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O-Zone: Stunning insight

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … John from Boynton Beach, FL:
All I want for Christmas is for sometime this season the Jaguars to play two good halves of football in the same day. I think that would give us all some hope.
John: That's an awesomely good gift idea, and it probably would make Jaguars fans feel good. Remember, though, the instances of any team dominating an opponent and playing as well as the Jaguars did in the second half on Sunday for a whole game are rare. NFL games are usually decided by what team can put together more good stretches. That's why people say it's a game of momentum, situations and inches and not a game of domination.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Do you think Dave Caldwell is treating the remaining four games of the season as "Show-Me" time for the offensive line? Standing pat with the current group for 2015 would presume significant improvement is going to take place for this unit. Just wondering …
John: Well, as long as you were just wondering … the last four games are Show-Me time for many areas on the team, but they're not as make-or-break as perhaps some people think. Look, as far as the offensive line, I've said several times in the last couple of weeks that there needs to be improvement and that there could be changes. But that's not saying there's going to be a major overhaul. Luke Joeckel. Luke Bowanko. Brandon Linder. Those guys are going to be here. Joeckel needs to get better in some areas, but Bowanko and Linder have played very well for the most part. Zane Beadles has struggled at times and needs to improve, and it will be interesting to see if the Jaguars try to create competition there at left guard. That's a possibility. The same could be true at right tackle. So, yes, improving the area will be a focus, but the Jaguars aren't going to tear the group down and start over. There's no reason to do that.
Tucker from New York, NY:
The center position is rarely discussed unless it's a noticeable weak spot. Considering we just lost Brad Meester and faced a lot of concern about who – if anyone – could replace such a reliable player, how about a tip of the hat to rookie seventh-round pick Luke Bowanko for keeping his name out of the headlines and holding his own? It's also a good sign that Caldwell and Company can find value in the latest of rounds!
John: Good point. Bowanko is deserving of a tip of the cap, and significantly, he has a chance to be very good for a long time. As he matures and learns the league he will improve recognizing blitzes and fronts … but that's pretty much true of any young center. It's why veterans are so valuable at the position. There's every reason to believe he'll do that, and as he does, that will help the Jaguars' line accordingly.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Securing a last-place schedule for 2015 does not seem to mean much for next year assuming the AFC North teams are all very close and we have to play the AFC East anyway; it is just the difference between playing Oakland (and a possible long west coast flight) or Kansas City/San Diego.
John: Yeah … this is the first I've thought about it. I probably won't think about it much more.
Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:
In his first draft, David Caldwell focused on the defense. Add to that this year's free agency and now we see the defense playing well. In this year's draft, he focused on the offense. Considering the next group of free agents, I see the offense playing significantly better next year. Is it a fair expectation?
John: Yes.
Adam from Jacksonville:
I challenge anybody that talks bad about Johnathan Cyprien to make a point to watch him each play. It's easy to pick out where he gets beat, but newsflash … all defensive backs get beat. Especially young ones. Cyprien makes a lot of plays. He's consistently there to make a tackles or help clean up on running plays. I'm no scout but I feel like he's one of the better players on a rapidly improving defense.
John: Good eye. The Jaguars feel the same way. I've continually said this season the Jaguars are better with Cyprien on the field than without … and yeah, he has gotten beat on some notable big plays. But he's a key player on this group going forward.
John from Neptune Beach and 409 from Day 1:
Is there anything to preclude Justin Blackmon from working 'on his own' with Bortles in the off season?
John: No.
Mike from White Plains, NY:
If we signed an entire team of free agents and didn't rely on draft-and-develop, it might work for a year or two, but then we'd be back in salary-cap hell just like we were at the turn of the century. I'd rather have a sustainable model. Oh – and a star franchise QB. Those for some reason don't really leave the team that drafts them for free agency. Oh. And John, keep being awesome.
John: First, relying on a team of free agents usually doesn't even work for a year or two, but I do understand that's not really your point. You touched on the key word of David Caldwell's approach when you mentioned "sustainable." That's indeed the idea of building through the draft, and the teams that have won consistently over an extended period indeed usually have been ones with franchise quarterbacks that draft and develop around those quarterbacks. The approach doesn't guarantee success, but it is the approach that gives you the best chance at sustained winning.
Stephen from Parsippany, NJ:
Who do you predict the Jags will draft, O-Zone? And how will they help the Jaguars?
John: I think the Jaguars will draft early enough to draft a really good player. I think the Jaguars could use a really good player. That's not to be vague, but I have very little idea who the Jaguars will draft in May. I have absolutely no idea in December. And neither do the Jaguars.
Alon from Denver, CO:
I understand the Jags' need for a defensive end or linebacker in the next draft. But do you see the Jaguars going for a highly-ranked left tackle (first round)? Then the new rookie and Joeckel would compete with the loser moving to right tackle. Or would the Jaguars simply wait until later in the draft to take a college-trained right tackle?
John: I don't think the Jaguars are going to draft a left tackle in the first round. I think Luke Joeckel's going to start at left tackle next season, and nothing has happened this season to indicate he won't be fine there. I think right tackle is a position that could be addressed in free agency or later in the draft, but I don't think that's a done deal.
Terry from Jacksonville:
John: A long time ago I was a Cleveland Browns fan. It was 1983 and Denver was coming to town with their new rookie John Elway. We couldn't wait for the game. Elway was getting benched repeatedly for all the interceptions he was throwing. They kept playing him and we knew we would get at least a couple of picks before they benched him. Well, Elway grew up that day and never looked back. He finished the season with 7 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 11 starts. Blake Bortles has 7 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 9 starts. I think I saw the same awakening last Sunday as I did in 1983. We will need a lot more patience, but look what it brought to Denver. I will be there for all of it. Thanks.
John: Good stuff.
Mike from Jacksonville:
What do you think the solution is for our struggling offensive line and JJWATT?
Stephen from Fayetteville, AR:
O'Man. I have a serious addiction. I can't stop watching the various highlights of the NYG game. One of my favorite games of all-time!
John: The game was cool. A lot of Jaguars fans liked it.
Tim from Jacksonville:
With a struggling offensive line now without its starting right tackle what do you think the Jaguars will do to protect against J.J. Watt? He is a threat both offensively and defensively these days.
John: He's a significant threat defensively, and you must account for him. Kidding aside, whoever plays right tackle – Josh Wells or Sam Young – you can expect the Jaguars to help with tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Nic Jacobs as well as extra attention from running backs. There also likely will be an emphasis on getting the ball out quickly when Blake Bortles passes, as well as some draws and traps to take advantage of Watt's aggressiveness. As far as Watt on offense, cover him but be far more concerned about him hurting you defensively. That's where he's most dangerous.
Sharon from Atlanta, GA:
Hey O-Zone …
John: Hey.

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