Let's get to it . . .
Scott from Newcastle, UK:
In regards to expansion, what was different between the ways Carolina and us were brought in, and Houston and Cleveland?
John: The biggest difference probably was that those two teams – Cleveland and Houston – weren't allowed extra draft picks in the first round in 1999 and 2002. The Texans and Browns each received multiple selections in later rounds, but not the first. The Jaguars and Panthers were given an extra first- and second-rounder in 1995. That allowed the Jaguars to select Tony Boselli, James Stewart, Brian DeMarco and Bryan Schwartz in the first two rounds in 1995. Only Boselli developed into a Pro Bowl-level player, but those were four starters/solid contributors throughout the early stages of the franchise. Draft picks are a huge commodity. The league was very concerned that the 1995 Jaguars and Panthers not struggle the way the 1976 Buccaneers did early. In the era of free agency, it turned out that wasn't quite as much of a concern and I don't think you'll see future expansion franchises get the extra first-round draft picks. One other factor that played in the Panthers' and Jaguars' favor was coming into the league in the early years of free agency. Teams weren't quite as good at targeting their own free agents and re-signing core players in those days.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Just for the record I believe Ferric Collons still has the record for helmet throwing downfield.
John: He certainly set the standard.
Gigantor from Jacksonville:
Do you think there will be teams that defy the CBA and coach their young quarterback prior to the allowed date?
John: Do I think there will be teams on which coaches talk football with their players, and do I think there will be situations in which teams bend the spirit of the rules? Absolutely. Do I think there will be teams that have their coaches study film and work with players on the field in blatant violation of the rules? No. People talk in the NFL and word of that sort of violation would travel pretty fast.
Russ from Atlanta, GA and Section 215:
There has been a lot of talk about Tom Coughlin making the Pride of the Jaguars. I like Coughlin and didn't want to see him let loose from the Jags, but the Pride should acknowledge great accomplishments for the Jaguars, not any other team. Just being the first coach isn't a great accomplishment and no Super Bowl appearances doesn't quite cut it for me. Let's let the Giants honor Coughlin and wait until we win a Championship of our own before thinking about putting any coaches on the building.
John: This is an interesting debate. I've always been of the belief that Coughlin deserves to be honored, but that thought has nothing to do with what he has done for the Giants. I'm probably biased because I covered Coughlin from 1995-2000, but he in many ways defined the organization in the early days of the franchise, and while the Jaguars never made the Super Bowl they did make four consecutive playoff appearances and two AFC Championship games during his tenure. That's not a record to be overlooked. I don't think it would be appropriate to put Coughlin in the Pride until a few years after he retires, but once the Jaguars reestablish themselves as a contending team and therefore reestablish their identity league-wide, I can see a time when it eventually would be appropriate to honor Coughlin.
Ken from Section 125:
When the Jaguars say they are playing simple defense to allow the players to "play fast" what do they mean? Are they allowing the defense to make plays on the ball? Enlighten me.
John: The Jaguars' defensive philosophy is based on the concept that the less players have to think the faster they can react and therefore the quicker they will get to the ball. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker talked a lot about it last off-season, and there were fans concerned the Jaguars would be too simple and therefore not confuse opposing offenses. Tucker's belief – and he's hardly alone among NFL defensive coordinators on this – is that defense in the NFL is less about complex schemes that fool the opponent than it is about having all players playing as one and making decisions as quickly as possible. A half a step can be a big deal in the NFL, and a simple defense can allow the defense play to be that half-step quicker.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
Who cares about defensive rankings? I understand injuries are not an excuse, but the Jaguars' defense played lights out early in the season, and was on the field a lot because of a stagnant offense. So easily we forget the defensive performance against Tennessee Week 1. That's when the Jaguars were 100 percent – when they began the season. That's the defense that needs to be thought of, not the one that couldn't stop Atlanta in Week 16. Fans could have concerns with the offense headed into the off-season, but why the worries about the defense? Why the worries about the defense?
John: Because it's the off-season, and this is the O-Zone, and therefore you're going get worries about many things, and people even – believe it or not – worrying and criticizing for the sake of worrying and criticizing. Whatever the Jaguars' ranking last season there's no question the unit was better than the year before – and that was without a premiere defensive end. I believe there's a good chance the Jaguars will pursue the end position in free agency, and while signing free agent defensive ends can be a high-risk proposition, if they can get impact there the defense can take another step.
Alex from New York, NY:
John, I'd rather be bored by stories about the Colts or Redskins than by stories about Krystal.
John: That's the beauty of the O-Zone. I can bore you in many, many ways.
Luca from Buffalo, NY:
I just read the Bucs were denied permission to interview a position coach from the 49ers for their defensive coordinator job. I thought that teams could only deny lateral moves, what gives O-man?
John: No. Strange as it sometimes seems, the league does not distinguish between levels of assistants when it comes to being able to request permission to interview a coach. A team must allow an assistant to interview for a head coaching position for another team, but permission does not have to be granted for an assistant to interview for another assistant job – even if it's for a promotion to coordinator.
Garrett from Ashland, VA and Section 149:
Can you explain the difference between restricted and unrestricted free agents? Also, what does it mean to be franchised and do any Jaguars players have a franchise tag?
John: This answer by necessity is a bit cumbersome. An unrestricted free agent can sign with any team and the team signing the player does not have to compensate the player's former team. If a team signs a restricted free agent from another team, the signing team must compensate the player's former team with draft selections. Under the new CBA, players can become eligible for restricted free agency after three seasons and unrestricted free agency after four seasons. How much a team must give up to sign a restricted free agent depends on the level of tender offer extended to that player by the team for which the player is currently playing. As for the franchise tag, it's a tool that allows teams to keep one player at a time from signing as a free agent by paying the player for essentially a one-year contract. The one-year deal will pay the player the average salary of the top player at his position over the previous five seasons.
Zachary from Jacksonville:
Between wide receiver and offensive line which is more of a need in free agency and the draft?
John: Wide receiver. The Jaguars' offensive line wasn't perfect, and allowed more sacks than is ideal, but there is a talent base on the line and it clearly was one of the strongest run-blocking offensive lines in the NFL. You can easily see the group functioning at a higher level once the entire offense is on the same page, and once improvement is made at other positions. I believe some of the receivers on the roster last season will play at a significantly higher level next season – due in part to the presence of receivers coach Jerry Sullivan – but that's also an area where an upgrade in personnel has been planned for this off-season and the roster moves there could be pretty significant.
Jonny from Orlando, FL:
John Oehser for President! Seriously, would you consider running?
John: There's a Woody Allen joke about him not wanting to join a club that would have someone like him as a member. The analogy isn't perfect, but I thought of that joke when I read your email.
Zeke from Anywhere, USA:
What's the strangest question you've received? Besides this one?
John: Jonny from Orlando's is in the running.
The beauty of the O-Zone
Let's get to it . . .
Scott from Newcastle, UK: