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O-Zone: Funny boy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Amari from Hartford, CT:
It seems like the Jaguars are building a team to take the ball out Blake Bortles' hands; it's being built so it can kind of "hide" how bad he is. With that being said, how do we know how good/bad Blake is? Even if he cuts his turnovers and we win more games (which we should with this roster regardless) how do we know if we have a franchise quarterback if he can't put the team on his back and make the right decisions? I feel best-case scenario for us is for Blake to be great and we keep him – or completely horrible and we move on and find our guy. Him being "in the middle" is the worst thing that can happen because then he sticks around for few more years and gives us flashes of hope.
John: The idea that the Jaguars are trying to build to win "despite" Bortles has become a common perception, one I'm not sure is completely accurate. There's no question the Jaguars would like to take the ball out of Bortles' hands at times, and there's no question they want to see fewer mistakes from the quarterback. But Bortles threw nearly 40 times per game last season. And the Jaguars struggled mightily to generate any running game. Given those circumstances, it's completely reasonable that the Jaguars would want to find ways to run more and have Bortles throw less. As far as worrying about the Jaguars running too well to find out if Bortles is a franchise quarterback … I wouldn't worry about that. No matter how well the Jaguars run, Bortles is going to have plenty of chances to make the plays that will show whether or not he can get the job done. He will have moments he must carry the team. It's the NFL. Even the best running teams must have quarterbacks who can make plays.
Richard from Starke, FL:
Winger, Bon Jovi, and Poison are not metal bands.
John: Neither is Manilow.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, what have other teams done to build an elite offensive line that the Jaguars have not done (or haven't had the opportunity to do)? Let's use the current Dallas Cowboys line as the gold standard. Why did it get that way? Was it good luck in selecting/signing just the right players? Amazing coaching? Spending time, effort and money there instead of on other units? What does it take?
John: The Cowboys used three first-round selections and a third-round selection on their line, and also signed a first-round talent as an undrafted free agent after off-field concerns pushed La'el Collins out of the 2015 NFL Draft. Other teams in recent years – the Oakland Raiders, for instance – have added free agents to their lines to build strong units. The Jaguars have spent time, money and draft choices there, but they haven't had the chance to invest multiple first-round selections there yet. They also haven't hit consistently enough on the players they targeted. Will they invest heavier in the line in the draft in the future? This season will have a huge bearing on the answer to that.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
Will Dede Westbrook have more touchdowns as a receiver or a returner this year?
John: Receiver.
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
If you had the ability to "Madden Force" a trade for any player not at the quarterback position, who would it be?
John: Julio Jones. He's in his prime, continuing to get better and he makes the really difficult look really routine really often.
Rob from the duuu:
Would the Jags have to trade with the Cowboys to get Romo? Or can anyone sign him if they want to?
John: Romo has been released by the Cowboys, and therefore he can sign with any NFL team.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
With more emphasis being placed on the run game, would it surprise you if pass protection took a dip this year?
John: Yes, because the line improved as a pass-blocking unit last season and I don't believe adding Branden Albert and Cam Robinson will make it worse.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
How much will the more vertical passing game help Bortles? I think that he will never be a precision- timing passing quarterback. He doesn't throw the short passes all that accurately and he needs time to set up and launch the football. I think looking for more intermediate and longer passes suits his skill set better.
John: I think the Jaguars' running game will be improved in 2017, and I think that will help Bortles because he has had success as a play-action passer in the past. I agree that Bortles probably will never be a "precision" timing quarterback, but it's a dangerous game to depend solely upon deep passes. While Bortles never may be a three-step, get-the-ball-out rhythm passer, he needs to improve as a short and intermediate passer to enable the Jaguars to convert critical third-and-manageable situations.
Cooper from Jacksonville:
John, would you say that the only difference between the potential play of Blake Bortles and, say, Brett Favre, is the number of turnovers? Brett Favre had the same gunslinger mentality that Bortles seems to have, yet he had one of the greatest NFL careers for a quarterback. Bortles can't seem to take that next step.
John: Favre actually was very interception-prone for an elite quarterback, six times throwing 20 or more interceptions in a season. Why was he great? His ability to come back from a bad play and make clutch, winning plays to lead his team to victory. Bortles hasn't shown the latter ability yet, though there are certainly reasons for that beyond his control. If you're comparing Bortles to Favre, then there indeed is reason for optimism about Bortles. Favre after three NFL seasons had been a full-time starter for two seasons and had as many interceptions as touchdown passes in those two seasons. He emerged as elite in Year 4. Interception-heavy quarterbacks who become elite are rare in the NFL, and Favre's success doesn't guarantee success for Bortles. But if you're looking for hope for Bortles, some can be found in Favre.
Steve from Shreveport, LA:
I need to know. When you are forced to type the standard Shadrick verbiage do you type it out every time or copy paste?
John: Shadrick is a fine, upstanding member of the staff and he deserves – nay, commands – our respect. I'd appreciate it in the future if our readers remember this.
Crecia from Wake Forest, NC:
I'm Snoopy Happy Dance excited about Calais Campbell playing for the Jags and everyone thinks he will be a big difference-maker. My question is if he is such a huge impact player, why did Arizona let him walk?
John: The Cardinals in recent seasons have allowed several players 30 or older to leave as unrestricted free agents. Campbell fit that description. That's a wise organizational policy if you have reached the point that you can draft, develop and allow aging players to move on. The Jaguars aren't there yet, and believe Campbell can have enough of an immediate impact on and off the field to make it worth paying him for what could be a relatively brief stint.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, I haven't been able to find an accurate number. Can you list for me the number of interim head coaches - promoted by their team to the full time position - to lead said team to and win a Super Bowl? I mean, surely it's happened before. An NFL team wouldn't try something that hasn't worked in almost 100 years of the league being in existence, would they? Would they, John? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: The Super Bowl only has been played 51 years, not 100. As far as interim coaches who have coached their teams to Super Bowl titles as permanent head coaches, Jeff Fisher probably came the closest. He was the interim coach of the Houston Oilers in 1994, became the full-time head coach the following season and coached the Titans to the Super Bowl following the 1999 season. Bill Parcells was an assistant on the New York Giants' staff in 1982 and was announced as Ray Perkins' successor when Perkins announced in December he was leaving after the season. So, Parcells wasn't technically interim, but he was close. But just because it never has completely worked doesn't mean it won't work. I don't think that many Super Bowl-winning coaches had been fired twice by NFL teams before Pete Carroll was hired by the Seattle Seahawks. He went on to do pretty well there.
Rik from J-Ville:
Why does it always feel like you're writing about a minor league football team? I am hoping this year you grow up, too. You have a funny way of babying players and it is time to step up your game to 100 percent. The constant oohing and awing about average guys is exhausting. Please give them the respect they have earned and go from there on all fronts.
John: I'm glad you think I'm funny.

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