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O-Zone: Credit where it's due

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ace from Jacksonville:
It amazes me that the following players are the ones always mentioned that could potentially turn the defense around: defensive tackle Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson, linebacker Myles Jack, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, cornerback Prince Amukamara, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. The absence of Sen'Derrick Marks had something to do with last year's poor showing on defense. Where's the love for Sen'Derrick? The guy is just as good, if not better, than Malik Jackson.
John: You're absolutely right that Marks is overlooked a lot when discussing this year's defense, and you're right that he could be a key if the unit turns around. His absence hurt last year in a big way, and it wasn't a coincidence that the interior of the defense was less effective and not nearly as quick without him. People overlook Marks because unlike the players you mention he is not technically "new." Marks also has been injured enough that his ability to remain healthy will be an issue and a concern until he proves that it's not. But is Marks a potential game-changer when healthy? No doubt, and if he's healthy, he's very important to this defense.
Yo from Jacksonville:
What cartoon would u most like to be?
John: Underdog.
Mark from Brighton, UK:
Given the amount of questions on Brandon Allen's development and roster spot, plus coaches recently complaining about the lack of development time for rookie quarterbacks due to the Collective Bargaining Agreement – and the bemoaned lack of few quality quarterbacks throughout the league – I am amazed there is no second-tier professional league. This could be used for the development of young players with actual playing time. In our form of football, it is very common for young developing players to be loaded to teams in lower leagues to aid their development and experience. Could there not be an NFL2?
John: There could be an NFL2, but the issues are interest, expense and injury risk. A second league would be very costly, and history indicates the interest wouldn't be high enough to make it worthwhile. And while a second league indeed could benefit quarterbacks, NFL teams likely would be reluctant to "loan" players to a lesser league and expose them to injury. I think eventually there may be an NFL minor league, but it's a trickier, far-less-certain a situation than many believe.
Wynn from Savannah, GA:
In your teens, what was your favorite beach? I was partial to Anastasia.
John: My life philosophy then was very much what it is now: to take advantage of the kindness of others for my own benefit to the point of abuse. I therefore took advantage of friends' parents' beach houses, which meant hanging at Melissa McLean's place in Atlantic Beach and Lisa Lampe's place nearer St. Augustine far more than was appropriate. Mike Sharrit's place also holds memories for far more people than myself. Having quickly worn out many welcomes at those locales, I usually found myself at Neptune Beach or Hannah Park. While many of my friends were surfers and therefore knowledgeable of every section of the beach from Mayport to St. Augustine, I sort of went where they went. Lacking physical strength and agility of any kind, my efforts to surf or waterski were failures ranging from dismal to dangerous; thus, I usually found myself laying on the beach or wading near the shore – painfully sunburned and more often than not inevitably and obviously alone.
Richard from Las Vegas, NV:
Best basketball player on the Jags has to be Julius Thomas. Hands down.
John: OK.
Brian from Duval County:
What must it take for the Jags to make it to the Super Bowl within the next two years?
John: A few things. One is that the overall roster must continue to improve and strengthen as it has in the last few seasons. More specifically, at least two of the three key defensive players selected in the last two drafts – Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler Jr. – need to develop into difference-making, game-plan-altering players. Finally and most importantly, Blake Bortles must develop into a franchise-level quarterback. If he does that, multiple Super Bowls are a possibility given the projected development of this roster. If he doesn't, making even one Super Bowl will be very, very difficult.
Brian from Duval County:
How many undrafted rookies do you anticipate making the 53-man roster this season?
John: I'd guess perhaps one or two could make it, though I'd say there's a better chance of multiple undrafted rookies on the practice squad than the active roster. Safety Jarrod Wilson and tight end Braedon Bowman – both undrafted rookies – had good organized team activities and minicamps and have put themselves in position to possibly make the roster with equally good training camps and preseasons. We'll see.
Vince from Jacksonville:
OK, it's the dead zone. Pretend the NFL mandated the league plays an 18-game regular season schedule. And pretend that the NFL truly isn't the "No Fun League" and allowed each team to keep the current schedule setup but allowed teams to schedule their own 17th- and 18th-game opponents. Then pretend each team's best sportswriter gets to pick one of the opponents. Since that's you, which team would you like to see the Jags play often – maybe even (semi)annually – in this pretend world?
John: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Miami Dolphins – maybe both. I'm not a big believer that the NFL needs area rivalries the way college football needs them, but if the three Florida teams played every season … sure, that would draw interest and could get interesting over time.
Doug from Port Orange, FL:
I had the opportunity to meet Telvin Smith at Daytona International Speedway over the weekend. Most people didn't know who he was. but we did. He shook hands with my brother and I, took pictures, signed autographs and talked about a little football and NASCAR. He represents this organization well and is a class act. David Caldwell hit a home run with that selection. Proud to be a Jags fan and look forward to good things ahead. #DTWD
John: Hey, one fer Telvin!
Dennis from Port Saint Lucie, FL:
I understand the get-better-every-day direction of coaching young players when you are learning the game on a professional level. But at some point you must shift that direction to winning games. We have the talent pool to win now and it's time to demand results. Great coaches have turned around teams with less talent then we have now and I think it is acceptable to expect 9-7 this year. What's your opinion, O-man?
John: Yes, it's acceptable to expect 9-7, but your question reflects an ongoing – though understandable – misconception about Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's coaching philosophy. The philosophy of getting better every day does not run counter to expecting to win. It actually goes hand in hand with it. The Seattle Seahawks under Pete Carroll believe in it and the University of Alabama believes in it under Nick Saban. It's about controlling what you can control, improving and reaching a level where doing those things means playing at a level that allows you to win consistently. But having that philosophy doesn't mean being unconcerned about winning. Bradley and everyone around the Jaguars know that winning is important and they also know there's an expectation that they do more of it this season.
Rick from Annandale, VA:
O, if Dave Caldwell said he was bored during the dead zone and made you general manager for a day and let you shoot one silver bullet in terms of a roster move, what move would you make?
John: If that silver bullet could make Blake Bortles a fifth-year veteran with the decision-making ability I believe he will have by then, I'd take that. Or if that silver bullet could give Fowler, Jack and Ramsey second-year experience rather than first, I'd take that. My point in this is that I believe the Jaguars' roster is getting very close to being talented enough to win – and I believe the core of the team just needs some time to develop into a winning unit. But if I had to have one roster move? I guess I'd take J.J. Watt and play him at strong-side defensive end. That would improve the Jaguars' pass rush and still give Fowler a chance to play the Leo. That's as good a silver-bullet as any, I suppose.
Donny from Heathrow, FL:
David from Ada should know that Slowhand didn't tell him what happens after midnight, J.J. Cale did. Cale also wrote Cocaine, another Clapton hit. And, Cale wrote Call Me The Breeze, not Ronnie Van Zant. If you like those type of songs, check out J.J. Lastly, because it's come about lately, Prince didn't write Raspberry Beret, Warren Zevon did … just saying during the Dead Zone.
John: I'm a big Zevon fan and he indeed is underappreciated as one of the best songwriters of this or any other generation. But while I, too, loved his version of Raspberry Beret with the Hindu Love Gods, that doesn't change the fact that the song was indeed written by … Prince.

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