JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Paul from Jacksonville:
I have heard many reasons free agents might or might not wish to come to Jacksonville. Our owner seems to think he might be able to attract the free agents we want with money. That might just be the best idea I've heard yet.
John: Yeah, that's usually strikingly effective. Look, anyone who has followed the Jaguars has heard talk of free agents not wanting to come to Jacksonville. I never believed that, and still don't. Have there been times the Jaguars have struggled to get players to sign? Sure. That happens when franchises struggle on the field. Have there been times the Jaguars have signed premium free agents? Sure. That happens when franchises get things going on the field and when those franchises are willing to pay. The Jaguars haven't signed front-line, high-priced free agents the last couple of offseasons primarily because they haven't pursued those players. They weren't at that stage of the building process. They have arrived at that stage now. They're going to be willing to pay. It should be interesting to watch.
Dan from Holley, NY:
When a team loses a draft pick because of a penalty, what happens to the actual pick? Is it just skipped over and forgotten?
Mike from West Des Moines, IA:
I don't think I am "all-in" on the Jaguars drafting a running back on Day 2. I think the play at the position was sufficient. It wasn't great or even good, but I believe the inconsistent and porous blocking contributed heavily to that. Other needs should be filled instead of taking a running back. I think free safety makes sense in Rounds 2-3, any linebacker position – and right tackle could make sense, too. I just think the running backs were OK enough that the draft pick should be spent on another position at this juncture. If the blocking improves and the backs struggle, then address the position.
John: Philosophically, I agree with you. That's because philosophically I'm a big believer that running backs go as the rest of the offense goes, particularly the offensive line. But I think there's a good chance the Jaguars take a running back in Rounds 2-4 this season. General Manager David Caldwell said following the season the team intentionally hadn't addressed the area in a major way in the first couple of seasons because he felt the position was one of the last pieces you add in a building situation. He didn't specifically say he planned to draft the position this April, but it would make sense if he did. I think there's a good chance the Jaguars address the positions you mentioned – free safety and right tackle, particularly – in free agency, which could leave them free to take a starting-caliber running back in the draft.
Chad from Wernersville, PA:
I see some people saying if the Jags aren't significantly better next season that Gus and Dave may be out. WHY? Rome wasn't built in a day and I don't think an NFL team that had very little talent when they took over can be built in two – now three – offseasons. I think Dave and Gus are doing a good job with what they had to start with and I see them competing in the 2016-17 season once they have had time to get their players.
John: Why are people saying the Jaguars must be better next season? Because Caldwell and Bradley are entering Year Three and Year Three seems like enough time to improve. And it is. I, and pretty much everyone else around here, believes they will be improved. How improved must they be? And what is that magic victory total? I don't know that there is one. I do believe the Jaguars have to show improvement in terms of competitiveness and victories. They did last season and the players who have been drafted in 2012 and 2013 will be a year older and more mature. They also are going to add players in free agency to increase the talent level. There are no guarantees in life or the NFL, but there's very little reason the Jaguars shouldn't be better next season.
Mark from Raleigh, NC:
Seventy-one sacks, O-Man! This is a disaster, to say the least. What are the chances of aggressively addressing this in free agency? I think this is beyond rookie help right now. Mike Iupati? I know we like to build through the draft but this seems like the only option to be strong next year. We can't have Bortles throwing on the run every play. And we saw a lot of PA fakes as the season progressed and defenses were not falling for it. You are in charge O Man, what do you do?
John: It has been a few days since I answered a 71 Sacks email, so here goes – yes, the offensive line must improve, but I don't know that the approach is going to be a front-line guard in free agency. I do think a front-line right tackle – read: Bryan Bulaga – is a real possibility. I also think competition could be brought in through the draft/free agency on the interior. Remember, and I repeat: this is not going to be a massive overhaul up front and it shouldn't be a massive overhaul. The Jaguars drafted Luke Joeckel, Brandon Linder and Luke Bowanko in the last two drafts. Those guys played early, and though they struggled at times last season – Bowanko and Joeckel, in particular – they are the core of the line moving forward and should be given a chance to develop.
Chris from San Marco:
I agree that the coaching staff is very experienced, and that could bode well this season. However, the coaching staff in 2012 was very experienced as well and they only squeezed out two wins. The situation is a bit different now, so I guess we'll see how the cards fall...
John: Your "however" is correct and rather insightful. The 2012 staff indeed was experienced and had a lot of quality coaches. The 2014 staff is experienced with a lot of quality coaches. You can have quality coaches and not have things work out. That's because you must have good players who are at a stage in their careers where they can contribute. You also need good quarterback play. So, yeah, it's OK to temper your enthusiasm when you see people giddy about coaching staffs. They're important. No doubt. But quality coaching doesn't solve everything.
Josh from Jacksonville:
I am a lifelong Jaguars fan and I like the direction that the team is going. With that being said, how many losing seasons can be written off as "rebuilding" before it is unacceptable? Just wanted to hear your opinion.
John: I understand people want a hard, fast answer on this, because I understand people are frustrated with losing. No one "wrote off" the last two seasons, and no one ever said losing was "acceptable." At the same time, there was a knowledge that it was going to take time to build into a contender from where this franchise was in 2012. What's the time frame? I don't know. As long as the Jaguars improve and as long as the roster grows stronger – as long as the direction is the right one – then that's what you want. You can't lose forever, but you also can't get so frustrated that you make changes that throw you off course if the course is working.
Tim from Pittsburgh, PA:
Was Luke Butkus retained as a member of the coaching staff for 2015?
John: Yes, Luke Butkus is the assistant offensive line coach.
Tino from Sarasota, FL:
Speed speed speed speed!!!! Jacksonville Jags we have to get faster!!!!
John: Yes!!!!! Yes!! Yes!!!
Ray from Vernon:
Any chance we take a "chance" on Michael Oher? In your opinion would he be an upgrade to current offensive line? Thanks for the daily read, O Man. Great job.
John: Oher is a big name who was once selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. He hasn't played like a first-round player lately, and if you're trying to upgrade right tackle he may not be the answer.
Andrew from Taylor, OH:
Fred Taylor is Top 5 all time in yards per carry among running backs that have rushed for more than 10,000 yards. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. There are guys that have more yards than him total, but with way more carries. He is currently 15th all-time in rushing yards. Everyone ahead of him in rushing yards is in the Hall except for Edgerrin James, who doesn't deserve to be because he had Peyton Manning with him.
John: I agree with everything you say about Fred Taylor. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. That isn't changed by you apparently not having ever watched Edgerrin James. And you don't penalize a player for playing with a great quarterback. Or maybe you can. And maybe I'll stand over here while you explain to Emmitt Smith, Franco Harris and Tony Dorsett why they're being removed from the Hall of Fame.
O-Zone: Some 'splainin' to do
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Paul from Jacksonville: