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O-Zone: Letter of the law

Posted Jun 13, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Micky from Jacksonville:
Doug Marrone said he expects Blake Bortles to throw the ball zero times this season. Do you take this to mean they plan to throw 15-20 times or less? Zero doesn't seem realistic this year ... maybe in 2018.
John: I often have written in the O-Zone about the major difference between what is read and what is written. It’s just as true there often is a major difference between what is said and what is heard – and the latter is the case in this instance. Marrone did not say last Friday that he expects Bortles to throw the ball zero times this season. He did not say this because saying that would be stupid and Marrone is not stupid. He did say he ideally would like to run the ball every play and therefore he ideally would have Bortles throwing zero passes this season. He said that because he is a smart football man and he knows the Jaguars would win many games were they able to run every play. How did I take what Marrone actually said? I took it that the Jaguars want to run as much as possible in 2017 and control the tempo of games by doing so. I think they would love to plan on throwing 15-to-20 times a game; if they can meet that goal three or four times, it would be a hell of an accomplishment. If they can finish the season averaging around 30 passes per game, that would be a hell of an accomplishment, too.
Bob from Orange Park, FL:
When will the new "administration" allow the fans to attend a practice?
John: “Training camp.”
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
I completely understand why fans are bitter about the Branden Albert situation. Yes, OTAs are voluntary and I think most fans understand that. I think what makes us upset is that every other player is participating and we are in the midst of a culture change and it just simply looks bad. It's not like Albert is some top-tier franchise-changing talent. He needs to be there. I wouldn't mind if he never showed up seeing how I had never even heard of him until he signed with the Jags anyway.
John: A few thoughts. First, I think while most fans sort of understand what voluntary means most fail to understand that it’s really OK for people to follow rules. Second, the rules making OTAs voluntary were not put in place only for top-tier players; they were put in place for all veteran players and Pro Bowl players such as Albert and even marginal players can choose not to attend because voluntary means … voluntary. Third, I don’t know that Albert did “need to be there;” it’s quite possible that after nine NFL seasons he can prepare for a season participating in minicamp and training camp – and I’d actually be surprised if that’s not the case. Albert reported for minicamp Monday and I expect he will be in training camp. If he plays at the level the Jaguars expected when they traded for him, I expect the offseason mini-drama surrounding his OTA absence to be forgotten or little-discussed pretty quickly.
Bill from Folkston, GA:
If you had your way, are there any remaining free agents that you would have the Jaguars bring onto the team for camp at least?
John: Not particularly, no.
Justin from Hampton:
Who is the most impressive player in camp so far? (I hope it’s Bortles)
John: We who cover the Jaguars only have seen three full offseason practices, and because of its non-contact, unpadded nature, the work is very much geared to wide receivers, cornerbacks, quarterbacks, etc. Within that context, wide receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee have stood out to this observer. Bortles has looked pretty good in stretches and not as good in other stretches.
Matt from Las Vegas, NV:
Hey, John. Based on your knowledge of Coach Marrone and Coughlin, what are some of the major changes players should expect for training camp? We know the ping-pong table is gone, but structurally, what should they expect? More time on the field? More hitting? Less time in meetings? Can coaches even make dramatic changes to training camp schedules? Thanks!
John: The rules of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement make training camp pretty structured across the league, with teams permitted only one contact, padded practice per day and with contact limited to three hours a day. I expect the Jaguars’ contact period during training camp might be a touch longer than in recent seasons, but the team usually went about two-and-a-half hours in camp the last few years so there won’t likely be a huge increase. Marrone wants to run and he wants to emphasize physical play; because of that, I do expect there will be days on which the Jaguars emphasize short-yardage and run drills more than in the past, but again: there’s a limit to how much hitting any NFL team will do in training camp. Injuries are simply too costly and you can’t risk losing too many players in August.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
I only ever saw one collision that sent Greg Jones backwards, a hit from Bob Sanders that most definitely sent a message that day.
John: It was man versus man.
Bill from Hammock, FL:
Mr. O, it may be too early for this question but I keep thinking about our first game at Houston. J.J. Watt is back and apparently ready to go. I see this as a very difficult game for us offensively. Also, it would appear to be equally difficult for Houston's offense (quarterback?) Who do you feel holds the advantage and how will the fan base perceive a poor Blake Bortles performance which may not be all his fault?
John: I think the first game of the 2017 season will be a defense-oriented game in the same sense as the Houston-Jacksonville meeting late last season was a defense-oriented game. Considering the way both teams are built right now, I would expect most games between them to be that way for the foreseeable future. The advantage for now goes to Houston because the Texans are the more proven defense – and team – with a more proven pass rush and they’re playing at home. I don’t think it’s a huge edge there, but it’s an edge. As for how fans will perceive a poor performance from Bortles, they won’t like it. There will be panic in the streets. The inbox will be ugly. People will call for Brandon Allen. Or Chad Henne. You know … pretty much how it is whenever a starting quarterback struggles.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
Can we get a Tears for Fears at Daily's review? Both the performance and the venue, please.
John: Saturday’s Tears for Fears show was my first Daily’s Place experience. While the band became world-wide sensations with their 1985 album, Songs from the Big Chair – Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Shout,” Head Over Heels,” etc. – College O-Zone’s interest in Tears for Fears centered on their 1983 debut, "The Hurting." Though Tears for Fears were not “my band” in the sense of, say, the Ramones, Clash, R.E.M., Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, etc., I did consider "The Hurting" one of the great “progressive/new-wave” albums, and was therefore pleased when the band played four of its songs on Saturday. The Hurting’s offerings were weren’t crowd-pleasers, but for this aging ex-new waver/pseudo punker they were damned enjoyable. As for the venue, it’s pretty much what you would expect from this franchise since Shad Khan took over as owner – a pitch-perfect addition to downtown Jacksonville. There doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the place, and I found no issues with the sound. Bottom line: It was cool. I liked it.
Ron from Virginia Beach, VA:
So have all our draft picks signed?
John: All of the Jaguars’ draft selections have signed except third-round selection Dawuane Smoot. I suspect Smoot will sign relatively soon and certainly well before training camp.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Mike Pearson, Eugene Monroe and Luke Joeckel were all supposed to be the Jaguars' "future left tackle." Regardless of what the team has announced about Cam Robinson and the left-tackle position, everyone expressing concerns for the left side of the offensive line is validated by recent history. I think every Jaguars fan would hope left tackle is finally solved for the next decade with Branden Albert and Robinson. While Albert not joining the voluntary camp may have no effect on the football aspect of the position, an outside perspective of his absence suggests left-tackle instability possibly remains an issue in Jacksonville. Left tackle is going to be one of the team's and fans' top roster concerns until it's not. Before then, everything surrounding left tackle (whether discussing mandatory/voluntary or rookie/veteran) is going to be magnified tenfold.
John: And here I thought people were just mad because Albert didn’t attend something he wasn’t required to attend.

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