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O-Zone: Don't mess with this guy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Steve from Section 124 and Jacksonville:
My eyes tell me this team is much, much better than a year ago, but preseason history tells me it's much too early to really know. I sure am enjoying the ride. (PS-I wrote this wearing a Jaguar cap).
John: Trust your eyes. You can't tell everything from the preseason, but you can tell some things. One of the things you can tell from this preseason is the defensive front is better against the run, which should mean the Jaguars' defense can keep this team in games. That's something solid that should be consistent, and it's those kinds of things that lead to real improvement. That doesn't put the Jaguars in the Super Bowl, but it's a sign things are turning.
Brian from Round Rock, TX:
I think it is obvious that Blake Bortles is better than Chad Henne and gives the Jaguars the best chance to win. I am amazed at not only his elite physical skill, but also his mental skill (reading the coverages and getting to the third pass option, making sound decisions, the way he carries himself on the field, maturity...) What's not to like? It seems silly to plan to leave that talent on the bench, for even one regular-season game. The kid seems mentally and physically tough and can handle being the starter! I don't think playing him will slow his growth. However, not playing him will.
John: That's a very popular opinion right now. It's indeed one that inspires exclamation points! It's not one shared by Jaguars coaches and front office. Chad Henne is going to start the regular season. The team feels good about what he has done, what he has shown in the preseason and what he brings the team. So far, the Jaguars' approach has allowed Bortles to develop. The same people who decided on that approach will decide when it's time to start the young quarterback.
Nate from Visalia, CA:
When, in your career/life/study, have you heard of a coach not playing the best possible team on game day? Also, is it ever common practice for a coach not to play a player if the coach believes he is the best player on the team at his position? I'm just wonderin'. Apparently when rebuilding a team, it's perfectly logical to not field the best possible team on game day. This is news to me O-man. I always thought winning was the first priority, silly me. One more thing, first string typically is designated to those players that are considered the best at their position at the current time of designation, correct?
John: You seem very passionate about this topic, and very convinced of something – while all along remaining perhaps intentionally vague about exactly who you mean. Well, I'm going to roll the dice out here on this limb o' mine and assume you're talking about … the Jaguars Quarterback Situation!? Well, guess what? Your passion and conviction – and public perception to the contrary – aside, it's not an irrefutable fact that Blake Bortles is the best player on the team at his position. At least not yet. I would agree with you and just about everyone that he will be the best player on the team at his position in the long run, and I believe he will most probably have a better career than Chad Henne. And I believe that day could be coming soon – perhaps even sooner than David Caldwell and Gus Bradley anticipated. But that doesn't necessarily mean he's the best option for this team right now. The thing I find a bit strange is that although Caldwell/Bradley by any measure have done a remarkable job turning this franchise around, and while most Jaguars fans paying attention generally trust the moves made by the duo, on the topic of Bortles/Henne those same fans somehow believe that Caldwell/Bradley are somehow being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn and purposely not trying to put the best possible team on the field on game day. These two thus far have by any measure mapped out and executed a pretty good plan. I think they might have a hint of an idea about what's the best way to handle the quarterback position. Silly me.
Jamers from Pitt Meadows:
Was it this offseason or some other offseason you said the Jags could be a better team with a worse record? Not to get ahead of myself, but another 4-12 season to me would be kinda a disappointment.
John: It was probably the last two offseasons, and I still think the Jaguars could be better than last year's team and have the same record. I don't believe the Jaguars WILL have the same record as a year ago, but if they do that wouldn't necessarily mean a step back so long as the games were more competitive and the talent level improved.
Josh from Savannah, GA:
Blake Bortles is not Gabbert in any way, shape, or form. He has confidence and is clearly in command on that field. I don't care if it is against the twos, but he can make throws that Chad cannot make. He has the confidence to throw balls in very tight windows that Chad does not. I love Chad as a person and he is a very good football player, but the ability for him to lead this team to a better record is minimal to nonexistent. Start the kid.
John: I agree that Bortles can make throws that Henne can't make. I don't agree that that automatically means he should start. There are more things to playing quarterback than being able to make all the throws. Right now, the Jaguars' decision-makers believe Henne is the right guy, and that's who will start the regular season at quarterback.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars have not had a winning season or playoff appearance since 2007. They have not won their division or hosted a playoff game since 1999. Why should 2014 be any different?
John: There's a fairly good chance it won't, though your question sort of misses the point of what's going on around EverBank Field right now. Would I say the Jaguars are favorites to win the division or have a winning record? No. Would I say that everything you look for in an improving, upward-bound franchise is there? Yes, and it has been a while since you could say that around here.
Mike from Jacksonville:
With teams playing more of a "vanilla" defense during the preseason, how much influence should that have when it comes to evaluating quarterback play?
John: It should certainly be a factor. Quarterbacks will face coverages and blitz schemes in the regular season that they won't face during the preseason. Now, that's not to say that a quarterback can't do good things in the preseason. Blake Bortles has looked good in the first two preseason games and what he has done is not a fluke. It also bodes well for his future. It just may not mean he is absolutely, positively prepared to start right now.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr are all starting with promise. Just want to be first to go on record that this draft could someday rival the draft of '83? Can I get a "Slow Down Steve?"
John: No, sail on silver girl, sail on by… your time has come to shine …
Craig from Raleigh, NC:
Guys, it's not that complicated. Bortles will start when Bradley feels he is ready. By taking this route of "sitting him the entire season," there is no pressure on him to play, and no media circus going on about him like there is in Cleveland. It's the right move by the coaches, and I am certain it's fairly simple: When he is the better option, he'll start. Let's not overcomplicate this.
John: #Winner
Bruce from Gothanm, NY:
Doing The Windmill Dance?
John: #DTWD
Jason from Falling Waters, WV:
Left side looks strong; center to right tackle seems completely up for grabs. Will Brandon Linder be Jags center or right guard?
John: Your assessment is good in spots and weak in others. The left side indeed appears strong, but right tackle is hardly "up for grabs." The team likes Austin Pasztor there a lot, and Cameron Bradfield will play the position until Pasztor returns. As for center/right guard for Linder, my guess is Linder starts at guard, but my better guess is the guard/center situation is a long way from being decided.
Fred from Naples, FL:
I once had a teacher in high school who caught me looking at the clock on more than one occasion and in the middle of class put up a sign by the clock that said "Time will pass....will you?" I never forgot that....and no, I didn't pass.
John: I once had a teacher in the second grade who told me my name was spelled O-E-S-H-E-R and got angry when I corrected her. We got into it a bit, but she backed down. You don't mess around with a guy who rolls like this.

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