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O-Zone: Enemy within

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Marius from Stuttgart, Germany:
Huge Jags fan from Germany here. I have watched every game and all of the offseason coverage for almost 10 years now. My girlfriend already thinks I'm crazy. (Which is probably true.) Before every season the last couple of years I was full of positive thoughts and enthusiasm about the Jags. My question now is: Am I going to be disappointed again this year?
John: I don't know what your expectations are for the Jaguars, so I can't say for certain. I can't tell you that the Jaguars will soar above .500 into the playoffs from the depths of 3-13. I can tell you I believe they will be improved this season in terms of record and in terms of competitiveness with better opponents. If they accomplish those things with a young roster that still should be growing and developing together, then they will have continued to build a solid foundation for the future. My belief is that that's a realistic expectation and a worthwhile accomplishment this season. If that is what you're hoping happens, then I don't think you'll be disappointed. We'll see.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
I don't like this "dead zone" … when does camp start?
John: Friday.
Robert from Jacksonville:
Do you think Bortles at some point in his career has the capability to be one of the best quarterbacks in this league?
John: Absolutely. I have no idea if Blake Bortles actually will reach that level. He must continue to work, grow and develop and he has to have a sound structure around him. That's pretty true of most of the quarterbacks in the NFL, even a lot of the ones we consider elite. But does he have the potential? Yes. Does he appear to have the desire and work ethic needed? Yes. Does he appear to be doing the things necessary? Yes. Those are good places to start.
William from Savannah, GA:
O-man: I never miss a column and I don't always agree with you. But I always come back for more because diversity of opinion is a positive for society – or at least that's what my parole officer and counselor think. On your Top 5 all-time sports movies, I believe you have erred big-time, but I am going to cut you some slack because I believe you have completely forgotten about "Slap Shot." Nuff' said. Move along. These aren't the droids you're looking for.
John: I've seen bits and pieces of "Slap Shot." I have heard enough people praise it that I figure I've probably missed the boat, but I imagine that's probably a boat that will stay missed.
Matt from Austin, TX:
Now that training camp is approaching, has there been a more specific date mentioned for the return of James Sample? I'm excited to see what he can do.
John: Rookie safety James Sample sustained a broken right arm during the offseason program. The last date for his return that was discussed in any detail was two weeks into training camp. I imagine we'll get an update this week.
Craig from Holly Springs, FL:
John, nobody can argue how great "Remember the Titans" is. I LOVE that movie. Two of my favorites are boxing films: "Million Dollar Baby" (I swear I cry every time at the end of that movie it's so depressing) and "The Fighter" (Christian Bale is incredible) are at the top of my list!
John: You make sure they remember, forever, the night they played the Titans!
Jim from Jacksonville:
Hi, Ozone. Can I get "what fer" on the signing of Greg Jenkins to the roster? I know he's a camp body but was he brought in to help teach Greg Olson's playbook to our current WRs?
John: Jenkins was signed to compete for a position as a wide receiver. It stands to reason his familiarity with Olson and Olson's offense – and Olson's familiarity with him – made it a more logical fit, but you don't bring in young players to coach or teach other young players.
Nate from Visalia, CA:
10-6. Just miss the division title, but make the wild card. Haters still hate, fans keep fannin.' National media considers it a fluke. We have a stellar draft and even better free agency than this year. 2016, our beloved Jaguars solidify their status as playoff contenders for years to come. Oh, and I win $2,500 from Vegas for betting the over on our 2015 record. Khan wins, Dave wins, Gus wins, players win, fans win, you win, and I win. Allen Robinson single-handedly wins me a fantasy football trophy and associated cash. Go me, go us, GO TEAM!
John: #DTWD
Preston from Waterbury, CT:
Zone, I don't necessarily think there should be changes to the NFL scheduling. But could you see the NFL staggering their start times similar to the way colleges do? I love watching the end of one NCAA game and being able to flip to the start of another.
John: No, I don't think that will happen.
Cliff from Callahan, FL:
I don't get this notion that it's wrong to think that .500 is a reasonable goal this year, that somehow not expecting a Super Bowl is a betrayal. If you're really expecting a Super Bowl you're going to do things differently, things that would be incredibly foolish for this team right now. Sure, every four-year-old should be dreaming of graduating from Harvard, but learning to tie their shoes would be more realistic.
John: I think the Jaguars can do a bit more this season than learn to tie their shoes, but I don't there's anything wrong with having realistic expectations. I think most of this fan base does.
Scott from Jacksonville:
Man vs. man, the same Jaguars players last year that were dominated by other players last year, offensive line versus defensive line for instance … how are they all of a sudden going to put up a better fight against these players who were clearly better than they were? I give you the 'rookie year' coach speak but most of those rookies and second-year players were out-classed. I don't think the guys who dominated them were at home eating milkshakes and cheeseburgers all off season. Is there really that much of a jump from rookie to second year and second year to third year.
John: Well, first, it's incorrect to say all of the Jaguars' rookies and second-year players were outclassed last season. Second, the Jaguars did add some players who weren't on the roster last season. Jermey Parnell. Stefen Wisniewski. Davon House. Julius Thomas. Jared Odrick. I'm not big on predicting dramatic improvement solely because of the addition of free agents, but I think those signings raised the talent level. As far as rookie-to-second-year-to-third-year jumps … yes, the difference can be significant. That's particularly true when you're playing as many rookies as the Jaguars have the last two or three seasons. Remember, I'm not predicting the playoffs or a six-game jump necessarily. I'm predicting the Jaguars will continue improving and that you'll see evidence in the record. I think improvement by the young players will be a huge reason.
Cason from Jacksonville:
Nick Marshall is a deceptively freakish athlete with elite game speed. What are his chances of making the final defensive cut? It would be a shame to lose talents like he has. And if the Blake Bortles experiment fails, we can plug in the Auburn offense and let it rip.
John: I think there's a very good chance Marshall will make the final roster – though if the Jaguars think they can retain him on the practice squad, that might be an option. He is that good athletically and the Jaguars want to see how he can develop. As far as plugging in the Auburn offense and trying to run it in the NFL … well …
Christina from Section 123 and St. Augustine:
My son plays tackle football for the Villages six and under in St Johns County. Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson recently showed up after football practice was over to visit with the players. We are long-time season-ticket holders and the fact that the players would stop by to visit with those boys is such a testament to the quality of individuals that the general manager is bringing in. We left before my son was able to meet them but nevertheless we appreciate that they did that. And they are welcome back anytime!
John: Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson indeed appear very much to be classy people willing to give their time. That puts them in the majority of Jaguars players. And yeah … it's good to see.
Weave from Jacksonville:
Filling up a ketchup bottle with free ketchups from Burger King #shadricksightings
John: Correct, you are.
Patrick from Merced, CA:
Hi Mr. O. I was just curious as to why you don't like Scobee. I think you two should have some beer together and make up. What do you say?
John: I say I've looked into Scobee's eyes. They appear normal. At first. If you look a while more you see something there that's pure evil.

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