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O-Zone: Everybody's happy

Posted Aug 31, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Tommy from Jacksonville:
You keep stating that our opinions don't have enough merit to change things the organization is doing. When people stop coming because they continue to see the same thing over and over it will merit change. Watch the enthusiasm wane as the losses pile up. It's happened in the past and will again.
John: Are we really getting into a sniffle fight over this issue? This line of conversation – fans threatening to flex their collective muscles over Blake Bortles not starting – started recently in the O-Zone … apparently because I essentially made the point that the Bortles/Chad Henne debate would not be decided by fan vote. This has caused people to note that if fans stop coming to games that indeed would change the team’s collective minds. First, let me address this by again saying that the Jaguars very much care about fans. I’ve never, ever said that fans’ desires, wishes or opinions don’t have merit within this organization. They do – and nothing that has happened since Shad Khan took over as owner indicates otherwise. Now, let me say, too, that that caring doesn’t mean the team will listen to fan opinions on football matter. It doesn’t mean that – and the team won’t. Finally, let me tell you that that’s a good thing. A very, very good thing. As fans, you don’t want an organization that’s making decisions by fan vote. Think back to recent events and realize what would have happened had fans decided things by vote or public perception: Would this quarterback that has everyone in such an uproar be with organization? Likely not, but a certain SEC Network analyst might be. An organization needs strong direction and strong leadership from leaders with the power of their convictions and their beliefs. An organization needs leaders with a plan who are willing to follow that plan. The Jaguars have such leadership, and it’s one reason the roster is better than a year ago – and that the organization’s future appears so bright.
Alan from Mount Morris, Michigan:
Is there a deadline to use the injured reserve/designated-to-return tag?
John: The injured reserve/designated-to-return tag may not be used on a player until the player is officially on the 53-man roster, so it can begin being used midway through next week. In the case of wide receiver Tandon Doss, for example, the Jaguars theoretically could have put him on that list, but they would have had to carry him on the active roster into next week. The rules other than that are that the player can’t return for eight weeks and can’t begin practicing for six weeks. A team can only designate one player per season to return from injured reserve under this system.
John from Savannah, GA:
How can recently suspended Aldon Smith of the ‘Niners be around the team during his suspension, but Ace Sanders (among others) cannot?
John: Ace Sanders will be around the team and attend meetings during his four-game suspension. He cannot practice or play in games.
Andre from Los Angeles, CA:
Hi John, after preseason, which is the strongest and weakest unit?
John: I’ll go with the “chalk" and say the defensive line is the strongest unit and the offensive line is the one that needs the most improvement. That’s pretty much the consensus, but it appears to be pretty much true. The offseason acquisitions of ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons appear to have improved the front-line talent on the defensive front, Tyson Alualu is playing well behind Bryant and Ryan Davis could push to be the team’s most effective third-down pass rusher. Add tackles Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller playing well to the equation and you have the potential for a pretty good defensive front. I still maintain that the pieces are close to being in place on the offensive front, and that from the starting group of Austin Pasztor, Brandon Linder, Luke Bowanko (probably), Zane Beadles and Luke Joeckel the core of a good offensive line is being put into place. But that group has yet to make a start together and Pasztor is out at least the first two weeks of the season. As much as you want to say “that group has to get better” – and it indeed does – reality is it’s going to take time.
Cole from St. Augustine, FL:
The Jags made it through the preseason relatively healthy, and that's a great thing. I'm excited to see the starters as one cohesive group next week against Philly, considering injuries are bound to take their toll and we might not see the same Jags team later in the season. I also feel some fans have completely forgotten about Allen Robinson. Coming back healthy, do you think he'll be able to make a big contribution against the Eagles?
John: The Jaguars are relatively healthy, and that’s one of the major storylines coming out of the preseason. As for Robinson, keep your expectations low for the regular-season opener. He hasn’t practiced since early training camp, so if he does play in Philadelphia, he’s not likely to be able to go 100 percent for four quarters. Also, even if he could play the entire game, he hasn’t played a preseason game, missed much of the on-field offseason work and also had limited action in training camp. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said Saturday he expects Robinson may be able to play Sunday, but if he does, it will be limited. That sounds about right. It’s not too late for Robinson to make an impact this season, but the focus early likely will be on making sure he can get on the field and stay there for a while.
Hunter from Jacksonville:
Can you feel it?
John: No … wait … yes.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
Still on the Start Bortles train, but there is something he keeps saying in postgame interviews that I think is really telling. It seems after every game he says something to the effect of, “I threw it a little later than I wanted to.” Maybe there is something to this whole Henne-plays-faster thing.
John: Well, considering the Jaguars’ coaching staff is saying it and Bortles is saying it, too, yes, there’s a good chance there’s something to it. It makes sense that Henne is playing faster. He has been around the NFL for more than six years and Bortles has been around it for almost four months. The Jaguars have no reason to lie about the quarterbacking situation, and if someone can find a good reason why they would, I’d love to hear it. There’s an undertone with a lot of the questions I receive that Gus Bradley is being stubborn – or that what he’s doing is somehow counter the best interests of the team. What his motivation to do what would be is beyond me, but hey, maybe I’m not the brightest fish in the school. Maybe I’m just missing something.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
I'm hungry.
John: Eat sumpin’.
Dave from Jacksonville:
During Thursday’s game, (Jaguars Radio analyst Jeff) Lageman commented when Blake Bortles took a first-quarter timeout that that was why coaches felt more comfortable with Chad Henne. I think that's exactly why you do play him. That's the experience Peyton Manning says he gained as a rookie. If perhaps the greatest quarterback to ever play football says playing his first year was invaluable, then there shouldn't be much discussion on who should start. Blake, as you have said, has "it." He's not backing up Brett Favre for crying out loud!
John: Let’s make sure we include the entire story here. Peyton Manning absolutely benefitted from playing as a rookie. At the same time, Manning has talked often about how much he depended on running back Marshall Faulk that season. Faulk at the time was a versatile veteran who helped Manning not only before the snap but as the ultimate safety net once the play began. Manning has said often he’s not sure where he would have been that season without Faulk. He also had two established tackles, Tarik Glenn and Adam Meadows, as well as wide receiver Marvin Harrison and tight end Ken Dilger. The Jaguars aren’t yet that established around Bortles. That’s not to say Bortles won’t play at all this season. It is to say all situations are not created equal.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
I just watched the Marqise Lee touchdown throw. That throw made me a very happy young man. The problem I have had getting behind Blake Bortles has been average NFL arm strength. That throw proved me at least half wrong. He didn't have time to fully step into the throw and give it 100 percent, and he still got it 50 yards downfield with plenty of zip. He may not have Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning arm strength, but I can no longer say it’s average.
John: I just watched “Raising Arizona.” That car chase scene where Nicolas Cage scoops the Huggies off the road with Holly Hunter wheeling it at top speed made me a happy old man.

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