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O-Zone: Wandering eyes

Posted Aug 16, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Alex from Austin, TX:
I'm man enough to admit I really didn't like the Blake Bortles pick when it first happened. Here's to Gus and Dave making me look stupid! I know we are only two games into his first preseason, but … so far so good!
John: I’m man enough to admit I like puppies with floppy ears, carnations, old Air Supply songs, white wine (bottled not boxed) and sunsets. I also love to talk about my feewings, but yes, it is remarkable that Bortles has looked so good and so consistent so early. Remember, this wasn’t a guy who was considered by many a dead, solid lock to be a Top 5 selection. He was a guy who many believed had a lot of holes. He also didn’t look great at times in the offseason. This is not to say he’s perfect, because he’s not, but he has done a lot of things so far that look like things a future franchise quarterback does. That’s a really good start.
Eric from Yulee, FL:
So now with all the injuries to the offensive line do you see a possibility for a trade of some sort for Alex Boone, or any other offensive linemen? What about Brad Meester coming out of retirement? He could be like that one quarterback that we would always give a call 24 hours before kickoff. You know the one that would park his tractor in his barn or next to his farm house and fly out for the game? What was that guy’s name?
John: That guy was Todd Bouman, and aside from hailing from a place associated with farming, his story and Brad Meester’s aren’t connected. Meester isn’t walking through that door and that time has passed, although it does make me smile thinking how Meester would laugh if you offered up that idea to him. And no, I still don’t see a trade for Alex Boone. Because it appears Brandon Linder could have a chance to play center, it wouldn’t shock me on the level that it would have a week ago, but I still don’t see it happening.
Brandon from Jacksonville:
Do you think Shoelace will get more of an opportunity as the backup behind Gerhart versus the Lions?
John: You know what? As you filter through the Jaguars’ 20-19 loss to the Chicago Bears in the second game of the 2014 preseason, that indeed is one of the things that stands out – that Denard Robinson appears to be playing his way into a larger role. He rushed for six yards on 34 carries, and looked quick to the sidelines as well as confident through the middle of the line during his extensive playing time in the third quarter. Robinson also worked some at kickoff returner Thursday, an indication that the Jaguars are comfortable enough with Robinson to again start working him into various roles to take advantage of his speed and playmaking ability.
John from Jacksonville:
John: I know the hope for years has been that the Jaguars will have a larger following when people who were children in the early years grow up to be season-ticket holders. My son is 20 (he almost was gotten out of bed to go to the stadium after the Denver playoff upset) and says that a lot of his friend (male and female) are big fans. Progress ahead?
John: Yes.
Lance from Jacksonville:
Bortles is making Dave look like a genius right now.
John: Yes, and so are Telvin Smith, Johnathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz and several other rookies and second-year guys. It’s early, but it appears Caldwell has drafted well thus far.
Mike from Jagsonville:
O-Man, your comments on Lee and Gerhart, please.
John: I thought Marqise Lee looked more like an NFL receiver in his second NFL preseason game. I also think it’s going to be a process for Lee – just as I think adapting to the NFL is a process for the vast majority of NFL wide receivers. I also think Lee has shown more than enough that I’m confident he will someday relatively soon be a very good NFL receiver, and that doesn’t always have to be true of second-round selections. I thought Gerhart looked as I expected him to look in his Jaguars debut – like a very capable, smart, talented running back who can be productive when the line blocks well and who could struggle when that’s not the case.
Tim from Crescent City, FL:
The Jags need to work on the red zone offense. Too many times over the past few years they settle for field goals. I am not sure how many times this has happened, but I know it has happened just like last night. The Jags scored more times than the Bears, (J-5, B-3). The Jags settled for four field goals. Although having a great kicker is awesome, we need to stop relying on Josh Scobee so much in the red zone. Your thoughts...
John: (Note to self: remind coaches to work on this “red-zone” offense thing – you know, just in case they left it off “to-do” list)
Scott from Daytona Beach, FL:
I'm not going to predict wins and loses but I really like what I'm seeing. The direction looks bright for sure.
John: That’s a good approach to take this season. There are enough unknowns around the roster that the Jaguars may not yet be ready to string enough victories together to make a serious postseason push. At the same time, it’s evident from two preseason games that this team has a chance to be better. It also seems the core of a good, young team may be forming. That should make this year enjoyable to watch, regardless of record. We won’t always be able to say “regardless of record,” but for now we can, so don’t worry about predicting. For now, enjoy the direction.
James from Socorro, NM:
Plausible for Luke Bowanko to start at center and Brandon Linder to start at right guard for the regular season.
John: I wouldn’t say it’s likely, but I’d be surprised if the Jaguars don’t get that combination some significant repetitions in the coming weeks. Bowanko sustained an ankle sprain Thursday, but when he returns, that combo should get some looks.
David from Jacksonville:
Would be nice to see Marcedes Lewis wearing a Jag cap during interviews. Just sayin.
John: Keep sweating the details, David. Keeps the mind occupied.
Eric from Winter Garden, FL:
So now a sack is considered, "Roughing the passer?”
John: In some cases, perhaps.
Mike from Bye East Moline, Hello Des Moines, IA:
Lots of positives Thursday. I already liked our corners, particularly Dwayne Gratz, but I thought Brandon Marshall's size and physicality, and Alshon Jeffery's speed and athleticism might have given them a hard time. What can we take away from how the Jags' corners played against one of the best receiver tandems? I can't wait to see this year's Jaguars in the regular season.
John: I think we can take away that the Jaguars weren’t overmatched by the Bears’ offense on Thursday. The corners fared fine, and the game in fact played out as I thought it might early. The Bears didn’t run overly effectively against the Jaguars, but the Bears’ wide receivers and quarterback Jay Cutler are very good. Add those factors to Jay Cutler having way too much time to throw on some plays, and the result was a few good drives for Chicago. But even considering those circumstances, the Jaguars’ secondary did well against a good tandem of wide receivers.
Chris from Niagara Falls, Ontario:
Don't troll with Duval
John: #DTWD
Nolan from Jacksonville:
Will Blackmon consistently shows up as a playmaker. He was responsible for some of the Jags' biggest plays last year, and caused another turnover against the Bears. I don't hear much about him when discussing the defense though. Is he going to be a starter?
John: No. Unless there are injuries, Will Blackmon will play nickel back and reserve corner. That doesn’t make him a bad player. Remember: good teams have good players who don’t start.
John from Cape May, NJ:
I was a little disappointed with the defense on Thursday. The defensive line, while at times dominant against the run, was subpar in the pass rush. Also, I felt like the defense was very vanilla and did the same thing on every play; rush four, drop the linebackers in zone. I know it's preseason but I was looking for different looks, such as blitzing, feigning the blitz, man coverage, stunts, etc. On a side note, Dwayne Gratz can tackle.
John: You say, “I know it’s preseason but I was looking for different looks.” You know those other teams in the NFL? The ones the Jaguars play early in the season? They just might be looking for the same thing.
John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Dedicated to writing daily #DTWD
John: As a matter of fact …
Steven from Winston, OR:
Do you feel the new scoreboards will be a distraction to opposing teams?
John: It will be if the players from the other teams watch the scoreboards.

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