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O-Zone: Wheels of perspective

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Frank from Jacksonville:
Just when we start to get some positive national press David Caldwell signs the non-productive and criminal Bernard Pierce. Just like that, we are the laughing stock of the NFL again. Please take a shot at explaining this one, John. Please don't say, "The Jaguars believe he is a good fit for the team."
John: I've gotten a few of these – perhaps not unexpectedly. But really, I'm not sure how difficult it is to "take a shot at explaining this one." Pierce is a no-risk acquisition who if he plays to the potential he has shown at times in the NFL could well represent an upgrade at the Jaguars' running back position. And I don't know that I share your perspective on the profile of this signing. To say that the Jaguars are the "laughing stock" of the NFL over this seems a little extreme. Players who have been arrested get claimed and signed all of the time in the NFL. Debate the merits and the rights and wrongs of that all you want, but that is the case. It didn't strike me that this signing was lampooned, criticized or even noticed on a national level to the degree that seems to worry you. And while I won't say the Jaguars "believe he is a good fit," I will say there's a chance he could be productive.
Fuad from Jacksonville:
Is it realistic to question whether or not Bernard Pierce will even make the team?
John: Sure, you can question it, but the belief here is he will.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
So, we could draft a player at No. 3 whose skills did not translate well to the NFL?
John: Sure, it happens all the time. The idea is to avoid it, of course – and good teams avoid it more often than not – but when you're projecting players it's always possible to draft ones whose skills don't translate.
Jamie from Santa Rosa Beach, FL:
Johnny-O … Please help me understand why they signed Bernard Pierce, this is not an upgrade.
John: The confidence in your statement in this case might overshadow your knowledge of the situation.
Andrew from Aldeby:
Seems a shame that J.T. Thomas went to the Giants; are you a little surprised that he was allowed to go?
John: Not particularly. Thomas did a very good job in a difficult situation last season, alternating between the Otto and middle linebacker roles and allowing the Jaguars' defense to not take a significant step back when middle linebacker Paul Posluszny was lost for the season. But once the Jaguars signed Dan Skuta as an unrestricted free agent earlier this month, no, I was not surprised. Thomas wasn't going to start over Posluszny and Skuta's skill set appears to fit the Otto position better than Thomas.
Michael from Jackson de Ville:
Can't even wave to me at the NCAA tourney, O-Man? What gives? I'm even more offended that you didn't even see me.
John: What makes you think I didn't see you?
Peter from Maribor, Slovenia:
The Jaguars sent a camera team to the other side of The States to see USC's Leonard Williams, went with the whole package to Nebraska to look at Randy Gregory and no cameras with Shane Ray? Is this any indication of who is the most likely to be picked at No. 3?
John: No. We planned Pro Day coverage for in late January and early February. At the time, Williams was pretty much a consensus choice to be a Top 3 selection and Randy Gregory was a hair or two below that according to many analysts. Shane Ray wasn't rated quite with those two, so we made the decision to cover the Pro Days of Gregory and Williams. Either way, where goes for Pro Days in no way reflects who the Jaguars are considering in the draft.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
Let me get this straight, O. We let go Jordan Todman and signed a running back (Bernard Pierce) that got busted for DUI and would probably be suspended for at least a minimum of two games. This guy hasn't been productive the last two years of his career and Todman showed some promise last year. Explain the logic on this one for me?
John: They think Bernard Pierce is better.
Aaron from Chantilly:
I have to say, Dave and Gus are doing a great job in their respective roles. However, it's all about Blake Bortles, which I feel is a shame. My feeling is that this is the year we will know about Blake. If he doesn't have a much better year this year, all the great moves and decisions will be for naught. That's a lot of pressure. I will happily keep my day job.
John: It may not be all about the quarterback, but yeah … it's close enough. Is it pressure? Sure. Is it too much on one position and one player? Maybe. But that's the reality of the sport and the position and the players who play it well understand it, and even thrive under it. So do the people who select players and coach them.
Edrick from Atlanta, GA:
Not sure why this rubbed me the wrong way, but it has. We have completely distanced ourselves from going after people with legal issues (i.e Peterson, Rice, Hardy) but we snatch up Bernard Pierce right after he was arrested? Why is he different? Because he is a superior player? That certainly doesn't seem to be the case.
John: I'm not trying to start a multi-day ethical debate here, but I don't know that everyone considers what Hardy, Rice and Peterson have been accused of doing and what Pierce is accused of doing the same thing.
David from Monterey, CA:
Maybe they could include two bye weeks per team, making the season a bit longer instead of adding more games. That would also decrease injuries a little bit and would increase revenue for the league. Why is that rejected?
John: The NFL had two bye weeks per team. The season was 1993. I wasn't covering the NFL at that point, but from a fan's perspective, it made the season feel very disjointed and confusing. It also seemed interminably long.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
If I were David Caldwell, and thank goodness for you guys I am not, I would have free safety high on my list of things I want. After pass rusher in the first round, I might turn my attention to free safety. Is this a case of Mother Hubbard going to the cupboard and the cupboard being bare? No offense to current players, but this Bradley defense needs a playmaker at the position.
John: The Jaguars' pursuit of Patriots free safety Devin McCourty gives you an idea not only of the importance of the position, but of the difficulty of finding it. If there was a player in the first two rounds who could play at a high level immediately, that might well be the Jaguars' direction in the draft – at least in the second round. It's a difficult position to find, and it appears Sergio Brown will have every chance to win the job with competition from Josh Evans.
Trae from The Crick at Fishwier:
I see what you did there! You're a trickster O-dawg. But that'$ hardly to $ay there'$ no chance of it happening.
John: Ye$, that wa$ $omething wa$n't it?
Jordan from Jacksonville:
You do a great job and I appreciate your hard work.
John: Go home. Your drunj.
Ray from Jacksonville:
Now that free agency has slowed, is there a player on the Jaguars' roster that an opposing coordinator would base a game plan on stopping or slowing that player? The receivers don't warrant double coverage; the second-pick left tackle can be beaten; the quarterback has two types of games -- either throw multiple interceptions or keep it under wraps and throw for 115 yards in a game; running back? - please; no one would be afraid to throw at the corners; no pure pass rusher. All seem average. Maybe 8-8 is the reasonable goal for a team without any stars.
John: Your description of the positions on the Jaguars' roster is relatively accurate – if you believe the young players on the roster will be exactly what they were last year. That makes some sense; considering the Jaguars went 3-13 last season it would stand to reason they wouldn't exactly be loaded down with scare-the-other-coordinator, game-plan-to-stop-him players. The Jaguars' plan called for drafting and developing a young roster, and with that sort of plan you're going to have a time when those players learn from mistakes. The development part needs to happen next, and if it starts happening this season, then, the Jaguars should improve. And if they improve, then not only is 8-8 a reasonable goal – it's also a strong step in the right direction.
Thrill from Section 236:
"spinning their collective wheels in the gravel of mediocrity." Nice
John: Not for the ones doing the spinning.

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