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O-Zone: Surprise, surprise

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Steven from Memphis, TN:
I think the Jaguars can get eight or nine wins. However, there is one big question mark: How much will Blake Bortles improve – mainly in regards to poor decisions and accuracy? What is his offseason regimen in regards to these points? Finally, his numbers could go down in terms of yardage and touchdowns, but he might be more effective with better decisions and a better run game.
John: You know what? It's about time we regain some perspective on the Big Picture – and there's indeed little question Blake Bortles remains the Big Issue in the Big Picture when it comes to the Jaguars. That somehow has been a bit lost in recent weeks amid Pass Rusher Angst, Free Agent Talk, Draft Talk and a multitude of other offseason topics, but yes: Bortles' development in exactly the areas you cite – decision-making and accuracy – will determine more than anything else how much this team will improve, and the permanency of that improvement. Bortles' regimen this offseason likely will be relatively straightforward. He plans to work with the Jaguars' receivers and skill players before the team can begin official offseason work, then he will be in meetings and on the field with offensive coordinator Greg Olson, quarterbacks coach Nathanial Hackett and the rest of the offense as permitted during the official offseason program. Experience, increased familiarity with the offense and an increased comfort level with receivers is the best way to achieve the needed improvement – and that will be his offseason focus. As far as Bortles' numbers, he absolutely could be more effective this season with lesser numbers. In fact, if the Jaguars improve, Bortles almost certainly won't match his statistics from last season. And that would very much be OK.
Frank from St. Augustine, FL:
So, let me get this straight: just because most of the left tackles in the NFL are mediocre, it's OK that Joeckel is mediocre also. That doesn't make any sense. You have arguably the best Jaguar of all time, who happened to play left tackle, in the building and Joeckel hasn't asked him for any advice. I would think he would at least get some pointers from one of the greats!
John: Boy, you don't have it straight at all. That's because no one ever said Joeckel being "just OK" is OK. I have said Joeckel not being worse than a lot of left tackles in the NFL was reason for not panicking, for not pulling him out of the lineup for lesser options last season and for not burning huge draft equity to replace him. I've also said before that signing Beachum this week was a really good move. Beachum will have a chance to play this season and compete for the position; if he proves to be a starting-level left tackle here, his contract dictates that he will be paid accordingly. If not, he's on a one-year deal that doesn't hurt the Jaguars in the long term. As for Beachum, he gets paid a decent one-year salary while he returns from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and has a chance to get paid well for his position if he earns a starting job. That's a good contract for both sides. As far as Joeckel getting pointers from Tony Boselli, this topic has been a bit overblown. There are coaches on staff to work with the players. I don't doubt Boselli has a lot to offer, but just getting some "pointers" from a great player wasn't going to make Joeckel great.
Dan from Lake Mary, FL:
Do see the Jags addressing the interior offensive line in the first three rounds after the Kelvin Beachum signing?
John: No.
Daniel Since Day One:
Does this multifunction defensive lineup make us more like the real Seattle defense or less? Sounds like it requires very smart players, but sure could make it hard to game plan against when half the guys change position from one play to the next ...
John: I'll wait and see how the defense really looks once it takes shape – and starts practicing and playing – to say how much it is or isn't like the "Real Seattle Defense." I imagine the Jaguars' defense will start to look like the "Real Seattle Defense" when it starts to play better. I imagine that will happen when the Jaguars have better players.
Adam from Bryan, TX:
John, with the details of Kelvin Beachum's contract now being revealed, what do you think the chances are of Dave Caldwell trading Luke Joeckel for a pass rusher?
John: Practically none. Beachum is coming of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, so his availability and reliability for next season are relatively uncertain. Also, I expect Beachum and Joeckel in some combination to start at left tackle and left guard next season. Trading Joeckel would leave the Jaguars needing to fill a hole they just filled.
David from the Island:
Really like Allen Hurns. Very happy he has worked hard to be the man and player he is. Do we owe Jedd Fisch a steak dinner for insight and background on Hurns?
John: Nah.
John from Jacksonville:
If Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack are off the board is it possible the Jaguars would take a quarterback with the No. 5 pick? This would give them the top-rated prospect in the draft.
John: I don't think the Jaguars will take a quarterback at No. 5, and I don't think that would mean they would be passing on the top-rated prospect in the draft.
Joe from Hall of Fame City, OH:
Hey, Mr. O … not a football question, but it's either you reposted another answer or I just had the most realistic Deja vu ever. Either way, love the O-Zone; read it every day. Helps me survive life away from DUUUUUVAL.
John: #DTWD
Josh from Halifax, NS:
Speaking of trading for pass-rush help, recently Jason La Canfora (CBS) encouraged the Raiders to attempt a trade with the Jets for Muhammad Wilkerson (an extension does not appear imminent, so New York could be open to discussion). Do you think the Jags would be wise to try something similar? Or would his "3-4 DE" frame be too much overkill on the Jags' defensive line? Would the asking price be more than a single high draft pick? Thanks!
John: I'm sure the Raiders were ecstatic to get advice from Jason, and I'm sure they hurriedly altered the schedule of their entire front-office staff to heed his advice. On an even more serious note, yeah … another 3-4 end for the Jaguars would qualify as "a bit much." They are already pretty deep there at this point.
Joe from Colonia, NJ:
I've heard the Jaguars have eight picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. What round do we have an extra pick in? And what pick is it in that round? Also, where did we get the extra pick from? Thanks!
John: The Jaguars have two selections in the sixth round – their original selection (No. 181) and the selection acquired by trade (No. 201). The extra selection came from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for kicker Josh Scobee.
Jacob from Alamogordo, NM:
O-Man, If Jaylon Smith falls to the third round could you see the Jags making a play for him? POZ is starting to get up there in age and they could afford to let Jaylon sit for a year and recover. I know we are in win-now mode, but could this be a real scenario?
John: Yes.
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
You all say competition against this player or that player doesn't make that much difference, then why all of a sudden it does for Joeckel?
John: I never said I thought competition was going to make a mammoth difference for Joeckel. I think the Beachum signing is good because it gives the Jaguars an option if Joeckel doesn't continue to improve, or if he plays poorly. I think Joeckel can improve next season because he can get bigger, stronger and more experienced. I don't necessarily think he's going to get better because there's another quality player at his position. That would imply somehow that Joeckel hasn't been motivated before, and I have no reason to think that's the case.
Matt from Austin, TX:
I know that we missed on a pass rusher this free agency, but every single other signing filled major needs. How often is it that a team can fill that many needs in one free-agency period?
John: With the obvious caveat that you don't really know how many needs are filled until the players play … yeah, the Jaguars appear to have filled most of their obvious needs.
Will from Orlando, FL:
Last year, it was the youngsters at wide receiver who surprised many even within our fan base after the famous early drops. What group would you say may be an unexpected surprise this season?
John: If I told you, then you would expect it; if you expected it, then it wouldn't be a surprise.

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