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O-Zone: Circle of life

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Roger from Whitehouse, FL

John, since Dak Prescott said he doesn’t think that teams need a No. 1 receiver and he was being fitted for his Hall of Fame jacket his rookie season, maybe the Jaguars’ front office was right not to re-sign Allen Robinson.

Your not-particularly-craftily-hidden contempt for Prescott aside, the Dallas Cowboys’ starting quarterback is hardly the only person around the NFL unconvinced a “No. 1 receiver” must be a priority. Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett last week said it’s better to have many similar receivers, saying “I would hope you never have a true No. 1, ever. You want a guy who’s able to be a No. 1; and you want everybody to be able to touch the ball. If you have a No. 1, defenses can very well take that guy away. You need other people to step up. The more we can spread it around just makes it more of a team game. We don’t want one guy to have to get the ball every time.” Many teams have had success with a slew of good receivers as opposed to one dominant one – and that certainly seems to be the Jaguars’ current approach. The other part of the issue here, of course, is whether Robinson indeed is an elite, “No. 1” receiver. The Jaguars didn’t believe that was the case. He also was returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury, all of which perhaps made it a bit more palpable for the Jaguars to not re-sign a player they drafted and liked very much.

Jim from Acworth, GA

Couldn’t the fact that we don’t have a true No. 1 receiver actually help the offense? Would defenses unable to predict who is going to be the target be an advantage?

That’s the Jaguars’ hope, and remember: the actual number of “true No. 1 receivers” pales in comparison to the number of receivers who believe they are true “No. 1 receivers.” Not every team has one. You can make a pretty strong argument that most teams don’t have one. Teams make the postseason and win Super Bowls all the time without one.

Cliff from Las Vegas, NV

Mind if I harvest your organs? It's like, an emergency.

Yes … wait. No.

Paul from Ponte Vedra, FL

Tight end? O-man, I know well this game of youth. I am still scratching my head on letting loose one the best blocking tight ends in the game knowing we are slated to be a run-dominant team. A quick glance at our 2017 highlights showcases Marcedes Lewis in several clutch plays and several big touchdowns. Not sure, other than youth, this was the best move?? I don't think Austin Seferian-Jenkins has more than four touchdowns in a season – and as far I can tell, he is NOT known for his blocking. I would be curious of your thought on this, sir ...

Lewis is one of my favorite Jaguars players in the seven seasons since I returned to Jacksonville. I always will remember and appreciate his professionalism during a lot of tough times, and he indeed spent much of his career as one of the NFL’s best run-blocking tight ends. The Jaguars’ thought was that in the 12th season of his career last season he was not on the level as a blocker as he had been earlier in his career. If that’s the case, then it’s hard to imagine moving on from Lewis and adding Seferian-Jenkins not being an upgrade. Seferian-Jenkins at this point in his career appears far more athletic and a better option in the passing game than Lewis, and the Jaguars believe he will be good enough in the run game to be an overall upgrade at the position.

James from Wilmington, NC

Your Funkness, what are the odds that the Khans go after Christian Pulisic for Fulham now that they’re promoted?

What?

PoolnaFord from Boomtown

Remember me?

What?

Terrance from Upper Marlboro, MD

Examining Dave Caldwell's drafts, with exception of the poor 2013 draft class for most teams, how much of a difference has he made to this organization? Looking back at Shack Harris' and Gene Smith's drafts, it feels like we were clearly set back a decade due to poor first-round drafting. If you build and sustain a team through the draft, then Caldwell has hit some major home runs for the Jaguars.

Caldwell during his time as the Jaguars’ general manager has drafted some really good players, and he has drafted some players who haven’t worked out nearly as well. That’s the norm for most NFL general managers. The team also over the past three seasons has been exceptional in unrestricted free agency. While it’s easy to dismiss free-agent signings because players such as end Calais Campbell, tackle Malik Jackson and cornerback A.J. Bouye in retrospect seem like no-brainer decisions, the last two NFL decades are littered with unproductive free-agent signings that have set franchises back years. While Caldwell hasn’t been perfect, his approach early in his tenure allowed the Jaguars the cap room to operate in free agency as they have the past few seasons; without that cap room, there’s no way the team would have had the success it had last season – nor would the immediate future seem as bright as it does. Yes, Caldwell has hit some home runs, but beyond the splashes, his overall approach is a big reason the Jaguars are where they are as of June 2018.

Cliff from Orange Park, FL

Is Bortles a franchise quarterback? Should we expect him to be Top 5 or 10 quarterback? I have heard the debate and I have evidence that the answer is yes and he already is. In ESPN 2017 QBR rankings, Bortles is 12th for regular season and fifth in the playoffs. Statistically he is No. 11 for 2017. He is ahead of Marcus Mariota, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco and Jameis Winston. Give the man his due!

Hey, one fer Bortles!

Jeff from Jacksonville

While Bortles improved significantly over this past season, I can understand why outsiders – and some Jags fans in their own right – may not be convinced he is a legit NFL quarterback. I see this situation similar to how I use Yelp reviews when deciding whether or not to try out a new restaurant: I don't care how many positive reviews restaurant "X" has, I base my judgement on the negative reviews I read. And if there's more than a handful, I'll choose somewhere else. No matter how many positive reviews are out there as of now for Bortles, those negative reviews don't go away.

That’s the cool thing about the NFL, and about sports. While it’s fun for fans to have opinions on things, and while every fan and media type can offer that opinion in a variety of mediums, those opinions matter little or not at all when games are played. Perhaps Bortles’ biggest strength is that he doesn’t much care about the criticism or the praise. He is as strong-minded on that front as any quarterback I’ve been around.  It has served him well and I imagine it will continue to do so.

Paul from Gainesville, FL

John, if you go to the Norwegian place, don't try the Lutefisk. Thank me later.

Word.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I’m buying so much stuff while I’m reading the new O-Zone that I will not have any beer money at the games. Please send this to marketing and remind them that life is about striving for balance.

Word.

Bryan from Charlottesville, VA

If you're thinking Marcell Dareus is a cornerstone player, that would lead me to believe that Malik Jackson is no longer considered such. The drafting of Taven Bryan would suggest that's the case as well. Or do you view Bryan as the replacement in a year for Calais Campbell? How have these three vets reacted to Bryan's drafting? By the way, I recognize how great of shape we are in that we're agonizing over having too much talent on the defensive line.

This will be a topic until next offseason, and I understand people wanting an answer. The reality is no such answer is possible now. But while it seems highly likely that either Dareus, Campbell or Jackson won’t return in 2019 because of salary-cap reasons, it’s silly to predict which one(s) won’t return until the season plays out. If Campbell shows signs of age and Jackson makes the Pro Bowl, then perhaps Campbell could be released. If Campbell turns in another double-digit-sack season and Dareus has an injury-plagued season, the team could move on from Dareus. And so on. As far as the reaction of veterans to Bryan, I’ve only heard Campbell discuss it and he has praised the young player. That’s not unusual. It’s professional football. Young players are drafted at the positions of veteran players all the time. Circle of (NFL) life, you know.

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