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O-Zone: Enough is enough

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Frankie from London, UK

I've been surprised to see people overlooking Blair Brown and his ability. I thought he did a nice job when he played last year and will do a nice job as a two-down linebacker this year. He's a nice tackler.

It is natural to fear the unknown – or at least not to trust it. I fear and distrust all newness to the point of crippling my already bleak existence, and therefore never have gone to the new Norwegian restaurant around the corner from Casa de Oehser. Fans and observers often take a similar approach to new players, particularly young ones – and many Jaguars fans understandably are taking the approach with Jaguars strong-side linebacker Blair Brown. He is the least-experienced projected starter for the Jaguars' 2018 defense, and he also wasn't a top draft selection, so fans and observers are going to wonder about – and doubt – his ability to perform until he does it. The team believes he will, which is why they didn't address the area in free agency or early in the draft.

EgoSurfer from Earth

What's something you like to google?

Pictures of puppies. But never purebreds. Too elitist.

Jim from Acworth, GA

How many years do you think it will take to finally stop complaining about Myles Jack being up or down?

I doubt the phrase, "Myles Jack wasn't down" will ever completely fade from Jaguars lore – and why should it? On such memorable, emotional moments – both heartbreaking and thrilling –are a team's tradition and fans' connection to a team formed. As a Washington Redskins fan growing up, I internalized the heartbreak of the 1979 season-ending loss to the Dallas Cowboys and the 1975 Mel Gray play as vividly as I relished the Redskins beating the Cowboys in the '76 season finale to make the playoffs – and any number of victories for that matter. Fans are supposed to remember it all. The losses are supposed to linger along with the victories. All of it is supposed to stir the emotions. Is it kind of silly in one sense that any Jaguars fan knows exactly what another means by "Myles Jack wasn't down?" Sure, but isn't it kind of cool, too? Isn't it?

Stephen from Jacksonville

With all due respect, I don't believe that finding a paper Burger King crown on the floor of Shadrick's car is the same as Arthur pulling the sword from the stone. It was merely a coincidence and not a certain sign of your divine right. Adorning your own head with a grease stained, French fry-scented ornament in the same fashion that Napoleon crowned himself emperor does not permit you the authority to rule over us as king. Thus, in the best interest of the kingdom, I must recommend that you abdicate your supposed throne and allow the one, true King of Funk to assume his rightful place as ruler.

I am the king of all funk. I know this not because of my burger-king cardboard crown, but because I still have one of those plastic rings with Burger King's face on it. I got it at my friend, Darren Walker's, birthday party at the Arlington Burger King on Merrill in '76. And yes – I still have it (editor's note: he probably doesn't). Is it indeed proof of funkiness? Actually … yeah.

Matt from Green Cove Springs, FL

Oh, great Nostrazoneous, with our defense only getting better who do you see as getting double-digit sacks this year? My guess would be Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and my wild card, Malik Jackson.

I'd say all of your possibilities have a chance at double-digit sacks next season, though I would also keep an eye on Dante Fowler Jr. in this vein, too. Still, your goal is a tricky one; getting four – or even three – double-digit sack players on one defense is a big ask. Sack numbers aren't always something even the best pass rushers can control. What pass rushers can better control is the amount of consistent pressure they generate. The good news for the Jaguars is they have a lot of experienced players who can do just that. And consistent pressure is more important than sack numbers anyway.

Mike from Section 122 and Port Orange, FL

A question recently was wondering how many people actually read the ads. I just have to spend more time scrolling to get through the responses to the questions. Really find the new format a real pain.

This is a fair point.

Steve from Denver, CO

JO: Now that we have signed Orndorf, what are the chances we go after Virgil and the million-dollar man next?

I'm so happy I don't understand this.

Frankie from London, UK

Prior to OTAs, I felt we had assembled the best situation that Blake Bortles has been in. He may lack a pure No. 1 receiver but personally I like spreading the ball around and think he's got receivers that suit the Jaguars. His offensive line is the best he has had since arriving in the NFL and I'm sure the run game will be as productive as it was last year. Running back Corey Grant wasn't part of my initial thought that this team is good for Blake, but he and T.J. Yeldon give him some nice receiving options out of the back field. The key for me, though, is tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Bortles has a real move tight end for the first time in his NFL career and I do believe that he and ASJ are going to hit up some nice numbers. On top of all that, he's kept the same offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and centre (UK spelling for you). Bortles has had a real good situation right now and has to take advantage.

This indeed is the best situation Bortles has had around him in his career entering a season. The Jaguars' offense played well enough last season for a lot of key pieces to return – particularly Bortles and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett – and that continuity should be a big plus. The Jaguars' decision-makers also were able to add some potential strengths – guard Andrew Norwell and Seferian-Jenkins – to positions that needed upgrades. As a result, this looks for the first time in Bortles' career like a balanced offense. He also appears to have a far better command of the offense than at any point in his career, the result of which should be him making quicker decisions and playing freer. That should be the case for a fifth-year veteran with four seasons worth of starts, and it indeed is the case for Bortles. As Hackett said this week, Bortles hasn't often in his career been in the position to play with the confidence that comes with a deep knowledge of the offense. None of these things guarantee success for Bortles or even improvement. But the signs that those things can happen are a lot better than at any time in his career to date.

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, I was reminiscing about last season. It may be simplifying it, but I think you can point to two things that seemed to indicate a step up again in the Jaguars' play. The whooping we put on the Texans, Steelers and Ravens were great, but I feel the signings of kicker Josh Lambo and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus gave a new sense of calm and a real "we-can-really-do-this" emotion. Watching Josh get ready for a field goal, I didn't want to run to the bathroom and throw up. With Marcell, we really had a block of granite in the middle. The entire team (and fans) just had a new sense of confidence.

It's possible and even likely you overstate just a bit the importance of the signings. The Jaguars were contending and showing signs of flexing their muscles last season well before signing Lambo and trading for Dareus. Still, there's little doubt those midseason moves made an impact. Dareus' presence in the middle helped a struggling Jaguars run defense become a strength, and he quickly became a relative NFL rarity – a high-profile, midseason veteran acquisition who almost immediately feels like a core player on his second team. Lambo arrived with the Jaguars and immediately started a hot streak of clutch kicking, solidifying himself as the kicker remarkably quickly. The NFL typically isn't a league in which midseason acquisitions dramatically change a season. It's extreme to say the Jaguars wouldn't have made the postseason without these two acquisitions, but it's easy to see games they might have lost had the moves not been made.

Chris from Mandarin

The O-Zone has been going straight through for many years now, and you say that you're the King of all Funk. Things tend to last long enough to become a parody of themselves, and then decline and die a whimpering death ... so, now that you've jumped the shark, John, where do we go from here my friend?


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