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O-Zone: Golden growth

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Thad from Albuquerque, NM

Ramsey talking this preseason was not a big deal the first time, then he kept going. And going. This is a recipe for disaster. We already had a target on us because last year is thought of as a fluke and we almost made the Super Bowl, so teams know they need to bring their best. Then, Ramsey pours gas on the fire again and again. History says the person that pokes the bear too much gets eaten no matter how fast they think they are. Honestly, I hope if we do lose, it’s a blowout. We need a wakeup call, bad. Much rather win, but I won't be shocked if we get curb-stomped.

I see you’re nervous. I’m sorry for that. Being nervous can be … nerve-wracking. But whatever your nerves – and no matter how boldly you state your case – the Jaguars’ fortunes this season will not rise and fall based on what All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey said during a few offseason interviews. That’s true no matter how many people say it or worry about it. I’m not saying his words won’t be a storyline. I’m not saying you won’t see them discussed loudly when people gather on television to shout at each other about such things. I’m not saying the concept won’t trend on Twitter. But I am saying while what is said off the field is juicy fodder for fans and media it doesn’t decide what teams win or lose games. And the idea that the Jaguars need a wakeup call? I don’t see it. This team is motivated and ready. There’s no guarantee they will win Sunday; this is the NFL, not scripted television. But this team is not sleeping entering the season.

Jeff from Port St. Lucie, FL

What a horrible game. These teams were not ready to play NFL football. That is what happens when you don't hit in training camp and you barely play in preseason.

You’re reacting as many did to the Philadelphia Eagles-Atlanta Falcons matchup Thursday – and remember: Week 1 also historically has an odd feel because it’s tricky to game plan when teams haven’t shown much in terms of scheme in the preseason. But yeah, not hitting in camp or playing much in preseason perhaps contributed some of what appeared to be a lack of continuity. I’m starting more and more as Sunday approaches to believe the Jaguars will have an advantage against the New York Giants because of the points you made – that they hit at least some in training camp and played comparatively extensively in the preseason. We’ll find out Sunday.

Ross from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Uh, all these rules favoring the offense ...

… said everyone who has been watching the NFL since, oh … about 1978.

Jesse from HHI

What do you think it would take for the Jags to pull Bortles? I'm really curious on your opinion. If he goes out and throws a few picks and causes us to lose against the New York Giants? If we start out 0-3 and he isn't performing well? What would be your scenario as to when it would be time to replace him with Cody Kessler?

Your question implies that this is more of a topic with the Jaguars than with another contending team. The reason I start this answer that way is to point out that the same things would have to happen for the Jaguars to bench a healthy Blake Bortles as would have to happen for any contending team to bench their established starting quarterback. He would have to have a multi-game stretch of poor play and poor decision-making beyond anything the team anticipated – and well beyond anything he turned in last season. And bear in mind: poor play and poor decision-making have nothing to do with what outsiders perceive as poor play and instead have everything to do with how coaches and players view his play. Honestly, this question really has very little pertinence. Could Bortles be benched? Of course. Any player technically can be benched. But this is not a situation where that seems imminent or even realistic. It’s just not.

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Blake Bortles was a good quarterback from the very first game he played. The team he played on was not very good. He threw lots of picks because he was trying to win with a bad team. Yes, he is better now and he will be better next year but he was never a bad quarterback. I guess people just see what they want to see. Go Jaguars!

Hey, one fer Blake!

Jon from Brentwood, UK

Zone, if Jalen wants to prove his athletic prowess he needs to get his skates on!

It seems Ramsey said something to the effect that he could play in the NHL if he staked for six months. It seems NHL players didn’t like this. It seems sometimes people say things that are silly and misinformed. It seems I’m just not real worked up about the topic.

Cliff from Callahan, FL

Lately the column has been getting posted pretty early in the morning. It looks like, perhaps, the situation actually is improving ...

So you say.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

I’ve been to London. I’ve been to Jaguars games. I’ve never been to a Jaguars game in London. What’s it like?

Cool.

James from Jacksonville

How quickly do you believe Jalen would be checked into the boards and become a pile of goo if he was ever unfortunate enough to play in the NHL? Don't get me wrong, I love his swagger and confidence and that he wears No. 20 for my hometown team, but his statement about playing in the NHL is ridiculous. The NHL is one of the toughest sports in the world and I can see how some would be offended. But, I'm sure most of the players in the league didn't even give his comments a second thought because they all know Jalen would get crunched and checked into oblivion.

The NFL is a violent brutal game played by big, tough, physical athletes; the NHL is a violent, brutal game played by big, tough, physical athletes – on skates. Ramsey saying he could play it if he skated for six months is silly. I doubt he took the statement very seriously.

Dave from Duval

Johnny O, I’m gonna try to give some clarity on Corey Grant as a running back. I don’t know of a good comparison when it comes to NFL running backs and Grant. That may be why Grant has had a little difficulty in getting a lot of playing time as an NFL running back but he hasn’t had difficulty staying on an NFL roster. I would classify Grant as a straight-line speed burner with very little wiggle and poor pass protection skills with soft hands. This skill set kind of pigeonholes him as a pass-catching running back or a kickoff returner. The two-back sets should work for the Jags. Cause if you don’t cover Grant, it’s “Taillights!”

Fair. Grant is a very dangerous, important player for the Jaguars. He fits what they want to do and they believe they have a very good plan to use him. How he compares to other NFL players past or present doesn’t change those things one way or the other.

Edward from Los Angeles, CA

John, what do you think is the greatest album of all time? The Velvet Underground and Nico or Bob Dylan's Bringing it all Back Home?

Neither. I always have a difficult time singling out one album or one song as the greatest. I typically don’t include Greatest Hits, live records or compilations but there several normal studio releases that I feel rank with anything, including Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited, Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model, the Clash’s London Calling. The Soundtrack to The Harder They Come also is hard to beat. There are many albums/songs by artists such as Warren Zevon, Bob Marley, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, Jason Isbell, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Joe Jackson, Gram Parsons, Dolly Parton, Nirvana, Flogging Molly, Lil Wayne, Eminem, the Dropkick Murphys, John Prine, the Housemartins/Beautiful South, the Cars, Paul Simon, Prince, the Smiths, the Ramones, the Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, the Rolling Stones, Queen, Steve Earle, Uncle Tupelo, Lone Justice, Blondie, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, R.E.M., Lucinda Williams, Liz Phair, Steve Earle, Lou Reed, Van Morrison and Neil Young that I count among the best I have heard and that I play regularly, but those first few albums stand out. To me, anyway.

Josh from Harrisburg, PA

The best part of last year’s season is coming to fruition for me this year. There was only one game on television before the playoffs I got to watch on my television. First game out of the box this year I am golden. Playoff beard here we come.

Grow that thang.

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