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O-Zone: Leather and lace

Posted Jun 16, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Logan from Wichita, KS:
OK, O ... Branden Albert reported to OTAs. Go ahead and gloat how you were right. … You were still way off about Devon House, though. Just sayin’. Go JAGS!
John: I don’t know that I ever said Albert would report to organized team activities. I’m glad for that, because he never did report for OTAs. He did participate in the Jaguars’ three-day mandatory minicamp this week, something that was easy to call correctly because a player reporting for mandatory work usually isn’t all that surprising. So, in that case not gloating is easy. As for House, I’m not sure how off or on I was regarding him. I do recall that I usually spelled his name correctly, but I probably won’t gloat about that, either.
Glenn from Richmond Hill, GA:
John, as a Jags fan, I simply don't understand the fervor over Colin Kaepernick. He lost a quarterback competition with Blaine Gabbert. We of all fan bases should see that and know better. Yes, he has a resume ... and it does not include anything that looks like success on this end of his timeline. Unless something significant has changed this offseason, how could anyone think he'll push Blake Bortles??? Can we be done with this now? Please?
John: OK.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
One area that often goes overlooked is special teams. It seems we may have brought some guys in more for special teams, but also adding depth at certain positions. Do we also have a new special teams coach? What are your thoughts on the approach to this unit for 2017?
John: Both Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin said from the time of their hirings that special teams would matter very much. The Jaguars since that time have proven that was more than talk. The Jaguars hired one of the NFL’s top special teams coaches, Joe DeCamillis, and they also signed players such as Lerentee McCray, Audie Cole and Josh McNary whose role would be primarily special teams. You also can expect front-line players to play special teams roles. Calais Campbell has been effective blocking placement kicks during his career and Marqise Lee could be used as a returner. That’s a lot of big-time commitment to the area.
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
Pretend that this season Blake Bortles throws 20-plus touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions and Leonard Fournette runs for more than 1,000 yards. If those two things happen what would your wins projection be?
John: Ten.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
While Duran Duran's quality and longevity is unquestioned, I can think of several bands better than Wham! I am a The Smiths and The Cure kind of guy. I like Joy Division, but probably prefer New Order, and even some of the other bands with less longevity such as Erasure, Yaz, Echo and the Bunnymen, Siouxsie and the Banshees etc. While we're on the topic, I understand subjectivity and everyone liking different things, but I meet people occasionally that tell me that they can't stand The Smiths. I almost feel offended each time. Seems like one of those love-it-or-hate-it things.
John: I had little use for Wham! – or Duran Duran. And I was pretty all-in at one time or another on all of the other bands you mentioned, particularly Erasure and Yaz. I wasn’t an All-Cure-All-the-Time-Guy on the level of my good friend, longtime Jacksonville-area bassist Chris McFall, but I did respect the Cure’s music. As for the Smith’s, I was a big fan, but what difference does it make? It makes none.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
We have heard a lot about and from Calais Campbell and several others on the defensive side of the ball. Malik Jackson seems to be the odd-man out. Is he taking a leadership role and playing with the intensity that we saw from him last year?
John: If you haven’t heard from Jackson this offseason, you haven’t been listening or looking in the right spots. He has continued to be very accessible, and I continue to be impressed with his growth as a leader since he arrived here. It’s tough to enter a new NFL environment and immediately take a leadership role. Jackson did a good job trying to embrace it last season and I expect he’ll begin flourishing in it in 2017.
Jim from Neptune Beach, FL:
I know for the players, the offseason is the season off. But it seems like there were a number of players, especially in the secondary, that have not been able to practice due to injuries. It has been almost six months since they were playing, and one would think they would have been using that time to recuperate from any lingering injuries from last season. So, what gives? Are these guys juggling knives off season? Playing pickup games blindfolded? Fire-walking? I don't expect players to be perfect, but you'd think they'd at least try to take care of themselves. It's their career, right?
John: Your question implies that Barry Church, Tashaun Gipson, T.J. Yeldon and Aaron Colvin don’t take care of their bodies and were somehow slacking in the offseason. It also implies that players – and indeed, human beings in general – can always prevent injuries by being cautious or training for prevention. I don’t agree with the implication.
Nick from Toowamba, Australia:
Hi John, I live in Australia, I'm a football lover and in particular a big fan of the Jags. Football is a sport with a growing following in Australia. As you may know, in August of 2016 a college football game was played in Sydney between Hawaii and Cal and attended by over 61,000 fans. After that game there was talk of the NFL possibly bring a game down under. It's long been a dream of mine to go to an NFL game, and I'm wondering what in your opinion is the likelihood of a game (and most particular one involving the Jaguars) being played here in Australia?
John: I think it’s likely an NFL game will be played in Australia eventually. I think it’s going to be a while before the Jaguars play internationally outside London. How soon will the NFL play in Australia? I have no idea, mate.
Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Did the news item on the website about Chris Snee purposefully leave out the fact that he is Tom Coughlin's son in law? He gave the man grandchildren, so the least Coughlin can do is give him a job...
John: The news item Thursday on jaguars.com reported that the Jaguars had hired Snee as a scout. Just as such an item written on any another hire wouldn’t mention that hire’s father-in-law, that item didn’t mention Coughlin being Snee’s father-in-law. But yes, Snee is Coughlin’s son in law. That’s neither a secret or an issue.
Steve from Duval:
As a Jaguars fan that hated the Colts, Bob Sanders is one of my favorite players of all time. I was never a great player, but the fact that I also played safety and he was around the same height at 5-feet-8 made him a true inspiration. I still tell my son about the greatest safety I ever saw and that size can never hold you back. I’ve read more about him lately and what an amazing guy. How was he in person?
John: I’ll probably end this Sanders conversation after this, because Jaguars fans tend to get a little irritated when the subject turns away from the Jaguars and toward the Colts. But Sanders was one of my favorite all-time players to cover – near the same level as players such as Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor and Reggie Wayne. All were great players who loved/respected the game and were engaging when discussing themselves or the game. It’s always enjoyable covering great players humble enough to appreciate their place within the sport and willing to discuss it.
Joe from The Burg (middle, that is):
So, the O-Zone enters the "Dead Zone!” Whatever will we talk about 'til training camp?? If past years are any indication, it's about to get "weird!" Suggested topic- who, if anyone, are the most likely Jags to make the Pro Bowl at season’s end? Probably a couple of obvious answers, mostly from the defense. Thoughts?
John: I think Jalen Ramsey has the best chance to make the Pro Bowl from the Jaguars’ defense because he has elite ability and because people last season started to recognize that ability. A.J. Bouye fits into that category as well, as does Jackson.
Eric from Navarre, FL:
I read the article about Blake having the right mindset. I then noticed the photo in the article showing him throwing the ball laces out. Shouldn't he be worried about his technique? Laces out are for kickers!
John: Eric, I’ve been writing, talking and thinking about Bortles’ mechanics all offseason – back to last season, actually. Is it OK if I not stress about where he had the laces in one offseason photo?

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