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O-Zone: To the max

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, is it wildly and completely out of the question to think that the coaching strategy in the second half of the Colts game was to ensure a loss for draft position? This must happen even if it's never talked about, right? I mean the team played well in the first half. In the second half, especially the last drive, the play-calling was terrible. It seems like taking a dive is not all that hard to believe.
John: I understand why people would think this. I understand because people love conspiracy theories and people love to assume untoward things occur. Is it wildly and completely out of the question to "think" the Jaguars were playing for draft position in the second half Sunday? People can "think" whatever they please. Were the Jaguars in fact trying to lose Sunday to play for draft positioning? No, they were not. Players and coaches don't think that way – not even during meaningless games. They just don't.
Dave from Duval:
Wow. Apparently the players think it was coaching, too.
John: Some do. Many don't. Maybe the ones who think it are right. Maybe the ones who don't are right. That's what's awesome about opinions. Everyone can have one.
Austin from Madison, WI:
John, I just wanted to applaud your response to Paul's comment about Kelvin Beachum's rant regarding the use of the term winning. I understand what Kelvin means and understand some players prefer different styles in their head coach, but to act like that was the reason the Jaguars didn't win is pretty laughable. It has worked pretty well for Seattle and Pete Carroll, hasn't it? Seems to me like some of the players on the Jaguars need to keep their mouth shut and worry about doing their job well before criticizing others. Not a very good look, Kelvin, in my opinion.
John: I like Kelvin Beachum and have no problem with him speaking his mind – or with other Jaguars players speaking their minds. Players are entitled to their opinions, and it makes following a team and following sports far more interesting when they do. I, too, understand what he was saying – just as I understand players such as Tashaun Gipson, Dante Fowler Jr. and Jalen Ramsey may have preferred to be used differently this past season. All's well and good. But to think the Jaguars lost this season because the word "winning" wasn't used enough stretches logic a bit. Was the defensive scheme to blame? Could players have been used differently? I wouldn't mind the secondary playing a bit more aggressive. I see the point in that, but this defense wasn't awful and it improved a lot this season – and the defense played at a winning level a pretty good percentage of the time. But I wouldn't paint this as a defense that was woefully mismanaged or that completely misused its talent. I think that's going far too far the other way, and I think the play on the field showed that.
George from Jacksonville:
So Zone, professional athletes who have almost all come from very successful high school and college careers need to be told that winning is better than losing, daily? It appears that is what many readers think? If Gus ended every day saying, "Oh by the way boys, the 12 hours you spent here today and the two-and-a-half-hour practice in 100 degree heat, and all the lifting and meetings is so we can win" I guess it would have changed everything!
John: I suppose.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, as someone who has had the opportunity to watch the Gators up close, I'd say Dante Fowler is right that he would be much more effective playing standing up instead of with his hand in the dirt. What say you?
John: I'd say this will be among the Jaguars' more intriguing postseason topics. Will the next defensive coordinator – be it Todd Wash or a new guy – employ a scheme with Fowler standing up more? Perhaps. It's worth a look. Will he blossom into the player worthy of the No. 3 overall selection? Perhaps. As important is whether he continues to develop pass-rushing moves and gain experience. That will matter – wherever he places his hand before he plays again.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
I think it's about time for Canton to get a little bit of teal added to it. Tony in 2017!!!
John: Yep.
Daniel from Bold City:
Which of our free agents do you think we will re-sign? I like the improvement Johnathan Cyprien showed this year, and Abry Jones was playing great. I hope David Caldwell brings them back next season.
John: These decisions will all depend greatly on input from the new coaching staff. Cyprien's return could depend on what he believes he can get on the open market, whereas left tackle Luke Joeckel may return on a one-year prove-it-type deal because of the nature of his knee injury. I think pursuing Jones will be a priority. He earned some form of second contract, and worked his way into a key role.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
A.J. McCarron, Tony Romo, Jimmy Garoppolo, Colin Kaepernick and Mike Glennon are all guys that will be either free agents or trade bait. Do you think of any of them make sense to be brought in as competition? Or are we more likely to have a new quarterback brought in through the draft? Or is Brandon Allen the competition we speak of? What does all this mean for Chad Henne?
John: I don't see Henne returning next season. He is expensive for a backup, and the idea of drafting Allen was that he would be ready for the backup role – at minimum – in his second season. I also don't see Romo in Jacksonville, because I think whether he is traded or released, he will have some input into his destination – and a 3-13 team will be a hard sell for a quarterback of his age. As far as the others, I don't mind the idea of McCarron, Glennon or Garoppolo in some capacity. The question becomes: at what cost? It's very possible all will command fairly significant compensation in terms of draft selections or free-agent salary/signing bonus. Do you pay what amounts to premium equity for a quarterback for competition, or is that sort of purchase reserved for a player who is coming in as The Guy? We won't know those answers until we have a better idea of the direction of the franchise, and we won't have an idea about the direction of the franchise until there's a new head coach.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Love Bortles' excuse for why he was awful this year?
John: Now, now … I understand many people don't want Blake Bortles as the Jaguars' quarterback next season. I also wonder if he can be a franchise quarterback. But let's not paint this week as Bortles making excuses. He has been asked about some issues that went on during the season and last offseason, and he has answered honestly. He said offensive coordinator Greg Olson encouraged him to work with his receivers here in Jacksonville as opposed to working with quarterback gurus Tom House and Adam Dedeaux last offseason and he said he played through a shoulder separation late in the season. He didn't cry or complain about either of those things, and he didn't discuss them as if they were the sole reasons he struggled last season. Bortles may not be developed as a quarterback yet, and it remains to be seen if that will ever happen. But I've never gotten the idea he was a complainer or an excuse-maker.
Aaron from Chantilly:
Bortles' career win/loss record is 11-34. … I just don't see why we need to bring him back, other than he has one year remaining on his contract. Everyone points to Gus' win/loss record, which is roughly the same – yet we see improvement on the defensive side and not in the quarterback play. Head scratcher ...
John: Don't scratch too hard. You could break skin and leave a scar. But the reasons you bring Bortles back are simple – that he has a year remaining on his contract, that he has shown enough in three years to give you hope that he could be good and that good quarterbacks are hard to find. You have one you think might be good on the roster. You don't make him go away until you're sure he's not – and perception to the contrary, the Jaguars are not yet sure he's not.
Chris from Jacksonville:
So, with the front-office interest in Josh McDaniel as our new head coach, it turns into us getting Tebow – the guy his mentor, not to mention every other team, has not seen fit to bring in with the quarterback injuries this year? Isn't he playing baseball or something? Please, John: make these crazy people stop. I know the offseason is a time for speculation with all that has happened over the past three weeks, but all I know is I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue.
John: #tebowtime!!!!
Troy from Dover, PA:
Has Tony Boselli's head got any bigger in the last couple days?
John: No. He's already maxed out.

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