JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
David from St. Augustine, FL:
This is a quote from your book, "Jags to Riches." Yes, your shameless plug on Jaguars Today got me to buy it. So far so good, but here's the quote, "The draft was finished. Free agency was, too. The Jaguars were younger, faster, and on paper, better." You said this describing the Jags' second offseason. If we chalk up Years 1 and 2 of Caldwell/Bradley as tear-down and buildup, this sounds eerily familiar to this spring. That year turned out pretty well. I was at the Falcons game as Morten Andersen lined up ... You never know! Your thoughts?
John: I indeed mentioned Jags to Riches during my appearance on 1010XL's Jaguars Today last Monday – although the fact that I get no money from books purchased these days would splash at least a small amount of water on the "shameless-plug" angle. As far as the comparisons between that 1996 Jaguars offseason and this one … absolutely, there are similarities. Talent and speed were added in both offseasons. The team improved dramatically through both the draft and free agency. I'd say the excitement actually is a little higher around the team this offseason than that one. That team struggled at first, then came together in remarkable fashion. This year's team? Stay tuned.
Brian from Duval County:
Can people put some respect on Telvin Smith's name! The man has most definitely earned a second contract with the Jaguars and is one of the few vocal leaders on the team. I highly doubt they would get rid of one of their ALREADY-CORE players. I believe they would let Davon House go before they would let Smith go following the 2017 season ...
John: House-Smith really won't be an either-or situation, but as I've said several times – there are a lot of games to be played before this becomes a front-burner crisis. No one has said Telvin Smith won't be around following the 2017 season – or at least I haven't said it. What I have done is make the point that Smith is two years into a four-year contract, which means there's time to determine whether or not he will be re-signed.
Robert from Titusville, FL:
In order to create another playoff game without adding more teams and potentially ruining the integrity of the regular season, why not have the losers of the championship games play a third-place game the week before the Super Bowl?
John: The NFL actually did this following the 1960-1969 seasons, staging a third-place, consolation game known as the "Playoff Bowl." It was also known as the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl, the Pro Playoff Classic and the Runner-Up Bowl. It was a game between the second-place finishers of the two conferences in the NFL, and it was played at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Most coaches disliked it and players didn't think much of it, either; it was understandably a game played with little emotion or fanfare. As for its return, that won't happen – nor should it. Owners and players would have to collectively bargain the game into existence, and players wouldn't favor a meaningless postseason game that would create injury risk. I'm not sure fans would be all that into it, either. Besides, the league already is having enough trouble figuring out what to do with the Pro Bowl. There's no reason to add another postseason game with no Super Bowl ramifications.
Tom from Jacksonville:
Does the NFL do anything dumber than not allowing a player who has been suspended for the first time to be around the team / facility during his suspension? I remember taking my son's car away but I still let him ride the bus to school. NFL: help the kids; sure, don't let them practice but their team is their support system, not their enemy.
John: The NFL actually altered this rule slightly several years ago. Players suspended under the league's substance-abuse policy now are allowed to be around the facility during their first suspension. This rule does not extend to the league's performance-enhancing substances policy. I suppose the rationale is that players suspended for substance abuse need support more than those suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, but you're right: it takes away a support system. Also, the four-game suspension is punishment enough. I'm not sure being away from the facility is much more of a deterrent.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
John, you have assured us for a long time that Shad Khan's commitment to Jacksonville will hold. We can see the major investments in the stadium and game-day experience, as well as proposals for redevelopment in the area. But the BREXIT vote concerns me. Britain's economy is tanking, with no end in sight. An NFL franchise in London has been estimated to be worth more than $150 million a year to the London economy – revenue they will sorely need. Never before has London had a better incentive to get an NFL team, and I assume they will consider huge incentives for a team to move there. Given the current situation, are you still confident that the Jaguars will remain in Jacksonville for the long term?
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Conspiracy theories aside, do you think the Chicago Bulls would have won eight consecutive NBA Finals if Michael Jordan had not retired to play baseball? In your opinion, how does LeBron James' current streak of five consecutive NBA Finals appearances (including six total appearances over 10 seasons, with three series wins and three series losses), compare to the six-time NBA champion, Michael Jordan-led Bulls of the 1990s?
John: It's hard to argue that the Bulls wouldn't have won those two titles in 1994 and 1995 had Jordan played. They won the three before his "retirement" and won three more in succession afterward. The Houston Rockets teams that won the two between the Bulls' runs were outstanding, but the Bulls made a deep playoff run without Jordan – and another the year he returned midway through the season – so it stands to reason they would have had a heck of a chance in '94-'95 had he not stepped away. As far as James' streak, it actually stands at six consecutive NBA Finals appearances and seven overall. It's a staggeringly impressive streak for which he doesn't get enough credit, but Jordan is Jordan. In the NBA's modern era, he stands alone.
Nathan from Provo, UT:
John, I have a bold prediction, for all the bold predictors out there. I say the Jags win every game in which they don't turn the ball over. And for my next trick, a bold-bold prediction: Jaguars win every non-conference home game this year. Talk to me ...
John: "Provo, Spain?" "Utah"
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Do you believe the Jaguars are capable of winning at least five of their seven EverBank Field home games in 2016? How far will having a winning home record this year go towards a possible playoff push?
John: Yes. A long way.
Alan from Ellington, CT:
I don't like the idea of having too many rookie starters on defense because veteran experience is so valuable but do you think Poz could be traded this year before the deadline if Myles Jack plays well? What do you think the Jags could get for him?
John: The NFL is a rotational, situational league where injuries play a huge factor. You need 16-to-17 good players at least on defense to be really good on that side of the ball. Posluszny is a good player, so I don't see the Jaguars trading him.
Cdub from Duval:
Where can I find a time machine so it can finally be the regular season already?
John: When I was a young sportswriter, I said something to this effect to my friend and Jacksonville sports media legend David Lamm. "I hear what you're saying," Lamm replied, "but I learned a long time ago to try not to wish my life away." I'm paraphrasing here, but the man's words have a lot of merit. Football season will be here soon. Life's short enough. Enjoy it.
Jamaal from Duval:
Hey, Zone: People are saying that our offensive line will be a major weakness this year. They may be right, but we cannot deny that they will be better off in 2016 than 2015. RT: Parnell = Parnell; RG: Cann = Cann; C: Linder > Wisniewski; LG: ANYONE (Joeckel, Bernadeau) > Beadles; LT: Beachum > Joeckel. How can we not be better?
John: I'm not as ready to anoint Beachum as the starter at left tackle as many others, but either way your point is taken: Linder and Beachum added to this group should make this a better offensive line whoever starts wherever.
Thommy from Miami, FL:
No question. I really enjoy the O-Zone, but my good sir, It attains the heights in the dead zone. Excelsior.
John: There are two definitions for "excelsior." One is "loftier … yet higher … ever upward." The other is "stuffing material (as for furniture and mattresses)." I'll leave it to the reader to determine which applies to this column.
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
David from St. Augustine, FL: