JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Rob from Jacksonville:
Circumstances factor so much into a player's development. Suppose Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr had been the choice instead of Blake Bortles in 2014 … I would put my chips down on the fact we would be talking about them in the same manner as Blake Bortles. Just a hunch.
John: This is a question with no answer, obviously. Circumstances indeed influence NFL careers. Had Tom Brady been drafted by a franchise with a young quarterback who never got hurt, would he have had the same career he has had in New England? Had Dak Prescott been selected by a team without a dominant offensive line, would he have had the rookie season he had in Dallas last season? There's no way to know, but those players undoubtedly would have taken different paths. How would Carr or Garoppolo have fared in different circumstances? Carr looks to me like a player who would have succeeded no matter where he was drafted; time will tell how Garoppolo fares when he gets a chance to start full time. Would either player have succeeded with the Jaguars? That's impossible to know. The circumstances around Bortles during his first three seasons were less than ideal, and though Bortles without question has contributed at times to those circumstances, many quarterbacks indeed would have struggled here the last few seasons.
Chris from Norfolk, VA:
Maybe the best move we could do is try to sign Darrelle Revis to come in on a one-year deal for his knowledge alone. I know those tires are worn and he hasn't had other offers. Am I reaching with alligators arms?
John: I obviously didn't cover Revis last season, but based on the opinions of those who did, Revis' knowledge wasn't all that beneficial to the Jets.
Cliff from Jersey City, NJ:
Hey O, what do you remember of the XFL?
John: I remember watching the first game on a Saturday in February 2001. I remember thinking the spectacle was interesting and hoping it would work. I remember the football being bad, then I remember losing interest pretty quickly when the football didn't improve. So, in many respects my XFL experience was pretty common.
Glenn from Orange Park, FL:
I'm not sure how anyone can justify giving Caldwell an "F" when he brought in players like Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Telvin Smith, Jalen Ramsey, Abry Jones, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, Sheldon Day, Dante Fowler Jr., Tashaun Gipson, etc. This team has far more talent than when Caldwell arrived. Has every move worked out as hoped? Of course not. But let's not ignore all the good and focus only on the bad when in reality the majority is still incomplete, including Bortles. Caldwell's biggest mistake may turn out to be not changing head coach sooner, and do we really know if that was in his power? Looking forward to seeing this team with a new coach.
John: Caldwell's legacy indeed still is yet to be determined. I believe this team is more talented than when he arrived. At the same time, that talent has won eight games in the last two seasons, so those who question the talent level have reason to do so.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Take a good look at the defenses Blake Bortles played against last year. That schedule was brutal. Blake played the whole year and had his two best games at the end with a very young team. From Day One, he has been able to move the ball. When the team gets better he will get better. A lot of his mistakes came from trying to do too much. I think all the critics are wrong about him and at the end of the Super Bowl they will know. Star player in my book!
John: The Jaguars have placed a lot of faith this season on the crux of your theory – that what they saw from Bortles in the final two games of last season can be part of a foundation on which to build. That's the ray of hope based on a very, very small sample size. If the Jaguars are right, perhaps this franchise can improve quickly. If not …
Nathan from Provo, UT:
Sounds like Steve from Denver plays video games too much. As far as this team? Calais Campbell said it best because, yes, the pieces are in place. Don't be surprised when this team, which is loaded with "winners," does just that. Here's to a home playoff game this season!! … Believe.
Bill from Rochester, NY:
The Jets recently have drafted a lot of quarterbacks in the second and third rounds: Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, Hackenberg … none are starter-worthy and all three used draft selections that could've been used on other positions to strengthen the roster. There's really no system, just scout and hope!
John: This is in response to a recent O-Zone question about teams drafting quarterbacks every year until they find one, and the response does point out the counterargument: If a team takes a quarterback it doesn't believe in around the second or third rounds every year, the absence of those second- and third-round linebackers, safeties, offensive linemen, etc., can weaken your roster in a hurry. But yeah … of course there's no system. If there was a system then everyone would use it and succeed … well, systematically.
Shea from Sellersburg, IN:
Dear Mr. John, sir: who do you think will have the biggest impact on defense? Campbell, A.J. Bouye or Myles Jack moving to the middle – and why good sir?
John: Of the group you reference, I think Campbell will have the biggest impact – provided, of course, he remains healthy for most of the season. The reason: defense is about disruption, and Campbell as a member of the defensive front is in a position to create that disruption. Furthermore, the Jaguars need Campbell to make the most impact of the three players you mentioned. The Jaguars last season for the most part played adequately defensively – and in some cases, the unit played very well. The players Bouye and Jack are replacing, Prince Amukamara and Paul Posluszny, were far from liabilities – and in many cases, Amukamara and Posluszny played very well. The missing piece for the Jaguars' defense last season often was the ability to disrupt the quarterback in crucial situations. If Campbell can help the Jaguars generate that sort of pass rush, his impact will be enormous.
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL:
O-Man, there appears to be little to no expectation that Bortles will be challenged by Allen (at least at this juncture). In your expert opinion, what aspects of Bortles' game, as compared to Allen's, give Bortles such a seemingly decisive edge (exclusive of experience)? Thanks!
John: Bortles has started three NFL seasons, and that's not to be ignored. He also has shown at times many attributes you want in a quarterback – toughness, leadership, production in yards and touchdowns. His main issue has been key turnovers at key times. It's hard to judge Allen – and therefore, hard to have an expert opinion – because he has had so little time in NFL action. He'll be in Year 2 this year, and perhaps there will be a notable Year 2 progression that forces the issue in the offseason and minicamp. We'll see.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Everything I read or hear is T.C. this and T.C. that. Is Coach Marrone a second fiddle?
John: No, you read a lot about Tom Coughlin because he's well-known and well-respected nationally – and by Jaguars fans. Because of that, it stands to reason people are going to ask questions about him – and that he's going to be a focus of national media when discussing the Jaguars. He also has the final say on football decisions, so when people discuss the actions of the organization during the offseason those discussions are going to focus on Coughlin's style and philosophy. But Doug Marrone is the head coach and he makes decisions and runs the team on a day-to-day to basis. Now, the team will very much have a "Coughlin feel," but that's because Marrone and Coughlin share on a lot of views and believes – not because Marrone is a "second fiddle."
Ivan from Hollywood, FL:
Here is one for Allen Hurns. He spoke at his former high school, Miami Carol City, about the importance of commitment and perseverance in tough times. He also made a donation to the school's athletic department. Carol City is a neighborhood with a high poverty rate where crime and drug use is wide spread.
John: All true. When Hurns speaks about commitment and perseverance in tough times he knows of what he speaks. One fer Hurns? No doubt.
Art from Drexel Hill:
Seems like a lot of people have "film" mixed up with YouTube highlights.
John: Shhhhh. If you tell would-be scouts that binge-watching YouTube highlights isn't real scouting you're going to have a lot of very disillusioned would-be scouts.
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Rob from Jacksonville: