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O-Zone: Do the math

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Gary from St. Augustine, FL:
Branden Albert retired, unretired and now he mutually agreed to … what? WHAT!!??
John: This was the most-succinct version of what was understandably the most-asked question in the inbox Tuesday. I'll do my best to simply explain a weird situation with one answer, although there are details we don't yet – and may never know. The Jaguars' press release Tuesday morning covered the bullet points: "On Monday, July 31, offensive lineman Branden Albert informed Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone that he was stepping away from the team. … On Friday, August 4, Albert approached the team about the opportunity to return to the NFL at a later date. … On Monday, August 7, team officials met with Albert and mutually agreed to place him on the club's reserve/retired list. The team will provide no further comment on this situation." That will remain the official word, but with reports that the Jaguars had the rights to recoup $3.4 million in signing bonus from Albert (actually paid by the Miami Dolphins) – and with Albert less than a week earlier expressing a desire to not play football anymore – it's not unreasonable to believe he approached the team about playing to avoid repaying that bonus. It's also not unreasonable to assume the mutual agreement reached by Albert and the Jaguars involved him not repaying that – and also involved him not playing for the Jaguars this season. It's also reasonable to assume that Albert indeed won't play for the Jaguars – and that this matter is at last officially closed. Then again, you know what they say about "assuming" …
Dave from Duval:
Dear Mr. O, now that Blake Bortles agrees with Allen Iverson that "it's practice" and therefore the five interceptions in one practice are – shall we say? – a "learning experience," any chance a quarterback not presently on the squad suits up for the Jaguars versus the Texans on opening day?
John: I assume you're referring to Bortles essentially saying on Tuesday that it's preferable to throw interceptions in practice than a game. That's true, and Bortles' answer was less about dismissing his five-interception practice earlier in camp than making the point that you need to learn from interceptions. As for a quarterback not currently on the Jaguars being on the roster Week 1, there's no more of a chance of that than there was, say, a few days ago – which is to say not much chance at all.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
How are you not concerned about our No. 1 running back getting blown up in the backfield by a backup defensive tackle? That screams problem! Last year, we were practically dead last in the NFL in yards before contact. If we want to be a run-first team, this backfield blowup should be extremely concerning. I personally feel like we set Leonard Fournette up to fail with how pathetic our offensive line is in the run game.
John: It doesn't scream problem, though I know you're serious – and that you're indeed screaming – because you used an exclamation point! Other than that … I don't know, Logan, but stop. Please. For your own sake. Just stop.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
What are the Jags waiting on to extend A-Rob and Telvin, both of whom in my opinion have played at a higher level than Brandon Linder? Vikings are knocking out all of their players and Jags are sitting on their hands. Same ol' Jags.
John: Well, if the Vikings are doing it …
Rhonda from Jacksonville:
Padded practices are over already? NFL players spend less time in pads than I do. This is ridiculous.
John: The Jaguars worked in shorts and helmets to practice Sunday. They worked in full pads against New England Monday and again Tuesday. They will work twice in full pads against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week. They will practice in pads after that, too.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Who is one Jags player that, if they were injured bad enough to miss the season, would be the biggest loss?
John: Blake Bortles because quarterback.
Robert from Reno, NV:
Hi, John: I'd like to ask two questions which somewhat tie into each other. First, why do rookies say that the NFL is faster? I'm assuming college players would be faster. And my second: if the NFL is faster and the left tackle is such an important position, why would any team put a rookie here? Why not have rookies play left guard or right tackle and graduate to the left tackle? GO JAGS!
John: Rookies say the NFL is faster than college football because the NFL absolutely is faster – and more violent, and more complex, and played at a far higher level of athleticism – than college football. Remember: every player in the NFL is good, big, strong and fast enough to be in the NFL whereas every college team – yes, even teams in the Southeastern Conference – has players who will not be fast enough, strong enough or good enough to play in the NFL. This shows up in training camp and usually heightens in preseason and again in the regular season. And the reason teams put rookies at left tackle is because they're the best player available player at that position. That's usually the objective.
Brian from Nocatee:
Are we concerned about Jalen Ramsey not practicing yet?
John: Are you? I have no idea. Am I? Not a bit.
Dave from Glass Half Full:
Zone, you got me feeling it. Your articles are sounding like you're feeling it, too. This is your year. This is our year! I can't wait to ride the wave of the O-Zone this year. I am drinking the Kool-Aid so much that I am thinking of opening O-Zone Kool-Aid franchises. Keep the positivity going. You got me hoping we are finally going to play some good football this year. Keep on keeping us informed.
John: I'll probably keep writing stories and talking about the Jaguars for as I always do, but thanks for reading. It's always appreciated.
Chris from London, England:
Mr. O: Regarding our backup quarterback, I'm assuming there is not too much difference in performance between Chad Henne and Brandon Allen because if Henne was miles better he would be starting. If my assumption is right, and even if Henne is slightly better, why would you not have the young quarterback whose performance trajectory should be on an upward curve rather than the old quarterback whose performance trajectory is likely on a downward curve?
John: You want your backup quarterback to be the player who gives you the best chance to win in the short term, not the one with the highest upside for the long term.
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
The idea of the offense in the spread with A-Rob and Marqise Lee on the outside, Allen Hurns and Dede Westbrook in the slot, and Fournette and Bortles lined up in the pistol, is scary enough to make even the most stalwart defense shudder. If Bortles can get his act together – and if the line gives him time – that crew is gonna put up big numbers.
John: The offense has the talent to be productive. It's certainly capable of being a productive offense. But this also is an offense that has struggled to produce yards and points more often than not in recent seasons. I want to see this offense start stringing together a few games without long three-and-out streaks before gushing about how they'll make defenses shudder.
Dave from Duval:
All I remember from the '95 game against the Seahawks is hearing "Joey Galloway with the reception …" by the announcer over and over. He torched us that game.
John: Yes he did.
Hayden from Gulfport, MS:
I know it is just training camp, but how has this rookie class looked compared to last year's? I'm hoping they're having the same if not more success than the 2016 class. It just seemed like there was more hype about last year's rookies around this time of year.
John: There indeed was more hype around the Jaguars' '16 rookie class as a whole than there is about the '17 class. That's because that class' first two selections consisted of not only a Top 5 selection (cornerback Jalen Ramsey), but a player many believed should have been a Top 5 selection (linebacker Myles Jack). This year's first two selections consisted of a Top 5 selection (Leonard Fournette) and an offensive tackle (Cam Robinson) that could have been a first-round selection, so it's not going to get as much hype as '16. But this year's class absolutely has shown the signs of making a huge contribution. Fournette and Robinson almost certainly will start, and wide receiver Dede Westbrook looks like he's going to make an impact. If all that plays out, then that will be a mammoth production from a rookie class.
Charles from Orange Park:
If Brandon Allen is clearly the third-string quarterback, then why are they keeping him on the roster?
John: They want three quarterbacks on the roster.

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