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O-Zone: Ah...bliss

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … John from Jacksonville:
B2 WK2, B2 WK2, B2 WK2! I think it's the only way we make it to the playoffs. It may be a tough row to hoe without MJD also. Have they thought about getting a comparable replacement?
John: After much study and reflection, I'm almost sure you're saying the Jaguars need to start Blake Bortles in Week 2 to make the playoffs this year. That's a fine idea in theory, with the theory being that because Bortles is a No. 3 overall draft selection he should be and will be ready to start – and be great – right now. The problem with that theory is the facts don't match up. Bortles was drafted with the idea he will develop, and that means he probably won't start Week 2 – if he starts at all this season. As for a replacement for Maurice Jones-Drew, that's an awesome idea. I think they should go out and sign a running back in free agency, maybe a veteran with experience and talent, but without too much wear and tear on the body. I have a feeling this might be the Jaguars' plan. I'll keep you posted.
Brian from Ponte Vedra, FL:
What will the rookie class do Monday-Thursday before the first practice on Friday?
John: The rookies reported along with quarterbacks and first-year players Monday, and after physicals, the group went through a conditioning test. There will be meetings and a short practice Tuesday and Wednesday, with veterans reporting Thursday.
Andy from Saint Johns, FL:
John, the other day when you answered one of my questions, I forwarded it to some of my co-workers so they could see it. I got a respond back from one saying, "Yea, I stopped submitting questions because he always picks the stupid ones." What say you about that, Johnny-O?
John: I say I pick a lot of questions. Some are smart and some are stupid and some are meant to entertain and others are meant to inform and others are meant to set up other questions and all are meant to provide a daily forum for people who like the Jaguars and like to laugh and like to be around other people like that. Some people like the approach. Others don't. There was a time I tried to please everyone. This is not that time.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
This could stray into the sticky quagmire of potential what-ifs, but here we go. If the weapons that the Jags now have play to their ability, how much better do you see the offense being than previous versions of the team?
John: If the offensive skill players play to their ability, the unit should be improved from the past few seasons. Chad Henne, Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhart, Marcedes Lewis, Cecil Shorts III, Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Clay Harbor. There is ability there, though in the case of players such as Lee and both Robinsons – and perhaps even Gerhart, to a degree – they must prove they can produce on a consistent basis in the NFL. As for how much, who knows? What the Jaguars are looking for is steady improvement, and improvement this season would be the first step.
Nick from Jacksonville:
Two days until the players report, so I'll keep the Question That Won't Go Away going. Are there any running backs playing now, or that have retired in recent seasons, that could be in the discussion for all-time greatest? Certainly Adrian Peterson comes to mind along with LT; my heart wants to say Mojo or Freddy T, but I know they wouldn't crack the Top 25.
John: Adrian Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson indeed would be in just about any discussion for all-time great running backs. I don't see Jones-Drew quite in that conversation, but Taylor is a more interesting discussion. While he may not make the Top 25 of many casual observers, he without question deserves to be in the conversation. He not only has the statistics to merit mention, his combination of strength and speed – not to mention the eye test – put him in rare company, even "elite" company.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
We keep reading that Telvin Smith needs to add weight if he is going to be a successful NFL linebacker. He has great top-end speed. He is quick in and out of cuts and he has decent hands. If he can't put on weight without losing some of his attributes, has any consideration been given to possibly converting him to a receiver? Wouldn't his size, speed and athleticism make him an ideal candidate?
John: No, there has not been serious consideration given to Smith playing receiver. Smith is a linebacker, and there's no reason right now to think he will play anything else. Because the Jaguars were open when drafting about him needing to add some size, people have assumed that that's some sort of negative – or that it will be difficult to do. It needn't be. Players add size all the time in the NFL. That's what the offseason is about. There's little reason to think that Smith can't get big enough to be an effective linebacker.
James from the Westside:
All this talk of best short-yardage backs has me wondering. Who (in your opinion) had the best offensive line in tandem with some of the better running backs in NFL history? For me 90s Broncos and 90s Cowboys come to mind. Terrell Davis and Emmitt Smith tore it up in that era.
John: You made two good choices, although your second choice is the best choice. That Cowboys line featured at various times Erik Williams, Larry Allen, Nate Newton, Mark Stepnoski, Mark Tuinei and Kevin Gogan. That meant a Hall of Fame running back running behind one of the best lines in NFL history. The results speak for themselves.
John from Hyde Grove-Westside:
College vs NFL: I seem to remember, late 60s-early 70s, there was a College All Star vs an NFL team. Can't remember how the NFL team was selected. Seems that the All Stars were actually competitive...scored some points, maybe even won one??? What is the story on those games, or have I just dreamed the whole thing? Keep up the good work O-man, an enjoyable read. Thanks.
John: You aren't dreaming. For more than 40 years (1934-1976), the Chicago Charities College All-Star game featured a team of college All-Stars playing the defending NFL champions at Soldier Field in Chicago. The games were often competitive in the early years, but that changed, with the NFL winning the last 12 games and 16 of the last 17. The Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the final game, winning 24-0, in a game shortened by heavy rain. By that point, overall interest in the game had diminished, and NFL coaches had become increasingly reluctant to have draft selections missing training camp time and putting themselves at increased risk of injuries.
James from Westside and Section Lazy Boy:
I see a lot of readers asking if Maurice Jones-Drew will be in the Pride of the Jaguars. But does he really care to be? I always felt like he was a player that wanted to be somewhere else.
John: I sense a lot of readers feel this way, and I understand why. Jones-Drew spoke his mind a lot in Jacksonville, and he was always up front that he understood that the game at the professional level was a business above all else. He also obviously has roots in California, and took a lot of pride in that. All of that said, I covered Jones-Drew three seasons and never got the impression he disliked playing in Jacksonville or the organization. And I certainly thought he was sincere last season when he said he liked Gus Bradley and David Caldwell and the direction of the organization. So, yes, I would say that when – and I do believe the correct word is "when" — Jones-Drew goes into the Pride of the Jaguars, he will care about it a great deal.
Glenn from Section 146 and Jacksonville Beach:
This is in response to the question about Super Bowl rings... Did Peyton and Co. give you one? If so, do you have it on display at your house? Even if it was from our mortal enemies, it still would be pretty cool to see.
John: Yes, I have a Super Bowl ring from the 2006 season. No, it is not on display in my house. I'm almost sure it indeed is somewhere in my house, though I'm not sure where. The last part of the last sentence says nothing about how I feel about the ring and a whole lot about my ability to remember things. I am relatively ambivalent about the former, and as I near 50, I find I am increasingly worse at the latter.
Phil from Coral Springs, FL:
In response to Byrd from Eastside Duval: My typical response to my wife of 22 years is... "Sorry, I'm just a guy. I cannot help it." She rolls her eyes and moves on.
John: I'm been married 22 years, too. I have long since ceased being amazed at how many things in this world are my fault.

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