JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Dave from Jacksonville:
John O, with the divisional round of the playoffs complete, how do we project next year against the teams that made it this year? Where are we going to make up the talent gap? These teams that made it this year are going to add pieces for next year as well. It seems like a tremendous leap to make at this point.
John: This is a legitimate question, and the leap from 5-11 to the playoffs is in one sense a big one. It probably means the Jaguars winning five more games next season than they did this season, which will mean making tangible improvements. Also, the Jaguars are not only counting on offseason moves to improve the defense – and perhaps some spots on offense – they are also counting on another year of maturity improving the offense. The good news for the Jaguars on this front is there were many areas where they were pretty good this past season: the offense showed explosiveness and showed signs of developing into an elite offense. The defense was very good against the run, and could improve significantly with a few pieces. They have to be good pieces, and some existing pieces have to improve with it; that's usually how teams improve – that, and having a franchise quarterback who is improving, too. That's not a guarantee that the Jaguars will improve, but it gives them a real chance. I don't know that that could have been said a couple of years ago.
MO from Jacksonville:
Would u object if I legally changed my name to Moodachay Oehser?
John: Would it matter if I did?
Thrill from Section 236:
Where in the draft does it make sense to take a potential elite talent when that player will miss his rookie season due to injury? For example: Jaylon Smith. How early is too early for a team to take a shot at him?
John: If the draft were held in a vacuum, it would be easy to just take an elite player such as Smith, wait a year and assume he will be good enough over the long term to merit the selection. The reality is many teams selecting early in the draft need immediate impact from a Top 10 rookie, which makes it difficult to draft a player who will not play in his first season. If a coaching staff/front office is on secure ground and believes it has the roster to win immediately, it makes more sense to take a developmental player. Based on all of that, I'd be surprised if Smith goes in the first half of the first round, but we'll see.
Nick from Copenhagen, Denmark:
Before the season, my expectation was to see the team grow and a couple of stars develop. I think the Jaguars over-delivered on that. Allens, Bortles, Telvin Smith. We will get there soon ...
John: You make a good point. When you look at the Jaguars' roster, there are now players you can reasonably expect to be good and productive for a long time. Put Julius Thomas and Brandon Linder in that category, then speculate that Dante Fowler Jr. could be part of it, and you're getting to a point where you have six or seven really good players. That's a much bigger number than two years ago.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, you think Jalen Ramsey has the makings of a free safety, which is why you stubbornly refuse to consider the Jags taking Vernon Hargreaves III at No. 5. I don't know if Ramsey will be the next coming of Sean Taylor, but assuming the premise that VH3 is a better corner than Ramsey, what is better: selecting a player No. 5 overall in hopes of switching him to a new position or selecting a player No. 5 overall to play his natural position because he is the best available player at his position?
John: I don't know that I'm stubbornly refusing to consider anything as much as I believe that the Jaguars won't be inclined to take a cornerback at No. 5 overall. If they did, then Hargreaves makes sense. The need appears to be free safety, so if they can find one who can play at an elite level I think that will be strongly considered.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
I agree that Shad Khan is not going to make a hasty decision on Gus Bradley or Dave Caldwell based only the team's record. However, I don't think the decision to part with either or both of those guys can be downplayed. It could be argued the 2017 offseason is the most critical point in this rebuild … you want the right guys to start a rebuild process, but you must have the right guys making decisions on who to re-sign, who to pick up in free agency and who to draft. Re-signing the wrong guys to second contracts, or letting guys walk that should be re-signed, are mistakes that cripple franchises for a decade or more. I don't think Khan is looking for a particular record; I think he's trying to determine if Dave and Gus are the guys to make those critical decisions. Here's hoping he makes the right call!
John: There's no question the coming offseasons are critical. As of right now Shad Khan clearly believes Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley are the right people to be making decisions in those off-seasons. Why would he believe that? Because so far enough of the plan that Caldwell, Khan and Bradley laid out in 2013 has come to fruition to make Khan believe that's the case. If the Jaguars continue to appear to be improving – and improving next season means more victories – then I believe Khan will continue to believe the right people are in place.
John from Albany, NY:
Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell made a surprising comment last week when he said that A.J. Cann played as well as a rookie as any rookie guard he has seen. During his rookie year, many were saying that Brandon Linder was playing at a Pro Bowl level. What's your take? Do you think Cann is as good or better than Linder or do you think Linder is better?
John: I think Linder is better, and I think it's very good for the Jaguars that this question needs to be asked.
Chad from EverBank :
Let me start by saying I hope this is a non-issue. If Shad Khan decides to move in a different direction with the head coach next year, do you think he stays steadfast to his previous notion of not firing the coach during the season, or do you think a slow start next season would force him to do something out of the ordinary?
John: I doubt Khan will be one to make midseason changes. That's based on Khan not making a move during the 2012 season, and based on what he has said on the topic on multiple occasions. Could something ever happen to persuade Khan to act differently? Sure, but I don't believe that's the inclination.
Chance from Windsor, Canada:
I love reading this column; it gets me excited about the next season … and in recent years, every season. With Tennessee being open to trading the No. 1 selection, is there any desire for the Jags to go out and pick a Joey Bosa or Laremy Tunsil? What would the price tag be? Also, if Jalen Ramsey is gone at No. 5, who would you take? Put yourself in Mr. Caldwell's shoes Big O!
John: I don't rule out the Jaguars trying to move up a spot or two in the 2016 NFL Draft, but I'd be surprised if they trade up to No. 1. That's not only a pretty expensive leap (the No. 5 selection, a future first-rounder and possibly a second-rounder in 2016 or 2017), it would also mean trading within the division – and while that's not unheard of, it's pretty unusual. As for the No. 5 overall selection if Ramsey is gone, that will be the discussion for the next four months. Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner intriguing because of the position, but is he worth the selection? That will be among many, many, many things discussed many, many times in the coming months.
Kris from Copenhagen, Denmark:
Putting you on the spot John, Ramsey or Buckner?
David from Orlando, FL:
O-man, it seems your view on Tony Boselli being inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame has evolved in a short period of time. It went from "I don't think he's done enough" to something like "he absolutely deserves to be inducted." Do you feel your views have been consistent or have they evolved?
John: I've always believed that Boselli absolutely deserved to be inducted. I wrote that often and if that didn't come across … well, maybe it just didn't come across. Now, I also indeed have written often that I didn't believe Hall of Fame VOTERS believed Boselli had done enough to be inducted. That appears to be changing and it actually appears to be changing in a hurry.
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
O-zone, I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but I saw David Caldwell's draft board and it shows that we're drafting four defensive ends in the upcoming draft. What's your initial reaction to this news?!?!
John: My initial reaction is you broke into the wrong room.
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Dave from Jacksonville: