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O-Zone: Speaking the truth

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Doug from Jacksonville:
O-Man, I have to assume my e-mail will be one of many saying the same thing after the posts of the coaching interviews, but I am excited about 2015! That coaching staff, those interviews, it didn't seem to be just a bunch of CoachSpeak. Everyone seemed to have an energy and I can't help but wonder if we will look back at this year as a turning point in the franchise, if Gus and Co. really start something here that other teams will try to emulate. A 3-13 record notwithstanding, I am stoked for this coming season.
John: Your email wasn't the only one, and with reason. The four offensive coaches introduced Monday – offensive coordinator Greg Olson, assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach Doug Marrone, running backs coach Kelly Skipper and quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett – indeed gave a good first impression. I can't in good conscience say all that much can really be proven in an introductory press conference, but they said good things and appeared very capable. That lines up with what you hear about them in NFL circles. Stay tuned.
Scott from Jacksonville:
John, regarding the Jaguars struggles in recent years, I am a 20-year season-ticket holder and drink the Kool-Aid from you and others in the local media that we're not far away from being great again. But what about the other struggling franchises like Tampa, Oakland, and Nashville? Do you think the local media in those towns feeds their fans Kool-Aid too? I guess my point is maybe I should be skeptical since I suspect the local media in all 32 NFL cities tells their fans that next year will be the year!
John: I can't control your skepticism, and I don't follow the details of other local media markets to know what they're drinking. I can tell you never since I've returned to Jacksonville have I thought or written that the Jaguars would be great the following season. I didn't think last offseason that they'd be great last season and I don't think this offseason that they'll be great next season. I don't anticipate the Jaguars doing anything this offseason to change that. If people recall correctly, I wrote often last season that I believed the playoff predictions some had for the Jaguars were perhaps unrealistic and that even .500 was a lofty goal. I do believe the Jaguars will be improved next season. I believe they'll be improved enough that .500 will be a much less lofty goal and it even may be attainable. I think people will see that improvement. What that means for the record, I don't know, but looking at the roster and looking at the number of young players who should improve it's hard to imagine the overall product not improving, too.
Cathy from Jacksonville:
I'm getting the feeling the zone-blocking scheme used by our offense this season might change. Do we have the right personnel on our offensive line to make a change in the blocking scheme? Do you draft differently for different blocking schemes?
John: It actually doesn't sound as if there's going to be a dramatic change in the blocking scheme, at least not in the short term. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said after the season he expected the Jaguars to continue emphasizing zone-blocking techniques and he said he believed that would still be the case. The Jaguars drafted their current linemen with that scheme in mind, and it would be difficult to reverse direction immediately.
Quinn from Tampa, FL:
Is CSIII going to be joining Blake Bortles on the West Coast in the offseason? I know his future as a Jag is kinda up in the air, but he seemed to have a good relationship with all the young guys. He may not have the best hands but he's a great route runner. Going and teaching them how to run routes properly seems like a very "Cecil" thing to do.
John: It would be very much like Shorts to go, but his presence there almost certainly will depend on his status with the Jaguars.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, why is Gus still trying to figure out "what the best system is for our guys?" Don't you draft players with a scheme or plan in mind for them, then try to develop them within that scheme? You don't just draft a bunch of players and then say "Ok, let's figure out who we are, and what we do." That just seems completely backwards. I'm sure you see it differently, but how? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: Bradley indeed said that the idea over the next few weeks will be to determine the best system for the Jaguars' players. But it's not accurate to say that Bradley has no idea the direction he wants. He specifically said on Thursday that he wants the Jaguars' offense to be able to establish the run first, then pass after the run is established. He also said that the offense likely will remain a zone-blocking-based scheme because that's the personnel that has been drafted. Now, within those parameters it certainly is the responsibility of the Jaguars' coaches to design an offense around the strengths of the players. Because the staff largely is new, that process will take place in the coming weeks and the coaches will have the leeway to design things based on the players' strengths. But to say that Bradley has no idea what he wants is simply not correct.
Sam from San Marco:
The 2015 Jags are now undefeated and tied for first place. Time to put the boots to the rest of the league!!!
John: #DTWD
Jordan from Jacksonville:
I just watched a documentary on Bo Jackson. I honestly didn't know much about him because he was before my time. Can you shed some light on him? Was he the greatest athlete you've ever seen? The way people talked about him, it was almost like he was Hercules.
John: I don't have much insight into Jackson beyond the average fan. I was at Florida when he played for Auburn, and since I wasn't yet covering the NFL during his career, I watched him only television and only with casual interest. But you couldn't follow sports at the time and not be aware of the phenomenon that was Jackson and his career. He was an amazing athlete who made more highlight-reel, SportsCenter plays than any athlete I've seen before or since.
Trent from Fernandina Beach, FL:
After watching Michael Bennett consistently get into the backfield to hit Brady in the Super Bowl, I think we would regret passing on Leonard Williams. A potential franchise-changing pass rusher who would fill a key role that good teams need.
John: If Leonard Williams is as good as many project, which means being the sort of player who can dominate from multiple positions on the defensive line and consistently pressure the quarterback, then you're correct that the Jaguars would regret passing on him.
Jordan from Clovis, CA:
What is the chance that we pick up a running back early in the draft? (Rounds 2-4)
John: Pretty good.
Allo from Jacksonville:
Hey O-man, the Jags were awesome even though we didn't make .500 this year. Since the defensive talent the Jags need isn't in the draft this year – i.e., dominant defensive ends and defensive tackles, would you go after Ndamukong Suh and trade this year's No. 3 overall pick for, let's say, next year's first-round or two second-round picks? I think Ndamukong is the answer, especially after Marks' torn ACL. We can starting rebuilding defense next year … a player like Suh is one in a million.
John: A couple of thoughts on your question. First off, while I'm a firm believer that you don't draft thinking players will make a significant difference in their first season, I don't know that it's correct to say the defensive talent isn't in the draft this year. The draft is actually pretty heavy at the top with pass rushers and defensive linemen, and I'd be surprised if the Jaguars don't go that direction with the No. 3 selection on April 30. As far as Suh, personally I would go after him. No doubt. There is some concern about the "on-field stuff," but the Jaguars need talent and there's no denying his talent. The problem is the Lions know he's one-in-a-million, too, and I imagine they'll figure a way to re-sign him.
Cliff from Las Vegas, NV:
With everybody discussing speed at linebacker position, is it realistic to think that Paul Posluszny could be using this offseason to work on dropping weight and increasing speed? Or does he just not have it anymore?
John: Posluszny is what he is: very good against the run and not as consistent against the pass. He doesn't play as slow as many believe, but at this stage of his career there's probably not much to be gained from dramatic weight loss. He's fast enough to be very good at what he does, and losing weight probably isn't going to make him a dramatically better cover linebacker.
Peter from Maribor, Slovenia:
You are the best sports senior writer in the world. You do it like no one else could. #Idon'ttellyouhowtodourjob
John: #youareagenius

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