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O-Zone: Dancin' shoes

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hi, John … if the loser of the left-tackle competition is going to be considered for left guard, I would expect them both to take reps at left guard in preparation for that eventuality. Doesn't that make it harder on Luke Joeckel and Kelvin Beachum to focus on winning the left-tackle position they both want?
John: The biggest issue facing the Jaguars when it comes to a potential left-tackle competition is getting Beachum on the field. He is rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in Week 6 last season and is aiming to get back during training camp. All indications at this point are that there is a good chance that will happen. If so, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for Beachum to work at left tackle one day with Joeckel working at left guard and for the reverse to be true the next day. That would seem a decent way of seeing which combination gives the Jaguars the best offensive line – and no, it shouldn't hurt either player's focus a great, great deal.
Jarris from Albany, GA:
Are they are working with the offensive line because they were able to pass at will but was weak at quarterback and the run game was not as solid as the pass game.
John: I'm expected to meet with some people regarding a few things soon. I'll mention this.
David from Oviedo, FL:
The Patriots have a history of drafting highly intelligent players. Maybe they have come to the conclusion that a player who always is in position is better than a player that may be a little faster or stronger. Every time last year when the Jags' defense fell apart, the explanation was always some variation of "players were out of position." Maybe, as complicated as the game has become, placing a little more emphasis on "smarts" is the Patriots' secret weapon? Thoughts?
John: The Patriots certainly draft highly intelligent players, but I don't consider the Patriots dramatically ahead of the curve in thinking that intelligence matters in the NFL. Intelligence is a huge factor in most teams' scouting process. The best NFL players are typically among the most intelligent players. This is a difficult game for people who don't know what they're doing.
Thomas from Jacksonville:
I'm absolutely sold on David Caldwell, and I think he's getting better with experience. Not so sold on Gus Bradley, though I hope he leads us to contention. Are they joined together? If we are not successful this year, I think a coaching change is in order. But, I wouldn't want to lose Caldwell.
John: No. I don't believe Caldwell and Bradley are necessarily joined together.
Brandon from Duval:
John, I keep hearing about Sheldon Day and how he was a steal in the fourth round and he'll be a good part of the defensive-line rotation. What happened to Michael Bennett? I thought he was a steal last year and I just haven't heard too much about him. How is his progress coming along and do you think Day is a better prospect/will get more playing time than Bennett?
John: Michael Bennett progressed well as a rookie last season, particularly late in the season. It's hard to say who will get more time or who is a better prospect between he and Day. Day was selected in the fourth round of a very good defensive tackle draft and Bennett was a sixth-round selection in the previous draft. In that sense Day was perhaps a slightly better prospect, but none of that matters once they're on the field. Remember, this is not an either-or thing. The Jaguars want to play a lot of different players a lot on the defensive line. Remember this, too: having a bunch of good players on the defensive front is a good thing.
Joe from Port Charlotte, FL:
Big O, looks like a leader for this team is growing in Telvin Smith. Poz keeps it professional, but Telvin wants to become the heartbeat. Don't you think?
John: Yeah, pretty much.
Jeff from Keystone Heights, FL:
Accolades abound for David Caldwell and his team and deservedly so. Let's just believe this team is on the cusp of many years of playoff football. How difficult was it for a "non-football guy" to purchase a small-market franchise that was in the dumps talent-wise and then to be a stable franchise with a vastly more talented team in Year 4? I'm of the belief that not just anyone could have done it. The hiring of Caldwell was likely his most important early decision to make this happen. What are his others?
John: It's sometimes easy to forget Shad Khan never was around the NFL before taking over as owner; that's because he appears to have learned his way around the league at a remarkably quick pace. That's not surprising for a man who made himself into a multi-billionaire in less than one lifetime, but it is notable in the context of this question. He deserves credit for several things, perhaps most notable for using his first year as owner to learn what he did and didn't want to do with his next football hires. Hiring Caldwell and Bradley – and letting them do their jobs and giving them time to do them right -- is what has the Jaguars seemingly on the cusp of good things. That "letting-them-do their jobs" and "giving-them-time-to-do-them-right stuff" are big factors in the equation.
Robert from Richmond, VA:
The thing I remember most about the "Draft Johnny Football!!!" Movement was that the main reason was to sell tickets. Go figure.
John: I also remember it not being very much of a thing.
Vince from Jacksonville:
John, the team says they want to become better at running the ball, but they don't carry a fullback. I know the NFL is more pass happy than ever, but the top rushing teams from 2015 all carry a fullback. With that said, the other coaches in the league must think it's ridiculous to have Tyson Alualu line up in the backfield. I thought about this because the team will likely carry three quarterbacks this year, but why didn't they utilize a fullback when they only keep two quarterbacks? Do you see them using one in the future?
John: Plenty of NFL teams don't carry a fullback, and remember: it is not necessarily the Jaguars' objective to be the No. 1 running team in the NFL, and I don't know if that should be the Jaguars' objective. When I was covering the Indianapolis Colts in the middle part of last decade, then-Head Coach Tony Dungy used to say they ideally would be somewhere around 10-to-15 in the league in rushing. To run more than that would have meant reducing opportunities for Peyton Manning and the passing game, which made little sense considering Manning's level of play at the time. What's important about the running game in today's NFL is being able to run when you want/need to run and being able to run effectively enough to establish the threat of the run. That can be done without a fullback and many teams do it that way. And no, I don't see the Jaguars using one this season.
Jay from Jacksonville:
Still remember the day when Jags played Patriots in the AFC Championship game. I had recently immigrated and didn't even know where Jacksonville was!! Twenty years later I am still a Jaguars fan and living in Jacksonville. I expect the Jaguars to be a strong contender in the AFC South pushing for playoff and for the Super Bowl. Call me optimistic but I am a believer. Do you think I am being foolish?
John: I remember the day the Jaguars played the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, too. I remember it was a long time ago and I remember I was young and foolish as opposed to now being old and foolish. I remember sitting between Prisco and Bianchi in the press box and Prisco giving Bianchi grief because Bianchi had spilled water on Prisco's Gateway 2000 in the Mile High press box the week before, rendering it useless in pretty much the most important week of Prisco's career to that point. I remember Brunell throwing the late interception and not realizing then that was the closest this franchise would come to the Super Bowl for a long, long time. I also remember walking around Foxboro Stadium for what seemed like hours after the game looking for Frenette's rental car and it being really, really cold – like, I-wish-I'd-worn-socks-because- it's-sure-not-Florida-dummy cold. I remember the car not being where Frenette had parked, then finding it behind a dumpster and realizing security had towed it because he had parked in the wrong spot. I remember thinking this was about as characteristic for Frenette as you could possibly imagine – and no, you're not being foolish.
Greg from Section 233 and St. Johns, FL:
So, what now?
John: What now? Now, we dance.

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