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O-Zone: There in spirit

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Randy from Jacksonville:
Five years from now, Blaine Gabbert will be one of the top three quarterbacks from the 2011 draft (with Kaepernick and Dalton). He will have a better passing percentage than Newton or Locker. That is all.
John: Ah, you speak boldly, and the Jaguars would love nothing more than for your words to come to fruition – sooner than five years from now, if possible. Gabbert has the potential to do what you say. He needs to improve, and he needs to play well enough for the coaches and personnel department in Jacksonville to be convinced your bold words are possible. After that, he needs for those coaches and personnel officials to create a well-managed structure and team in which he can flourish and grow. That's a lot, but that, too, is all.
Jon from Tallahassee, FL:
Hey, John – a little west of sick of yourself is a whole lot better than being west of your wife being sick of you!
John: She reached that destination long ago.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
Wouldn't it be a bad idea for new management and coaches to say we're here to spend big in free agency?
John: It would only be a bad idea if they didn't plan to spend big – or if they planned to spend big without telling Shad Khan about their plans. If everyone plans to spend, there's no harm in saying so. It seems you may be saying that new management shouldn't say they're here to spend big in free agency because it would either indicate an unwillingness to be patient and build through the draft, or a nervousness that they were spending too much of ownership's money. None of that is an issue in the Jaguars' case. They've made a philosophical decision as a team to focus on the draft. That's not for show and it's not about sending a message to the fans; rather, it's just how it's going to be.
Dan from Atlanta, GA:
What rule prevents us from drafting Clowney this year and getting his draft rights, similar to what Red Auerbach did with Larry Bird in '79?
John: The NFL doesn't allow teams to draft players in advance.
Andrew from Orange Park, FL:
Do you foresee a possibility where the Jaguars select Jarvis Jones to be the long term solution at the "LEO" position?
John: That might be possible. Here's what I would say as we start the pre-draft process: There are many defensive ends/outside linebackers available at the top of draft. Mostly, they're the names you hear, names such as Damontre Moore of Texas A&M, Barkevious Mingo from LSU and Moore from Georgia, but there are several others. The Jaguars are looking for a player who can fit their system and a player with a great grade at the top. I wouldn't be surprised if Jones is a serious candidate, but I'd be surprised if we have a clear idea who they will select anytime soon.
Roger from Section 204 and Cherryville, NC:
I would assume the general manager and head coach keep their eyes on next year's free agent possibilities and next year's possible draft class along with this year's people in formulating their personnel "game plan." Maybe even the next couple of years, maybe longer? Right?
John: Personnel people consider all factors when planning how to build a roster and certainly, there is a general working knowledge of players who will come up for future drafts. Teams also have an in-depth knowledge of other players around the NFL. This information doesn't have an enormous impact on what teams do in the current offseason, though. It's difficult to plan to select a certain player in a certain round so far ahead, and it's even more difficult to plan to sign free agents from another team in future years. Players often get re-signed, hurt or decline with age. David Caldwell said it best late in the week when he said the Jaguars will prepare for all scenarios so they can make the proper decision when opportunity arises.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
In your highly esteemed opinion, are we eligible for any compensatory picks this year? Please remind us of when these are announced. Have a great weekend!
John: Compensatory selections are typically announced at the league meetings in March, though the Jaguars are unlikely to get any this offseason. That's because they're awarded based on the previous year's free agency. The Jaguars signed Aaron Ross and Laurent Robinson and did not lose any significant players in free agency. The picks are awarded to teams that lose more in free agency than they gain.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Here's my offseason plan: Cut half the team, not based on performance or contracts; we'll just say the 26 whose birthdays are closest to Christmas. Then, we'll sign Joe Flacco, even though he isn't a free agent. We will also sign Johnny Knox and Titus Young (who will reportedly be cut). After that we'll trade for Percy Harvin and Darrelle Revis. In the draft, we will only take players from Alabama, and only players who the fans have heard of, at that. And, just for good measure, we'll go ahead and fire the coaching staff and hire Jon Gruden. Super Bowl, here we come.
John: I'm in.
Troy from Orange Park, FL:
What is the status on MJD's foot? And do you think that he needs to have a Pro Bowl season to get the contract he wants when he becomes a free agent?
John: Jones-Drew underwent foot surgery late in the season and is expected to be ready to participate fully in training camp. I don't know that his chance for a long-term deal from the Jaguars depends as much on what he does next season as to how the team projects his future after that.
Paul from Jacksonville:
This seems trivial, but before, you titled each O-Zone section without the word "O-Zone." Now, for the past few days, it's a habit. Any reason for this change of style?
John: Yes, we have been posting the O-Zone in the top right corner of the site where we run most of the news stories. The O-Zone tag was to give people a clearer idea what is in the post.
Ben from Flagstaff, AZ:
You know who else could play the Leo? Dwight Freeney . . .
John: Yes, he could – or, at least, certainly, he could have. He probably still could for a while. The question is how long he could, and how much it would cost to have him do it. Few people respect Freeney more than I. I believe he deserves a lot more credit for the Colts' success from 2002-2010 than he gets, but age probably precludes the Jaguars from pursuing him.
Marcus from New York City via Jacksonville:
Caldwell intends to draft according to need in the early rounds. What is your best guess at the areas most likely to be addressed in the first three rounds? Pass rush and cornerback seem likely to me. What else?
John: Your two are good choices. Offensive line, outside linebacker and defensive tackle are up there, too.
Jack from Jacksonville:
What is the Jaguars' message regarding Chad Henne?
John: As of now, it looks as if he'll have a chance to compete with Blaine Gabbert and other quarterbacks for a job next offseason. Will that indeed happen? Stay tuned.
Alex from Jacksonville:
I know they plan to stick with Gabbert, but what about Geno Smith as a possible candidate to bring in for competition? I know it's a big risk, but if he falls to the second round, why not?
John: No one around the Jaguars has said they're sticking with Gabbert. They have said he's going to get an opportunity to compete. As far as your theory, I'd say if Geno Smith is on the board when the Jaguars select at No. 33, he would get very strong consideration.
Johnny from 141 and Palatka, FL:
As a Navy man, I don't believe in excuses for poor performance. (Ironically, now as a government guy, excuses are everywhere, and good ones are lauded). That said, the quarterback position is so demanding and difficult that doesn't it seem that Gabbert is, in a way, starting his third "rookie" season? Three different coaches/schemes/locker rooms/etc., means that he has in effect achieved no continuity. Each new offseason has presented brand new methods, play-calling, vocabulary, scenarios and on and on. I agree he has perhaps underperformed, but when he's on. Thoughts?
John: I think all of those things are true, and I also think Gabbert is going to get an opportunity to compete for the starting job. I think as Dave Caldwell said this week, that there are no more excuses for Gabbert and that he's going to have to earn anything he gets. I also think whatever happens we're going to get much closer to a final answer on the Gabbert Question.
Mark from Denver, CO:
Is Jadeveon Clowney the second coming of Reggie White from one outstanding hit?
John: No, he's a highly coveted player and was long before the hit. The hit just took him to rock star status among the public.
David from Jacksonville :
Saw you at the JU-UNF basketball game on Friday. Who were you rooting for? Go Dolphins!
John: I must admit I was at the JU-UNF game only in spirit, though from the sound of your email, it appears Jacksonville is fortunate enough to have two people who look like me.

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