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O-Zone: Whatever you say…

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Pat from Jacksonville:
Well, that's the end of the road for Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville. A sad day, but I suppose one that had to come.
John: Maurice Jones-Drew indeed signed with the Oakland Raiders Friday, and it indeed marked the end of an era. And you know what? It ultimately did have to end this way, because this is how the relationship with most elite running backs and their first team ends. The position has a cruelly short NFL shelf life, and a team usually parts ways with the running back before the running back is ready to stop playing. The Jaguars would have been open to having Jones-Drew back, but only at a very low price and in a reduced role. Thus, they opted to let him test the free-agent market. When that happened, history suggested it was very unlikely he would return. I thought the market might be such that Jones-Drew might be prompted to return, but although the market likely wasn't what he hoped, he received enough from Oakland that it made sense for him to sign there. From the Jaguars' point of view, it just didn't make sense to spend a lot to re-sign a ninth-year veteran running back. That ultimately just didn't fit with the idea of building and moving a new direction.
Strnbker from Dothan, AL:
Trading back? I read where Dave would like to trade back a few spots and also have read that Atlanta wants to trade up from their No. 6 spot. Sound good to you?
John: No doubt.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
I'm tired of fans espousing the notion that a quarterback drafted high in the first round is expected by everyone under the sun to be the starter from Day One. This is not written in some NFL bible somewhere. That kind of rigid thinking isn't too brilliant. Teams have to be flexible enough to adapt to their own unique circumstances.
John: Just because something is said enough to become a "truism" doesn't mean every team must adhere to that truism. Enough quarterbacks have started as rookies in recent seasons that it has become vogue to say that an early-drafted quarterback must start or he is a bust. That's simplistic, follow-the-pack thinking and often it takes a unique situation to go against such thinking. The Jaguars are in a unique situation in that they are doing everything they can to ensure they build the right way. They are also in a unique situation in having an owner who grasps that the building process will take time. Part of that process may well be allowing a young quarterback/quarterbacks to develop at his/their own pace. If the Jaguars indeed take a quarterback No. 3 – and there's no indication that will be the case – they'll absolutely let the player develop at a reasonable pace, which may mean not starting for some time.
Troy from York, PA:
Hey, O-man, with the buzz going around with Manziel's unorthodox workout do you think that might have changed Caldwell's mind on him a little?
John: I don't know that we know for sure how Caldwell felt about Manziel before the workout. Probably the best way to characterize his thinking right now is that all indications are he doesn't believe any of the quarterbacks available in this draft are ready to play in the NFL right away. A Pro Day workout, even one with the flair of Manziel's, wouldn't likely have changed that.
Mick from Toronto, Canada:
I don't mean to put a damper on the signings, but Shaun Phillips just signed a two-year, $6 million dollar deal, and Knowshon Moreno had to settle for just a one-year deal. On those terms, honestly, I'd probably prefer those players over Gerhart and the pass-rushers we signed. I guess sometimes it pays to let the market play itself out.
John: I'll be sure to make a note.
Andrew from Toledo, Ohio:
In such a weak division, do you think the Jags can make that leap to win the division? Everyone seems to think that's crazy talk but I don't see the Colts or Titans getting any better.
John: It would be disingenuous to say I think the Jaguars will win the division this season. I think they're taking the right steps and I think they will be improved, but I think the playoffs next season are a lofty goal at best.
Bon from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Johnny Football is the best quarterback coming out this year, and although his style of play can lead to injury, to my way of thinking his upside is so high, the risk is worth the taking...what say you O man?
John: I say I agree with those who think that Manziel's style makes it a matter of if and not when he will be injured. That's an issue not just in the short-term but in the long-term. For that reason, I'd have a tough, tough time taking Manziel if I was starting a franchise.
Joe from Aurora, IL:
I recognize that a lot can change in the next 10 months, including the wide receivers on the roster, but if you had to guess would you say that the Jaguars make a concerted effort to resign Shorts before he becomes a free agent?
John: I think the Jaguars would like that to happen and I think Cecil Shorts III would like that to happen. However, Shorts likely will need to be healthy much of the season to make that happen and he will need to continue developing as he has in recent seasons. If all of that happens, then I could see the sides wanting to remain together.
Bill from Jacksonville:
How does a team play it if it wants to move back in the draft, but not so far as to miss out on a player? For example, how would the Jags handle trading back from No. 3 to, say, Nos. 7-to-10, yet not miss out on a player they want in that range? Do they just have to have a backup plan if their player is taken? Maybe be prepared to move back up?
John: You must have a backup plan. You don't want to trade back so far that you can't get a player you really like. There's no guarantee you'll be able to move back up.
Riley from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada:
Alrighty O-Man, what do you think are the chances we draft Johnny Football? I know Pro Days don't mean a whole lot, but he is for sure a person Bradley would love to have on the team due to the amount of energy he has.
John: Yes, I'm sure Bradley loves all the positives about Johnny Football. Bradley loves competitive, confident players who love football, and Manziel is certainly that. I think the chances of the Jaguars drafting Manziel are pretty slim. I keep going back to something Caldwell said about a quarterback in this era needing to be able to throw and win from the pocket. Manziel can do that but he showed a tendency in college to want to do other things first. That may be enough to push the Jaguars in a different direction.
Clayton from Jacksonville:
Impressive Pro Day for Johnny Football on Thursday, but it's a Pro Day. Hypothetically speaking, how would a player like Johnny fit into Jags' type of offense? How would you envision Jedd Fisch maximizing Johnny's unique skill set? Perfect world, Clowney at 3 and one of the "Top 3" quarterbacks take a surprising tumble and we nab him late first round with a trade; one can dream right? That's why I'm a spectator and not a general manager.
John: I think Manziel can fit into any offense, provided he learns to play more often from the pocket. If he does – and if he uses his escape-ability when necessary and not as his default mode – then he can be really, really good in Jedd Fisch's system. If he can't, he probably can't be good in any system for very long. As for your perfect world, I can see the Jaguars' taking Clowney at 3, but I'd be surprised if any of the three quarterbacks slip so far. They may not be first-round talents, but even if they're not, they'll get pushed up the board. Also, don't forget: if the Jaguars pass on the quarterbacks at three they also could pass in the second round. If you love one of these guys, take him in the first round. If you don't love him, then maybe you don't want him as your quarterback no matter the round.
Will from Jacksonville:
Maybe you should become the face of the franchise?
John: What franchise is that?
Camron from Orlando, FL:
We are ridiculed: "What good players do the Jags have?" The Patriots point to Brady. The Colts, Luck. They point to their Face of the Franchise. Even the not-so-good teams usually have one. We had MoJo. The Vikings have Peterson. When I say "Cecil Shorts," no one knows who I'm talking about. Poz? Nope. We need a Face of the Franchise so we can have that one guy that everyone knows to point to and say "We have good players." That is why it is important to the fan base. So yes, John, contrary to what YOU believe, it DOES matter. Quite a bit, actually. Will it happen eventually, by itself? Probably. But until then we'll be waiting, we'll be wondering.
John: K.

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