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O-Zone: Close call

Posted Apr 21, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Scot from London, England:
Of the first eight games of the season, only two will be played in EverBank Field. If my math is right, that means 75 percent of the games played in the first half of the season will be away from EverBank. Here's to hoping that the Jags will still be relevant when the team finally plays the other five games at EverBank.
John: Your math isn’t right, but your point is accurate. The Jaguars indeed play five of their first seven games in 2017 away from EverBank Field – four road games and the home game against Baltimore at Wembley Stadium in London in Week 3. They play Cincinnati at home in the eighth game of the season, so they actually have four home games in the first half of the season – but yes, the first half is challenging in the sense that the Jaguars will travel a lot. The reality is that the Jaguars’ annual game in London automatically creates a stretch of extensive travel in the schedule. It’s not ideal and some fans will never like it, but I don’t see it changing soon. That’s why Wembley must be a home-field advantage. It felt more like that the last two seasons. We’ll see if the trend continues.
Jonathan from Middleburg, FL:
The schedule is terrible for fans ... I don't understand how there is such an imbalance between home and away. Is it that hard that we have only two games in EverBank Field during first half of season? I know there is a London game but it's ridiculous. Have to wait ‘til November to get to the home-field advantage that is so critical ... I hope we are still in it at that point ... sheesh. I don't get it.
John: One thing to remember about this schedule: it is friendly for fans in one sense, and that’s the weather. There is only one game in Jacksonville in September or October with a 1 p.m. start. Considering the heat for 1 p.m. September and October games, that’s not insignificant. Beyond that, I’ll repeat London is going to cause a stretch of games where the Jaguars are away from EverBank more often than once was the case. The negative of the ’17 schedule from that perspective is the beginning of the season. The positive? Five of seven home games coming out of the bye.
Tommy from Jax:
This may not be nice, but I will not waste another Sunday at EverBank Field with Blake Bortles starting. Personally, I just don't enjoy his style of play. Any games that are eventually won with him at quarterback are ugly, sloppy games that the defense won. Jacksonville deserves a better product. Three years of complete disgrace and we still haven’t tried to see if the problem is the quarterback. The worst part is I feel this is all ego – the inability to openly admit a poor decision. It's great Shad Khan has patience, but this becoming hard to grasp.
John: The 2017 NFL Draft has yet to take place, so we don’t know for certain if the Jaguars are indeed committed to giving Bortles another season. If they do, it can’t be construed as ego. Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin has no attachment to Bortles, nor does Head Coach Doug Marrone. If the Jaguars move forward this season with Bortles, it’s because they believe he’s the best option in the immediate circumstance. No more and no less.
Al from Fruit Cove:
The Jags have rightly honored Tony Boselli and Fred Taylor as two of the team's greatest players. They've signed Scobee and MJD to one-day contracts so they could retire as Jaguars. But each of those players, and many other former standouts, spent at least part of their careers with other teams. So the question that came up is: Who would you tag as the greatest Jaguar to play his entire career in Jacksonville?
John: Most really good Jaguars players indeed have finished their careers elsewhere. I suppose I would have to go with Tony Brackens with a nod of apology to Brad Meester.
Kenny from Jacksonville:
John, how is the Doug Marrone/Tom Coughlin dynamic going to work? I'll use the Branden Albert "situation" for example. Everyone is concerned with how TC views him as if he doesn't have a head coach to report to. Also I've seen the question of where will TC watch the game, from the sideline or the booth? How much patrolling will he do during practice? Seems like Doug Marrone may be "head coach" in name only.
John: I expect the Marrone/Coughlin dynamic to be less of an issue/concern than many observers believe. Coughlin will watch games from upstairs in the press box, although he certainly will be on the sidelines during practices – and I imagine he will be very, very, very, very close to the field during those practices. The reason I don’t see it as a huge issue is Marrone appears to be very much like Coughlin in a lot of ways, so I doubt there will be huge philosophical differences in terms of how to interact with players, how to run practices, how hard to work players, how to game plan, etc. Now, will there be an “issue” between Marrone and Coughlin if the Jaguars don’t win games? Sure, but that issue tends to arise whenever teams don’t win. I don’t think that would be unique to this situation.
Scott from Jacksonville:
Does the strong-side linebacker cover the tight end – and if so, isn't Poz too slow for that?
John: The strong-side backer has more run/pass rush responsibilities than pass coverage responsibilities. Ideally, you want a safety or weak-side backer in coverage on the tight ends more than your strong-side linebacker. But one thing to consider about Posluszny’s supposed lack of speed and this idea that he’s a liability in coverage: since Posluszny joined the Jaguars, the team has 60 interceptions. One player has accounted for 11 of those interceptions – nearly 20 percent and far more than any other Jaguars defensive player during that span. That player? Posluszny. That’s not to say there aren’t better options to defend the pass. There are. But don’t just casually assume that he can’t make plays in coverage.
Brandon from Athens, GA:
John, it does not seem that Paul enjoys this change very much at all. Kinda feel for the man. What would it be like if someone came to you and made you do Boselli's job all of a sudden?
John: Easy.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Do you think this draft will have a familiar Caldwell feeling to it, or will this feel like a TC draft? For better or worse, I found myself agreeing with what Caldwell was doing and I often understood the logic in what he was doing, so much more than the previous general manager. TC had a pretty decent track record in Jacksonville with the draft. I am wondering if the logic behind the decision making is going to change significantly. Right or wrong, I think a Caldwell draft would be more of a focus on specific facets of the team, like probably a focus on defense, or the running game, whereas I'm thinking a TC feel would be talented big guys early and filling out need at skill positions later. What do you think?
John: I doubt you’ll see a huge noticeable difference between Coughlin and Caldwell in terms of the draft, with the caveat being that if the Jaguars select a quarterback early I think that would certainly have a Coughlin feel. I see the biggest difference between Caldwell and Coughlin in the approach to free agency. Caldwell had more of an eye toward the future in that area whereas Coughlin’s influence seemed to have had the Jaguars leaning more toward some older, experienced veterans who may bring more immediate results.
Ed from Jacksonville:
If you were the coach, would you have moved Posluszny?
John: No. If I were the coach I would have kept Posluszny in the middle in base situations and left Jack at outside linebacker in base situations, keeping Jack and Smith on the field in nickel situations. But it’s Jack’s time and it’s time to move him to the middle. The team wants him as a three-down player and his talent needs to be on the field at some point. Now is that point.
Dave from Orlando, FL:
No more ping pong? What's next, getting rid of the poker table, the arcade and the ice cream machine?
John: The team actually tried to get rid of the soft-serve ice cream machine in the cafeteria once. A few days later, what is now known as The Shadrick Incident ended peacefully and without bloodshed – after a few near-misses and a lot wasted taxpayer dollars. The team agreed to leave things be, and no one wants to upset that apple cart again.

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