JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Marc from Oceanway
Do you feel more optimistic about Blake Bortles going into this season than you did going into the 2016 season?
Absolutely – infinitely more so, actually. The astute O-Zone reader – and he knows who he is – may recall that I wrote often between the 2015 and 2016 seasons that Bortles had far to go and much on which to improve before becoming a franchise quarterback. This was despite many at the time believing his 35-touchdown 2015 season had put him well on the way to "elite" status. The thought here then was his decision-making, pocket presence and command of the offense needed vast improvement for him to be close to the league's best. Bortles didn't improve in those areas in 2016, but he improved in all those areas in a major way this past season. Considering his work ethic, and considering he will be entering his second season in the same offensive system next season, he should take an additional step forward next season. Nothing in Jaguars 2018 Organized Team Activities makes me think that won't happen.
Mike from Section 122 and Port Orange, FL
Wonder how many people h
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL
Hi, John: One fer new website. Just takes a little getting used to. Jaguars Thursday? Open drop-down menu, scroll to bottom and select audio!
One fer …
Bradley from Carson City, NV
It's true Myles Jack wasn't down. It's also true that he made a brilliant, potentially game-changing play. The old beast was on the ground staring up at a raised dagger. The young, but confident, Jags' offense swagged onto the championship gridiron poised to kill the old beast on its home turf. The spoiled townspeople groaned with fear as the new, young beast took their stance ready to take their place in time and went three and out ... took about a minute.
This is true. The Jaguars had possession after Jack's play, and had every opportunity to run time from the clock and score a game-changing touchdown offensively. Had they done so, they likely would have won the AFC Championship. Instead, as was the case throughout the second half of that game, they couldn't run when they needed to run. And correctly or incorrectly, they didn't feel they had the right down-and-distance, field-position situations to throw often in those situations. The inability to run there is a big reason the Jaguars signed All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell as an unrestricted free agent in March – and improving offensively in those situations is a major offseason priority. The game – and an appearance in the Super Bowl – was there for the taking and the Jaguars failed to take advantage because they couldn't do what needed and wanted to do. They must improve in that situation.
Ralph from Jacksonville
John, I am sorry the ads are gone thus reducing your income. I think they should make it up to you somehow.
"Nothing from nothing leaves nothing" – Billy Preston.
Gator from Gainesville, FL
A few years back I tried to get everyone to call me "Bow." Not "Bow wow" like a dog barking, but like Bo Duke only spelled "Bow." You understand. I felt like that nickname would be cool and something about it made me feel like I would make everyone in the trailer park around me better. I put it on the back windshield of my truck, I air brushed it onto the end of my trailer, I talked about myself in the third person using "Bow." Still it never took. From one cool dude to another, this King of Funk ain't gonna happen. It's a shame because we both wanted cool nicknames.
I am the king of all funk.
Andrew from Sampson
I notice this year that Jags OTA days are not consecutive days like in the past, stretching this OTA out longer. Am I imagining this?
Yes, you are. Organized team activities for the past decade and a half or so have pretty much been structured similarly around the NFL: 10 practices spread over three weeks. Teams then finish "Phase 3" of the offseason with a three-day mandatory minicamp. Some teams might juggle OTAs a bit from week to week, but the 13-practices-in-four-week format is the norm and has been for some time.
Cliff from Las Vegas, NV
Was there a play that Bortles made last season that stood out to you as truly exceptional? To me, the throw to Keelan Cole in the second Texans game was special ... Jadeveon Clowney in his face and rolling to his left, while making a touch pass over the corner on a crossing route. That is big-time stuff there.
The touchdown pass to Cole against Seattle at home stood out, as well as multiple plays against the Buffalo Bills on the game-winning drive in the AFC Wild Card playoff and multiple plays against Pittsburgh in the AFC Divisional Playoff. People may scoff when I suggest a play against Buffalo because Bortles' passing statistics were bad in the game, but he was clutch in that game when it mattered – and he was clutch against the Steelers, too. Remember: the Jaguars won two one-score playoff games in January in which Bortles made big plays in the second half. Whatever else he didn't do in either of the games, he made plays when it counted – and that bodes well for his future.
Dave from Oviedo, FL
Funk-zone, with as much success as the Jaguars had last year, I'm surprised other teams didn't try to raid our coaching staff. If you had to guess, which coach do you feel is bound for bigger and better things, maybe after this season?
Coaching reputations are usually built over a few seasons, so I wasn't shocked neither offensive coordinator Todd Wash nor offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett drew interest this past offseason. Both are still young and entered last season relatively unknown. If the Jaguars match last year's success, I would expect both to start gaining interest. My guess is Wash would draw such interest a season sooner than Hackett, but that's a guess.
Louis from Orange Park, FL
O-Zone, how come Brandon Albert is still not at OTAs? Do you believe it? Do you think he and Jalen are together?
Rhonda from Jacksonville
When is the next CBA? Any chance they get rid of voluntary activities? It would reduce a lot of angst and save many fans lives.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association runs through 2020. I doubt you will see the sides at that time negotiate away voluntary activities. One alternative would be to add more mandatory offseason activities, and the players won't want that. Having fewer voluntary offseason activities would reduce the already dwindling number of practices – and teams wouldn't want that. While OTA practices have limited value for some well-established veterans, they have value for young players, teams with new coaches and players in new situations. Remember, too: this issue really isn't nearly as big of a deal for players and coaches as it for media and fans. While most coaches would like all players in all camps, most also know 100 percent attendance in voluntary work isn't a realistic goal. Most players who need the work are wise enough to go, and the wise coaches and organization understand that – and keep their angst over the issue in perspective.
Dave from Orlando, FL
O - Will there be a competition for who will be handling the kickoff duties this year between Josh Lambo and Logan Cooke? Also, have you seen Logan Cooke punt yet and if so, what's your first impression?
Cooke, a rookie seventh-round punter, has kickoff experience and I imagine it could be a role he handles in the future. For now, the Jaguars appear to want him to get used to punting in the NFL and adjusting to what special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis wants from punters in terms of ball placement and style. And yes, I have seen Cooke punt. He appears to have a strong, consistent leg. That's the impression I have from a few OTA practices. We'll see what the regular season brings.
Dwayne from Jacksonville
I have noticed local sports media people would rather be ridiculed in the O-Zone rather than be praised by the Great OZ. Why is that?
I can only assume that you are referring to some recent emails in which I outline the many attributes and accomplishments of longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist/Northeast Florida treasurer/cultural touchstone Gene Frenette. Some indeed appear to have misinterpreted by praise as ridicule. To this I say, "Bunk." I have been fortunate enough to know Gene for 30 years. When life grants you a gift like that, you don't risk a big dose of bad karma by bringing ridicule into the orbit. You simply acknowledge the gift – and the greatness – and be grateful the world is such a good, kind place.