O-Zone: Sound fundamentals

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

John from Cape May Courthouse

If I'm the Jags, I'm drafting multiple quarterbacks in the upcoming draft. Then I will continue to draft a quarterback every year until I find my franchise player. Then I would still draft a quarterback every draft. Quarterback is the one position that always holds its value, even for the marginal ones. The Bills got a third-round pick for Tyrod Taylor. The Browns got a seventh-rounder for Cody Kessler. With the current rookie wage scale, it makes it more affordable to draft multiple quarterbacks higher in the draft. The draft, and more specifically the quarterback position, is a lottery. Why not have more tickets?

I agree – to a point. Teams could and perhaps should draft quarterbacks more often. Quarterbacks do tend to have more trade value, and there are plenty of cases of that value bringing teams future equity. At the same time, a few realities prevent a draft-a-quarterback-per-year approach. One reality is the number of repetitions the drafted quarterbacks would receive in your scenario. Quarterback – particularly ones drafted late – need repetitions to develop and show their potential. If you draft one every season, one or more of those would get very limited repetitions and therefore limited time to develop. Another reality is you still have 21 other positions beside quarterback. While that spot indeed is critical, you can’t completely neglect other positions. A third is the real benefit you would receive from the plan. While it’s nice to say you get draft equity from any drafted quarterback, your chances of drafting a good quarterback fall dramatically in the later rounds. Can a team really afford to address quarterback at the expense of other positions in the early rounds of every draft? In theory, perhaps. Reality is a little different.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

The Jags have to bring Calais back. He is their best player and leader. Find the cap space from any other player. Calais should be untouchable.

I thought around midseason there was a chance Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell might not return to the team next season. As the season goes on, I sense that is less and less likely.

David from Oviedo, FL

O: If I’m Blake Bortles. I’m thinking, if I can get the start and knock it out of the park, I might be able to salvage my career and find a niche here in Jacksonville. OK, let me look at the schedule to see who we’re up against this week. The Houston Texans? J.J. Watt? Jadeveon Clowney? Whitney Mercilus? You gotta be kidding me!!! Darn you, football gods!!!

Your point is a good one that Sunday’s game is a brutal matchup for the Jaguars’ offensive line. But one game isn’t going to change how Bortles is perceived, and one game isn’t going to change his future with the Jaguars.

Ray from Jacksonville

John: Will fans please pump the brakes on the idea that "Blake saved the day and led the team to victory?" He "led" the team to a field goal during his time in the game. Kessler led a touchdown drive. The winning play was a defensive touchdown. I don't think Bortles looked any different that when he played earlier.

You’re right that Bortles looked similar Sunday to how he looked earlier, but the winning points were a field goal at the end of Bortles’ first drive.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

Dede Westbrook sure is an exciting player and he’s won me over with his toughness, but don’t you think his skill set makes him more of one of the better slot/No. 3 receivers in the league rather than a starting outside receiver?

I think Westbrook can be a really good starting outside receiver or a really good No. 3 receiver. I’m not sure he’s a true No. 1, go-to, outside receiver.

Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

Do you think Taven Bryan will thrive better playing on the end or playing tackle?

Bryan as a rookie for the Jaguars this season has played both five-technique, “big” end and three-technique tackle. While he for the most part has played better inside than he has outside, there’s little difference in the skills required for the two positions. He should be able to play either effectively moving forward.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

When can we have our true No. 1 receiver?

It will probably be a while. True No. 1 receivers not only are rare, they typically must be drafted and developed. That process usually takes more than one season.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, it’d be fun for Jaguars fans to see the inside workings through a season on Hard Knocks, don’t you think?

If you say so.

Esko from Finland

"The Jaguars won Sunday, and it felt good." I hope that the hangover from that good feeling doesn't include missing the quarterback that the franchise covets the most in the 2019 NFL Draft.

That’s always the fear when a struggling team that needs a quarterback wins late in the season. The Jaguars are currently ninth in the draft order. I don’t think that will get worse this week. If that’s where they are in the draft, they should be in position to get their quarterback.

Michael from Jacksonville

So before this season we were planning on paying Blake and drafting a first round pick for 2019. So that first round pick is a QB now, what's the difference? Keep Blake as starter then backup once the new QB is ready/better. Only way I see releasing Blake is we go for a veteran like Bridgewater. Then we release Blake and some of the defense to pay for the vet. But better the devil you know than the one you don't.

Your premise stated in the first sentence is bold. I’m not as sure about its accuracy.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL

With $16.5 million owed humble Blake anyway, why not restructure him to multiyear deal – say three years/$21 million plus incentives to solidify backup quarterback and start until next drafted quarterback is ready? He seems comfortable with Chad Henne-type mentorship role and still having opportunity to compete or come off the bench. I doubt he would get starter money elsewhere anyway and he has strong Florida roots.

I don’t know that Bortles is ready to drift into a mentorship role, and realistically he will probably have a better chance of competing for a starting role somewhere if he made a fresh start. And because sometimes it’s time to move on.

Jonathan from Aledo, TX

My issue with our coaching staff is the culture they've allowed to take hold in this organization: ambivalence in the face of total breakdowns in discipline. I'm not saying it's the only thing wrong this season, and I understand well-paid professionals have to execute on the field, but coaching either will or won't allow the gross lapses in headwork we've seen on the field this season. Look around, some organizations don't tolerate it. Granted, I'm not in the locker room, but whatever their response, it's not working, and we get what we get. I understand you're a humorist, and your reply of "it's always coaching in the NFL, even when you win" is funny, funny won't help our Jags compete.

I expect discipline/penalty issues will be addressed beginning in the offseason, and I expect that to be a focal point for Head Coach Doug Marrone moving forward.

Rudy from California

Good to see us still fighting... go out swinging jags!!!!

For the fences, baby.

Greg from Boise, ID

So, what happens if General Manager David Caldwell and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin don't think any of the quarterbacks in the draft are "The Guy" and a veteran quarterbacks that is a clear upgrade over Bortles is too expensive? I hope they don't grab a mediocre quarterback and pay him elite money just so they can say they tried.

It’s a fairly safe bet that any veteran quarterback the Jaguars sign is going to be expensive. Elite-player money? Perhaps not, but players remotely capable of starting at quarterback in the NFL rarely come “cheap” these days.

Yoav from St. John’s, FL

What are your fundamental truths in the NFL? This Jaguars season has taught me two: (1.) There are no superstars on the bench. (2.) Players and coaches always try to win.

A couple of fundamental truths are that an elite quarterback is better than the alternative – and that having one raises your chances of having a chance to win on a year-to-year basis. Another fundamental truth is that the truly elite ones – are rarer than people think. Another is that while teams can withstand a few injuries, there usually is a tipping point that teams can’t overcome. Still another is that the difference in 5-11 and making the postseason is often far smaller than many believe. But the biggest fundamental truth is that it’s always coaching in the NFL. If this column hasn’t taught me that, it hasn’t taught me anything.

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