in 2013 that we should restart the cycle for another guy who has the same things being said about him? Instead, can we let growth and competition push Luke Joeckel to be better or accept that the experienced NFL starter we brought in, Kelvin Beachum, will take the reigns and protect Bortles? I know fans gonna fan, but let's also recognize that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Just ask your nearest Browns fan.
John: The Browns really have nothing to do with this argument, and I don't know that the ignoring-history-so-doomed-to-repeat thing is the overriding point, either. But your points about left tackle not making much sense at No. 5 are well-founded. The Jaguars signed Beachum to compete with Joeckel and the way his contract is structured he will make front-line left-tackle money over the long-term if he wins the job. That's a fairly decent sign that the team thinks either he or Joeckel will be manning the position.
Chad from EverBanko:
Mike from Section 122 might look into the value of Khan's worth, as well as the value of our franchise, before and after becoming an NFL owner. Having one game in London doesn't cause that dramatic appreciation in such a short period of time. Khan's commitment to doing things the way he believes is the right way is a major driving force in his worth. Khan investing in the stadium, and the city, does not sound like he is plotting to get over on the fans. I, for one, do not feel duped by Khan's actions to raise the value and marketability of this franchise. If Mike is seeing something differently, maybe, just maybe, he's fanning incorrectly.
John: Nah … there's no right or wrong way to fan – and Mike's entitled to his opinion. It just doesn't mean he's right. Maybe I'm naïve, but it just seems as if Khan were plotting against Jaguars fans, or if he were anti-Jacksonville, then I don't know … maybe there's another way to go about it than by building the World's Largest Video Boards; planning a state-of-the-art, city-landscape-changing Shipyards Proposal, re-designing the Club Seats; installing pools; renovating the locker rooms; renovating the team's training facility; and building an amphitheater hand in hand with a state-of-the-art indoor/outdoor practice facility. Or maybe it is all a ruse. He's a slick one, that Shad.
O-Zone: Slick, slick, slick
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ivan from Hollywood, CA: