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O-Zone: That Leo guy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
Everybody wants to fire Gus … maybe we should consider the case of Ron Rivera, who was almost fired a few years ago – but the Panthers' organization stayed the course and let him see his plan through. Just sayin'.
John: There indeed was talk about firing Rivera in recent years; I seem to remember he wasn't all that safe before the Panthers won their final four games to make the postseason following the 2014 season. So, indeed the Panthers (3-8-1 at one point last season) are a testament to continuity. Unless you feel you're going to make dramatic improvement, continuity often is the better route in the NFL. That's a big reason I thought it was the right move to retain Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley after this past season – that, and the fact that players still believe in his message. As long as players are on the same page and believe in the coaches, then you have the opportunity – with continuity – to keep improving.
Jeremy from Miles City, MT:
Do you see Jalen Ramsey more as a corner in our defense or a free safety? It seems he may have the speed and coverage ability to make this single-high safety defense work.
John: It does seem so.
John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
As a Jags fan watching the Manning-Brady showdown last weekend, it was hard not to see how a strong pass-rush can affect even all-time-best quarterbacks. To me, the story was the missed extra point. Call me old-school or just plain old, but I don't think games like that should be decided on a missed extra point. No question here, but after that game you can put me down for two or even three more Leos.
John: I agree with you on the extra point, but I don't see it changing – old-school protests such as ours aside. As Denver-New England making a case for the Jaguars adding pass rushers, General Manager David Caldwell probably said it best when he was asked at the Senior Bowl about learning something from watching the championship games. He smiled and said it really wasn't as if anyone in the league ever really doubted the importance of pass rush – and that's true. It always has been imperative to pressure the quarterback … as long as quarterbacks matter, that will never change.
Ralph from Jacksonville:
I was listening to Shadrick on the radio … you should know he said you were doing all of the "heavy lifting" at the Senior Bowl. I do love a good pot stir every now and then!
John: What "pot stir?" When the man's right, he's right.
Alex from Annandale, VA:
Do you think the Jags will trade up in the draft to get Joey Bosa?
John: No. I don't doubt the Jaguars would seriously consider drafting Bosa if he was available at No. 5 overall in April, but at this point, I doubt they trade up from that spot.
Trent from Fernandina Beach, FL:
What would happen to the assistant coaches if Gus was fired after this year? Even though they also received contract extensions, wouldn't a lot of them likely be gone in the event of a head coaching change?
John: Yes.
Sean from Arlington, VA:
With news that Michael Sam is looking to make one more run at the NFL, any chance the Jags take a look? Given that you can never have too many pass rushers, seems like having a recent SEC Defensive Player of the Year in camp couldn't hurt.
John: If the Jaguars sign Michael Sam, fine, but I don't know that there's a great deal of evidence it will help very much.
Troy from York, PA:
I've been studying this year's draft, and I can only see two players Dave would pick at No. 5 overall. I think he has to go with Jalen Ramsey; not only would he fill a position this team has struggled with for a long time at free safety, but he could also be moved to corner if needed. The other guy I can think of is Hargreaves. Who would you rather have?
John: If Ramsey is as good as people believe, I'd rather have him because I believe it has become that hard to find an elite free safety in the NFL.
Maurice from Potomac, MD:
Two questions. 1) I read a report that the Jaguars have over $70 million in cap space; do you know if that number is correct? 2) I said before the Senior Bowl that Noah Spence was a guy that was gonna be a sleeper; now, it seems he's no longer a sleeper since he has been tearing up Senior Bowl practices. So, it's OBVIOUS picking him at No. 5 won't happen. Could you see Dave Caldwell trying to trade back into the first round to get him? I don't think this kid will make it to the second round.
John: Two answers. 1) Yes, that's probably about right as far as the cap. 2) Spence is a pass rusher from Eastern Kentucky who started his career at Ohio State. I liked what I saw of him at the Senior Bowl. He appears to have the skill set needed to be a very good NFL pass rusher, and he certainly seems like he'll be a first-round draft selection. Even with his background I wouldn't have a problem taking him there. As far as the Jaguars' trading back into the first round, it wouldn't be a shock but it's way too early to have a feel for Caldwell's late-April plans.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Julius Thomas is scheduled to earn $9 million in 2016. What kind of production should Jaguars fans be expecting next season from him?
John: I haven't the slightest idea how to base expectations on players' salaries; salaries are far too high to use them as any sort of realistic gauge about anything anymore. As far as Thomas, he caught 45 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns this past season. Considering he missed four games and spent several weeks after that trying to build chemistry with Blake Bortles after that, that's not bad. His timing and precision with Bortles should improve as they work together, so I'd say it's reasonable to expect Thomas' statistics to improve. Will he reach 12 touchdowns in a season as he did in Denver? That's a tough get for any tight end. Can he push for double digits? That's a reasonable objective.
Scott from Jacksonville and Section 409:
O-Man, I am concerned over the recent Fowler talk. I remember last year prior to the draft, much of the talk about Fowler and the fact he didn't have eye-popping defensive stats was that he was moved around a lot – that wearing many hats may have caused his numbers to be a bit deflated. Now, coaches are talking about moving him around again. Personally, I would like to see him learn a position and get really good at it before being asked to learn other roles. Is it just me?
John: That's certainly something to consider. Fowler will not only essentially be a rookie next season, he will be coming off a serious knee injury. I think the way the Jaguars will approach Fowler will be the way Caldwell laid it out this week at the Senior Bowl – by starting him at the Leo, then exploring over time the best ways use him at other spots. A lot of this also may depend on what the Jaguars do in the offseason. The idea will be to use all the personnel where it works best. If that means having Fowler stay in one place, he can do that. If it means moving him around, the Jaguars want to explore that option, too.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I'm just happy the Jags did not go to the Super Bowl this year and play against Carolina. I'm not a fan of Cam Newton, but what I saw was a guy full of confidence and having lots of fun. Even when he threw an interception, he acted like it never happened. I'm 100-percent sure Cam is the new Super Bowl-winning quarterback. What I don't understand is Vegas- 4.5 pts only? Panthers will win by 20 pts.
John: I, too, am sort of surprised Carolina's not favored by more; they certainly looked strong Sunday. They have been the best, most-consistent team in the NFL all season – and if they win the Super Bowl Sunday they can rightfully stake a claim as one of the elite teams in the last three decades. They would become one of six teams to win a Super Bowl with one loss or fewer and the first to do it in 30 seasons – with the others being the 1985 Bears, the 1984 49ers, the 1982 Redskins, the 1976 Raiders and the 1972 Dolphins. All of that said, the Broncos have the feel of one of those special defensive teams – and those special defensive teams have a funny way of winning Super Bowls.
George from Omaha, NE:
I love your website. Who is Leo?
John: Just a guy.

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