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O-Zone: Open forum

Posted Feb 10, 2018

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Bill from Hammock, FL:
Mr. Zone, first of all: Thank you for your insightful information and opinions in an incredible year of football. There is a lot of discussion about our quarterback situation for next year. What is your opinion of the experience Blake Bortles gained through the postseason? I would think after what he was able to do with a depleted receiver group, wrist injury and competition level we will see a much calmer, more-calculated quarterback.
John: I thought Bortles was calm and calculated throughout the playoffs. That was particularly the case in the AFC Divisional Playoff victory over Pittsburgh and in the AFC Championship Game loss at New England, but it’s actually unfair to imply that Bortles was somehow panicky or overwhelmed at any point this past season; he drew praise consistently from coaches throughout the season for his knowledge of the offense, command of the huddle and ability to keep a young offense on the same page. When Bortles was inconsistent this past season, it seemed for the most part to be about accuracy at times and decision-making at some others. His poise, leadership and composure actually were very good for the most part.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Very happy we are not the Colts.
John: OK.
Dylan from Jacksonville:
This short offseason feels good.
John: Speak for yourself. Shadrick’s already panicking about not getting his “me” time, which consists of driving around town and getting at the front of a line of traffic, waiting through a green light, then going through the yellow too late for those behind him to make it. It irritates others, but you should see how relaxed he is once he’s back at the office.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Since the NFL has sought you out for help in the upcoming revamp of the catch rule, I would like to offer a suggestion. The league needs to set a time limit, or a number-of-views limit, to the replay proceedings. You can't tell me after watching a replay 20-plus times from multiple angles in frame-by-frame slow motion that you can conclusively overturn a call. If it takes that long to determine it, it's not "conclusive." The league simply needs to allow the officials a certain amount of time; if they can't make a call to overturn in that amount of time, then it is not conclusive and the call on the field stands. Either that or they need to remove the word "conclusive" from the rule for overturning a call on the field. Thanks, and congratulations on your new appointment as special counsel to the former head of officiating.
John: Your suggestion makes sense not only when it comes to revamping the catch rule, but when it comes to getting back to the original spirit of instant replay. The idea, remember, is to reverse obvious calls – hence, the inclusion of the word “conclusive.” I wouldn’t be averse to allowing officials to see of each two versions of each reviewed call – or setting a specific review time. If it’s not obvious at first glance, let the call on the field stand. As far as your congratulations on my new appointment, I say: “Thank you.” I look forward to the responsibility.
Rusty from New Iberia, LA:
What are the chances the Jags sign Bortles to a long-term deal now where he would end up making less than $19.1 million next year?
John: There’s a chance that could happen, but I would say it’s a small chance. My guess is the Jaguars will use the March 12-14 pre-free agency negotiating window to quickly explore the quarterback market; if they are unable to upgrade the position, I would think Bortles will play next season on the $19.1 million contract. If he appears to be the long-term solution after that, then I would guess he would sign a long-term deal.
Chad from Yulee, FL:
When next season is over, no matter how it ends, will the quarterback decision coming up in the next month truly be the main reason for the real or perceived success or failure of the Jaguars in 2018? Is there any other roster move that you can conceptualize that would make more of a difference in on the field results? I sure hope they get this right.
John: Quarterback likely will be the perceived reason for the success or failure for the Jaguars if the team changes quarterbacks. If, for example, Kirk Cousins quarterbacks the team next season the microscope on him will be such that he will get too much blame if the Jaguars lose and too much credit if they win. For Bortles, of course, the situation is different. He will get whatever blame is to be cast if they lose, and very little credit if they win. Such is his lot in this Jaguars life.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
On the road against the Dallas Cowboys would be a great Thanksgiving Day game! Any chance that may happen?
John: I haven’t heard it has been ruled out, so … sure.
Nick from Milton, Canada:
Hey John, it seems like the only person being mentioned as a possible Bortles replacement is Cousins. Why not go after Drew Brees? I would much rather have him on a three-year deal and draft a quarterback with the potential to take over when his contract is up. Is there any way you see this happening or is it just too unlikely?
John: I’ve written often that I’ll believe the Saints are letting Brees become an unrestricted free agent when I see it happen. So far, I haven’t seen it happen.
Mary from Jacksonville and Section 215:
With Blake having had surgery on his wrist, will he be able to go out to California and work with his coaches this offseason? He seems to play better when he is able to do that.
John: Bortles said after the season he planned to go to California and work. I’ve heard nothing to think he won’t do that, though he obviously will have to wait. I would expect him to go in late March and early April, between the time his wrist likely will have healed and the Jaguars open their offseason program.
MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevablez:
National guys say there has been interest in Cousins from Jags. Only question left is what number jersey does he wear here? Eight (Brunell's old jersey), 12 (Dede Westbrook), or five (soon to be vacant.)
John: Yeah … that’s so-o-o-o-o not the only question left.
Sam from Orlando, FL:
I know it isn't a popular opinion, but last year’s schedule was easy. Yes, we won a title without Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck playing. If we were to go out and win a division title playing a division winner’s schedule versus playing a last-place schedule, wouldn't that be a better sample size to see if we are indeed who we think we are?
John: Next year’s schedule almost certainly will be tougher than last year’s. That’s supposed to be the case when you move from a last-place schedule to a first-place schedule. Would winning a division make next year a better year than last year? Maybe. I don’t really look at it that way, though. Schedules often look dramatically different four or five weeks into a season. That’s the nature of a year-to-year league in which injuries and roster turnover often cause teams to look dramatically different from one season to the next.
Jordan from Mandarin, FL:
For all that this season was and all that I hoped it would be, the moment that sums it up to me is Allen Hurns crawling off the field during a critical moment in a critical game. It was big.
John: True.
Jim from Section 114 and Jacksonville:
I’m not looking for an answer about any potential uniform change, but the team can make changes in uniform and helmets after five years – and five years has passed. I also want to point out that whether anyone likes it or not, teal seems to be the primary color of the Jaguars and I have grown to like it. First, it stands out during telecasts of away games. It was fun to see all of the Jag fans attending in teal this year on televisions. Second, it kind of harkens back to the good years when this team made its first run. There is a rebirth of this franchise and it would be a fitting symbol. Finally, teal is cool and people like it.
John: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have no problem discussing a potential uniform change. While I have heard nothing official, I – like many – have heard rumors. And while I am told there are people who don’t want such a thing discussed, I rest easy knowing those people would never keep me from discussing it. This is after all a forum where we are free to discuss ideas; the idea that that would be censored is disturbing. With that in mind, let me say this about a possi

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