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O-Zone: The bigger picture

Posted May 19, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Dallas from Jacksonville:
This is a yes-or-no question that you never have really clarified before. If Blake Bortles plays poorly this year, is his Jacksonville career over? I don't want you to give a "maybe" or "depending-on-this" type of answer. Yes or no.
John: I actually have discussed this often, and who knows? I actually may have clarified it once or twice – though the clarifying likely came in moment(s) of weakness. Still, despite your demands, I will answer as I often try to answer: with context so as not to mislead. I assume by “poorly” you mean continuing to throw key interceptions and making other costly mistakes. If Bortles plays that way, then I believe – as I have written once (or twice) – he will have shown he’s not a franchise quarterback. I believe in that scenario he will not be the Jaguars’ quarterback in 2018.
Steve from Denver:
O, do you see a time in the future where instead of an offensive coordinator in the booth, teams will have AI set up where a computer person will put in down and distance and the computer will call in the play to the quarterback? Hey Siri, J.J. Watt is blowing up our left tackle, what play should we call?
John: No. I think teams will continue to implement more and more data, but I believe the league would prohibit such a computerized game-day influence. I might be wrong. I hope I’m not.
Chad from EverBank:
One of your peers made a comment that running backs basically get the shaft within the framework of the CBA due to their limited career span. It was projected that they often have one option, if that, for another contract. Why don’t running backs opt out of the draft, then sign with a team as an undrafted free agent? They'd be able to negotiate better first contracts versus having to wait out the first contract and/or hope for a new offer. Is this an option, or would the player be required to go through the draft process?
John: First off, I have no peers – only superiors. Second, players can’t “opt out” of the draft process. If they could, most players would do so. The only way a player can get out of the NFL Draft is to be in circumstances – i.e., a loss of eligibility after the regular draft – that allow entry into the supplemental draft. Even so, that’s not free agency because players in the supplemental draft are the NFL property of the team drafting them.
David from Elgin, Scotland:
OK, Mr. O: let's get straight to it. Blake Bortles is the choice, and it was decided that there were no better options in either free agency or the draft, and he will be (barring injury) our starting quarterback for the upcoming campaign. Whether some of us agree or disagree with management’s decision is irrelevant now. Players thrive on confidence and it is up to true fans to show their full support of the team including our quarterback. Constant negativity will only result in continued losses. So what say you John? Can we have one for Blake (and a mighty big one at that) or shall we all continue to behave like Texans fans?
John: Hey, one fer Blake!
Dave from Los Angeles, CA:
Why are the rookie deals getting done so much quicker this year?
John: Rookie deals have been getting done shortly after the draft for the last few seasons – a result of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. The ’11 CBA established the rookie wage scale and created the current system of “slotted” contracts. This largely eliminated rookie holdouts and eliminated need long, drawn-out negotiations for rookie contracts. Finally.
Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Do you think Allen Robinson will have hooks for hands again this season, and do you think he will continue to be combative with Jaguars fans – or has he grown out of that?
John: I think Robinson had issues with drops at times last season, but I don’t think the issues were prominent in 2014 or 2015, so he’s not overly prone to drops. I’m not sure I can predict how Robinson will be with fans. I do think a lot of players were frustrated last season, and many situations weren’t handled ideally. I can say this: I think Robinson wants to win and wants to be really good. I also imagine there was a situation or two he would have handled differently last season. Will frustration set in again in the future? Will he handle things differently? I can’t really predict that.
Chris from Los Angeles, CA:
Yo, Johnny O, what do you know? You think they show, or do the players know what the media thinks of them as pros? You know how it goes, they point out all the lows, talk about errant throws and offensive woes. When they speak of the Jaguars, they got loads of jokes to the point it feels like an overdose. No respect, but I bet Coughlin checks to see what they say next because Coughlin often softens hard heads and according to the media, for hard heads, this is where it all ends. Do you think he gets pissed when he clicks on the tube to see yet another diss about this group? Do you think he shoots the players a DM after the weekend to say, "see what they say? They don't think we can play!". Does he burn on the inside to hear this guy talk crap and flip lies about an organization, with pride, he made known to the nation back in '69...I mean '96? Is this the year teams should fear any chalkboard material about the Jags? Does DM and TC turn on the TV in the locker room so the players can see what they say on TV about the way they've played in this league? Seriously tho, it's bad. They went as far as to say everybody on the team is talented except for BB5. Ouch! Is this the year that they use this negative talk about our organization as fuel. I know it's cliché to say they don't pay attention what's being said outside of the organization but I think this is the year they should have all the negative comments from analysts and fans and whoever, posted on the big flat screen in the locker room. How do you think DM and TC will get the players motivated to change our current national perception?
John: Can you repeat the question?
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
Between Sen'Derrick Marks, Roy Miller, Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu, the Jaguars allowed four linemen to depart not that long ago that would have formed the core of a defensive-line unit. Goes to show you it’s very much a young man's game. Credit for Caldwell and team to be willing to move on from former starters before they declined to a level that would hurt the team. Do you think DC will regret not keeping any of these four?
John: I have written before that I would have kept Alualu, primarily because of his durability. He never missed a game because of injury during his time with the Jaguars, and that’s a very difficult thing to do in seven NFL seasons as a defensive lineman. Marks, Miller and Odrick all have missed significant time with injuries in recent seasons, which was part of what made their releases make sense.
Nathan from Provo, Utah:
John, you're stranded on an island. "Spies Like Us" or "Three Amigos?"
John: I honestly wouldn’t take either.
Miguel from Section 144 and Duuuuuuuvaaaaaal:
Hola, O-Zone! When Tom Coughlin was hired to coach the New York Giants, they had a running back by the name of Tiki Barber who was known as a fumbler. Coach got rid of that real quick and Tiki lost that reputation. Do you think there is something similar he can advise Coach Doug Marrone on to help Blake better protect the football?
John: I don’t know that Coughlin will be involved enough in the on-field coaching to have a direct influence in this area. I do know that the emphasis on protecting the football won’t end with Coughlin and will permeate through the entire organization. It eventually comes down to decision-making and understanding where to go with the pass and when. There’s no magic formula and there’s no way to eliminate all interceptions. But emphasis on the area and better understanding of the entire offense can help, and that’s certainly an offseason priority.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
If you were covering another NFL team, what team would you want to cover and why?
John: The question literally never has crossed my mind. There’s honestly no other team I desire to cover. If a situation arose and I did cover another team, I suppose I would adapt and do so.
John from Jacksonville:
I’m not going to ask you anymore questions. Your silent treatment has damaged my self-confidence beyond repair.
John: My silence shouldn’t be why you’re not confident.

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