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O-Zone: Using his influence

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … TJ from Orlando, FL:
I can only assume the angst about the schedule is due to a losing mentality from some fans. I for one believe the team is truly improved and can't wait for us to surprise a lot of people this season. You don't get respect from the rest of the league if you're dominant on a soft schedule. Show up and punch some of these "elite" teams in the mouth and that ever-craved respect thing will show up. #DTWD
John: That's really the bottom line when it comes to all of the discussion, hand wringing and teeth-gnashing – indeed, all of the all-consuming angst – that has dominated Jaguars Land since last week's announcement of the 2016 regular-season schedule. There is nothing unfair about the schedule and there's nothing overwhelmingly difficult about it, either. It's an NFL schedule with some teams that finished around the Jaguars in the standings last season – and it's a schedule with some pretty darned good teams, too. There's no home prime-time game, which is disappointing to some fans but hardly surprising for a team that hasn't made the postseason since 2007. It's neither soft nor hard, and it doesn't smack of an anti-Jaguars conspiracy in the league office. If the Jaguars are improved, it's a schedule that can be navigated into a good season. If the Jaguars aren't improved, it's a schedule that could mean a 5-11 record, which coincidentally is strikingly close to the record the Jaguars had last season. Perhaps this answer can serve as a spiritual end of sorts to the Great Schedule Angst of the past few days – but yeah, probably not.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Schedule, schmedule … just win, baby.
John: Yeah, there's that.
Christopher from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
So, how do you think the Jags will proceed now with the Myles Jack rumors that he's basically a "ticking time bomb" due to his injury? Is the concern about his injury recovery something you think will have him off David Caldwell's board as our first pick? Or is this just typical pre-draft smoke screening?
John: I certainly don't see the conversation around Jack as typical pre-draft talk. That's because the injury is real and the concern is legitimate. A lot of it likely will depend on how the Jaguars' doctors evaluate the seriousness of Jack's injury. Some teams are reportedly concerned that the injury could debilitate Jack over the long term; others reportedly are not. If the Jaguars are of the former camp then I doubt they draft him; if they are of the latter camp, it won't affect how they feel. I don't know that Caldwell will indicate how the Jaguars feel about the situation before the draft, and I wouldn't blame him a bit if he does not.
Lombo from Jacksonville:
Can Luke Joeckel play guard? As a general question, what are the size, body type, physical qualities of an offensive guard in the NFL compared to an offensive tackle?
John: First, there's no indication yet that Joeckel will play guard next season. He will compete with Kelvin Beachum at left tackle in training camp, and the belief here is whoever doesn't win the left-tackle position could very well start at guard. I do believe Joeckel can play guard if necessary – and far more importantly, the Jaguars appear to believe he can play guard if necessary. He has been good as a run blocker, and while he has been overpowered at times while pass blocking at tackle, that generally has been after he has gotten off balance by going out in space. That perhaps wouldn't be as much of a problem at guard. To answer your second question: generally speaking guards are a little stockier, shorter and thicker than offensive tackles – but that's very general and players at times have been able to switch back and forth between the positions in the NFL with success.
Shawn from Same Place I Was Before:
Oh, and my new coined phrase for Yeldon/Ivory …the dynamic duo …
John: Way to go.
Jackson from St. Augustine, FL:
If Joey Bosa, Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey are all gone by No. 5 could we possibly go with Vernon Hargreaves III?
John: Your scenario is possible, but I see DeForest Buckner or even Laremy Tunsil as more likely.
Greg from Jacksonville and Section 122:
In answer to the pessimism question, the answer lies in the length of time as a fan base we have heard the same message and series of events without results. Every year we get free agents, high draft picks and almost certainly something seems to happen for us to come up short. Last year, it was Dante Fowler Jr. getting hurt one hour into his NFL career it seems. But the momentum is changing it feels like. Hopefully, this year we turn the corner and become a team that EXPECTS to win. That is a key because losing is a culture and another form of momentum. #2016JAGSGO BIG OR GO HOME!
John: #DTWD
Levi from Bloomington, IN :
John, with our roster being stronger and there being less likelihood of rookies (especially later-round selections) starting, do you think that increases the chances of Caldwell trading up in any of the rounds this year? Like trading up from the third back into the second, or from top of the second into the bottom of the first?
John: I think the roster being deeper and better increases the chances of a draft-day trade a bit, and I think the fact that the Jaguars have eight selections this year increases the chances, too. I don't see Caldwell trading so much that the Jaguars end up with a three-or-four-player draft, but could he trade up and end up with, say, six or seven selections? Yeah, I could see that.
Jim from Meridian:
You mentioned your all-time top Jaguars defensive players. How to you regard Donovin Darius?
John: I'd put him somewhere between six and nine or so. You can be very good and not be in the Top 5 of something.
Tucker from Nashville, TN:
Hey John, I live in Nashville and listen to Paul Kuharsky every day driving to work. PK has his radio show and takes callers in the Nashville area. Titans fans were crying about no prime time as Jags fans. NFL isn't going to give prime time games to bottom feeders.
John: I know this.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
If Myles Jack, Joey Bosa and Jalen Ramsey are gone when the Jaguars pick at No. 5, is Laremy Tunsil talented enough to get some suitors willing to part with multiple high picks? I just think the talent drop off after those four is pretty steep. If the Jaguars could trade back into the late teens and still get someone like Eli Apple, while picking up an extra second and third round pick, I see that as an ideal outcome if they don't land one of the elite defensive prospects.
John: I think David Caldwell would like the idea of trading back in that scenario. I also think he has liked the idea of trading back in past drafts as the Jaguars' general manager only to be unable to so. But I don't know that the talent drop off after Bosa, Jack and Ramsey is as steep as you believe – and I actually don't know that there's one at all. DeForest Buckner is as talented as any of the players you mention. Is he a need? Is he a fit? Perhaps not, but most believe he belongs in that group of top players in terms of talent.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, I know the draft isn't only about the beginning of the season, the first month of it, or even the first year. Ok, now that I've got that out of the way … If the Jags draft Myles Jack, there's a very real chance they'll start their 2016 season – the most critical season yet for this regime – with their 2015 and 2016 first-round draft picks less than 100 percent. Needless to say, that would be extremely concerning, no? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: It would be concerning, not extremely concerning. If both Fowler and Jack were still less than 100 percent a few games into the season, that would be more concerning. If there were signs that they would remain less than 100 percent for the long-term, that would be the major concern.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
To borrow a line from Rodney Dangerfield, "We get no respect." ESPN's analysts all provided their team-by-team projections. I decided to read the game projections from everyone we face. Only the Titans' analyst showed a loss to the Jaguars, splitting the series. Every other team wrote in Jacksonville as a W. I know you always talk about not caring what those outside our market think of the team, but it's still frustrating.
John: I guess. I also guess seven or eight of those other "analysts" are going to be wrong.
Travis from Lakeland:
Who has been the biggest influence on you professionally?
John: Tad Dickman.

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