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O-Zone: Tow time

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: What is it about the quarterback position that makes it so hard to predict success in the NFL? Plenty of guys have the stats and measurables but crash and burn in the NFL. What say ye, oh great one?

It is the experience of the “great one” that it’s difficult to predict success at most NFL positions, with running back and most defensive positions perhaps a little easier than most other offensive positions. If projecting success was easy, teams wouldn’t miss so often in Round One. Quarterback indeed is difficult to project, but it receives more scrutiny – so we hear about misses at that position more than other positions. As for why scouting the position in particular is difficult, it’s primarily because it’s the most difficult position in sports to play – and because the college and professional games are dramatically different. The NFL is so much faster, with defensive players so much bigger, stronger and faster than college, that it in many ways is a different sport. Quarterbacks can be successful in college throwing to wide-open receivers; a quarterback who depends on receivers to be wide open rarely will be successful in the NFL. The pass rushes are faster and the coverages are more complex. It’s the same game in name, but from a quarterback’s perspective it’s so different that it’s hard to predict next-level success/failure based on what he did in college.

John from Jacksonville

Why not hire Fred Taylor as an assistant running backs coach? Fred knows all about maximum effort on the field and how to take care of his body off the field. I have the greatest respect for Fred as a pro’s pro.

Former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor indeed is a pro’s pro – and although he never has coached, I see no reason he wouldn’t be good at it. But I’ve never gotten the idea from Taylor that he’s all that interested in being an assistant coach. Coaching is a lot of long hours, long months and long years. Not every ex-player wants to do it.

Ken from Atlantic Beach, FL

I was always a big fan of Paul Poslusnzy. He was a great player and big influence both on and off the field. Even when injured he had big impact from the sidelines on his fellow players. Is there any buzz of him possibly coaching somewhere? I think he would be a great at it.

I think former Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny eventually will go into coaching. He said following retirement he might eventually consider it. I wasn’t surprised he didn’t get into it immediately because players often take a year – or a few – before getting back into the year-round grind of coaching.

Matt from North Jax

What do you think about the Jaguars making a trade for Cleveland quarterback Tyrod Taylor? He got a raw deal in Cleveland under Hue Jackson, but I think he would be pretty good in Jacksonville. Maybe not as a franchise quarterback, but as a bridge quarterback for a year or two.

Taylor is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2019 NFL League Year, so a trade wouldn’t be necessary. I like the idea of Taylor as a bridge quarterback. The question would be cost. He made $16 million in salary and bonuses this past season from Cleveland. That’s a touch high, but that’s kind of the going rate for OK NFL quarterbacks these days.

Tannen from The Jacksonville

Hey O, I can't help but feel that we are a quarterback a way from getting this thing done. I don't know why we spend so much time with Blake when their is so much talent around the league. If I look at the teams in the league I think there are 5+ better qbs so why are we wasting time with Blake? why don't we trade a pick or 2 for a better qb? why don't we tell everyone that Blake is playing really well at home and trade him for a better guy? The only reason to stick with a guy this long is because they want people to think they don’t waste money on his jersey, but its still a waste lol.

I get emails like this sometimes.

KC from Ukiah, CA

John, I have heard Tony Khan referred to as "the metrics guy" in the front office. Do you happen to know how much of a data-driven decision it was to draft Blake Bortles? And was he Dave Caldwell's guy, or was it more of a group consensus?

The Jaguars use “analytics” in most of their decision-making, so data played a part in the evaluation of Bortles. Caldwell was the general manager at the time of Bortles’ drafting, so I suppose he was more Caldwell’s “guy” than he was anyone else’s.

Mike from Lansing, MI

What is the status of the kicking game for 2019?

Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo is an unrestricted free agent and punter Logan Cooke next season will enter the second year of his four-year rookie contract. I expect both to return next season.

Howard from Homestead but currently in Mexico City

Why isn’t Mexico City talked about as the destination for an NFL team? Largest city in North America. More millionaires than every NFL market except LA, San Francisco, and New York. Central time zone. Lower federal taxes. A top-notch stadium could be built just for a team for a fraction of the cost. Could the NFL reconsider the Chargers-in-Los Angeles fiasco?

I imagine Mexico City at some point will be strongly considered as a possible destination, though I don’t get the sense such talk is imminent – and yes, I imagine at some point relatively soon the Chargers’ situation in Los Angeles will be under serious discussion.

Daniel from Eagan, MN

What do you think about the situation with the defense? I know that these young players on the defense have been playing very well, but you can’t dismiss the fact that it wasn’t “unbreakable” as previously thought (giving up 40 against Cowboys.) Is there going to be a change or will they keep progressing and getting back up to be that “big talk” defense?

Few defenses in the NFL are unbreakable under the current rules. While the Jaguars’ defense had a couple of games in 2018 in which it played below expectations, for the most part it played well – and it was certainly among the NFL’s better defenses. I expect the Jaguars will have some changes in defensive personnel in the offseason, but I expect the unit to remain a very good defense.

Marlin from Newberry, FL

Does Bortles have any trade value? Is it possible we might get something for him? Seems like we will be eating the signing bonus whether he is released or traded.

The Jaguars likely will try to trade Bortles this offseason. It’s unlikely they get much interest, not only because of his on-field play but because of the contract the other team would be acquiring in the deal.

Art from Drexel Hill, PA

Why do people want a starting quarterback that another team said wasn't good enough to start for them? Did NFL teams start getting rid of championship quality quarterbacks?

People want backup quarterbacks from other teams because one man’s trash often is another man’s treasure. But there are instances of backups on teams being good enough to start – and play at a high level – for other teams. It’s comparatively rare because there really aren’t 32 quality starting quarterbacks, but it does happen.

Mason from Palm Bay, FL

Your snide, condescending comments in response to anyone who ever asks a question about coaching are laughable. You're basically suggesting that all coaches are the same and they have no impact on the outcome. I understand fans gonna fan (always want to hire/fire coaches), but try to put some thought into your answers sometimes. Not all of us are ignorant.

First, I never said all of you were ignorant. Second, I don’t believe all NFL coaches are the same –  nor do I believe that quality coaching doesn’t matter. But I do believe fans, media and owners far more often than not dramatically overemphasize coach’s importance – and I absolutely believe the yearly coaching carousel and Annual Black Monday carnage is ridiculous and usually without reason. As for your main gripe, I do often answer questions by saying “It’s always coaching in the NFL.” There obviously is some condescension and sarcasm in the answer. The answer is not meant to say that coaching never is an issue. It’s not meant to say that NFL coaches aren’t good football men who are doing their job for a reason. It is meant to say that it’s not the overriding issue nearly as often as fans believe, and that the tendency to turn coaches into stars one season – or even one week – and tear them down and fire them the next season or week is perhaps the most absurd and misunderstood aspect of the NFL.

David from Jamestown, NY

So, I’ve been reading with interest about this company line that you are apparently forced to tow? Is it heavy? Does it require a tow truck or do you just throw it over your shoulder and tow it by hand?

It’s always the company line in the NFL. Always. #towtheline

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