JACKSONVILLE – Perhaps you are familiar with the term, "Jump the Shark." It stems from when Fonzie jumped a shark tank on water skis in Happy Days, and refers to a situation in which things have gone irreparably far toward an unfortunate, odd direction.
In terms of Dead Zone O-Zones, the term may apply today.
Let's get to it …
David from Maplewood, NJ:
John, just one more fer Blake. I was flying into Jacksonville to visit the parents a few months back. As we waited to board our connection in at Atlanta, who else happened to be waiting to board but Blake Bortles? Having no sense of personal boundaries, I immediately said, "Hey, it's Blake Bortles." My nine-year old was mesmerized. Blake was super nice and he put his hand on my son's shoulder and addressed him directly. He agreed to pose for a photo. It is a moment both my son and I will remember for a while. He may still have some development to be considered an elite quarterback but he is already a pretty good person.
John: Give your son time, David. I'm sure he will develop into an elite quarterback. Don't pressure him, though. If he indeed is a good person, that's what counts.
Travis from High Springs, FL:
John, my friends and I were having a debate over who was the best player in the history of the Jaguars. I was leaning towards Fred Taylor. Just wanted to know who you thought it might be.
John: My choice for the greatest player in the history of the Jaguars is Tony Boselli, because I believe he was the best left tackle in the NFL for an extended time during what was perhaps the golden era of left tackles. Taylor was much, much better than most national NFL observers believe and I believe both players should be in the Hall of Fame, but I'd give Boselli the slight, slight edge.
David from Orlando, FL:
O-Man: In ancient times BC (Before Caldwell), there was a dark age, a time of great sadness and sorrow. Every season brought a new hope that a savior would arrive and lead us to the promised land – but alas, a playoff berth was not to be. And then one day, just before all hope was lost, three gallant strangers rode into town with a plan. They assembled a mighty team of warriors, and in the great Battle Red delivered victory and prosperity to its people. It is time. It will be done.
John: Did they do it on Battle Red Sunday?
Papdoc from St. Augustine, FL:
With field goals and extra points so critical in the NFL, why don't we carry backup kickers? Or is it "Next Man Up?" If Jason Myers goes down in some play, rolled up on, Ryan Quigley or Brad Nortman – both being punters … are they the next man up or did I miss something on our roster?? Not worried, just wondering.
John: It's really a percentage decision that all teams make. While field goals and extra points indeed are critical, the chances of kickers being injured are small enough that teams don't carry backups whose sole job it is to kick placements. So yes, the Jaguars' punter – who will be Nortman – will serve as the backup kicker.
David from Claaaay County:
A friend of mine who played at Boston College under Tom Coughlin told me about his strict meetings with both feet on the floor, sitting up straight, elbows on the table … along with the on-time-is-five-minutes-late rule. Any over-the-top, strict Coughlin stories of your own?
John: I covered the Jaguars for the Florida Times-Union the first six seasons of Coughlin's tenure. Because I worked for the newspaper and not the team, I didn't fall under Coughlin's rules. Still, rules were certainly a big part of the story during his first few seasons. The rules about meetings, being five minutes early … those were among the rules, as was a rule that assistant coaches couldn't wear sunglasses on the field. Probably my favorite memory of Coughlin was when I showed up to cover 1996 Training Camp with my hair long. My colleague at the Times-Union, Pete Prisco, pointed out my ponytail to Coughlin, who upon looking at it shook his head in disgust and walked away.
Don from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Blake Bortles is one bad dude and he is going to win every game including the Super Bowl this year! I am serious! GO Jags!
Bill from Jacksonville:
It's the Dead Zone, so let's have some fun. Serena Williams versus Steffi Graf in their primes, who ya got? Roger Federer versus Pete Sampras in their primes, who ya got? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: This is impossible to answer because circumstances change so much from era to era in tennis based largely on changes in equipment. I also believe great players would have adapted to their eras, so whereas a player such as John McEnroe wouldn't seem likely to have fared well against Sampras had they played in the same era, McEnroe likely would have grown up playing a different way and would have found a way to be great. So, with the caveat that the question is unanswerable: I'll take Graf and Federer – Graf because she won the Golden Slam in 1988 and Federer because he was the better all-court player – but I wouldn't sleep real well the night before a match if Graf was playing Williams or Federer was playing Sampras.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Thank you for posting more of my questions than Hunter from Jacksonville's questions. We have a bit of a competition going and although we have no official tally, it is clear that I am the superior 'Zoner'.
John: I've always thought as much.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire:
Oh Mighty 'O,' I have only visited Jacksonville once: in May 2000 for three weeks. Fell in love with the place (It's Heaven on Earth as far as I am concerned). It also rekindled my love of the NFL, so following the Jags was an obvious thing to do. Having just lost the AFC Championship game, I was sure the Jags would soon be in the Super Bowl. Does this qualify me as Fan Since Day One After I Missed All The Early Success And Have Only Known Misery And Hurt and One Playoff Win in 16 Seasons?
John: It doesn't qualify you as a Day One fan, but it makes you a real fan – just like a whole lot of other different fans of different longevity and different passion are also real fans.
Paul from Lohrville, IA:
John. I recently bet my wife that the Jaguars will make the playoffs this season. If they do, she will convert to rooting for Jacksonville on Sunday rather than the Colts. If the Jaguars do not make the playoffs. I must renounce them as my team. This is the biggest gamble in my life. I hope the Jaguars make the playoffs so I don't have to let go of something I love so dearly ... My wife. Go Jags!
John: I think what you're planning as your disaster scenario is the right choice – the only choice, really.
Richard from Jacksonville:
Apparently, I have been around Jacksonville for a while. I was actually on the field during Colt Fever Night and had season tickets for the Bulls. The Bulls' season- and single-game tickets were inexpensive and almost anyone could afford to attend. I now have season tickets with the Jaguars, but I can honestly say I had more fun as a fan of the Bulls franchise. People from all walks of life were seated together since there were no club seats or other premium seats that create a type of a fan caste system at most NFL stadiums. It was a like the current crazy "end-zone" seating feeling of fun, but throughout the entire Gator Bowl. Given the completely commercial nature of the NFL, I doubt that this total fan immersion experience is possible, even with an owner such a Shad Khan who is truly trying to enhance the NFL game experience.
John: There certainly is a charm when remembering how things once were – and to remembering how things were at sporting events in the 1980s. But if you're waiting for the NFL to return the days of no premium seating or club seats or luxury, revenue-producing situations … no, even with a fan-oriented owner such as Khan that's not happening. Professional sports must be financed, and the Jaguars have done a remarkable job figuring out how to do that in a small market.
Rob from the DUUUU:
It all comes down to Moodachay, Zone. Will our revamped "D" be able to stop others from Moo-ing Da Chay on 3rd down? Will Bortles have improved and will he be in sync with players like Lee and Thomas enough to consistently MooDaChay on offense? I sure hope the jags can Moodachay. What do you think Zone? Moodachay!
John: Jaguars 2016 Training Camp begins in 20 days.