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O-Zone: Master of the game plan

Posted Aug 19, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Bobby from Bellingham, WA:
I think it’s safe to say the Jaguars’ wide receivers this year will be Cecil Shorts III, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Ace Sanders, Allen Hurns and Mike Brown. What’s your opinion on the Jaguars’ wide receiver position this year?
John: My first opinion is I wouldn’t take Tandon Doss out of the equation just yet. My second is that means there could be decisions to make about the position once Sanders comes off suspension in Week 5. That could mean a decision between Brown and Doss; because Doss has been injured, we may need to see Doss play more before knowing how that plays out. Overall, I think there are some very good pieces in place at the receiver position. Those pieces will need time to develop, but the first and toughest step is getting them into place.
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Do you think our chances of possibly defeating either Philly or Washington have been totally destroyed with these new official rule enforcements?
John: Sure – and not only that, the new rule enforcements probably will mean financial ruin for us all.
Nalen from Faith, SD:
Hey John, just wanted to throw a hypothetical to you … It's Week 12 and the Jags are in contention for a wild-card spot. Would Austin Pasztor cast up his hand and play or would that be too much of a disadvantage to overcome?
John: Pasztor is scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday on the hand, and the injury is severe enough he would have been unable to play no matter the scenario. He played through the injury for a few plays at first, and said it was OK when he tried to squeeze the hand while he was on the field. But when he came off the field and tried to push with the hand, the pain was intense. That would have made playing through it difficult if not impossible.
Sid from Pittsburgh, PA:
Are we seeing a repeat of last year when the Jags crowned Blaine Gabbert the starter before the preseason began only to backpedal and put Chad Henne (the better option) in as the starter? This year, they announced Blake Bortles would be a redshirt before the preseason and it is pretty clear he is ready to step into the starting role. It seems to me you build on his success by starting him and let him grow with the new players on the team this year. Is there a chance the Jags reexamine the plan and start Bortles sooner than next year?
John: I’m glad it seems that way to you, and you know what? If you were running the Jaguars’ football operations, Bortles undoubtedly will be starting. Gus Bradley and David Caldwell are less sure than you that it’s “pretty clear” Bortles is ready to step into the starting role, which is why he’s not going to start the regular season. That’s not to say that couldn’t change sometime this season. It could. As for when that will be, I have no idea, but I don’t see it being early.
Jack from Los Angeles, CA:
Allen Hurns might be the best undrafted free agent this year. Do you expect him to make the team and be a Top 4 wide receiver?
John: He indeed might be the Jaguars’ best undrafted free agent, and I do expect him to make the roster. I expect him to start the regular season as one of the team’s top four wide receivers, though I don’t know if that will be the case all season.
Matt from Bartow, FL:
I'm liking what I'm seeing from the Jags through two games. I've especially been noticing the special teams. I don't think there has been a kickoff returned past the 20-yard line yet. However, we all know Josh Scobee is going to be the kicker, so why do have another kicker for the preseason? Fewer kicks = fewer injury possibilities? Or do we want to know another kicker in case Scobee gets hurt?
John: The Jaguars’ special teams have been good this preseason. It’s an area that improved significantly last season, and it appears to have a chance to be very good this season. The kickoff coverage, as you mentioned, has been exceptional. For a team that will rely on its defense to stay in games, that’s key. Regarding having Kasey Redfern in camp, you’re right on both accounts. Having a second kicker in training camp reduces leg fatigue and it could give the Jaguars someone they know and trust should Scobee get hurt. Redfern also punts, so he has been able to relieve Bryan Anger as well.
Andrew from Rosamond, CA:
The Bortlites are getting louder and more demanding. I'm scared.
John: WHAT!!?
John from Jacksonville:
I knew that Dwayne Gratz was one of our promising key defense players, but didn't watch him closely until the game against the Bears. There was a segment of plays when he was jousting with the opposing receiver and Gratz's level of intensity continued to escalate making him even more effective. I like that passion in football and it's only the preseason. I can't wait until opening day!
John: Gratz for some reason is sometimes overlooked when people discuss promising young players on the Jaguars. That shouldn’t be the case. Since first arriving he has done nothing but play well, improve and show signs of being a very solid player for the foreseeable future.
Jason from Jacksonville:
Hey O'man, I have noticed that Blake tends to stick his tongue out. Is this a tell as to which side of the field he is going to throw too?
John: Wait a minute? Bortles sticks his tongue out?
Arnie from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Do the powers that be often let the 'non-starting" quarterback have time with the starters? Am I reading into this too much or is Gus Bradley basically opening the door pretty wide to Blake Bortles starting much sooner than later?
John: I don’t know what “much sooner” means. I know the Jaguars have been working a lot of rookies with the first team this training camp, and I know Bortles took just seven or eight repetitions Monday. If Chad Henne is healthy he’s starting the opener and for a while after that. As far as an exact timeframe it would be irresponsible to give you one because there isn’t one.
Andrew from Panama City Beach, FL:
Is that a Schwinn bike? If it is, I will be envious and bitter toward you. Years of therapy can't get me over my JCPenney's bicycle.
John: It’s a Vista Rover. It was replaced by a blue Dan Gurney motocross bike in ’76, which was later replaced by … oh, yeah, a brown JCPenney 10 speed. That was stolen my first week at the University of Florida by a thief with lesser taste in bikes than you and me.
Greg from St. Johns, FL:
While I am excited about Bortles … patience, people. I understand it has been a while for us to have a franchise quarterback, but I think Gruden maybe said it best when he pointed out how Henne changed play after play at the line in order to put the Jags in a situation to not "waste" a play. Probably too soon for the kid to have the same effectiveness even though the skills might be there.
John: That’s a huge part of the reasoning behind the team’s desire to start Henne. Getting the team out of bad plays and getting the team into good ones are things veteran do, and because of Henne’s experience in the offense, he does have the ability and freedom to do that.
David from Oviedo, FL:
The schedule-makers didn't do Chad Henne any favors by making the first month the season the toughest part of the schedule. It's going to be an uphill battle for Henne to keep his job.
John: Gus Bradley and David Caldwell will decide how long Henne starts, not the schedule. I get your point that the difficulty of the schedule won’t make it easy for Henne, but they’ll judge him based on how he’s playing and not directly on the team’s record early.
Chris from Norfolk, VA:
Heated discussion standing in the garage with my boys … Friend: "That's bs!! Name one person who really knows football and didn't ever play." Me: “John O!" Friend: “Who the hell is that?" I shake my head and while walking out say, “You better ask somebody.”
John: Sounds like you need new friends.
Jamey from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Sir O-Man, hopefully Jedd Fisch learned stretch plays are not Toby Gerhart's forte. Keep him between the tackles for the most part, and use the outside runs to evaluate the competition for our second and third runners. It just seems he doesn't quite have the quickness to beat defenders to the edge and turn upfield. Those plays seem better suited for D-Rob.
John: Awesome. I’ll pass this along. Is there anything else you would like Fisch to take out of the playbook after a handful of plays in a preseason game, or will this do it?

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