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O-Zone: A lucky man

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Greg from Jacksonville and Section 233:
John, this sucks right now, but it's different. There is hope. Remember previous quarterbacks we played? They made similar mistakes, but couldn't move the ball even when dared to throw. I haven't seen eight- and nine-man boxes and no defender more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage with this quarterback. Opposing teams know he's young, but there's a respect for his ability. It's not like before.
John: Man, I wish I'd said this myself. Oh, wait … I have said this myself, so it's probably no coincidence I find this email strikingly insightful and accurate. Yes, Blake Bortles has made mistakes, but there's no question his presence in the lineup changes defenses and gives the Jaguars' offense opportunities it hasn't had the last three seasons.
Morgan from Jacksonville:
First off, it was cool meeting you before the game. Second off … well, there aren't many cooler things than that … except witnessing Shadrick sightings. Whatever happened to those?
John: What's a "Shadrick?"
Bobby from Salt Lake City, UT:
Let's have some fun here, O. So, Allen Robinson and Cecil Shorts III have been the starters. Let's say Justin Blackmon comes back in a few weeks. Gets into shape. And the team decides to play him. How do you see the starting lineup working it? Who do you see starting?
John: I have said before I don't see Blackmon playing for the Jaguars this season. I still don't. I believe there's a very good chance he plays for the Jaguars next season. That may run contrary to what others believe, but that's the feeling here. I believe he will play for the Jaguars if he plays in the NFL, and I believe he will start opposite Allen Robinson if he returns next season.
David from Jacksonville:
Bench Bortles. Fire the staff. START EVERYTHING OVER. Get Tebow and all the old players back. LMAO, O MAN. More fun than the funnies.
John: So, you're the one having fun. Good for you.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Didn't I read here once there was a moment in Peyton Manning's very early career where Tony Dungy had to sort of get into his head and convince him to stop forcing the ball and trying to do too much? He convinced him it's OK to throw it away or even take sack on occasion when the play simply wasn't there. You think Tony could give Blake a call because I think that would be VERY good advice?
John: You did read that here, and that did pretty much happen. A couple of points, though … It actually happened around 2002, which was the year Manning's interceptions began dropping considerably. Not coincidentally, he won the Most Valuable Player award the following season. The conversation was more along the lines that a quarterback could be effective without necessarily taking a slew of chance throws, and one reason for that was the Colts at the time had a slew of experienced skill players such as Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Dungy believed the offense could work efficiently and play at a high level without buying into the cliché that a quarterback has to have some interceptions to be playing well. I haven't mentioned that story in relation to Bortles for a couple of reasons. One, it's not fair to make comparisons to Manning. You're talking about a Rushmore guy as opposed to a rookie learning how to play in the NFL. Also, Manning had been in the NFL five years at the time; he already had gone through a lot of the learning that Bortles is doing now.
A.P. from Section 436:
Help refresh my memory, Mr. O. Pre-draft, didn't most experts say that Bortles had the highest ceiling of the quarterback class... BUT that he would need about a year or so to mature because of his raw talent?
John: Yes, and one of those experts was Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell.
Joe from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Before Blake Bortles started his first game, you wrote an article about the future being now. In that article, you outlined what to expect from a rookie quarterback. To date, you have been right on the money. Nostradamus Ozone, why can't fans remember that? Maybe you should re-post it?
John: Many fans can't remember because they don't want to remember. They also don't want to watch a quarterback develop; they want the end result and they want it now. That's cool. I'd probably want that, too, if I hadn't watched rookies struggle in the NFL and improve later. And, nah … I probably won't repost. If someone is down on Bortles for being a rookie, hope for that person may be lost. Reading an old O-Zone column probably won't save them.
Hunter from Jacksonville:
I wonder how bad it would be in here IF WE WERE STILL GETTING BLOWN OUT BY 30 POINTS ALMOST EVERY GAME, SOMETIMES IN THE FIRST HALF. Progress isn't magic. Progress is progress.
John: You are a genius, sir …
Nick from Ottawa, Canada:
John, you say it wouldn't be surprising if a move or two is made on the offensive line this offseason. Who are the candidates? According to Pro Football Talk, Linder and Beadles are firmly inside the top third of starting guards; Bowanko has probably exceeded expectations; and Joeckel was the No. 2 overall pick. That leaves Pasztor as the only one in real danger. Am I off in my analysis?
John: I think Linder and Bowanko are very solid, and I think Joeckel is, too. They all have to improve, but they are young and there's plenty of reason to believe they will do so. Pasztor probably isn't elite, but you can get by at right tackle without elite. As far as Beadles, I think he needs to improve. There is still a half a season remaining, and this line has improved enough in the last few weeks that there is a possibility the group could stay status quo. We'll see.
Austin from Athens, GA:
How impressed are you with Linder, who dominated this past game against a more-than-able Miami front?
John: Very.
Ben from Section 101:
This team is getting better. I see it. Do you?
John: Yes. /Ducks
Clay from Jacksonville:
While the youth movement on offense is an interesting experiment, does it trouble you that next year the "explanation" (never an excuse...) may be that they are all second-year players. Then, third. Then it's 2017. In other words, does it seem a lot of eggs in one basket?
John: I don't see what the Jaguars are doing offensively this offseason as an experiment. It was a case of needing to rebuild the core offensively and wanting to do it quickly. I also don't think it's a case where you roll the group out there this season and never address it again. They'll find the core and add pieces to it as merited. That way the eggs are all over the cart and your basket is safe.
Josh from Lynchburg, VA:
Anyone who thinks the Bortles-led Jags look like the Gabbert-led Jags hasn't been paying attention at all.
John: You're right. They haven't.
Robbie from Tampa, FL:
If the team goes 3-13 this year, which seems like a best-case scenario, that would mean Dave-Gus would be 7-25 with a 28 percent winning percentage. Most, if not all, NFL owners would make a change on these numbers but since this is a young team how much of a leash will they have in 2015?
John: This was not a normal build, and the Jaguars' didn't approach it as such. They tore down the roster, then set about building and developing through the draft. Upon reflection, it had an expansion feel. That meant more time at the beginning when the team was struggling. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan knew this at the start in 2013. Still, how much of a leash will there next season? I don't know, but it will be shorter.
Joe from Cocoa Beach, FL:
Blake had some bad throws, but what about some of those drops. The receivers need to help him out. GO JAGS!
John: Yes.
Chad from Orlando, FL:
No real question, just a quick story … as my friend and I walked our coolers back to our car prior to heading into the game, a Dolphins fan shouted at us that we were "Bandwagon Fans" because we had on Bortles jerseys. As a Jaguar fan, you can call us a lot of things and hurl many stones … but we most certainly can never be called "Bandwagon." #DTWD
John: #DTWD
Jason from Section 104:
This is less of a question and more of a concern. When you're 1-5 (soon to be 1-6), there is no need for "selfie" celebrations. Really, no need for any exuberant celebrations – you're 1-6, celebrate when you're 6-1.
John: I'm not nuts about it, either, but celebrating a play you worked hard to earn … well, whatever the record, while I'm not nuts about it, I don't lose sleep over it, either.
Abe from Fairfield, CT:
Why do you think so many e-mails you get are essentially that week's versions of, "The Sky is Falling!"
John: I'm just lucky, I guess.

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