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O-Zone: The Great One

BOCA RATON – Last day at the 2016 NFL Annual Meeting.

Let's get to it … Alon from Malibu, CA:
Can you tell me if the Jaguars will look to lock up any of the upcoming 2017 unrestricted free agents? I understand Johnathan Crypien, Dwayne Gratz, Demetrius McCray and Denard Robinson are going to have their contracts expire along with Poz.
John: As of the 2016 offseason, the first four players you list – all of whom are from the 2013 draft class – would not be priorities to re-sign. That obviously could change based on how they play during the 2016 season. As far as middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, he's an older veteran, so his status also wouldn't be a priority now – though it, too, could be readdressed during the season if appropriate.
Mark from High Springs:
OK, so I'm hearing that along with London and Mexico in 2016, the NFL will be playing games in Germany in 2017 and China in 2018. For Shad, do you think it's enough to have London be our "home away from home" or do you think he sees us playing these additional games to really be the NFL's "International Team?"
John: Khan's focus, and that of the Jaguars, is to be strong in Jacksonville with a presence in London. The belief is that that presence makes the Jaguars stronger in Jacksonville, and that belief is partly based on developing a following in London. I have never heard Khan say anything about having a presence elsewhere internationally, and I don't foresee him saying differently.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
So there are reports the NFL wants to pursue playing a regular-season game in China by 2018. How is your Chinese? It would be really exciting to see the Jags host the inaugural China game. Potentially another deal Shad makes to play a home game overseas?
John: I doubt it.
Chaun from St. Louis, MO:
If we draft Jalen Ramsey would he play safety or corner – and whose spot would he be competing for?
John: The Jaguars' free-agent move to sign Tashaun Gipson certainly eliminated the desperate need to draft Ramsey to fill the free-safety position, but it didn't eliminate the possibility of drafting him. The first thing to remember is Ramsey would be drafted as a long-term impact player rather than a short-term fix at any one position. Considering the moves the Jaguars have made in the offseason, he likely would either start at corner or potentially at safety next to Gipson. I would say the former is more of a possibility, but I wouldn't rule out the latter. The latter perhaps would mean the Jaguars wouldn't have a true strong safety on the field, but you could get two high-level players on the field and worry about specific roles after that, so …. maybe.
David from Durban, South Africa:
Does the hire of Monte Kiffin signal a slight shift towards more of a standard 4-3 defensive front without abandoning the hybrid front previously utilized? Am I reading too much into this?
John: I've been saying much of the offseason that I believe you'll see the Jaguars get away from some of what they have done defensively in recent seasons, particularly the use of a "three-Leo lightning package" in passing situations. I also think some of the old definitions of Leo-Otto may be less necessary moving forward. But I don't believe Kiffin's presence is the reason for that. I would think of Kiffin's role more as an experienced mind from which to draw than as someone who is profoundly influencing the defense's philosophy and direction.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
Can Myles Jack play the OTTO? I thought he was more of the fast, athletic type. Doesn't our strong-side linebacker need to be able to play at the line of scrimmage and set the age on run plays?
John: Jack is fast and athletic, and if he is drafted by the Jaguars I would expect him to eventually play the middle-linebacker position in a somewhat similar fashion to Luke Kuechly in Carolina. I also think in the short term Jack could play opposite Telvin Smith and alongside Paul Posluszny. It wouldn't be a true "Otto," but it would be a scheme that had two really good fast, athletic players at outside linebacker, and that's OK, too.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
I really like Allen Hurns (duh), but I know he's making very little money in NFL terms. As an undrafted free agent, I assume we can extend or renegotiate his contract at any time. Is this correct and if so, do you feel this is something that will or even should happen this offseason?
John: Your assumption is incorrect and sort of correct at the same time. While the Jaguars could not have renegotiated with Hurns "any time," they can negotiate with him now – and have been able to do so since the end of last season. That's because undrafted free agents can begin negotiating long-term deals following their second seasons compared to drafted rookies, with whom teams can't begin renegotiating extensions until after their third seasons. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said Monday the team has not begun negotiating with Hurns, and that if those negotiations take place they would happen after the draft. That's not unusual. The Jaguars were very busy in free agency, and spent the early part of this offseason planning that process. Now, the focus is on the draft. Once the draft passes, there will be time to renegotiate with Hurns – and I'd be surprised if an extension isn't discussed at that time.
Alex from A Clockwork Orange:
"No pressure, no diamonds." Can we fans expect the field to be littered with diamonds, once our D Line takes the field? What with all the pressure, and all.
John: OK. Yeah.
John from Boynton Beach, FL:
I thought one of the knocks on Luke Joeckel is he lacks some strength. If so, then doesn't that make him an unlikely option at left guard?
John: Strength certainly is an argument against Joeckel playing guard, though not necessarily something that eliminates it as a possibility. He actually has run-blocked very well, which is a good thing at guard. If you get Joeckel in a tighter space where he doesn't have to worry about the edge rush, perhaps that would help him improve against more powerful rushing on the interior … Perhaps.
Dan from Dahlgren, VA:
What if the BAP is Tunsil?
John: Then Dave's got him some decidin' to do.
WTH from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars are one of several teams that plan to meet with Noah Spence. Say it aint so, O!
John: By the time the NFL Draft is held, the Jaguars – like most NFL teams – will have met in some capacity with most of the top prospects either at the NFL Scouting Combine, at the Senior Bowl or at the team's facility. Teams visiting with players, while fascinating Twitter fodder, is not necessarily indicative of a team's draft-day direction.
Marty from Jacksonville:
John, in regards to the guy who wears the headset helmet on defense, what happens when he goes out of the game? Is only that one guy allowed to wear the headset helmet?
John: No, his backup wears it, too.
Jim from Neptune Beach, FL:
Do you see the Jaguars signing any more free agents this season? Or do you think Dave has completed his task for now and will wait until after the draft?
John: I think the Jaguars could still sign another free agent or two; if they do, those players almost certainly would be backups.
Chad from Yulee, FL:
"John: It's a bit of a challenge to get so many new defensive players playing in synch, but it's not really as difficult as it is on offense." I believe this is what Dave meant by saying it was easier to fix the defense than the offense. I don't think he was talking about player acquisition, which has its own set of obstacles, namely the other teams try to acquire players, too.
John: I believe so, too.
Jim from Jacksonville:
What exactly does a quality control coach do?
John: Different things at different times. They assist on the field with certain position groups, and also often do advance game-planning when necessary. Basically, if something needs to get done, they do it.
John from Jacksonville:
You have a tough job in the O-Zone. First, you are asked to answer a question. Then, you are asked to clarify what you answered. Then, you are asked why you answered the way you did, Then, you are challenged on your thinking and your answer. A lot of work for answering a question to begin with.
John: Coal mining, prison guard and roofing in South Florida in the summer are tough jobs. I answer questions about football with an occasional – albeit, weak – attempt at humor thrown in. As reflected in my salary and respect level from my co-workers, it is not a tough job. Remember: greatness in a job does mean difficulty in it, though in my case the two sometimes are understandably confused.

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