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O-Zone: Let's get physical

Posted Jul 15, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Chris from Niagara Falls, Canada:
Hey, Zone. I am still scratching my head on the Leonard Fournette selection. My logic is this: I expect Blake Bortles to be underwhelming this year again. So, if the Jags are bad again this year, they will draft a quarterback next year. So, why spend a pick on a guy who you are going to run into the ground and will be of no value when you finally get a new quarterback and have him adjust to the NFL? Was this not a deep draft at running back?
John: One reason the Jaguars took the approach of drafting Fournette No. 4 overall is, of course, that they don’t necessarily agree with your assumption that Bortles will be underwhelming. Their approach is that even if he doesn’t overwhelm opponents this season, he can at least … well … whelm them. They also believe that an improved running game (Fournette) and an improved defense (a bunch of free-agent acquisitions) can help Bortles. But I get that you and many others don’t agree with that. If the aforementioned moves don’t work and the Jaguars indeed change direction at quarterback after the 2017 season, there’s no reason Fournette’s career must be so tragically short that he’s not still playing when a new quarterback is playing at a high level. The career spans for running backs are short, but they’re not that short.
Deegus from 90fournette:
How many touchdowns and/or yards do you expect from Fournette?
John: Eleven and 1,150.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Deion Sanders also played wide receiver. I remember guys saying that he would have been a great wide receiver.
John: Sanders did play wide receiver for part of his career. Though he primarily was a deep threat when he played the position, I agree that had he played the position full time – and therefore had the time and training to be a more refined route-runner – he could have been very good.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
It's been announced: new episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" start October 1. How does that make you feel?
John: Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Willis from Jacksonville:
Looks aside, Bangles or Go-Go's?
John: Go-Gos – not because of advanced musicianship, or because they had more integrity, or anything of the like … but because when "Our Lips Are Sealed" or "We’ve Got the Beat" came on the car stereo in the early 1980s, you couldn’t help singing along.
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
I might be one of the few fans 100 percent behind Blake for at least one more year. I think he might have gotten a little dragged into the hype of the team last year – and he disappointed us and himself. So I'm giving him one more year of complete and total faith. After that, however, Mason Rudolph should be everyone’s favorite quarterback in next year’s draft.
John: Hey, one fer Blake! Or, one fer Mason? Now, I’m confused. Again.
Chris from Da Burg' to Vegas to Hollywood and back to Vegas:
DeAngelo Williams’ comments made me mad, but it's his opinion and opinions are like you know what. His thoroughly stinks. I literally would slap him with a Jaguars foam finger and inform him that he has never been better than any Jaguars running back and we know that at least two will be HOFers. The important part is ... he cannot say the same about himself. And it's funny how he has this uppity attitude since he played for Pittsburgh. He should remind himself that he was a band-aid holding the real stars' place. So his pink, purple or whatever color dreads can go hold a sign outside of whatever organization he thinks would kick his tires but I fear he'll be in the same spot through the season. RIP DeAngelo Williams’ career.
John: I understand that fans feel differently, but I don’t care all that much what Williams has to say about Jacksonville or anything else. It doesn’t stem from a dislike of the man, just a disinterest. It’s like my friend Pete Prisco likes to say, “You’re entitled to your wrong opinion.”
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
John, assuming Branden Albert is healthy and in shape by the regular season, and further assuming Cam Robinson starts at left guard, the offensive line could be pretty darn good. Good enough, at least, to make holes for Fournette and provide decent protection for Bortles. We’ve taken a “wait-and-see” approach to Bortles, but if Blake does indeed improve both his technique and his decision-making behind our (hopefully) improved offensive line, what do you see as his ceiling?
John: This answer obviously depends on how much Bortles improves his technique and decision-making. If he improves them a little, that’s different than if he improves them a lot. I think Bortles can be an Andy Dalton-level player, but if his decision-making gets a lot better, who knows?
Roshandra from Jacksonville:
John, the Titans and Houston are the favorites to win our division, and they both have a very good running game. Since we got rid of Roy Miller, and he was our main run-stuffer in the past, who is going to replace him? I know we have Abry Jones, but when he gets tired who is subbing with him? I know we have other defensive tackles on the roster, but none to be the size that can play nose. Don't we need another nose tackle since I am pretty sure the Titans’ and Houston’s main focus on offense is to run the ball? In my opinion, if we can’t stop the run in those games we are not going to be able to compete in the AFC South.
John: The Jaguars’ run defense played at a high level for 10 games after Miller’s season-ending Achilles injury last season. Those games came with Jones starting at nose tackle and without another “true nose tackle” playing a major role. Nose tackles are critical in running situations, but rarely play all three downs so I don’t know that Jones getting tired is a major issue. Either way, Stefan Charles is on the roster, and he can play a role at nose tackle.
Tyrell from Jacksonville:
At the end of this season who do you think well have made the biggest impact for their respective team. Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette?
John: Fournette.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
Russell Wilson is a better running quarterback than Blake for the reasons Don from Ponte Vedra Beach makes in Bortles’ favor – and more importantly, he also wins more games. A 3-13 quarterback is not the best at anything that can be viewed as a positive.
John: This is a conversation that began with Don’s point that Bortles is the best running quarterback in the NFL. Don had some interesting and compelling thoughts and statistics to back this up. That’s fine – and Bortles is effective as a running quarterback. He’s perhaps a lot better than most people believe. But watching players such as Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, it’s difficult to make the argument that Bortles is the best running quarterback in the NFL.
Dave from Duval:
Dear Mr. O, if we are going to talk about Jaguar players and the Hall of Fame, I agree Tony Boselli should be in the HOF as he was the most dominant NFL left tackle during his career. I believe Fred Taylor deserves serious consideration based on his career numbers and his rare his ability to "take it to the house" or run over a DB on any given play. But, if we are talking Jags and the HOF we MUST also talk Jimmy Smith based on his career numbers. Your thoughts?
John: I believe Smith deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I believe his touchdowns total for his career – 67 – is the biggest thing that hurts his case, but I do believe he deserves consideration.
Dwayne from Jacksonville:
"Shadrick, he’s waist deep in his summer ‘me time’ ... it’s best to leave him alone right now." Shadrick is a fine, upstanding member of the jaguars.com staff and he deserves – nay, commands – our respect. I'd appreciate it in the future if you would remember this.
John: You’re right. My bad.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
With training camp right around the corner this year, what differences can fans expect from Coach Marrone's camp as opposed to Gus Bradley's? Oh – and all I can say about your choice in pizza and garlic rolls is you must not have made it out to the Mellow Mushroom yet!
John: I think there will be a handful of days early in training camp during which you see a few more physical drills under Marrone than you did under Bradley. I emphasize “handful” and “a few” because while Marrone likely would love to have a bunch of brutally tough practices, he also knows there’s a limit to how long and how often you have players hitting in camp. But there will be a difference under Marrone? Will there be a harder edge? I’d be shocked if there’s not.

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