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O-Zone: Eternal questions

Posted Mar 4, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Last day at the NFL Scouting Combine. Time to get home, but first …

Let’s get to it …

Mike from Breeeevard, FL:
I think A-Rob is a beast and will be in the Hall of Fame when all is said and done. Strangely, though, I do wonder if the Jags are better off without him. Blake Bortles is better when confident and I think working with young, unestablished receivers this year helped him become confident and become the leader of the offense. Now that Blake is locked up for three years, I think letting A-Rob go is the right move for the reasons mentioned above. I am crazy, but is this why?
John: I won’t question your sanity based on one question to this forum, but I can’t call your take spot on, either. Robinson is a very good receiver and the Jaguars are better with him, but if he were a Hall-of-Fame receiver I don’t think the Jaguars or any other team would hesitate to pay him an average salary in the $16-million-a-year range. The reluctance stems from the fact that he’s not quite at that elite level. That’s not a knock on Robinson; you can be very good and very valuable – which he is – and not be Hall-of-Fame range. As far as the Jaguars being better off without him … well, I can’t get on board with that, either. The Robinson dilemma is not about whether or not the Jaguars might be better off without him. I know of no one around the Jaguars – Bortles included – who believes that. The team next season absolutely would benefit from his ability to high point the ball, his ability in the end zone, his physicality and his ability to convert third downs – all of it. If the Jaguars are unable to re-sign Robinson in the coming weeks, it will be because it didn’t make sense to sign him and lose the ability to make other moves elsewhere on the roster – not because the team doesn’t want him or thinks the receivers or the offense is better without him.
Steve from Upper Tract, WV:
Had the league been able to come to a conclusion on what is a CATCH?
John: The league is trying. The NFL’s Competition Committee reportedly will recommend to the league’s owners to remove the “must-complete-the-catch-to-the-ground” part of the rule – i.e., the part that has caused such controversy for more than a decade. That would have reversed the Jesse James decision in the Pittsburgh-New England regular-season game this past season that helped the Patriots win that game and secure home-field advantage for the playoffs. But be forewarned: this won’t cure all ills when it comes to what is a catch. No rule will do that. The bottom line is that there is no “perfect” catch rule that will eliminate all controversy. This always will be a judgement call and because officials must rule “what is possession” when moving at high speeds, there always will be a thin line somewhere at which point one person believes it’s a catch and another person does not. The removal of the “to-the-ground” part will perhaps eliminate one problem, but it won’t eliminate all uncertainty.
Brian from Orange Park, FL:
O-man, I offer a solution to the defensive pass interference debate. On DPI, it's a 15-yard penalty, maximum. However, we introduce a "free-down" rule, and it works like this: DPI is called, 15 yards, automatic first down. Offense is given a free down, which does not last in perpetuity. (First down, second down, etc.) If the offense commits a penalty on free down – i.e., false start – it becomes first and 15. Simply put, offense gets 15 yards and an extra down on dpi. I need you to talk to Roger and make this happen, you're connected. Thanks!
John: I actually only retained one word from this: “perpetuity.” It’s impressive. Five syllables in 10 letters. Well done.
Greg from Nashville, TN:
If your "perhaps" could be any less evasive, then perhaps one could admit the Jaguars have simply settled for a fourth-year quarterback who's been surpassed by a half-year rookie and enters 2018-19 with less public confidence than a quarterback who hasn't played in 1.5 seasons due to shoulder injury. Whether Bortles was "the best option at the time" doesn't negate the fact that the front office made a decision to pass on Deshaun Watson and not pursue Kirk Cousins. I agree with your evaluation, which is why it's so frustrating to see the Jaguars extend a quarterback who enters the season as merely third-best in his own division. Of course, Bortles made it to the AFC Championship game, so I guess we can pander to those who think he's better than every quarterback in the AFC besides the one he lost to. If the Jaguars are in "win-now" mode, a first-round wide receiver or tight end makes no sense since first-year contributions at those positions are nominal (the exception rather than the rule). An interior offensive linemen makes sense (they acclimate quickly), but passing on quarterback yet again (early round) would be careless. But when you pass on a quarterback like Watson, then sign your own guy again, what else are you gonna say than, "He's not a placeholder"? Hey, one fer smokescreens!
John: Wow, that’s a lot of anger packed into one email – and a lot of anger directed to a quarterback who played in the AFC Championship Game this past season. But that’s fine: while anger isn’t all that cool, some people do seem to like it. I don’t spend a lot of time measuring public confidence of players, mainly because public confidence seems largely immeasurable at best and fickle at worst. I don’t know how Watson will develop; I do know while he has looked good in a handful of games, he now will have to adapt to defenses scheming against his strengths. That step can be difficult for young quarterbacks to navigate. Is Luck better than Bortles if healthy? Yeah, I think Luck has special qualities, so I would say so. As for where the Jaguars will go at No. 29, I think a lot will depend on what they do in free agency. Receiver, tight end and interior line all make sense. Stay tuned … and stay angry, my friend. Grrrr.
Stephen from Wallingford, CT:
I watched a video on NFL.com that had simulcast of Ezekiel Elliot, Leonard Fournette, Alvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley on the 40-yard dash. I was shocked to see the difference between Barkley's 4.4 and Fournette’s 4.51 was one step (With all the weight on times, I thought the gap would be bigger). Also, I realized in the 20-to-40-yard range, Fournette was gaining more ground then any of them. I decided to Google more statistics; for the 2017 season, Fournette recorded the two fastest speeds of any ball carrier in the NFL!!! 22.05 MPH and 21.76 MPH!!! That's incredible and that show's an extreme top-gear speed that the 40 time did no justice for. I'm excited!
John: When Fournette hits his highest gear, he’s moving very fast and is not going to get caught from behind often. The main issue with Fournette is whether he makes people miss enough at the line of scrimmage. He did this at times as a rookie and was inconsistent at other times. A lot of the inconsistency may be attributed to the ankle issues through which he played. We’ll see.
Blues Man from Jax:
John - I really enjoyed your interview with Alex Marvez. I honestly don't know of him, but he sure does know his football. I wish he would join the Jags broadcasting team. Also, thanks for your great work at the combine!
John: I have known Alex for nearly 25 years, dating back to when he was a student journalist at the University of Florida and I was covering the Gators for the Florida Times-Union. He has developed into one of the better reporters/media voices regarding the NFL. He knows football. I don’t know about Marvez joining the jaguars.com broadcasting team. The idea of him and Shadrick on the road together in the offseason … not pretty.
George from Jacksonville:
John — seems like we’ve been here before (the 1990s) where the team’s talent surprises us and we go deep into the playoffs and have exciting seasons. My question is how do we sustain this kind of organizational momentum so that in five years we are not right back at having a team notching losing seasons over and over? Go Jags!
John: Draft well, stay healthy, make wise decisions.
Roger9965 from Greenbush, ME:
Wondering … BB5 takes us to the championship game ... keeps proving people wrong... when does he start getting ANY love?? DVTWD!!!! GO JAGS
John: I don’t know when Bortles will start getting love. I don’t really know how to define love. Then again, philosophers and great men from the beginning of time have struggled with this question, so it probably was a reach to think I would solve it here at the combine.


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