O-Zone: Valuable minutes

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Bob from Hilliard, FL:
This team has no idea what it is doing. The O-Zone is starting to resemble a White House press conference.
John: I'm getting more than a few emails to this effect and I admit I find it a bit strange people seem upset with the franchise's direction. The Jaguars appear to be trying to upgrade the offensive line, and they're getting rid of a few high-priced free agents who didn't work out as planned. I wouldn't be surprised if Julius Thomas has success elsewhere. I also wouldn't be surprised if Kelvin Beachum starts for a long time somewhere in the NFL. I don't know that I feel as strongly about Jared Odrick making a huge impact elsewhere – in part because of the nature of his position. But to think that their departures will hurt the Jaguars significantly, or that their departures mean the team "has no idea what it is doing" … nah, I wouldn't say that. Now, it may be that people don't like what the team is doing, or that they don't yet understand what the team is doing. That's actually quite possible – and in fact, there's little question the team is being closer to the vest when it comes to explaining offseason moves. But you know what? That's not against the rules. And it's not all that unusual. This is a different organization with Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone in charge. They may not share quite as much with the public quite as quickly as the previous leadership. But that doesn't matter as much as what the team does on the field next season. That's when the plan needs to be clear and that's when it needs to work. Will it? I suppose we'll have a better idea of that as the plan becomes more apparent.
Jeremy from Gosnell, AR:
How likely is it that Beachum be retained to play right tackle?
John: Eddie. If I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet I wouldn't be more surprised.
Carlos from Richmond, VA:
With all of the $$$ we have, who are some of the big-name free agents we will possibly be trying to bring in? #GoJags
John: From the "speculation-only" files, let's go with New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, Houston Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye and Detroit Lions guard Larry Warford or Cincinnati Bengals guard Kevin Zeilter. All are currently projected to become free agents, and there seems a better-than-decent chance they actually will hit free agency. I like the idea of any of those players because they appear to be relative free-agent rarities – i.e., available players who actually are playing at a high level and appear to be worth signing. Now, any of those players still will come with the inherent free-agent risks, but all would have a better-than-decent chance of making a significant difference immediately.
Dave from Duval:
I think what concerns me so much about Blake Bortles is his situational football IQ is not where it should have been going into your third year as a starter. A good example is the sack he took holding onto the ball against Baltimore when we had no timeouts essentially clinched the game for them.
John: I've said often that the area of biggest concern for Bortles is football sense/decision-making. That area is as important – if not more so – than the accuracy issues many people focused upon last season. If Bortles can make strides in field awareness, pocket presence, pre-snap reads, decision-making, etc., he is accurate enough to be an effective quarterback. If he doesn't make strides in those areas his accuracy won't matter all that much.
Bradley from South Lake Tahoe:
I always thought John Madden was overrated as a commentator and underrated as a coach. He always said give me an elite offensive line and defensive secondary and I will be in the Super Bowl neighborhood every year. I say we grab Jamal Adams with the fourth pick and we have our elite secondary for the next decade. We need some sort of cornerstone to build out from.
John: I thought Madden was an otherworldly commentator, though – like many commentators – he probably wasn't as strong late in his career than he was early. When he first began on CBS, his ability to educate and entertain in the voice of "every man" was unmatched and he made games more interesting, which is something not all commentators can do. As far as his coaching, I don't know where he's rated but he unquestionably was one of the best of all-time. His record speaks for itself. I can't quite go with you on the offensive line/secondary thing, though. Elite players are valuable whatever the position group, but give me an elite defensive line/pass rush and elite quarterback and I'll figure out a way to win games. (Well, not me, but someone smarter than me, anyway). Offensive line would be next, though. I agree there.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Correct me if I am wrong, but did the Jags already have Steve Beuerlein on the roster when they traded for Mark Brunell? And was Steve expected to be the starter because he had more experience since Mark hadn't seen any regular-season snaps or limited snaps. See the parallels with trading for Jimmy G. AFC title game here we come! To quote the Nature Boy, " WOOOOOOO!"
John: You're not wrong, and there are some parallels – although to be completely accurate everything was new and unknown around the Jaguars in the 1995 expansion season to which you refer. As far as trading for a veteran quarterback this offseason, I still wouldn't rule it out. Perhaps we'll get a bit more insight into this when Tom Coughlin speaks to the media Friday. Actually, I don't expect to get much insight into this when Coughlin speaks Friday because him sharing insight into that would be counterproductive, but I still wouldn't completely rule the veteran quarterback thing out. Oh, yeah … "Woo."
Steve from Hudson, FL:
We need to draft mean Badgers … Ryan Ramczyk at No. 4. How would the mailbox look after that?
John: Familiar.
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
Why release Jared Odrick before we re-sign Tyson Alualu?
John: Because the Jaguars were ready to not have Odrick on the team. Whether or not they re-signed Alualu wasn't going to change that.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
So, say two teams have a trade set up before it can be official like the one with the Jaguars and Dolphins and one of the teams back out of the trade and ends up trading with someone else. What would happen to that team?
John: They wouldn't get to sit at the cool table at the next owner's meetings, that's for sure.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
I'm not even excited for free agency or the draft this year. I'm too accustomed to the moves the Jags make not making any difference in the all-important "win" column. Did I use that hyphen correctly? Grammar is important.
John: I'm getting a lot of that sentiment, and you know what? That sentiment is OK and it's perfectly understandable. Heck, it might even be healthy. The last few offseasons – particularly last offseason – have been filled with giddy anticipation, often of the breathless variety. Many last offseason predicted lofty, heady things – playoff-oriented things – for a group that really hadn't done all that much the season before to merit those things. Now, because of the disastrous feel of 3-13 last season, few are predicting much. I think the Jaguars will be improved next season, which means I think they'll have a really good chance to get to around .500. I think that because I think a lot of the young talent that wasn't quite ready to perform like core talent will be more ready for that role, and I think that because I think these players will believe in Marrone and the vision after gradually ceasing to believe in the vision of Head Coach Gus Bradley last season. Losing eroded that belief, and after a while the erosion had ill-effects that caused 3-13. When I say the Jaguars will be improved this season, I don't mean they'll make the postseason. I have hard time seeing them there yet, but I do think that they will be improved. But I don't expect me writing that to make fans who feel burned by the last few seasons suddenly excited. No, this team has lost enough that it must earn excitement by winning on the field. Free agency moves and draft selections will be important and they could yield positive results, but they understandably won't generate as much excitement as they have in recent offseasons. But yes, you used the hyphen correctly.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
I just read an article titled "Could Jaguars make a run at Jimmy Garoppolo?" How am I ever going to get back that five minutes of my life?
John: If you regretted that five minutes, I can't imagine how you must feel now.

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