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O-Zone: Tossin' and turnin'

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Chris from San Marco, FL:
Is the Jaguars' roster so much better now that they are apt to "steal" a game from a top competitor in the league?
John: How about if no "theft" is involved? The Jaguars' roster definitely is better than it was a year ago, and I have written that often. It's definitely better enough to play better against the best teams than they did a year ago, and I have written that often, too. They improved last season compared to 2013 and the games last season against playoff teams were, for the most part, more competitive. I expect similar improvement this season, which should mean having a chance against good teams at the end of games. If you're close at the end of games, then yes, you should win some of those games. And before there are is a chorus of, "Why should the Jaguars just expect to be close!!! Why shouldn't they strive to blow playoff teams out?!!?!!?" Because they went 3-13 and are still building. There will be a time when they should be expected to control games against elite teams. It's a process. I can't say the process is complete. I can say they're in the process.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
With Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller both returning from injuries suffered last season, what are your expectations for the defensive tackle depth chart and rotation? Will rookie Michael Bennett be given an opportunity to compete early for playing time?
John: I expect Roy Miller to start the season and I expect Sen'Derrick Marks to either start the season or be very, very close to doing so. I wouldn't bet against him, but if Marks doesn't start, I expect Ziggy Hood to start alongside Miller and Abry Jones and Michael Bennett to compete for playing time as reserve/rotation players.
Beth from Orange Park, FL:
I would like to send a big thank you Demetrius McCray, who sponsored the graduation rehearsal dinner at the Orange Park Country Club for the students and families of the graduates of the Broach School (a school for special needs kids). All 31 graduates have been accepted in colleges and/or trade schools. Thanks also to the Jaguars organization who promotes and provides this type of service to the community.
John: Very cool. #DTWD
Brandon from Duval:
John, I don't think people are giving Dave Caldwell and our front office enough credit for how all of these "big" contracts have been structured. We're getting all of the big money out of the way in the next two years while we still have a bunch of cap room so when the time comes to re-sign hopefully 90 percent of these guys, we have money to spend again. One fer smart contracts, picks, and FA signings in the Jags front office!
John: Being smart with contracts and the cap is critical, particularly during a building process. Caldwell has stated since arriving that he wants to build through the draft with the idea of eventually having a roster of mostly home-grown re-signed talent. That can't be done if you have cap problems, so it's not surprising Caldwell has taken this approach.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
My first concert without one of my parents in attendance at the Coliseum was Queensryche on their Empire tour. The opening act was Suicidal Tendencies, and some bozo thought folding metal chairs in the floor seating area were a good idea (general seating back then). Almost didn't make it out of the pit alive that night.
John: In the world of "concert prep," it's actually difficult to think of a significantly worse idea.
Rob from Pace, FL:
Hey John, if Dante Fowler Jr.'s injury takes so long to heal, why has he not had surgery? Seems like every day counts to get him back. Can you comment on what the Jaguars are waiting so long for?
John: While I understand concern over Fowler's injury, this pretty much defines "non-issue." First, the Jaguars don't intend Fowler to play in 2015, so while every day counts in this short, glorious time we have on earth, there's not a ticking, hold-your-breath timer on Fowler's return. Even if there was, it is common and necessary with torn anterior cruciate ligaments to allow time for the swelling around the injury to subside before performing surgery.
Anthony from Jacksonville:
By selecting Fowler with third overall pick, do you think it sent a message to the other Leos to perform better? Now that Fowler tore his ACL, do you think the other Leos have one last season to perform better now? Looking from a numbers point of view, when Fowler comes back next season, another Leo may get cut right?
John: If an NFL player needs a message to work hard he's not going to be an NFL player very long. Fowler's selection wasn't anything except an effort to get an elite pass rusher. And sure, when he returns another Leo may get released, but Chris Clemons will have finished his contract with the Jaguars by then, and Andre Branch will be at the end of his contract, too. Those issues will play out in time and likely will be pretty painless.
Steve from Hudson, FL:
It was "(Video Killed the) Radio Star!!" Thanks for filling in that blank space in my mind from the early 80s; there are so many. My head hurts now. Can I just stick to football questions from now on?
John: We can't rewind, we've gone too far.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
Hypothetically, what do you believe the league would have done if the Patriots' first-round pick in '16 or fourth-round pick in '17 had already been traded to another team?
John: I believe they would have taken away the Patriots' next available first-round selection and something very close to a fourth-round selection.
Andrew from Orlando, FL:
Can Blackmon appeal his denial? If you worked for the NFL, how might you plainly justify the allowance of players guilty of domestic violence, child abuse and animal torture to gear up on Sundays while wholly deleting players from the league who battle substance addiction? As Jacksonville's senior writer, would you buy that answer?
John: First off, I have heard nothing substantial that there is anything new in Blackmon's case. Second, it's difficult when doling out punishments/fines and the like to achieve equality and fairness across the board. The substance-abuse policy has been collectively bargained with little room for interpretation whereas the other penalties are more at the discretion of the commissioner. I don't think anyone would argue that the system is perfect, but I also don't think it's possible to compare punishments for one area of offenses with another.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
What's the best part of this job? What if you could do everything over again?
John: Next question.
Steve from Woodbine:
I found it a little odd that the team went ahead and signed Fowler to such a big contract soon after he was injured. I kind of thought they might have held out 'some' until he recovered and showed he had not lost anything. Can you explain that?
John: Sure. Unsigned drafted players sign agreements with teams that state the team will negotiate in good faith if a player is injured while participating in minicamps or offseason workouts. That's exactly the situation that happened with Fowler. While there would have been ways the Jaguars could have structured Fowler's contract that would have "protected" the team to a degree, to do so would have been to go against the spirit of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. More significantly, it would have gone against the spirit of what a first-class organization is about. Fowler was here on good faith and practicing as a member of the team. Any player has the right to expect to be treated as such.
Ralph from Jacksonville:
John, while Adam from Saint Johns purports to speak for all of us, he does not. The "we" I know are not tired of the rebuilding efforts;, we knew it would take time. The "we" I know are excited as heck about the progress the roster has made. The "we" I know understood it would take several years to recover from the horrible roster management of Gene Smith and we also knew it would take time for NFL rookies and second-year players to develop sufficiently to compete with rosters filled with veterans. I would be ecstatic if this team, still a very young and developing team, managed an 8-8 season. I hope for better but do not expect it. I recognize 6-10 is indeed possible but could still be reflective of a much-improved team. I have no doubt Mr. Khan holds Dave Caldwell, Gus Bradley and the rest of the staff accountable. Heck, while it's hard to imagine it is necessary, he probably also holds you accountable.
John: I pretty much agree with most of your points, and there's no doubt Khan holds everyone in the organization accountable. I know this, because this is the thought that keeps me up nights.

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