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O-Zone: A rooftop view

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Rick from Gainesville, FL:
Cornerback is set from Davon House, Demetrius McCray, Aaron Colvin, and Dwayne Gratz. How many cornerbacks will be on the 53-man roster? And who makes it: Rashaad Reynolds? Jeremy Harris?
John: While I don't know that the Jaguars' cornerback position necessarily is "set," it's certainly correct to say it appears to be in a much better situation than it was at this time last year. I'd project five cornerbacks making the 53-man roster, and at this early juncture, I'd project Reynolds being on the final roster. The Jaguars liked him a lot in training camp last year before he was placed on injured reserve with a broken hand shortly before the regular season.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
"I was walking on the beach in Destin last weekend wearing a long sleeve shirt...I heard someone yell Duuuuuuval" Actually O, I hear Warren Zevon all over this one. Werewolves of Destin, ahhwoooo.
John: Werewolves of London was a good Zevon Song. Renegade … now, that was a great Zevon song.
Chad from Orlando, FL:
John, I have seen multiple articles from you and others stating that reporters are not allowed to talk about what takes place during OTAs. However, I believe you are allowed to attend the OTAs. Other than being able to attend a closed NFL practice and just getting out of the office, what is the point of a reporter attending a practice that they cannot report on?
John: You have touched on the quandary of closed OTA practices. The Jaguars indeed have allowed OTAs to be open to media this offseason, but – as is the case with many teams – they do so insisting the media not report on the details of the practices. The benefit the media gets is it allows them to ask slightly – and I do emphasize "slightly" - more intelligent questions to players and coaches, while the team still gets the benefit of not allowing detailed information such as formations/plays, depth-chart position and personnel groupings to become public. It's a tricky balance and each team handles it the best it can. Also, of course, you can get a tan and "talk shop" with longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist Gene Frenette. That's another benefit, because time spent with Gene is always a good, good time.
Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I knew one day I'd be famous. (Or infamous) #DTWD
John: #DTWD
Ryan from Atlanta, GA:
Oehser, I'm loving this offseason, but I'm pretty sure I say this every season. Going back a couple years to, "He who shall not be named" (BG), there was talk of him having a good offseason and lots of optimism with having a full year under his belt. Do you see a big difference between Blake and BG from where they were/are going into Year Two?
John: I'm not going to spend a whole lot of "valuable" O-Zone space comparing Blake Bortles to Blaine Gabbert. Just because one immediately preceded the other as the Jaguars' starting quarterback doesn't really make them anything remotely close to similar case studies. My personal view on Gabbert when he was in Jacksonville was that while he by any measure failed here as a quarterback, he was a talented player who seemed to lack game feel/sense. I always sort of thought if he could have gone somewhere and played 100 NFL games he might have been more productive and seemed more comfortable in what he was doing. Bortles at this early stage seems very different in that I think he has good feel in the pocket and pretty good game feel while needing to improve footwork/fundamentals – as well as needing to mature and develop along with the rest of a young offense. As for how Bortles' immediate and long-term future with the team will play out in comparison to Gabbert, I think it will be better – and probably pretty significantly. Stay tuned.
Frank from Jacksonville:
I have been reading the O-Zone for two years now and I have no idea why you hate Josh Scobee. I feel like I'm missing something. You don't seem to be joking around like when you tease J.P. What's the deal?
John: What makes you think I'm joking about Shadrick?
Dave from Orlando, FL:
O-man, it seems high priced free-agents often get anointed starters prior to proving themselves. For instance, do we know with any degree of certainty, that Jermey Parnell is better than Austin Pasztor or that Dan Skuta is better than J.T. Thomas? We confidently say, "We got better," but does anybody really know?
John: Perhaps it's the nature of it being OTA season and early June that we seem to be taking a tangent into some sort of philosophical area with this question. You ask, "Does anybody really know?" I respond to you by saying, "Does anyone really know anything?" But I digress … Of course we don't know for sure if Parnell is better than Pasztor or if Skuta is better than Thomas. But Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell believes those players are significant upgrades and many in the NFL seem to agree. The thought here is that the Jaguars are better at several positions, with right tackle (Parnell) and Otto (Skuta) being two of them. If they're better at enough of those positions – and, of course, is Blake Bortles develops along with a young offense – then the improvement should translate to a better record. Again … stay tuned.
Ken from Jacksonville:
You know why you should call the practice fields Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields? Because Blue Cross paid somewhere between $3 million and $4 million for them to be called that.
John: Oh, yeah …
Logan from Wichita, KS:
I am starting to get the feeling we are cursed. All of the injuries, injuries, injuries and the "easy schedule" (the NFC South is really good contrary to the "experts" and their records last year) …
John: Breathe, Logan, breathe. Are you with me? Good, good. First, while the Jaguars indeed have some players not working in OTAs, they have exactly one player who has been ruled out for the season – and exactly one player who has been ruled out for any portion of the regular season. That's defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., and while no one wants their first-round rookie pass rusher to be out for the season, one player does not a curse make. Don't panic over players not working in the offseason. While that work can be productive, it's not critical and plenty of players have good seasons without working in the offseason program. As for the NFC South being really good … sure, it is. Most divisions have good teams, and that's OK. If you're going to play in the NFL, you're going to play good teams at some point; to be good, at some point you need to beat them.
Kevin from Ocala, FL:
Why is it all I hear about in OTAs are skill players? Tell me about the group that matters – the offensive line.
John: You hear about the skill players in OTAs because as much as anything, skill players are what offseason workouts are about. You can pitch, catch, run and cover in a way that resembles real football in shorts with no contact a whole lot easier than you can pass rush and run the ball. As for the offensive line, on paper the group looks like it should be vastly improved. It looks like it should be deeper. The young players have a year more experience, and there's better competition all around the line. As for how much that will help … we'll find that out when the pads go on – and more specifically, when games start being played.
Ric from Jacksonville:
So I happen to run into Mr. Khan the other day at a gas station. I was very excited. I knew if I ever met him, we would instantly become fast friends. I introduced myself and broke out my secret weapon….. I complimented him on his excellent choices in staff, ESPECIALLY the writing. He turned to me and said "John who?" I laughed and said "Good one, Mr. Khan." He just gave me a strange look, paid for his gas and bag of BBQ potato chips and walked away. Hmm … very strange indeed.
John: Are you sure it wasn't Jalapeno chips?
Doug from Jacksonville:
I shared your opinion that I may be the solution rather than the problem with some people in my life.... Now I have a whole new set of problems.
John: Where you erred was telling people you're the solution. People like you and me who "get it" must keep it to themselves. While we bask in the glow of our own worth, it tends to repel others.
Emiel from Jacksonville:
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
John: Your friends and family await … and oh, yeah, there's a rooftop bar with a view of the ocean.

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