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O-Zone: Dropping gloves

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Drew from Toledo, OH:
The Jags' defense, on paper, should be very good. Of course it's hard to keep points off the board if your offense has three-and-outs and turns the ball over. Can this offense help our defense?
John: That certainly is the hope – and it's also the reason for a lot of the Jaguars' offseason moves. There's no question the defense outperformed the offense much of last season and there's also no question that just a touch more offense in a few games would have made a huge difference. Huge. In addition, the Jaguars' defensive statistics probably would have been better with some help offensively. At first glance, this offense certainly seems much improved. I said throughout the offseason leading to the 2014 season that it appeared the defense would be good enough to keep the team in games until a young offense grew up and started being productive. That productivity never came last season – at least not enough. That bodes well for this season, because it's hard to imagine an offense with an improving Allen Robinson, an improved offensive line, an improved quarterback Blake Bortles and additions of T.J. Yeldon and Julius Thomas not being able to help the defense at least a bit more than last year's offense.
Thomas from St. Augustine, FL:
Hey, Hey, HEY!!!
John: 'Sup?
Herbert from MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevable:
Early returns have Henne outplaying Bortles in camp. Why are the Jags' front office and coaching staff so insistent on rushing Bortles out there in a brand-new offense when they didn't feel the need to do so last year?
John: I haven't seen those reports, and I'm not sure I'd agree with them. Even if I agreed with them, I don't know that I could interpret what the Jaguars are doing as "rushing Bortles out there in a brand new offense." Bortles and Chad Henne both have been involved with the installation of offensive coordinator Greg Olson's offense from the beginning of the offseason … … … nah, this is silly. I'm not going to go into a detailed breakdown of why Bortles is starting and how the performance in the first three training camp practices affects his starting status. He's the quarterback of this football team. He has done what was necessary to prepare for this season and the Jaguars like what they're seeing from him. That's the deal.
David from Oviedo, FL:
O-Man, tight ends have had a lot of success against the Jags in recent years. Whose primary responsibility is it to cover the tight end on the Jags: Telvin Smith, Sergio Brown, Johnathan Cyprien or someone else … and do you see this as a position of strength or weakness?
John: All of those players will have responsibility with the tight end this season, though safeties always seem to take more heat for uncovered tight ends than anyone else. It certainly has been an issue at times for the Jaguars' defense recently, and it's an area that needs to get a lot stronger this season.
Errol from Jacksonville:
Why haven't we heard anyone talking about when or is Blackmon is ever going to rejoin the team?
John: What more do you want anyone to say?
Tommy from Jacksonville:
Just an observation, but when I look at the strides Aaron Colvin has made, it gives me a lot of hope for Dante Fowler Jr. Here's to hoping Fowler's injury heals just as well. An ACL tear isn't quite what it used to be. Not that it isn't serious, but it's no longer the death knell of a player's career that it once was.
John: True. In the weeks leading up the NFL Draft this past offseason, Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell talked about this when asked about the possibility of selecting Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament last season. Caldwell noted that players who sustain an ACL tear at a young age – younger than about 26 – typically return from the injury at a very high level. Fowler and Colvin obviously are significantly younger than that, so, no – it should not necessarily be a career-defining injury for either player.
Chef Dave from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
How are teams chosen for the HOF game? Do they volunteer or rotate? It seems after 21 seasons the Jaguars would have been up to play in that game again.
John: Teams typically sort of rotate when it comes to playing in the Hall of Fame game, with the league making the assignments. But teams don't typically volunteer. And it's not really thought of as a "plum" assignment. Besides, four preseason games is plenty.
Sohan from Jacksonville:
Hey! If we want more, we need more abilities then we do right now from last year! The 2015 NFL Draft was an A . We showed that since we were a bad team. We wanted to gain strength.
John: Way to bring it.
Thomas from Madison, WI:
I really like Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell and I truly think that they are great for the city and organization. I know winning is everything in the NFL, but let's say that the Jaguars struggle this year … which I hope won't be the case … but I really would hate to see them fired. I still think they are one more year away from having a truly solid roster where there is competition across the board. If you're Shad Khan and we go 5-11 or worse this year do you think Gus and Dave are out of a job? I certainly hope not because changing the culture generally takes longer than three years. Not to mention, we would be looking at the third offense in three years for Blake Bortles and which as we know is horrible for a young quarterback.
John: I'm not dim. I do understand this is going to be a topic in the preseason and it will be a topic during the regular season – at least early. But from looking at this roster and watching this team thus far this offseason and early in training camp, it's hard to imagine this team not improving this season. I don't know what the "magic number" is, but it's just hard to imagine the team not being better. If that's the case, the product on the field will be improved enough that there will be little reason for Khan to consider making a change. And, by the way, I agree about needing more than three years to change the culture. That's why I think it will take something pretty awful this season – i.e., a clear move in the wrong direction – to force Khan to make a change. You don't want to make change for change's sake if things are getting better – and that's true even if you're not getting better as quickly as you might hope.
Matt from Stroudsburg, PA:
What have you heard, if anything, from players on defense that have contested Julius Thomas and A-Rob in practice so far? I know it's early but from the looks of it, those two players are making a presence already.
John: I actually haven't spoken with defensive players about that specifically, but even watching from the sidelines it's evident that covering those players isn't easy – or a lot of fun.
Holger from London, England:
In Europe, professional sports teams go to the United States or China during training camp for marketing reason, to promote the sport and the franchise. I think it won't be too long until the Jaguars will hold part of their training camp in London.
John: I doubt we'll see that soon. There are a lot of costs associated with training camp – including the cost of travel to bring players over in the event of injury. But who knows? I could be wrong. I've been wrong. Actually, I've been wrong a lot.
Doug from Jacksonville:
Every year I get excited and start thinking about how the Jags are going to surprise the pundits and the league and be better than anyone was expecting … Victories have been hard to come by, but I just feel like this is a year the Jaguars are going to put a few together. Predictions are about as valuable as my Uncle Bubba's advice but I am saying 10-6. Win a couple they shouldn't and be in the mix in January.
John: I'm not as big on predictions as many readers, but hey – to each their own, right? I believe there are a lot more legitimate reasons for optimism about this team than there has been in some time. It's hard to look at this team in training camp and not think they'll be better. How much better will depend on breaks, injuries, rate of maturity, etc. … but absolutely they'll be better. Now, as far as 10-6, well …
Sunil from Jacksonville:
Great training camp coverage all around. I am out of town this weekend but have been able to stay on top of things with the coverage on! Love it. In the Jags of the Round Table from yesterday (Saturday), it looked like Brian was patronizing you a bit ... he can't get away with that!
John: Sexton knows where to find me.

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