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O-Zone: Covering the bases

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Brother Bob from Graceville:
The football "experts" (not) love to give their false prophecies from which they use their false doctrines to resource from – and bless the fans with season predictions. I firmly believe the package of offense, defense, and special teams with the staff in place will produce a winning season for the Jaguars. Talent and attitude can change our touchdown-behind issues in the second half. O-ZONE! What is your vision for the season?
John: Many of the football "experts" (whatever) indeed once again like the Jaguars' chances this season. This was the case before last season. A lot of things went awry early last season, and the high expectations never came close to being met. I have greater confidence the Jaguars will be improved this season than I did before last season because I felt the Jaguars were still a really young team entering last season. They still don't qualify as a savvy, veteran team entering 2017 but the core of players on which they need to rely – a core that includes players such as Telvin Smith, Allen Robinson and ideally Blake Bortles – are entering their fourth NFL seasons. They are at last at that point where their experience says they should be able to carry a team and play consistently at a winning level. What will that mean for the record? I think if the team gets consistent play with reduced turnovers from the quarterback position, the Jaguars can push for a .500 record. That "if" will be the Jaguars' primary storyline until it's not.
Brian from (space intentionally left blank):
John, I dare you to answer this question with a one-word answer? Why me?
John: Because.
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
It's hard to find something not to like about Dede Westbrook besides his off-field issues. He has magnet hands, above-average physicality for his size, top-notch athletic ability and he does not lose foot-races. I am a lifelong Sooners fan born and raised in Oklahoma, so I worry my opinions might be a little biased –but I am excited to have him. I think he will be a weapon immediately. Do you see the same things as me or am I just fanning out a little too much?
John: You're probably fanning a little, but that's OK: Fans gonna fan. I do see the same attributes in Westbrook as you, and I agree he has a chance to be a weapon. The Jaguars absolutely saw this, which is why they selected him when they did in the 2017 NFL Draft. This was not a desperate, need selection. This was a case of the draft falling the Jaguars' way, and seeing an opportunity to add an impact player. I expect Westbrook to have a chance to contribute and be a weapon immediately. He is a rookie, so I doubt his impact will be double-digit touchdowns for the season or a run of 100-yard games. But I do see him having the playmaking ability to be a threat to defenses and to make a momentum-turning play every few games. If he does that, then that's a major impact for a rookie.
Drew from Jacksonville:
I read an article earlier today about the University of Georgia's quarterback competition this season between Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm. The article described that because both were competing for game time, the two were performing at a very high level and constantly getting better every day because of competition. When players have competed to start their entire careers, why do the Jaguars think letting Blake Bortles not compete with another quarterback in practice is a good idea?
John: It's the NFL. Very few quarterbacks truly compete. Reps and continuity trump the benefit of offseason and training-camp competition.
Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL:
John: The Tampa Bay Rays drafted a pitcher from Oregon State and he rejected the offer and is free to go back to college and play. Why is it that if a college football player declares for the draft, he can't go back to school if he isn't drafted where he likes or doesn't like the offer?
John: Because the rules are different in baseball and football. The rules for baseball state that a player can be drafted out of high school and still return to school – but that if he does so, he must stay at a four-year college at least three years. A football player can't be drafted out of high school and he must have been in college three years – i.e., he must be a true junior or a redshirt sophomore – to declare for the draft. In that sense, the sports' rules are similar in that neither allows a college player to declare then return to college just because he doesn't like where he was drafted. Every sport's eligibility rules are different. That's because the factors for developing young players are different depending on the sport.
Rick from Alexandria, VA:
If there is a surprise cut on the way to 53, who is your leading candidate?
John: I don't anticipate any surprises. Then again, if I anticipated a surprise, it wouldn't be … you know, a surprise.
Rick from Alexandria, VA:
The greatest cornerback you ever saw was a guy who deliberately and admittedly avoided run support? So the Oehser standard is no points deducted for physicality in the game of, you know, football or fulfilling only half the role of a cornerback?
John: That is the Oehser standard. The thing that matters the most at cornerback is covering wide receivers, and that's what Sanders did best. No, he was not a great tackler. If you're looking for a player who covered and tackled well, Rod Woodson did both at an exceptionally high level. But if you're talking about a player who could take away a No. 1 receiver or a side of the field – and in the modern era, that's what you want from a cornerback – I'd take Sanders.
Cliff from Charlie's Basement:
Oehser, there's a creep/bully who won't leave me alone. And I'm a grown man. What should I do?!
John: Pay the man.
Adam from Jacksonville:
Shadrick is a punk. There, I said it.
John: J.P. Shadrick is a fine, upstanding member of the staff and he deserves – nay, commands – our respect. I'd appreciate it in the future if our readers remember this.
Frankie from London, UK:
Mr O! I love Allen Robinson. Yes he (and the offense) weren't as good as 2015 but I think he's a quarterback's dream and has the kind of attitude that'll make him determined to overcome and improve upon 2016. A quality possession receiver who I think will score elite numbers if the running game is presentable. Whether it's Bortles or not throwing the ball for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018, Robinson is a guy you'd want to be throwing to.
John: Well, then … one fer A-Rob!
Esko from Finland:
I assume that Mike from Atlanta, GA was just sarcastic when describing his time in Iowa? With all the modern amenities, I actually really enjoy the cold dark Northern winters, though for the fairness' sake it should be pointed out that the landscape down here is mostly taiga rather than cornfields.
John: I like a good taiga landscape as much as the next guy. I mean, don't we all?
Bon from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I see a lot of analysis of how successful our prior drafts have been in comparison to other teams. The general manager and coach seem to get all the blame for drafting a dud when there were players available who performed much better for the team that drafted them. How much credit/blame should our scouts be getting here? Maybe they aren't giving as good input to the general manager/coach as other teams' scouts? How much turnover have we had in our scouts compared to GM/Coaches?
John: A team's scouting staff tends to have less turnover at the area level than, say, the assistant coaching staff, head coach or general manager positions. Positions such as director of college scouting, director of pro scouting, etc., tend to change more often because general managers often bring in "their own guys" at those positions. The Jaguars' scouting staff is well-respected and I've never heard anything around the league to indicate otherwise. That answer has irritated fans in the past and I'm sure it will irritate people now, but it remains true.
Andrew from Bloomington, IN:
John, take the day off. I got it covered. Yes, Bortles needs to show improvement for the team to be successful. The O-line will most likely be LT Albert, LG Robinson, C Linder, RG Cann, RT Parnell. Ramsey is and will be a star but we can't control numbers when teams throw away from him. Poz will be fine at his new position. Jack looks good at middle linebacker but we'll know more when the pads are on. To the upset/angry posters … thanks for your negativity, you have the right to be mad, and fans are gonna fan. I think that covers it. Enjoy your day off!
John: Thanks for reading.

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