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O-Zone: Easiest answer ever

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dave from Los Angeles, CA:
PSA: Those casting doubt on the Packers' ability to hang in Florida this September ought to research the weather patterns of Wisconsin in the summer. If I recall correctly, the most brutal offseason program ever endured by the Jags took place in ... wait for it... Wisconsin. Let's stop praying to the weather and focus on executing a smart game plan.
John: Somehow, someway this whole Packers-wilting-in-the-Jacksonville-heat-in-September thing has become a big Thing here in the O-Zone in recent weeks. Let's keep some perspective before this turns into a summer-long topic, shall we? Yes, it will be hot in the regular-season opener. Yes, the Jaguars should be at least a bit more accustomed to the heat than the Packers. Yes, it could benefit the Jaguars … IF the game is tight at the end, IF the Jaguars can run effectively, IF the Jaguars can contain Aaron Rodgers – and quite a few other IFs. In other words, heat may well be a factor, but it will be far from the only factor and it will only be a factor if the Jaguars play well enough to make it a factor.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
I like the Bjoern Werner signing because it's low cost and they don't have to rely or count on him. If he finds his niche, great; if not, no big deal. They aren't significantly worse off without him. I love the idea of being able to send pass rushers in waves. Give those guys fresh legs throughout the game. I think having that ability can give an advantage over most teams. If I were general manager, I would have this almost as high a priority as finding your quarterback.
John: If that were your approach you would be far from alone.
Steve-O from da Burg:
I can't quite understand how people are saying you are "dousing their expectations." It seems pretty simple: The Jags got better and so did the other teams. Just how much better is the key.
John: The people who consider me a douser seem to be the ones who expect me to say I believe this year's draft makes the Jaguars the AFC South favorite. I don't believe that's necessarily the case. I believe the Jaguars' defense will be improved net season and I believe it will be improved enough make the team better. How much better I believe will depend on the development of the offense/quarterback Blake Bortles, and how quickly three key young defensive players – Dante Fowler Jr., Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey – can develop into difference-making players. I'm not dousing expectations for that group or this team in the long run. In the short term … well, young players often need a bit of time to play like elite players – whatever their talent level.
Mike from Jacksonville:
O, there has been talk through the offseason about Poz's eventual replacement; he is getting up there in years. Do you think our next middle linebacker is already on the roster? Who would be more likely to get it: Telvin Smith or Myles Jack? Telvin is already a great leader in this defense. I wouldn't be opposed to him wearing the headset at the SAM spot.
John: There's a much greater chance of Myles Jack being the Jaguars' next middle linebacker than Telvin Smith. I would be very surprised if Smith ever moved to an every-down middle-linebacker role – and I do think there's a good chance Jack gets a lot of reps at the Mike spot in passing situations next season. I don't get a feel that the Jaguars are in a great rush to move Paul Posluszny out of the middle-linebacker spot on first and second downs, but it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see Jack there eventually.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
How many Leos do NFL rules allow you to have on the field at one time?
John: Eleven, but a team probably would lean away from such a defense except in very specific situations.
Carl from Tallahassee, FL:
I had a bit of a nightmare recently. It was a very real-feeling dream where I was logging on to to get my daily O-Zone fix when – instead of the day's column – there were just a couple of sentences saying, "Due to unforeseen circumstances, there will not be an O-Zone column today. John will return to answer your questions tomorrow." I was devastated. But then I woke up, found today's article WAS up and all was right with the world! #KeepTheStreakAlive
John: Word.
Graham from Dundee, Scotland:
O! Seeing as there are now people asking about – and being worried about – the draft class not signing contracts, what is the actual process if they don't sign before training camp? I've never heard about anyone not signing rookie deals. This may just be because I'm over the pond. As a side note: has a rookie ever refused a deal that's been offered from any team throughout the years?
John: Your side of the pond has nothing to do with it, but the fact that you've never heard of a player not signing a rookie deal certainly indicates that you have followed the league pretty since about 2011 or so. That was the first year of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the rookie wage scale, which effectively ended rookie holdouts because there was comparatively little wiggle room in negotiations. It was something that was long overdue and I don't ever see the rookie-wage scale going away now that is has become part of the fabric of the league. Before 2011, rookie holdouts were not only common they had become pretty much the norm among first-round draft selections. The process was fairly simple, though frustrating to fans and management. A rookie player could participate in organized team activities and the offseason if unsigned, but they did not participate in training camp until they signed their deal. Therefore, there were a lot of early-August practices under the old CBA where the primary storyline was just when a team's highly-draft rookie might sign and join his new team.
Ohsmy from the Little O-Town:
I know you have the answers we seek or none of us would be typing in this little box on the side of the page to get answers. Sooooooo, O – I need to know this very important question: 88, 24, 15, 5, 80 … who wins in a street brawl?
John: I'd find it very tough to bet against either Allen Robinson or Allen Hurns in such a competition. If pressed, I'd learn toward … nah, call this brawl a draw – … or a drawl … or something like that.
Trae from Jacksonville:
Was at The Players on Friday standing on the hill above the 11th tee. All of the sudden Paul Posluszny just plopped down right beside a group of friend and myself. Two of us Jags fans knew exactly who he was. We politely introduced ourselves and wished him and the team the best of luck. He graciously spoke with us for a couple of minutes. It almost seemed like he would have talked to us for as long as we would have liked to talk. Great representative for the Jags. #oneferPOZ!
John: Indeed.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I guess it's time for the Marqise Lee questions to start. At the end of this coming football season he will be one of the NFL stars, one of the year's biggest surprise players. You can print this because I am never wrong! (Except for the Johnny Football dude, and that does not count!) Go Jags!
John: There are several storylines I'm anticipating covering during the Jaguars' upcoming organized team activities. Lee is among them – if not at the top of the list. If he accelerates his development and finds a role in the offense – which I believe he can – that could improve an already-improving offense that much more.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I had a dream! What a great dream it was! It was the first offensive drive for the Jags: third-and-5 on the opponents' 40. Bortles drops back, hits Lee – who was lined up on the left hash – on a slant ... Lee outruns the defense for the first touchdown of the season! Could this dream come true, O?
John: How hot was it?
Stu from Wrestlingworth, UK:
Let's be realistic: the best we can expect of this revamped defense is solid play, with maybe a sprinkling of decisive turnovers during the season. For me, Bortles has to look after the ball better, think about field position more and not expect the defense to bail him out when we're in third and long and he throws up an errant pass. End every drive with a kick right?
John: Bortles reducing turnovers would be a positive, but it's more about reducing the kinds of turnovers. An interception twenty yards downfield on third-and-15 from the 50 hurts but not as much as an interception returned for a touchdown on first-and-goal from the opponents' 1. It's the situation awareness/effectiveness that Bortles must improve upon. There's no reason to think he won't.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
I'm bored and there are still 115 days until the start of the NFL season. Do you want to come over to my house to eat pizza bagels, watch Clint Eastwood movies, and play Xbox with me while we wait to September 8?
John: No.

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