O-Zone: Bold prediction

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … John from Jacksonville:
As I was watching NFL Network recently, they began to talk about Cam Newton. He went to the Super Bowl in 2015 and had a really bad year in 2016 much like Blake Bortles did. I believe we as fans have too short a memory. Am I wrong to believe this year will be much better for both quarterbacks?
John: Newton indeed struggled in 2016, and it's fair to assume quarterbacks can improve from difficult seasons. But remember: Newton was the NFL Most Valuable Player who led his team to the Super Bowl with clutch play in 2015. Bortles had very good statistics in 2015 and at times showed the potential to be good, but he absolutely did not approach elite status that season. There were far too many inconsistencies – and he entered last season needing to make serious improvements upon 2015. It's very possible Bortles will be better in 2017, but he doesn't yet deserve the benefit of the doubt given to Newton. He must earn that.
Bruce from Jacksonville:
Zone, what are we gonna do with Chad Henne when Blake is 6-0 with 15 touchdowns, three interceptions and three rushing touchdowns? What will Henne do to help us then?
John: I suppose Chad Henne in that scenario would do what he has done the past few seasons – be in meetings, be prepared and be a reliable, experienced guy who can play a few games at a relatively reasonable level of effectiveness if needed.
Scott from Section 37 and Ponte Vedra, FL:
I said two years ago that we should have drafted Leonard Williams instead of Dante Fowler Jr. – and even the pundits thought he was a better pro prospect. Maybe we should go for the BAP rather than draft need sometimes and that would make us a better to team. What are your thoughts?
John: Many analysts indeed rated Williams highly in 2015, but let's not completely rewrite history. There were plenty of draft analysts around the time of the 2015 NFL Draft who considered Fowler the best pass rusher in the draft – and the best non-quarterback prospect in the draft. And while it's nice to talk in theoretical terms about Best Available Player, the reality is you don't always look at two prospects and say absolutely without question that, say, your fourth-rated player is miles better than your fifth-rated player. If there is a player who is miles away the best player when a team is selecting, then yes … the team in that situation needs to take him. It's rarely so clear-cut.
Travis from St. Louis, MO:
I was just researching this, and found it contradictory that we can't participate in OTAs before April 17 because they thought our team doesn't have a first-year head coach, but yet we can't be on Hard Knocks this year because of a first-year head coach. Hmmmmm.
John: First thought: You're viewing this issue from a different perspective than NFL teams view it. That's because you seem to see a Hard Knocks appearance as something for which to be strived – or at the very least not an inconvenience. I assure you Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone are not disappointed to miss an opportunity to be on Hard Knocks. That's the first thought. Second thought: yeah, you're correct. It's contradictory.
Frank from Fleming Island, FL:
Does "Executive Vice President of Football Operations" fit on a business card?
John: I don't know. I asked Coughlin once for his business card and he looked at me and said, "You know I consider you a necessary evil, sort of like Hard Knocks, right? Now, please go away." I was hoping for more subtlety. Either way, he walked away without giving me the business card.
Nathan from Fort Belvoir, Virginia:
Regarding the owners meetings, is there ever a point where the owners are in a room together without any staff, just 32 owners in a room free to discuss any topic of choice?
John: There presumably is an NFL staff member or two milling about, but yes … such an owners-only meeting does take place.
Ed from Winston-Salem, NC:
Off the top of your dome, how many roster spots do you really think are available and if we end up drafting Leonard Fournette or Joe Mixon (hopefully), will we try and trade Chris Ivory (hopefully)??
John: Off the top of my dome, I'd say five or six roster spots eventually will be uncertain entering training camp, because that's usually about the number – and even that's a bit high. As far as trading Ivory if the Jaguars select a running back early in the draft, I doubt you would see it. He would be difficult to trade because the acquiring team would have to assume his contract and I don't know that his value would merit that. Besides, there would be worse things than entering the season with Ivory, T.J. Yeldon and another back as your three primary running backs. That would be three good backs. That's not a bad thing.
Len from Jacksonville:
O, why is everyone leaving corner off the board? I know we have our starters, but having another top corner is always good. Aaron Colvin can be the No. 4 corner in case someone gets hurt and he is up for free agency soon. With a top corner, we can be very deep. Most teams keep five or six corners. What you say O?
John: People are leaving corner out of the Jaguars' conversation at No. 4 because it would be unusual to take a corner in the Top 5 two consecutive seasons – and it would be particularly unusual after signing A.J. Bouye in free agency. People are also leaving corner out of the conversation because they're talking mostly about defensive line and running back. They're talking running back because of the perception that a player such as Fournette is the answer to the team's run-game issues, and they're talking defensive line because teams rotate defensive line more than secondary and because Jonathan Allen of Alabama is an enticing player at No. 4. I would understand the theory behind the Jaguars selecting corner at No. 4, and it would have merit. I just doubt they'll do it if there's a comparable defensive lineman available.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Remember Byron Leftwich? The quarterback with a windup slower and more exaggerated than Blake's? The guy who, when questioned by the media about his poor mechanics, said that "it is what it is" and wouldn't (or couldn't) change? So now Byron is on the staff of the Arizona Cardinals. As a quarterbacks coach. 'Splain it to me, John.
John: Ability or performance as a player has very little to do with whether or not a person can coach. If it did, NFL staffs would consist only of potential Hall-of-Fame players and former Pro Bowl sections. The last I checked, that's not the case.
Richard from Lincoln, NE:
Last I heard, Tom Brady wants to go five-to-seven more years when he will be 40 very soon. One big hit can put him in a nursing home for the rest of his life. If I had his money I would retire NOW before it's too late. Avocado pudding can't prevent injuries can it??
John: An NFL player always must worry about "one big hit," and if you indeed were Brady you wouldn't retire now. That's because if you were Brady you would be wired as elite quarterbacks are wired – with an inner drive and determination to compete at the highest level with money not really having that much to do with what motivates you. The man wants to play until he's 45? More power to him. Let him go after it.
Ryan from Durham, NC:
The Jaguars just cannot mess up this pick in the upcoming draft. We just can't. The pick has to be Leonard Fournette. With LF, Blake will almost definitely see base defenses. Teams will not dare go to nickel with the threat of LF running back there. LF will undoubtedly make Blake look like Joe Mantana going against base defenses 90 percent of the time. Even though the speed of Dalvin Cook is enticing, he will not have the same effect as LF will on defensive schemes Blake will see. GO JAGS!
John: Well, if the Jaguars can figure out a way to make Blake look like that Joe Mantana guy I'm all for it. I think anyone would be.
Jae from Chicagoland, IL:
Jalen's entertainment value is off the charts. If he plays like we all think he will next year and the team eventually gets some wins it'll be fun to watch and listen.
John: Agreed. Ramsey as a rookie was unusual in multiple ways, but perhaps mostly that he never seemed remotely overwhelmed by the level of play – and he seemed to need little-to-no adjustment period. That's incredibly rare in the NFL, even for players selected in the Top 5, and it bodes well for his future.
John from Jacksonville:
As of this Sunday, only 23 weeks until Week 1 of the regular season. After we play 19 or 20 games (too early yet to tell about the wild card), we will be the Super Bowl champs! Can't wait.
John: #DTWD

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