JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Kevin from Orange Park, FL:
So, Doug Marrone says Blake Bortles is improved … say what? Who cares if Bortles is better now? And "better" based on what, by the way? The only thing that matters is if Bortles is improved in the regular season. Anyone can look better in May.
John: Well, of co-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-urse the ultimate test for Bortles will be the regular season. But Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone on Saturday was asked how Bortles had looked so far during the offseason. This is a pertinent topic, and because of Bortles' struggles last season – and because of his importance to this franchise – there is in fact no more pertinent topic this offseason. In other words, don't expect the question to Marrone during rookie minicamp to be the last time he is asked what might seem like a premature question regarding Bortles' offseason. Marrone answered that Bortles' fundamentals and mechanics no doubt have improved. That's encouraging because that's part of what Bortles needs to do in the offseason. I don't believe it's the most important part, because I believe the most important issue for Bortles is improving decision-making, pre-snap reads and pocket awareness. But without improving the mechanics he can't improve in those areas, so Marrone's thoughts in this area Saturday were important. He apparently likes what he is seeing thus far this offseason from Bortles. That's a good thing. There are more important things, but it's also important that the first step has gone well.
Darren from Jacksonville:
Does the left-tackle position have its own coach? There's a quarterback coach, and left tackle is arguably the second-most important position on offense. We have the best left tackle to ever play the position living in Jacksonville. Why isn't Tony Boselli the Jaguars' left tackle coach?
John: The Jaguars don't have a "left-tackle" coach. What they and pretty much every NFL and college team have is an offensive line coach. It's Pat Flaherty, the offensive line coach of the New York Giants from 2004-2015 and of the San Francisco 49ers last season.
John, do you think that the tutelage of Tom House in California helps or hinders Blake Bortles' quest to be a better quarterback? I have a feeling that Blake will shock a lot of people in 2017!! Tell me if I'm wrong for thinking that way!!
John: I believe Bortles was at his best in 2015 after working extensively the previous offseason with House and Adam Dedeaux, his quarterbacks gurus of choice. What is perhaps as important is that Bortles clearly believes in what he does with the duo in California – and if Bortles believes in them, then he should certainly keep working with them. Belief and confidence go a long way for a quarterback. Are you wrong that Bortles will shock a lot of people in 2017? Time will tell. He has shown flashes at times, but the improvement he must make to reach the level he must reach is a big improvement. It's relatively rare to play as he has for three seasons and make such a leap. But there's no one route to becoming an elite quarterback, and perhaps this long route is the one that eventually will work for Bortles and the Jaguars.
Tom from Monks Corner, SC:
If Branden Albert continues his holdout and refuses to show for the entire season a) what recourse do the Jaguars have, and b) does it negate the trade and require other compensation for Thomas?
John: Branden Albert isn't holding out. He at this point is simply opting to not attend voluntary offseason workouts. Sure, Albert wants something done about his contract but what's going on with Albert now is not a crisis. I in no way expect Albert to miss the entire season. But to answer your question: the Jaguars have no recourse. Albert theoretically could sit out the season and he theoretically could retire if he so desired. Either way, remember: The Julius Thomas trade and the Albert trade were separate trades, so one had nothing to do with the other. If Albert would happen to not play for the Jaguars, the Dolphins would simply keep the 2018 seventh-round draft choice and the Jaguars would get nothing in return.
Kevin from Bell:
What do you think the Jaguars will do with Cam now that Albert here?
John: I assume you were asking what the Jaguars will do with Cam Robinson now that Albert isn't here in Jacksonville. Or maybe you were asking what the Jaguars will do with Robinson now that Albert is here, which to my knowledge he isn't. Whatever. If Albert doesn't show up, it appears Robinson will be the left tackle. I doubt that happens because I imagine Albert eventually will be in Jacksonville. If Albert indeed does show up, the two will compete at left tackle for a time and I believe that Albert will be the left tackle with Robinson starting elsewhere on the Jaguars' offensive line – likely guard.
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
Can you give me some clarity on Branden Albert? Did we acquire him without a contract agreement or did he decide he didn't like the contract after we acquired him?
John: When the Jaguars traded for Albert in March, they acquired the last two seasons of the contract Albert originally signed with the Miami Dolphins. That contract is worth $8.9 million in 2017 and $9.6 million in 2018. The tricky part here is early in the offseason the Dolphins were poised to release Albert. Players on Albert's level often sign new free agent deals with new teams after they are released by their old teams. Because Albert was acquired in a trade rather than signed as a free agent, the Jaguars are under no obligation to offer Albert such a deal. Hence, the current situation.
Brian from Traverse City, MI:
Can you explain what the expected base offense and defense will be for this year? Any wrinkles to each that you are envisioning?
John: I don't expect the Jaguars' base defense to be dramatically different next season than last season. They likely will play a 4-3 featuring strong-side and weak-side ends with a nose tackle and a three-technique tackle in base packages. The linebackers will feature strong- and weak-side linebackers, though it will be Paul Poslusnzy on the strong side and Myles Jack in the middle as opposed to Posluszny in the middle and Jack at strong-side last season. Look for some twists in how the Jaguars' approach coverage in the secondary, and I do expect the Jaguars to perhaps have some wrinkles in terms of trying to put defensive playmakers in a position to take advantage of their athletic ability and playmaking ability. It's harder to get a feel for the base offense, though it's safe to say there's going to be a heavier emphasis on the running game with the involvement of a fullback. How many three-wide receiver sets as opposed to two tight-end sets? How much of the offense will be straight fullback as opposed to spread, three or four wide receivers? That will be a major training-camp/preseason storyline as we get a feel for coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's offense.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
People are so worried about the Jaguars' offense, perhaps with good reason. But if Dede Westbrook can get his game on early and duplicate what he did in college, mainly getting in behind coverages quickly, we could quickly see lots of scoring if defenses choose to stack the box. But that is ONLY if Dede makes the plays and we have a legit offensive threat in running game.
John: Wow, so there's absolutely no way Marqise Lee can possibly get behind a defense?
Zac from Duval:
In the last four years has the AFC South been the worst division in the NFL? If you think it is, who has been the worst team in the division?
John: The AFC South indeed probably has been the NFL's worst division in the last four years – and yes, the Jaguars have been the worst team in it. This is not exactly breaking new ground.
John from Amarillo, TX:
Why in the rookie minicamp photos do I see No. 44 and No. 24? Are Myles Jack and T.J. Yeldon wearing others this season?
John: The Jaguars had more than 40 tryout players in for rookie minicamp. Those players had to wear some numbers while practicing. That they were doing so had nothing to do with Jack or Yeldon.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
How can Tom Coughlin, who despises a "callous disregard for the football" and seethes as he says that "turnovers are the bane of his existence," coexist with our present quarterback, Blake Bortles?
John: It's safe to say Coughlin and Bortles won't be a pleasant partnership if Bortles commits turnovers as frequently as he has his first three seasons. Then again, the Doug Marrone-Bortles partnership won't be particularly pleasant if Bortles commits turnovers as frequently as he has in his first three seasons, either. Bottom line? Bortles needs to play better. If he doesn't, this won't work.
O-Zone: Bottom line
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Kevin from Orange Park, FL: