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O-Zone: Credit where it's due

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Steve from Stevensville, MD:
I feel like this season could be something special.
John: You're not alone, Steve; with the Jaguars' offseason program in the rear view many fans feel this way. That feeling extends to the organization as well. The feeling around the Jaguars is one of excitement – for the foreseeable future as much as for the 2016 season. What will the record be in 2016? Can this team contend for the postseason? Is it ready? Will the pieces come together? Who knows? What is known is that the talent is building and that there are far more quality pieces in place than in past seasons. It is for the most part young talent with seemingly bright futures. There seems to be a quarterback in place. There seems to be pieces around him. There seems to be a pass-rusher in place with speed all around him. Those are very good building blocks. Those things provide hope, and there indeed is a feeling that special days are ahead.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
I've been working my way through the football flicks recently, and with the passing away of Ron Lester, I think I'll watch Varsity Blues today. Not that there's anything wrong with Brian's Song, or Friday Night Lights, but I prefer Necessary Roughness, The Replacements, The Longest Yard, or the aforementioned Varsity Blues. Any recommendations to get us through the Dead Zone?
John: Remember the Titans and North Dallas Forty. For me, football movies begin there.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire:
So mighty 'O,' that's all until training camp starts. So, then if you could go back in time and see any band, any time, any place … who, when, where and why?
John: Band? I'd like to see the Clash in London in early 1980s – right after London Calling was released. That's the answer by a nod over the Ramones because I saw the Ramones – and over the Sex Pistols because the Clash were better than the Pistols musically. That's the answer by a nod, too, over early R.E.M. because I saw R.E.M. on the Reckoning Tour in '84. Individual? I'd like to see Elvis Costello in the early 1980s, Bruce Springsteen in the late 1970s or Bob Dylan in the late 1960s. Actually, it's hard to think of anything better than good Dylan in the mid-to-late 1960s – and bad Dylan is pretty good, too.
Dwayne from Jacksonville:
Ozone, a while back they said it was 39 days until football returns. It seems like forever! How many days left?
John: Less than 39.
Andrew from Frisco, TX:
Hey John, I'm only 14, so the past five-to-six years that I've truly followed the Jags have been "there's-always-next-year" caliber. I'd like to know your 2016 season predictions regarding Ws and Ls'. Also, I have some over-under for you: Blake Bortles (33 touchdowns), Allen Robinson (10.5 touchdowns), Chris Ivory (five touchdowns), Malik Jackson (12 sacks). I'd love a response, as I live in a suburb of Jerry World and I'm tired of hearing of the Cowgirls.
John: You may not see Bortles quite reach 33 touchdowns; there's every chance the Jaguars' offense could improve and Bortles not quite reach last year's numbers. I could see Robinson and Ivory reaching 11 and five touchdowns, respectively. I can't see Jackson getting 12 sacks, but that's a mammoth number for defensive tackles – even three-technique tackles, whose job it is to get penetration. Hang in there in Jerry World Andrew. We're thinking of you.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Is Jerry Sullivan one of the best receivers coaches in the league? I have read that receivers from other teams use to learn from him in the offseasons prior to his working with the Jags. I guess that the Jags are pretty fortunate to have him on their coaching staff if he is as good as what I read.
John: Yes, Jerry Sullivan is one of the best wide receivers coaches in the NFL. He's as good as there is at teaching routes and emphasizing details needed to get open consistently at the professional level.
Sonny from Melbourne, FL:
A NFL player tweeted, "It's time to liquidate the Franchise Tag. #Business." What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think the way the franchise tag works now should or will be changed? Thanks
John: No, I don't think it should be changed – and I doubt it will change significantly even in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. I think teams need to have the means to keep their core, elite players. I'm aware that it sometimes prevents players from signing long-term guaranteed contracts, but I'm also aware that the franchise tenders aren't exactly "bad money." I'm always very, very, very for players getting paid, but teams should have a tool or two for ensuring their absolutely best players stay with the team.
John from Duval:
John, one thing I thought stood out during the minicamp practices was that Blake seemed to strengthen his rapport with Julius Thomas. I go back to last season, and there were a few plays – in particular a throw versus Atlanta – where the two just didn't seem to be quite on the same page and it led to some missed opportunities. That doesn't seem to be the case any longer – at least after a couple of practices that the public has seen. Have you felt the same, having viewed minicamp as well as OTAs?
John: Absolutely. The rapport between Blake Bortles and Julius Thomas was a major pre-offseason storyline and it held through the end of minicamp. Thomas' athleticism and speed stood out in 2015 OTAs after he signed with the Jaguars, and after his 2015 preseason injury he never quite seemed in synch with Bortles. Thomas' athleticism and speed has stood out this offseason, too, but what has stood out as much is the timing and comfort he and Bortles seemed to have found. That should bode well for the season. We'll see.
Tim from St. Pete, FL:
I know it is dangerous, but a recent question about Myles Jack playing safety got me thinking. When Brian Urlacher came out of college, he was a rover/safety that transitioned to middle linebacker because that was the most important position on the defense and needed the best athlete. In today's game, has the most important spot shifted to safety, or is it still middle linebacker?
John: The most important position on a defense often depends on the scheme and the player. Ray Lewis for instance was the most important player on the Baltimore Ravens' defense because he was Ray Lewis – which made that position almost impossible to stop. The most important position on the Jaguars' defense in recent seasons has seemed to be free safety because the team has had a hard time filling that position. Would middle linebacker have seemed more important had Paul Posluszny not been playing it at a high level? Perhaps. If I had to pick a position that was the most important regardless of scheme or player it would be pass rusher – be it defensive end or outside linebacker. If you don't have one, you want one – and if you don't have one you better figure out an alternative to pressure the quarterback. It's tough to win if you don't.
Greg from Running Springs, CA:
Your recent A-Rob answer made me think of the relationship he has with Jerry Sullivan. It seems there is so much respect for each other. It's there with Allen Hurns and others, too, but seems to be very special between Jerry and A-Rob.
John: The relationship Sullivan has with both Allens, Hurns and Robinson, is special. As you said, it's there with others, but the relationship with those two is deep and real.
DreamWeaver from Section 214:
I know it's not your style to be bold, BUT if you had to make one BOLD PREDICITON for the 2016 season, what would it be? I'll lead by example. My bold prediction is that Dante Fowler Jr. will have 9-plus sacks in 2016.
John: I tend to agree with your Fowler prediction, and I absolutely believe he's going to have a very real impact on third downs. I think the Jaguars are going to be around the middle of the pack on third downs and in pressuring the quarterback this season. That may not sound bold on paper, but if you think back to last season improving to average indeed would be a bold, impressive step for this defense.
Norman from St. Augustine, FL:
Hey, John: just wanted to comment on all the coverage you guys do on and on the radio at 1010XL. As a fan of the Jags from Day One, I wanna say thank you for keeping us fans connected with our players and our team. Through your efforts we as fans get to know our players, coaches and our Jags family more than you would otherwise get the opportunity to have. So thank you to you and all the guys that make this possible for all of Jag nation!! Go Jags!!
John: By singling me out, you left out a lot of people who also work very hard to keep you informed about this team. I like that.

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