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O-Zone: Story time

Posted Feb 18, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Ramen from Queens, NY:
I think improve the defense through free agency. And draft for offense. Pick up Jairus Byrd from Buffalo, Greg Hardy from the Panthers and Michael Johnson from the Bengals. I say pick possibly one or two offensive linemen to help either Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater. We need to start winning now.
John: Wow. Is there anything else we can get you, sir? I’d hate to buy for you at Christmas. You picked perhaps the most-expensive three free agents on the market, and while they are indeed glittery, shiny names, no one team – the Jaguars included – will be able to sign them all; besides, David Caldwell has been very clear that the primary means of building will be through the draft. I expect the Jaguars to target a few players when free agency begins, and there’s a chance they will sign a more high-profile name than they did last year. I don’t expect a free-for-all. I also expect there will be free agents that price themselves out of the Jaguars’ interest. The Jaguars’ overriding plan is for the draft to be the franchise’s base with free agency as a supplement. Overspending on every free agent runs counter to that approach.
John from Westside, Jacksonville, FL:
Can you please explain all the interest and obsession with the Culligan ad? I really can't see what is so intriguing about watching Rackley chug-a-lug 10 gallons of water. What am I missing? Is there something else here?
John: No. You’re on it. People just sort of inherently like watching offensive linemen drink water. That’s why people want to watch the Culligan ad over and over and over.
John from Savannah, GA:
Khan's "other team" just fired its second manager in the same season over in England. Do you think that would affect those around the Jaguars organization if Jacksonville doesn't show marked improvement next year?
John: If you’re asking is Khan going to be quick to fire a head coach and general manager if the Jaguars don’t make the postseason next season – no, not all. I think Khan’s expectation is the Jaguars continue to improve and continue to be a sound organization with a sound, solid plan for long-term contention. That may or may not mean “marked” improvement in the sense of, say, doubling the victory total next season. I’ve said before there’s a chance the Jaguars could be markedly improved and not win significantly more games next season. But Khan believes in Caldwell and Bradley, and barring unforeseen circumstances, this is the Jaguars’ direction for the foreseeable future.
Charles from Midlothian, VA and Section 410:
All the arguments I hear for Henne are equally true for Gabbert (bad line, wide receiver corps dropping the ball, poor running back performance, etc. etc. etc.) But you can add injury and rushed from injury into the lineup to the Gabbert excuses. Yet, they hate on Gabbert and want to keep Henne. Isn't that a bit hypocritical?
John: Well, sure.
Dave from Jacksonville:
So when do you take a quarterback? You can't wait forever. We've tried that, too! Everyone, including you, applauded DC for not taking one last year because we all knew the crop was better this year. Well, here we are. Now what? Wait again? There is no crystal ball. You must pull the trigger some time. If you had told me Johnny, Teddy or Clowney would be available at the start of this year I'd be doing backflips. Now, here it is and everyone seems to be backtracking. And weren't Johnny's numbers better this past season than his Heisman year? It's time to pull the trigger.
John: First, I don’t know how much applauding I did, but your point is a good one. You can’t wait forever; David Caldwell would be quick to tell you that. At the same time, it’s the general manager’s job to not take a quarterback at No. 3 if every bone in his body and every ounce of his experience is telling him that the quarterback won’t be an effective player. No one’s backtracking, and no one actually has said that Caldwell won’t take a quarterback. What’s going on is scouting, projecting and decision-making, and that process will continue for the next two months. But Caldwell would be irresponsible not to try to have a plan in place in case quarterback isn’t reasonable in the first round.
Jim from Edgewater:
The Jags have 10 picks in this year’s draft. Would that make it a little easier to risk pick No. 3 on a quarterback?
John: Not really. The 10 selections give the Jaguars a very real chance to add significant depth, particularly in Rounds 4 and 5, but you still don’t want to miss at No. 3.
Matt from Jacksonville:
You know, with our culture's emphasis on the height-of-excellence-or-nothing, boom-or-bust mentality, watching Chad Henne in Jacksonville has been a rare treat into human nature: a storyline that isn't flashy, but it is important. Henne has trained and played his whole life, and it's safe to say he will never be Brady, Manning, or probably even a Cutler. However, he puts in his time, competes at as high a level as possible, and you're right: he is a very, very good backup. And through being a very, very good backup, he has had the chance to start and lead teams as one out of 32 professional quarterbacks in one of the most competitive sports leagues in the world. If he doesn't go to bed satisfied on some level every night, then that's a shame. I still wish we had that franchise quarterback, though...
John: Hey! One thoughtful, reasonable – albeit somewhat wordy – thought fer Henne!
James from Socorro, NM:
Which quarterback in the upcoming draft do you feel has the least number of "negatives"?
John: I’d say Teddy Bridgewater, because he seems the most pro-ready. The negative on Bridgewater is his size, and you also wonder about his eventual upside. Can he ascend and be elite? Or if he is not likely to get much stronger can he get much better? There are questions about every quarterback; there were tons of questions about Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, just to name two. The uncertainty combined with every NFL team’s circumstance being unique is what makes projecting success for any player – particularly quarterback – an ever-fascinating, unpredictable conundrum.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Russell Wilson's style of QB play did not translate well to the NFL either.
John: Ah, yes … the ever-fascinating, unpredictable conundrum …
David from the Football Mall:
The store opens Tuesday. Get ready, O-Man. Your box will be full of new picks from the great-and-knowing fans. Not so bad ... they just want to pass all the info to the big office. Not the real big office … the one with Gus next door.
John: David, from what I can tell, you’re talking somewhat disjointedly about the NFL Scouting Combine, which indeed will be held this week in Indianapolis. I’m excited, too. Me and the Supporting Cast – a.k.a., Shadrick and PKav – will be headed there again this year, and will be covering with a combination of stories, Jaguars.com LIVE!, Inside the Jaguars and of, course, the O-Zone. We’ll start reporting a bit Tuesday and Wednesday, with our big days Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but I don’t expect fans passing along too much information until Saturday. That’s when the workouts begin, and when David, Gus and I certainly can look forward to the info and insight of the great-and-knowing fans.
Mike from Green Cove Springs, FL:
John, you said when you get up every morning and look in the mirror you are, "Psyched out of my mind with the delicious anticipation of gazing upon greatness yet again." Does that mean that your wife was standing next to you?
John: Oh. Yeah … that, too.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
Do you think Jeremiah Attaochu showed enough at the Senior Bowl at outside linebacker that he'd be able to play a Bobby Wagner-type role for the Jaguars? He seems like he could have some flexibility because of his size and athletic ability and that seems to be an asset the team likes.
John: Good eye, Brian. Attaochu reportedly did perform well in Senior Bowl practices, and has shown the ability to not only rush the passer from an outside-linebacker position but to play inside linebacker. The Jaguars do value flexibility on the defensive front seven. The Jaguars obviously can’t take everybody from the Senior Bowl, but would that be the sort of selection you could see the Jaguars making in the fourth or fifth round? Absolutely. One issue could be Attaochu’s rising profile. He is being listed as a first-round selection in some circles, and because he’s not likely to go in the Top 3, he therefore may not be available to the Jaguars.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Are you looking forward to when Henne is re-signed, and is named the starter before the season begins? Subsequently, Gabbert plays out of his mind in preseason, and we’ll have everyone writing in about how Blaine should start.......
John: Hey! One fer a great story!

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