JACKSONVILLE – Game day O-Zone. Green Bay versus Jacksonville at the 'Bank. It's here.
Let's get to it … Brad from Grand Canyon, AZ:
I think the giveaway/takeaway statistic is critical, especially for an ascending, young team like the Jags. Can we win that battle this year?
John: You know what? This isn't a bad topic on which to start as the clock ticks toward the 2016 regular-season opener – at last. That statistic absolutely is a critical one for the young, ascending Jaguars. It will be key against Green Bay Sunday, and it will be critical all season. And the Jaguars indeed should be able to win that area this year. The defense is faster, which should produce more takeaways. Quarterback Blake Bortles is a year older, and that year should help reduce his interceptions. It's safe to assume that will be a key statistic much of the year. If the Jaguars win it against Green Bay, they have a chance. If not …
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
I think the game could go one of two ways. The pass defense doesn't show up and the offense gets off to a slow start. Things would get out of hand quickly. I think more likely is that both defenses don't play championship defense. The Jags' defense will be better at the end of the season than the beginning. I think we could be looking at a bona fide shootout. If Blake and Co. show up ready, make some big plays, this could be a long day for the Packers' defense. I find the thought titillating. I've been waiting for this since February. FOOTBALL IS HERE, JOHN!!!
Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL:
In preseason I was shocked to see Myles Jack on special teams. If he hurts a knee covering a kickoff there will be justified outrage. Do they plan to continue this in the regular season?
John: Justified outrage? Myles Jack is a rookie linebacker. Rookie linebackers – even highly drafted ones – often play special teams. Jack's knee issue is a long-term situation. He has to play football, contribute to the team and learn the NFL the same as any other rookie. Playing him on special teams doesn't risk the knee significantly more than it would any other player. And yes: Jack will play special teams in the regular-season opener against Green Bay. Jack will be in the starting lineup soon enough and I don't expect him to play special teams forever, but for now he can help the Jaguars there. There's no reason not to use him.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
So when the team was advertising "all in" and "we want more" and wanted Fridays to be "Jaguars Friday" with the fans was different when the team really wasn't "all in" or wanted "more" during the '13 and '14 season? 99.9% of the population do not get a free ride as it relates to their career and you seem to be ok with that and have already started to hint that Year 5 or 6 will be the time.
John: Somewhere deep in your advertising/marketing-centric email you seem to be saying the Jaguars weren't trying to win in 2013 or 2014 – or that they somehow did less than everything they could to win. This is not the case. It is the case that General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley entered their tenures with the team knowing that the rebuilding process was a long one and that considering the state of the roster – and considering what Caldwell believed needed to be done to build a long-term competitive roster – that there was a chance the first few seasons could be very difficult. Knowing that and not trying to win are two entirely different things. Judging from emails I receive on a daily basis most people know that. As far as me being OK with it, I'm neither OK with it or not OK with it. It's simply the reality of how this building process was going to play out. To speak to your final point … yes, I believe that 2017 and 2018 will be the start of the time when this team truly can contend to go deep in the playoffs and match up with any team in the NFL. I say that based on years of experience being around the NFL, experience that tells me that this team's core players are most likely a year or two away from truly contending for Super Bowls. I could be wrong. The Jaguars could be ahead of that sort of timetable. This season will tell that tale. Is that OK? Is that acceptable? I have no idea. I do know that the Jaguars are building a roster that appears almost certain to be strong for the foreseeable future, and I know that's no small feat given the state of the roster three or four seasons ago.
Jordan from Little Valley, NY:
How many targets would you expect Greene and Lee to get Sunday? Who will get more?
John: I expect Marqise Lee to be targeted three times Sunday – no, four. And I expect Rashad Greene to be targeted three times with a third coming his way after Blake Bortles checks down twice, scrambles to his right, avoids three tackles and throws deep down the sideline. I can't say which one because that would reveal too much. Write that down and if I'm wrong make sure to point it out. Under this scenario, incidentally, Lee would technically be targeted more.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
It's almost here ...
Arrrrghh!! from Jacksonville:
Please stop clogging the front page with autoplay video when we just want to click on the O-Zone.
John: This is a common question and complaint. "O-Zone," I hear often, "we want more of you and less of everything else. Not just on this website, either – but in life. We simply cannot get enough of your insight, humor, aura – even your scent." Look, I get it. More O-Zone is a good thing. But there are people who work in other sections of this website, too. They're vitally important people who I respect and value. I would tell you their names if I remembered them. They put things on the site and I suppose we just have to deal with it. They have pride. They have families. Humor them.
Mike from Irvine, CA:
My wife has a crush on you. What should I do?
John: Introduce us. Worry not. Women recoil in my presence.
Rob from Palm Bay, FL:
O-Zone, I see a lot of people hating on Gus Bradley and I don't get it. The team obviously respects him as a coach and he was able to keep the team from giving up in a lot of games that they were down late in the second half. Maybe it's just fans looking for a preemptive scapegoat in case the season in which there is legitimate talent on both sides of the line for the first time in a long time doesn't do as well as expected. It's a young team and even the veterans that were picked up are new to the organization and will need to build that cohesion throughout the year! Come on, people, don't be so quick to roast Gus!
John: People hate on Bradley because he's the head coach of a team that has won 12 games in three seasons. People also hate on him because this young team has done a lot of things to lose games in his three seasons as a coach. I don't doubt that Bradley has done some things wrong in the first three seasons, but I absolutely doubt that the Jaguars ever have had a team in those three seasons to legitimately expect to be much better than their record. I think the team has a chance to push for a winning record this season. We'll see how it plays out.
Jordan from Joplin:
Three questions, O-Zone. I'd love to hear your opinion. Will the Jaguars beat the Packers? 2. Will the Jaguars make it to the playoffs? 3. Will Gus be coaching in Jacksonville next year?
John: 1.No. 2. Not quite, but almost. 3. Yes.
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
Gus is 5-11 in my book, although the clock is still ticking. Side question - If Jalen Ramsey does even reasonably well this season, can we put some pressure onto ol' Mr. Sample to hand over No. 23? I understand injuries, but I think injured reserve should force a forfeit of jersey number claim.
John: I suppose we could push for some sort of rule like that to force James Sample to give up No. 23 for Jalen Ramsey. Question, though: if that happens and Ramsey misses the 2017 season he has to give No. 23 to the earliest-drafted rookie who wants it, right? Right?
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
There is a lot of energy coming from that Jaguar uniform. It does look cool! Cool people win most of the time. Sorry, Pack: you picked the wrong team. Jags win! Go Jags and good luck this season!