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O-Zone: Admiration society

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Do you think Branden Albert will be here for mandatory work next week? Why wouldn't the team consider keeping his contract figures the same, but guaranteeing them? I don't think that would be a ridiculous ask on his part, especially at his age, the importance of the position and the money that was given to Calais Campbell. I'm sure Cam Robinson will be great in time, but I don't think he could realistically play up to Albert's level in his rookie year. Do you?
John: I do think Albert will be here for mandatory minicamp, but I don't know that anyone outside Albert and his people know for sure. I agree that guaranteeing Albert's contract wouldn't have much downside for the Jaguars, but I don't know that that alone will fix the situation. I'm also not a believer that Campbell's situation has much to do with anything. Campbell was an unrestricted free agent entering the offseason and therefore was in a position to test the free market; Albert was under contract entering the offseason and therefore was not in a position to test the free market. Fair or not fair, the Jaguars traded for his contract and have a right to expect him to play under its terms; that's part of signing a contract. I'm not as certain as you that Robinson will be great in time; though I absolutely believe he has that potential, he's a rookie and therefore there's nothing certain. Either way, I also would be surprised if Robinson is better than Albert this season. That's why I continue to believe Albert will start at left tackle – despite the ongoing offseason mini-drama.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
When we had Marcus Stroud and John Henderson plugging up the middle (arguably one of the most formidable defensive-tackle combination to play the game), what did the Jaguars need to make that team a Super Bowl contender? Was it poor quarterback play or lacking talent at defensive end, or was it just too difficult to contend with the powerhouses of Peyton Manning and Steve McNair during that time?
John: I didn't cover the Jaguars' Stroud-Henderson era; I just saw them twice a season while covering the Colts. I do know the Colts of that era respected those Jaguars teams very much and considered the games critical to achieving their regular-season goals. The Jaguars had a couple of really good teams during the Stroud-Henderson era. Why didn't they reach the Super Bowl? The same reason most teams in the AFC didn't have postseason success during that time. New England was the dominant postseason AFC team of the era, and when the Patriots weren't getting to the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis were getting there. Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback.
David from Orlando, FL:
O-man: With the emphasis on player safety today, are practices getting more mental and less physical?
John: Yes.
Limo Bob from Neptune Beach, FL:
I just re-watched the Jags' win over Titans last year. At one point in the game, Fowler on three straight third-downs made plays to get Tennessee off the field. Why is everyone so down on him?
John: People are down on Dante Fowler Jr. because he was the No. 3 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft and didn't have double-digit sacks as a first-year player. With early draft position comes great expectations. As your question implies Fowler indeed made plays last season and had moments when he made momentum-altering plays. I don't think that will change because Fowler has a lot of talent and athleticism. His task now is to develop his pass-rush moves to the point that he can be consistently productive on that front.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
My expectation for this season isn't playoffs; it isn't even a winning record. My expectation is to show up to the game and actually enjoy it for four quarters. I know the Jags aren't going to win every home game and I know I'm going to have to listen to the other team's fans celebrating. I just want the games to be close enough to keep them quiet until the end and then walk out knowing their team could have just as easily lost.
John: I think the Jaguars will more than meet those expectations in 2017.
Mike from Cortland, NY:
In what world is Colin Kaepernick "not an upgrade" over what we have on our current roster? He makes significantly less mistakes with significantly less talent surrounding him. It's not often you can get young, talented quarterbacks with a proven pedigree in free agency in June for pennies on the dollar. I don't understand how it's a bad football move considering the significantly low risk and high reward.
John: This is one part of the Kaepernick discussion …
Mike from Syracuse, NY:
I keep reading questions about the Jags signing Colin Kaepernick to compete with Blake Bortles bringing up Kap's Super Bowl appearance. They do know the year he went to the Super Bowl, Alex Smith was the starter for most of the year and the strength of their team – defense and Frank Gore – is what got them to the Super Bowl? Yes, he had some good plays mainly with his legs and escaping the pocket, but after teams figured him out, he did nothing following the Super Bowl appearance and got beat out by Blaine Gabbert – who Jaguars fans should remember even if they don't want to. So, I guess my question is why do they want to bring in a guy who got beat out Blaine Gabbert?
John: … and this is another side.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
Brandon Albert hasn't played 16 games since 2011. He only has averaged 12 games played per year since then. Brandon Linder has never played 16 games in a season. Jermey Parnell was hurt for a good part of the year last year and likely should have sat due to how poorly he played when injured. The Jaguars' front office seems to be approaching the season with a mindset of "If we're healthy on the O-line, we feel good about our starting five." The odds of all five guys with this injury history remaining healthy for 16 games doesn't look good. If two starters go down for any stretch of time, it feels like a disaster waiting to happen. It feels like the type of thing that could make the difference between 9-7 and 5-11. What are your thoughts?
John: If the Jaguars feel awesome about their starting five and worried about their offensive line depth that makes them one of upwards of 30ish teams in the NFL in that situation. Few NFL teams have five quality starters on the offensive line; far fewer have depth.
Kingsavardied Harvin from Yakima, WA:
What will be the Jags BEST shot at turning the franchise around?
John: Elite quarterback play, a better turnover ratio and a dominant pass rush.
Paul from Jacksonville:
R.J. Soward, as disappointing as he was, was not the beginning of the end. Bryce Paup, and many of the other high-priced, underperforming FAs and the contracts we threw at them in an age of a restrictive salary cap were.
John: Many things conspired to make the Jaguars a four-time playoff team from 1996-1999 and many things conspired to unceremoniously end that reign. The high-priced underperforming free agents were absolutely chief among them.
Larry from Brunswick, GA:
Hey, John. When will the Jaguars' practices be open to the public?
John: Training camp. I expect a schedule to be released soon.
David from Orlando, FL:
O-Zone. We should keep Brandon Albert at left tackle because it's his natural position and move Cam Robinson to guard. When Albert retires or moves on Robinson can move to left tackle. I know, you're thinking, "Well, thanks for that insight, Captain Obvious." Then I say, we need to use the same "obvious" logic for our situation at middle linebacker. We move Poz back to the middle and Myles Jack to the strong side. Captain Obvious, strikes again! BOOM! Done! Next …
John: I wouldn't call Posluszny-Jack as obvious as Albert-Robinson. Though I agree that there's quite a bit of risk to switching Posluszny and Jack, there's also big reward from having a player with Jack's physical gifts. That reward probably does outweigh the risks. That's not as true with Albert and Robinson.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
The comparison of Fowler to J.J. Watt and Vic Beasley as justification for his poor productivity in his first NFL season is not fair. Neither Beasley nor Watt were No. 3 selections in the draft; however, Joey Bosa was the No. 3 selection in the draft, just like Dante Fowler. How did Bosa's rookie stats compare to Fowlers? The answer explains much of the angst among Jag fans.
John: So, it's fair to compare Fowler to the player of your choice but not to other players who have been in similar situations? OK. Wow, now that really is fair.
Dwayne from Jacksonville:
Speaking of 2 BrandX's on the O-line … why DID they name the O-line after you?
John: Admiration.

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