JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …
Royce from Jacksonville:
Mr. O, head coach Doug Marrone is talking about rebuilding Blake Bortles
from the beginning. What does that mean for a quarterback going into his fourth season? Should the Jags take a quarterback in the first or second round?
John: When Marrone talks about rebuilding Bortles from the beginning, he’s talking about rebuilding Bortles’ foundation – in terms of fundamentals, mechanics and functioning in what in many ways will be a new offense. It’s about a fresh start; considering Bortles had an up-and-down season that was more downs than ups last season, the approach makes a lot of sense. If the approach has no other benefit, it perhaps takes at least a little pressure off Bortles by allowing him to approach this season as if he’s starting from the beginning with no preconceived judgements of expectations. That doesn’t mean there’s no pressure on Bortles, but perhaps it will alleviate some. As for your second question: should the Jaguars take a quarterback in the first or second round? I’d be hesitant to do so, because I don’t see a fall-in-love-with-the-guy-and-commit-to-him quarterback in this draft and that’s what you want when taking a quarterback so early. Will the Jaguars take a quarterback in either of those two rounds? I’m not ruling it out. Not even close.
Strnbiker from Dothan, AL:
Tomorrow never comes. If it did it would really be yesterday. What?
Stanton from Jacksonville:
With Josh Scobee retiring as a Jaguar and saying how much he loves the town, do you think there is any correlation between Jaguars players that adopt Jacksonville and their success as a Jaguar? It seems many of the great players are the ones that love the town, and almost all the stars from the great 90's team still live in Jacksonville. If I were the general manager, I would make sure high draft picks and free agents are likely to integrate in our community.
John: Nah. Not really. I think it’s more a case of Jacksonville being a really good and underrated place to live. Most people who live here a while either love it immediately or grow to love it in time, and most good players stay around long enough to grow very attached to it. That’s what happened with a lot of the Jaguars’ best players in the 1990s, and it’s what happened to Scobee. As for a general manager selecting a player likely to become part of the community … he should focus on picking good players. If they’re good and the team wins, the city of Jacksonville will embrace them soon enough.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Watson at 4?
John: I’m not ruling it out.
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, another one for Mr. Khan. I just read an article by the Travel Channel. EverBank field was listed as one of the NFL's top bucket-list experiences for football fans. Mr. Khan really has done an amazing job upgrading and enhancing the stadium.
John: I don’t want to ignore the contributions of the city of Jacksonville, or of Jaguars President Mark Lamping on this front, but considering the state of the stadium in 2012 ... and considering that the stadium essentially is being renovated and turned into a state-of-the-art facility before our eyes … well, yeah … one for Mr. Khan. No doubt. The job Khan has done legitimizing the infrastructure of the Jaguars/EverBank Field is one of the least-discussed notable stories in the NFL over the last half-decade. It’s good to see that changing on some level.
Doug from Jacksonville:
Leonard Fournette will be a bust. Hopefully, the Texans or the Colts pick him. I'm not usually very passionate about players to be drafted. I was against the Jags drafting Johnny Manziel. I was against drafting Tim Tebow and I'm against drafting Fournette. Other than those three, I've had my faves or players I hoped they would pick or pass on, but only those three have I had an inclination to be passionate about. Let the powers that be know I'm two-for-two and expect to be three-for-three as I'm sure they are interested.
John: What’s weird is I usually don’t print out O-Zone emails and discuss them with the head coach and executive vice president of football operations less than two weeks from the NFL Draft, but hey … I made an exception in this case. When time came for the scheduled meeting, I introduced myself to Marrone/Coughlin and ignoring their confusion and the sudden presence of security, I told them “Doug from Jacksonville” ain’t a Leonard Fournette fan. They thanked me for my input, and I can only assume the noise I heard as I was being hurried from the office by elbows and arm pits was them high-fiving one another at their good fortune on the day that surely will be remembered as “The Day Doug from Jacksonville Got Involved.”
Fabian from Jacksonville:
Hey John, I was watching O.J. Howard's highlights and all I could think was "this guy can be to Blake what Gronk is to Tom Brady." Seeing his rare traits of strength, speed, and agility definitely makes him a Top 10 pick. Also, tight end is one of the softer, less-talented areas of our offense, which led me to the thought of a possible trade scenario by trading down with the Panthers, assuming they will be targeting Leonard Fournette. Any thoughts?
John: I think O.J. Howard would be a good selection in the first round. Tight end makes sense, and Howard appears to be a player with a legitimate chance to become a Pro Bowl tight end. Draft-day trades are impossible to project and the pre-draft discussions about them typically end up being so much ado about so little, but if the Panthers indeed want to trade up for Fournette enough to offer the Jaguars a good deal … sure, why not?
Michael from Jackson de Ville:
John, it's time to settle the "will-Fournette-be-great debate?” It's really quite simple. If the Jags draft him, based off recent drafts (excluding Jalen), he'll be a bust. However, if we pass on him this dude has Pro Bowl written all over him. Signed: longtime Jags fan.
John: That unfortunately is the attitude of many Jaguars followers. It’s difficult for them to hope for anything positive, and the team’s struggles have made that the case. Fans have had little reason to hope, and that’s the result of a lot of years with a lot of struggling. It’s up to the Jaguars to change that attitude. Nothing else will work, and me answering questions about how players bust for all teams and how the draft is a crap-shoot won’t, either. None of that will change it. Just winning. Just winning.
Steve from Denver, CO:
"Bring Lawyers, Guns and Money along with a team’s senior writer?”
John: Dad, get me out of this.
Preston from Oakville, CT:
I read a rumor about the Cardinals trading their first rounder for Blake Bortles. If this was offered, do you think the Jags would make that deal? And if they did, would that guarantee then picking a quarterback this year, or could they give Brandon Allen
, or Chad Henne
a year at the helm?
John: I can’t say I know the origin of every internet “report,” but my understanding is that this Bortles-to-the-Cardinals-for-a-first-round-pick thing isn’t so much a rumor as it was included by a website as a trade that would make sense in the 2017 NFL Draft. I think the article may have been mistitled, because I don’t actually see the trade making much sense. I think realistically the Jaguars might entertain such an offer because it would give them selections early in this year’s draft. What I wonder, though, is what the Cardinals’ incentive would be to make such an offer? I’m not saying Bortles absolutely, positively won’t develop into a franchise quarterback, but he certainly hasn’t played well enough through most of his first three seasons to make you think teams are going to start giving up premium draft selections to acquire him.
Bob and Doug from the Great White North:
Good lord, does anybody really need to hear “Sweet Home Alabama” ever again?! The South’s gonna do it again … what does that mean, lose again?!?!
John: Take off, eh?
Jaguar Pete from Tallahassee, FL:
I have tried not to be sucked in to the whole “Sweet Home Alabama”/Neil Young discussion, but being an old timer – a very old-timer -- Lynyrd Skynyrd's first hit, "Free Bird,” will always be for me their signature song. They were just a local band when I saw them play it for the first time at the Comic Book Club in downtown Jax. It was great then and can still give me a chill when I hear it. I would much prefer to give that song anthem status than "Sweet Home Alabama."
John: “Free Bird” is fine. Or “Sweet Home.” Or “You Got that Right.” Or “Working for the MCA.” Shoot, I wouldn’t even mind "I Ain’t the One." #Imustbeinthemiddleofsomekindofconsipracy