Let's get to it . . .
John from Elizabeth City, NJ:
I, like you, like the starting lineup for the Jags. What I don't like is the lack of depth. I know it takes time, but it is a weakness that playoff teams must have because injuries happen. Agree?
John: I agree playoff teams need depth, but I don’t know that there is a glaring lack of depth on the Jaguars’ roster.
Russell Allen is a very good backup linebacker, C.J. Mosley is a solid backup at defensive tackle, and the cornerback position is deep. The offensive line has a chance to have good depth, depending on the development and health of some players. The Jaguars, like most teams, would be hurt by injuries, but I thought the defense played pretty well through the first wave of injuries last season. The cornerback position suffered when injuries took the spot to fifth or sixth on the depth chart – and even down to players not on the roster at mid-season – but any team would sustain a talent dropoff in that situation. The team still needs to get deeper, but building the sort of depth you’re talking about is a five-or-six-year process and I do get the idea the Jaguars are moving toward that.
Oliver from San Pedro, CA:
How about getting Dallas Clark and run a two tight-end scheme like New England did?
John: That makes some sense, and I’m a little surprised no team has picked up Clark. He’s closer to the end than the beginning of his career, but he’s a skilled guy who has the potential to make a contribution and could probably be signed for a very safe contract. As far as the Jaguars specifically, I think you’ll see them utilize the tight end pretty extensively in the offensive system used by Mularkey and Bratkowski. The position is a key to what they did in Atlanta, and they consider
Marcedes Lewis key to what they’re going to do in Jacksonville. Zach Miller logically would fit into that, too, provided he can stay healthy.
Zhane from Section 408:
For all the fans who think that draft analysts and the scouting combine are the be all and end all when it comes to evaluating talent, consider this: The NFL Network's Mike Mayock has re-released his top rankings for future draftees. A big change? He dropped Memphis' Dontari Poe from first to fourth in his DT rankings AFTER going back to watch game tape following Poe's combine performance.
John: I’m not surprised. Mayock is perhaps the top analyst around right now, and he’s a believer that on-field production trumps combine performance. To be fair, my experience is that the so-called Combine Guy actually is one of the bigger myths going. Most teams don’t put a tremendous amount of stock in the combine or the workouts – at least not to an extent that they move players up drastically on a draft board because of them. They’re usually a complementary tool in the sense that most teams consider how a player performs in games as far more important than anything else.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
Why does everyone want you to take a day off? What part of the deal did they not understand? You are doing this until the Jaguars end up blacking out a game. Am I wrong?
John: Oh, no, no, no. The O-Zone-until-there’s-a-blackout was for the regular season. I’ve kept it going since because with this crazy, eventful off-season there has been a demand for it – at least for a small, deranged segment of the fan base I love but don’t quite understand. It won’t go on forever, and it may not go on much longer. We’ll see.
Gabriel from Sioux Falls, SD:
The number of fans that want Jacksonville to draft Tannehill, even with the team having two premier prospects occupying the top quarterback spots on our roster, illustrates the low level of intelligence from the "average fan" that the O-Man encounters on a daily basis. I feel you, bro. Personally, I feel the Jaguars are locked and loaded more so than about 25 - 30 other teams in the NFL.
John: I haven’t gotten many emails lobbying for Tannehill. Maybe the readers here know better. My thought on Tannehill is this: if you’re thinking the Jaguars should take him because he’s the best available player at No. 7, that’s one thing. If you’re thinking the Jaguars should take him because you believe the Jaguars need a franchise quarterback, be patient. Give Gabbert a chance to develop.
Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
When Jacksonville is mentioned by the national media, there seems to be a black cloud hanging over us – the tarps, the blackouts and the spin on Tebow not coming home. Most of this vitriol is inaccurate, but it still makes me mad. If we go to the playoffs, will these clowns target another city and team?
John: Perhaps not the first year, but eventually the target will move on. Until then, while I understand the vitriol is irritating, I’ll continue to say what I’ve said since the O’Zone’s inception: the solution to this is to win. Win, and even if people continue to criticize you the criticism tends to bother you a lot less.
Geoff from Orlando, FL:
I believe it's floutist... and speaking of jazz flute, have you heard they're making Anchorman 2?
John: Actually, it’s either flautist or flutist. What it is not is floutist. I know this because floutist has a little red squiggly underline in Microsoft Word while the others do not.
Matt from Jacksonville:
Wouldn't that be floutist? Not that I would know.
John: Apparently that’s true.
Randy from St. Augustine, FL:
The Jags DON'T WANT a franchise quarterback. Every opportunity they've had over the years to acquire one, they have passed, whether it was in the draft or a free agent veteran. Even Vic said that the team had "neglected" the position for nine years. That's one reason some of us have a problem with Gene Smith.
John: Randy, I try very hard to not berate fans. If you check the one-year-plus history of the O-Zone, you’ll see I pretty consistently have tried to be patient and understanding with even the most ludicrous premises. But on this, it’s very difficult to hold my tongue – er, keyboard. Yes, the Jaguars may have neglected the position for a long time, but the team traded up and selected a quarterback with the No. 10 overall selection last April. Gabbert at one point was considered by some the No. 1 prospect in the draft in 2011. Say that Gabbert was disappointing last year if you want. Say that you don’t think he’ll be any good. But to say that you have a problem with Gene Smith because the Jaguars don’t want a franchise quarterback is about the silliest premise for a stance as I’ve heard in the year I’ve been doing this column.
Jonathan from Lawrence, KS:
I take exception to the question about Gene Smith making jaw-dropping picks with his first round selections. Monroe was rated by many as the best- or second-best left tackle prospect, Gabbert was seen by many as the best quarterback prospect, and Alualu was unknown by the media, but the general consensus was that there were many teams that had him as a top 15 prospect. I think it is complete ignorance to complain about Smith's first round approach.
John: Well, if you’re going to be ignorant, you may as well do it completely.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
Taking Whitney Mercilus in your mock draft isn't you trying to warn us of Gene taking a reach in the first rounder again?? Cmon John! Until we hit a slam dunk with our first and take some productive D1 talent instead of small-school "sleepers" with our third-and-fourth rounders, I think we have reason to question Gene's strategy!
John: Taking Whitney Mercilus in my mock draft was precisely what I have written on several occasions – a “warning” that I thought the pass rushers at the top of the draft might not be worth taking or too risky, and that pass rusher might be the way the Jaguars go in the first round. I also mocked Mercilus there because I think the Jaguars might trade down, and Mercilus makes sense if a team trades down into the teens or early 20s. The final reason I mocked Mercilus to the Jaguars is mock drafts are a way to start conversation and debate, and mocking him to the Jaguars certainly would do both. As for Smith reaching in the first round, that simply hasn’t been the case, but question all you want. I’ve never had any problem with questions.
Brad from Jacksonville:
What were the rules of the expansion draft where we lost Tony Boselli? Clearly that was not a case where we offered a couple of our roster's bottom feeders.
John: The rules were the same. The Jaguars offered several high-profile players for the Texans’ expansion draft in 2002 because by doing so, it allowed the players to go off the team’s salary cap if the Texans chose them. The Jaguars at the time were in serious cap difficulty and needed to lose those salaries to make the situation work. I suspect any future expansion drafts will include high-profile players for the same reason if the rules were similar.
Jackson from Houston, TX:
Why is it that everybody keeps wanting to see the O-Zone stop? I want you to keep it going as long as you can, O Man!
John: I appreciate it. You can darned sure bet I won’t be quitting to take up the flout.