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O-Zone: Working the plan

JACKSONVILLE – Columbia, S.C.-bound for Jadeveon Clowney Pro Day.

Let's get to it …

Ramel from Queens, NY:
I am the only Jags fan in New York. Do you think that I can strut my stuff this year and tell everybody how excited I am that the Jags are gonna go 10-6?
John: First, you may be in an extreme minority, but you're not the ONLY Jaguars fan in New York. Second, I can't control when you strut, though I absolutely encourage strutting. Third, you have every right to be excited, though as I believe I've said before this offseason, double-digit victories and playoff contention are lofty goals and ones I'm not quite sure this year's Jaguars will be quite ready to attain. The Jaguars will be improved and their foundation should be that much closer to long-term contention. That remains the focus this season. Be excited about that. And strut if you like. In fact, I encourage it.
Emil from Tallahassee, FL:
I know the draft is coming up and it's exciting to speculate about who will be taking the field for us next year, but what about the guys we know already? Specifically, what are you hoping/expecting to see on the field next year from our second-year guys like Cyprien, Sanders and Gratz?
John: Maturity, growth, consistency and significant improvement.
Brian from Orange Park, FL:
Wait a minute, O-Man … we can't have it both ways. At some point, these combines and workouts have to matter. We (the fans and media) frown when a quarterback elects not to throw at the combine: "We have to see the ball come off the hand, trajectory, velocity." Then, when a prospect orchestrates a pro day and flat kills it, we hear "it doesn't make too much difference" or if he bombs, we hear "we'll rely on the tape." To some degree, these events MUST make a difference. Otherwise, why do them?
John: Sometimes, I wonder the same thing, though it's probably best to say, "They usually don't make too much difference" rather than just flat-out say they never make a difference. The offseason workouts perhaps are best thought of as double-checking opportunities, with scouts wanting to check off boxes on players rather than hoping for earth-shattering revelations. Take Johnny Manziel's Pro Day last week, for example: by all accounts it was very, very good, and it did show he has very good arm strength. It also gave teams such as the Jaguars an opportunity to speak to him face-to-face. For those reasons, Manziel and a few teams got what they wanted out of the day. At the same time, there are a slew of questions about Manziel that can't be answered from a Pro Day and only can be evaluated on film. For that reason, the Pro Day remains a valuable tool, but hardly the end-all, stock-changing event for most players.
Ron from Jacksonville:
Why would you trade out of the No. 3 pick? Because sometimes, you can get one of the three best players with the No. 7 pick. Add a second-rounder to that, and you might get two good players for the price of one.
John: What this guy said.
Richard from Bagram, Afghanistan and Orange Park, FL:
I don't get to keep up with Jags like I want to over here, but I did read an article about the Jags playing 16 games next year in London. Is this just some sports writer who doesn't like Jacksonville trying to stir the pot on the long going debate about Jags moving to London?
John: I don't want to speak for the motivations of the writer of the article. The Jaguars are playing one game in London each of the next three years. There are no plans to play more games than that per season, and there certainly are no plans to play 16 games in London next season.
Paul from St. Johns, FL:
I hate to quibble, O-man, and we were all probably told "there would be no math," but improving from two wins to four wins to eight wins would be a GEOMETRIC improvement, not an EXPONENTIAL one. Exponential improvement would be from two to four to 16. :o)
John: Whut?
John from Jacksonville:
This is the first season since 2011 that the Jags will have some solidity with the position of head coach. By this, I mean having a head coach established beyond his first season with the team. In addition, we have a general manager and owner who are solid in their vision as well. I'm feeling good that we will see a team that is respected across the league this season as a tough opponent that can't be overlooked. We may not make the playoffs but I think we are going to finish very close as the season closes.
John: This indeed is what makes this an exciting time to follow this team. I didn't cover the team early in Jack Del Rio's tenure as head coach, but I covered most of the Tom Coughlin era and this offseason has a little of the feel of the 1996 offseason. That's not to say this year's team is poised to match that year's magical playoff run, but the '96 offseason had an energy that the team was moving in the right direction; you had an idea what the franchise was about. No one knew what was coming, but there was an exciting, young, improving feeling about the team. There are similarities this season. How much success those similarities bring remains to be seen, but they are there.
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL via Fort Lauderdale, FL:
UCF has the largest undergraduate program in the country, and I understand that many Orlando residents are not fully committed to being a Bucs fan. Recognizing that putting the best player on the field remains the most important factor, is the prospect of expanding the fan base and home-game attendance by drafting Bortles a collateral consideration in any respect?
John: No.
Jason from Jacksonville:
John you are the face of the franchise.
John: God help us.
Aaron from Fairfax, VA:
How much bigger was Brunell over Manziel? I think Mark played in the modern era and wasn't too big, but made plays with his legs when needed. Sure, later in his career he was injured but if Manziel gives the Jaguars four-to-six good years, that would be fine. I think planning for 10-to-12 years is an old approach that is not up to date.
John: Bringing Brunell into this discussion actually supports the side that worries about running quarterbacks. Brunell did give the Jaguars some solid years, but an argument can be made he wasn't as good after his knee injury than before. But I don't really think about Brunell when I see Manziel. I think the most legitimate concerns about Manziel are the likelihood of injury and the tendency to leave the pocket before it is necessary. The latter is something that makes NFL observers very uncomfortable, because for great quarterbacks to be productive long term, history shows you have to be able to make plays from the pocket. There are cases when running quarterbacks can be excellent in unconventional ways, but rarely is that true over the long-term.
Ryan from Gainesville:
Hey O-Man, I was wondering if I could get a shout-out for my Dad's birthday. He is serving overseas in the U.S. Navy, and still finds time every day to read the O-Zone.
John: Hey! RYAN'S DAD! Happy Birthday, and thanks for reading.
KC from Fort Lauderdale, FL:
Why did the NFL move the draft back from April to May?
John: There was a conflict in booking Radio City Music Hall on the normal weekend, but it's something you've heard about the league wanting to do for a while. I'll be surprised if it's moved back.
David from Durban, South Africa:
The team has addressed all of the positions on the defensive line in free agency, save for the one-technique tackle. Do you see the team addressing this specific position in the draft with someone like Louis Nix III? I noticed that Gus and Co. all attended the Notre Dame Pro Day.
John: I'd be surprised if the Jaguars took Louis Nix III. He doesn't seem likely to go in the first five or six selections, and he almost certainly will be gone by the middle 20s of the first round or so. It wouldn't stun anyone to see the Jaguars address that position at some time in the draft, though the Jaguars do like Roy Miller at that spot.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
"Why do I have to drink all this Culligan water?" "Trust me, honey, I know what I'm doing."
John: Heh. Heh.

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