JACKSONVILLE – Happy fourth. Be smart out there.
Let's get to it … Rob from Brunswick, GA:
John, in the past every team was promised at least one prime-time game, even if it was a terrible December Thursday game. I noticed we didn't get one this year. What gives? I obviously missed something here.
John: The NFL actually didn't "promise" all teams prime-time games, though for many years every team did play one. The league went away from the approach for 2017, with the Jaguars and Cleveland Browns both not being scheduled for a prime-time game. Both teams are scheduled for a national-television appearance, with the Jaguars playing the 9:30 slot from London in Week 3 and the Browns scheduled for the same slot in Week 8. "What gives" in this case is obvious and understandable. The Jaguars and Browns have been among the league's worst teams in recent seasons with little national appeal; the league is concerned about ratings and selling prime-time games in a changing market gearing toward streaming. It behooves the league in this climate to place as many high-profile, big-interest teams as possible in prime-time slots. The Jaguars aren't such a team right now. They need to play their way back into that class, and that's OK. In fact, it makes a lot of sense.
Scott from New York, NY:
I found myself in what appeared to be a three-to-four hour line for a ferry to the beach and I thought to myself, "What would O-Zone do?" Thankfully, before going any further (or is it farther?), my wife talked some sense into me and we took the train. For a moment there I was about to …
John: You should have followed your instincts. #missedopportunity
Wes from Baldwin:
What is it gonna take for the Jags to protect home field? Why does it seem like they can't defend the Bank?
John: The Jaguars haven't protected or defended much of anything in recent seasons. How do they get better in that area? Get better, period.
Scott from New York, NY:
Is there's anything you've been wanting to tell us?
Marty from Jacksonville:
O-Zoner, is it not possible that the best five individual offensive linemen may not actually be the best offensive line combination?
John: You're referring to the idea that the Jaguars will play their best five offensive lineman next season, an approach I believe will help lead to Cam Robinson playing guard as a rookie. You're right that the best five individual linemen don't always form the best overall offensive lineman. In this case, however, it's not a bad starting point.
Paul from Jacksonville:
O-Man ... would you please tell J.P. to stay out of the Jug, and stop cutting the rug with Linda Lou, or he may run into a feller with the hair colored yeller...
John: Yeah, I can see it. That said, 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.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
You forget to mention that the Jaguars' defense choked in that game as well. And you stating the fact that Jags and Blaine Bortles only put up 150 yards of total offense proves that it doesn't matter who starts as a quarterback for the Texans because their defense will still win games for them.
John: I don't know that I forgot to mention the Jaguars' defense in a loss at Houston last December as much I was just writing about something else. Either way, yes … the Texans' defense has made them the best team in the AFC South for the past two seasons and makes them the favorite until some team proves otherwise.
Mark from Jacksonville:
Jalen Ramsey is an otherworldly talent. The one knock on him is his hands (i.e. catching the pass instead of deflecting it). Do you know if he has worked on improving this area in the offseason and are there drills that they run to work on this area? Would love to see him grab more of the passes he breaks up and truly put fear into quarterbacks.
John: I know this hands thing is a knock on Ramsey, but in my view it's a pretty irrelevant one. First, Ramsey had two interceptions and 14 passes defensed last season; I never watched him thinking, "Wow, this guy's hands are holding him back." Second, whether or not he ever is a big interception guy is meaningless compared to his ability to defend a side of the field, break up passes, make big plays and support the run. Is he working on his hands? Sure, he practices hands drills the same as all defensive backs in an effort to improve them. But even if his hands don't get better, here's guessing the fear he puts into quarterbacks will remain very true indeed.
Nick from Phoenix, AZ:
O, it's the dead zone. We've heard about your music taste and your (understandable) fear of Shadrick. Let's go a little deeper! What is a career move that you would make differently? An interview that you wished that you would have taken more interest in, at the time? One you wish you would have had? Maybe a question that you wish that you'd asked while you had the chance?
John: If I had it to do over again, I suppose I wouldn't have left the Florida Times-Union for Indianapolis in 2001. It took leaving Jacksonville to realize how much it meant to me, and while my wife and son enjoyed in Indianapolis, I realized soon that for me there was no place like home. Still, if that path was what it took to bring me back to Jacksonville in this capacity, then I'm thankful for it; this is the job I believe I'm meant to be doing. As far my career, I don't have a lot of specific "wish-I-had-back" moments, but there are a few events I would have liked to have covered or covered more. I never covered the Olympics, which I would have liked to have experienced – and I would have liked to have covered big-time tennis. I also miss covering the NCAA basketball tournament. There's very little that compares to the energy and excitement of a deep run in that event.
Glenn from St. Marys, GA:
Reasons the Jags will be better this season is: One, new coach; two, improved defense; three, improved offensive line; four, monster running back; five, coach Keenan; six, Tom Coughlin and because I want them to be better! Club seat owner since 45 minutes after the announcement that we got a franchise and still enjoying the Jaguar experience!
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
On a team planning to use the running game as much as the Jaguars, how important is it to have receivers who can run block? And in your opinion who is the best blocker the Jags have at wide receiver?
John: It's difficult to spring long runs if receivers don't block downfield. Run blocking for receivers is typically about willingness, and all of the Jaguars' top three receivers – Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns – are willing run blockers.
Doug from Jacksonville:
All I want from this year's Jags is double-digit wins, winning the AFC South and hosting a minimum of one playoff game. If anything less occurs I will send a strongly-worded letter to Mr. Khan.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, with all this consternation regarding Cam Robinson starting his career at guard, can you please educate us about the differences in playing guard versus tackle and left side versus right side? Also, given the changes in the offensive line this year, are the guys associating together like an elite military unit? Are they eating, lifting, and hanging out together to gain unit cohesion? If so, is Branden Albert joining in?
John: There are exceptions, but guards generally are a touch shorter and stouter to handle powerful defensive tackles whereas tackles are slightly taller and more athletic to handle edge pass rushers. The athleticism is particularly important for left tackles – they are often playing their opponents' best pass rusher – whereas right tackles often are more power oriented. As for hanging out … yes, Jaguars offensive linemen typically can be seen together, but that's the case for all offensive lines. Because he was only in town for minicamp, Albert hasn't done much "hanging out" with anyone. That will start happening in training camp, and I'm sure he'll join in the fun just fine.
Aaron from White Hall, AR :
So I keep seeing about the ROAR calendar shoots. Do you see any of these girls to have the impact the Culligan girl did?
John: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Wiseman from Space:
They better not trade Paul Posluszny. Such heart. In fact, he should be the Jaguars linebackers coach when he retires. Agreed?
John: I have neither seen nor heard anything that makes me think the Jaguars will trade Posluszny before the 2017 season.
Charlie from Chuckville:
PLEASE HELP OEHSER! I can't stop picturing you in a speedo!
John: Welcome to bliss.