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O-Zone: Aging up

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mike from Jacksonville:
This probably has been asked a million times, but here goes once more: On the offensive line, I'm hoping they give a healthy Luke Bowanko another shot at center and try Brandon Linder back at guard where he was originally. I'm wondering if Cam Robinson can play right tackle opposite Albert: Left tackle Branden Albert, left guard Linder, center Bowanko, right guard A.J. Cann, RT Robinson.
John: There are many possibilities for the offensive line entering training camp, and Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone made clear at the end of the offseason program that the early days of full-contact work in training camp will go a long way to deciding starting positions. Still, I don't see your scenario as likely. One reason is that the team likes Jermey Parnell at right tackle far more than many observers seem to like him there. Another reason is I have the sense that both Linder and Tyler Shatley are more serious options than Bowanko at center. I don't see a scenario in which Albert and Parnell aren't the tackles, and I believe Linder will be the center. I also believe that Robinson will be on the field, so I think he will be playing guard. That leaves one guard position, and I believe Cann will be playing that. Perhaps this will play out differently in training camp. We'll see.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
An article ranking teams, defenses and offenses over the last 30 years was released recently. I consider myself to have a fair bit of knowledge when it comes to NFL history. Something that surprised me, though, was that the No. 1 defense of the past 30 years on this list was the '91 Eagles. I've never heard them talked about with the great defenses. Were they that good?
John: I don't know that I would rank the '91 Eagles higher, say, than the 2000 Ravens or 1985 Bears, but they were awfully close – putting the Eagles' defense that year at or near the top of a best-ever list is absolutely correct. The Eagles had a dominant defensive front led by Reggie White, Clyde Simmons and Jerome Brown. Linebacker Seth Joyner and cornerback Eric Allen also made the Pro Bowl, but it was the defensive front that made those Eagles' defenses. They not only led the NFL in total, passing and rushing yards allowed, they also led the league in sacks and takeaways. This team was hampered by a season-ending injury to quarterback Randall Cunningham early in the season. That severely limited the offense, but Philadelphia still finished 10-6. They Eagles missed the playoffs, but the defense was scary good.
Edward from Los Angeles, CA:
What are your thoughts on a possible draft lottery system? While it seems unlikely that players would "tank" a season, there is some evidence that seems to suggest front offices might -- a la Major League.
John: I think an NFL draft lottery system is unnecessary because the cases of the No. 1 overall selection being can't-miss enough or franchise-altering enough are rare enough that "tanking" won't be a trend.
Amanda from Section 228:
John, aside from busting out multiple days of O-Zone responses a couple mornings per week, drinking Magic Hat by the river, and enjoying even longer naps than usual what does your normal work day look like during the dead period? Do you periodically swing by EverBank Field to make sure your security card still works and personal items haven't been boxed up? Or, does the wife insist you leave the house for a minimum of eight hours each day regardless of whether you actually have to be there or not?
John: I doubt my offseason schedule is that interesting to people. It involves a lot of time shirtless on the back porch watching Andy Griffith on a black-and-white tube television. The rest of the day is a little embarrassing, so I'd rather not share.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
Doesn't the bulk of Myles Jack's transition to starting middle linebacker revolve around the mental aspects of making sure the defense is set? If so, shouldn't underwear practices be a sufficient indicator of how he is coming along? And, if so, how is he coming along?
John: The offseason provides a glimpse of how a player is grasping mental duties, though there is no test quite like an in-game test. As for how Jack is coming along in terms of calling the defense, he was much better at the end of the offseason program than the beginning. I heard a lot of good things about Jack in this area at the end of minicamp whereas at the beginning of the offseason the comments as expected were more along the lines of, "He has work to do." So far so good on this front for Jack.
Scott from New York, NY:
What's the O family plan for a well-earned vacation during the dead zone?
John: I haven't tricked them into telling me yet.
Mark from Archer, FL:
Great and wise Zone: I just read an opinion piece on the NFL website ranking the best running backs of all time. The list was a joke because they had Ezekiel Elliot from the Cowboys on the list after one season. But I digress. My question is who would you rank as the 10 best running backs of all time? Does not have to be in a specific order. I would just love to see who you would put into that list.
John: I don't have a Top 10 list, because the list tends to run together after these five: Eric Dickerson, O.J. Simpson, Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders. There are many others I consider great. One is John Riggins, my personal favorite player of all-time before I began covering the league. Another is Fred Taylor, the best runner I ever covered extensively. But the five I mentioned were the best I have seen.
Josh from Green Bay, WI:
I get that we haven't had a winning season for far too long, but I find a lot of these comments/questions regarding those in charge (head coach, general manager, etc.) not doing their jobs and how Fan A or B could do it better to be laughable. There is obviously some reason they are in the position they are in. Just like there is a reason I'm doing my job and not your job. Just because you can win multiple Super Bowls in Madden does NOT a GM make you.
John: Of course general managers and head coaches are more knowledgeable than fans believe, and of course fans are going to believe they can do better. That's because fans are gonna fan … they just are. At the same I hear Madden's pretty hard … particularly if you're playing All-Madden level.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I know a lot of us fans are looking forward to seeing Myles Jack's athleticism at middle linebacker. I know the coaches are working with him on feeling comfortable making the defensive alignment calls. Why does the middle linebacker have to do it? Couldn't Poz at Sam continue to make the calls until Myles gets more experience?
John: Paul Posluszny theoretically could make the calls from the strong-side position, but the player making the defensive calls typically is on the field every play. Posluszny at strong-side backer won't be on the field every down and Jack will be on the field in the middle pretty much every play, so it makes sense to have Jack calling the defense.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
I have a favorite O-Zone moment, well one of some number. Last summer when we all took turns roasting on Shadrick, and I wrote a thoughtful and detailed roast on Shadrick that I assume was so savage that I haven't read any Shadrick zingers since. I hope you guys printed it out, and taped it to a wall or something. My creativity is pretty narrow in focus and thus quite limited in its usefulness.
John: I believe you're referring to the #Shadricksightings summer, which actually was a while back – though not as far back as the summer of #moodachay. As for not zinging Shadrick anymore, J.P. Shadrick is a fine, upstanding member of the jaguars.com staff and he deserves – nay, commands – our respect. I'd appreciate it in the future if our readers remember this.
Ken from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Can Brandon Allen still go on the practice squad and free up another spot on the 53? If so, what is the likelihood of another team picking him up for its 53-man roster? This would free up a sixth receiver or a fourth running back.
John: Allen does have practice-squad eligibility remaining. I would think realistically the odds are slim of a team picking up him up, but slim odds still mean there's enough of a chance that it could make sense to keep him on the 53.
Josh from Lynchburg, VA:
Do you listen to any modern bands? Fleet Foxes? Sufjan Stevens? Father John Misty? The Black Keys? Radiohead? Sigur Ros?
John: No. I'm old.

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