JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Daniel from Urbandale:
I'm glad I'm not David Caldwell. To me, it seems very difficult to assess where Kirk Cousins sits in relation to where Blake Bortles ended his season. It seems like a risky move either way. You push hard to bring Cousins in and hope for sure he's better than Bortles played this past year – or you pass on Cousins hoping that Bortles is continuing to mature. I don't see either option as a slam-dunk bona fide course.
John: This of course remains the Great, Never-Ending Question of the Jaguars' 2018 offseason. Neither Bortles nor Cousins is anything close to a slam dunk, and there are strong arguments for and against both. That's why the topic remains so compelling; questions with slam-dunk answers rarely inspire lengthy debate. The argument for Cousins is he is a more natural passer; the argument for Bortles is he got you to the AFC Championship Game last season, and appeared to be progressing late in the regular season and postseason. If he continues to progress in a second season under offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, then perhaps you have your long-term answer at quarterback. But it's rare to find a passer of Cousins' perceived level on free agency, so don't you have to try to upgrade – provided the cost makes sense? But what if the cost is too high? And around and around we go …
Gabe from Washington, DC:
Is there anything beyond the exclusive franchise tag that a team can use for senior writers set to hit free agency? We can't afford to lose you for any number of first-round picks.
John: My negotiating process typically begins with me walking into Jaguars President Mark Lamping's office and demanding a raise. This is followed by him asking me to identify myself. I then weep and thank him for not changing my code. Sometimes security is nice to me. Those are the good days.
Joel from Martinson:
Regarding your answers to one of the questions got me to thinking. Is it possible to underestimate your influence on the organization?
John: Absolutely not.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
"O," you continually try to defend the Jag coaches for being conservative in our loss to New England. Here is the bottom line: we were conservative and we lost. It doesn't matter that being conservative won us some games during the season. That game was against New England and no one beats New England being conservative. We tried "not to lose" and we did. We may have lost had we "tried to win," but unfortunately we will never know.
John: Your premise that "no one beats New England by being conservative" is the sort of bold, impressive statement that sounds like an unassailable truth while not being unassailable at all. No, the Jaguars did not beat the Patriots playing conservatively in the AFC Championship Game – and the Philadelphia Eagles indeed played aggressively to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. But does that mean that you can't beat the Patriots playing as the Jaguars did? Actually … no. The Denver Broncos beat New England in the AFC Championship Game following the 2015 season by taking a 17-9 halftime lead and holding on for a 20-18 victory while being outgained 222-81 in the second half, so apparently "someone" has beaten New England that way. I imagine Broncos coaches would have told you after that game they felt the best approach was to play to their strengths and trust that the way they played much of the season would be enough. Had the Broncos lost that game they doubtless would have been accused of playing not to lose. They won, so their strategy was the right one. To the victors goes the glory and praise. To the losers? An offseason of being second-guessed.
Lawrence from Altamonte Springs, FL:
With Alex Smith out of the picture who is the next quarterback that you can see with us other than Lamar Jackson? Boooooo!
John: Blake Bortles. Yaaaaaayy!!
Hippy from Fleming Island, FL:
I was more a Suicidal Tendencies and early Chili Peppers kinda fella. That led to a love for early funk and eventually an infatuation of New Orleans brass and jazz. It's cool that If You Want Me To Stay off Freaky Styley still is my barometer. How did your early favorites influence your long term jamitude?
John: I'm not sure I have a great, succinct answer, but I suppose my turning point in terms of musical taste came when my older brother gave me My Aim is True by Elvis Costello and Road to Ruin by the Ramones for Christmas in 1978. I put the needle on My Aim is True a few days later. Costello singing the first line of Welcome to My Working Week was unlike anything on the radio and unlike any music that was "cool" among my age group. I can't say I immediately turned off the radio, but I remained partial to Costello and the Ramones. That along with a cassette given to me a few years later by my friend Tim Berg that included London Calling eventually led to the Clash, Costello and Ramones being my early favorites. What do they have in common? Well, I supposed I've always been partial to artists who write mostly their own music behind basic instruments – guitar, bass, drums, piano. This, of course, contradicts my current Lil' Wayne kick and also pretty much ignores my much-ballyhooed, much-debated Flock-of-Seagulls haircut era in college when I channeled Yaz and Depeche Mode, but hey … the 80s were the 80s, right?
Ron from Kansas City, MO:
It just occurred to me that if folks are still debating how much of an upgrade Cousins would be over Bortles, then he's probably not much of an upgrade at all. Maybe we should just stick with Blake and draft/develop. What's your thoughts?
John: I think Bortles will start for the Jaguars next season because I think the cost of acquiring Cousins will be far more than is reasonable. I also think that's fine because I think Bortles developed under Hackett and because it's reasonable to believe that development will continue.
Matthew from Tomah, WI:
Mr. Z, I'm not a huge listener of music, so I popped over to YouTube to listen to this Jason Isbell dude. Holy cow. What a songwriter. One fer Isbell!
John: Yeah. He's the real deal.
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
Everyone is looking at the Bortles situation based on free agents and potential draft picks available "this year." Isn't a big part of this equation the availability of quarterbacks "next year" as well?
John: Future availability of players usually plays a role in a team's offseason decisions. But next season's free-agent or rookie quarterbacks don't feel like they're a huge factor in the Jaguars' thinking this offseason. The Jaguars need to determine if Bortles is their guy for the long-term. If they determine that, I doubt you see them pursue a quarterback in free agency or early in the draft. If not …
Jim from Pahrump, NV:
John: I'm saying my two cents in support of Bortles, especially after reading Bill Barnwell's ESPN piece. I don't see Cousins as "far superior." Better? Possibly, but at what price? And he mentioned Cousins' toughness. Seriously? Blake is one tough dude if you ask me. Anyway, one for BB5. Keep him!
John: One for Bortles!
Limo Bob from Neptune Beach, FL:
How many people are left that are original season ticket holders and have renewed every year?
John: There are roughly 2,400 accounts for people who have been season-ticket members since the Jaguars' 1995 inaugural season.
Bill from Dansville:
I have some questions about stats, Mr. Zone. The first one pertains to Barry Church's interception against Big Ben. Did Ramsey get credit for a deflection on that play as well or just an interception awarded to Church? Next question, when a player forces a fumble on a quarterback, they will get credit for a sack and a forced fumble. If a player intercepts a ball do they get credit for a defense and an interception? One more while I am at, say a player goes to tackle a non-quarterback and forces a fumble. Do they get credit for a tackle and FF? Thanks for all you do Zone. You are the greatest!
John: Yes, Ramsey was credited for a pass defensed on Church's interception against Pittsburgh because he deflected the ball before Church intercepted. Yes, a player who forces a fumble with a sack gets credited with a forced fumble and a sack. Yes, a player intercepting a pass gets credit for an interception and a pass defensed. Yes, a player forcing a fumble on a non-quarterback gets credit for a tackle and a forced fumble. Yes, I am the greatest.
O-Zone: Stats and facts
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Daniel from Urbandale: