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O-Zone: Good for everyone

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Chris from Orlando, FL:
OK, say we get four or five games into the season and Blake Bortles obviously is not improved. Do you see Chad Henne starting or the Jaguars letting Brandon Allen play? That is, of course, if they bench Bortles since he is on a leash this season. How many games do you think it takes if Bortles plays bad?
John: Much of this answer could depend on Allen's preseason. If he shows some electricity and shows a Year 2 command of the offense, then he could be an enticing alternative. Still, I'd be cautious about assuming Bortles is on a dramatically shorter leash than years past in the same sense that it was wrong to assume the team was bringing in veteran or rookie competition for Bortles this season. This is not to say that Bortles will be able to string together a month's worth of consecutive poor performances and remain the starter, but it's not as if the Jaguars will enter the season looking for the first opportunity to replace him. That's not the feel of this organization right now.
Attila from Dunakeszi, Hungary:
John, you wrote many times that if Brandon Albert starts at left tackle, Cam Robinson will play guard. But what if Cam wins the battle and starts at left tackle? Do you think Albert would be able (and willing) to play guard? Or will Albert be only the backup tackle and somebody else starts at guard?
John: I would guess in that scenario Albert would move inside to play guard. I think he would be able to do so – and though he wouldn't be pleased, there are millions of reasons he would be willing. But I wouldn't stress this issue much: I would be very surprised if Albert is not starting at left tackle.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
Expectations before last year were six-to-eight wins. I think many of us refuse to accept three wins as an acceptable reality for last year. We are going to hold the team to a standard of winning five-to-six games last year and expect further improvement on that this year. To accept a three-win season last year is to say it is acceptable. It isn't. Eight-to-10 expected this year.
John: I have no idea how to know what was acceptable last season. I do know the Jaguars went 3-13 last season, so at least in one sense they were a 3-13 team whether people accept it or not.
Matt from the Mattcave:
When will Justin Blackmon not be on our team? I don't know why I randomly thought of it but when do we stop owning the rights to him playing football if he decided to come back? (I get he won't be back and we don't need him anyway.)
John: The Jaguars have Blackmon's NFL rights indefinitely.
Dennis from Port St. Lucie, FL:
Big O, I know what voluntary means and why Branden Albert has every right to be absent under NFL rules. It is not his absence I see as the problem; it's his lack of communication with the team. My understanding is the team reached out to Branden and his agent and as of yet has received no reply from them. To me that shows a lack of character and respect for his new team. To ignore coaches trying to reach out to Branden is the real issue. What is your take on the lack of communications?
John: Albert as of the weekend of the draft had not communicated with the Jaguars. That was according to various statements made by team officials during that time. That is not a particularly ideal approach by – or a good look for – Albert. But I'll stop short of calling it a lack of character or a lack of respect. Players for better or worse do things for business reasons in the offseason – often acting on the advice of agents or advisors when doing so. Those actions are often reported upon and made into a very big deal in the offseason, and such actions indeed make for lively offseason conversation. The issues have a way of becoming forgotten quickly come the regular season so long as the player is a good teammate off the field and a good player on it, with a heavy emphasis on the "good-player" part.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
John, will you please explain your view of competition in the NFL? You keep saying that the reason the Jaguars didn't bring in competition at the quarterback position is because they didn't see anyone as a "significant upgrade" over Bortles. To me, you don't bring in a significant upgrade to compete; you bring in a significant upgrade to take over. You bring in similar talent to compete ... a young quarterback with a high ceiling but little experience; a veteran quarterback on the tail end of his career looking to prove he has a few years left; a career backup who wants one more shot at a starting job ... those are the guys you bring in to compete, not someone who is a clear upgrade.
John: Those are indeed the kinds of quarterbacks you bring in to compete. The Jaguars didn't see anyone available that they believed merited the move. Do you give up draft selections and negotiate a new contract for a player such as, say, A.J. McCarron, to compete? Do you change your offense for a player such as Colin Kaepernick to compete? The Jaguars decided the answer was no to both questions. As for my view of competition in the NFL, it varies. I think most of the time teams generally know who is going to start at most positions entering the offseason and training camp – quarterback included. And I think true competition in the sense of having quarterbacks split repetitions in practice and training camp is rare because you usually want one player taking most of the first-team repetitions at the position. If you have two quarterbacks competing, you generally don't have one – at least not one in whom you have a great deal of confidence. Look, the biggest reason there was no quarterback brought in to compete with Bortles or to play the position over him is that the Jaguars didn't believe bringing one in would improve their situation. That's not something that a lot of fans like, but that's the approach.
Sean from West Palm Beach, FL:
How long before the "Why-hasn't-Leonard-Fournette-signed-yet" questions?
John: I imagine there might be a few of these questions at some point, but they won't last long and they won't mean much. Draft selections with rare exceptions now negotiate and sign with little fanfare. The establishment of the rookie wage scale in the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement has accelerated and simplified the signing process – and it stands as at least one case in which the league in recent years has "gotten it right."
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Hey John, here's a seemingly nonsensical, irrelevant, off-season question for you. Let's say a team knows it's targeting a certain "can't-miss" quarterback in the draft, and said team knows the odds of them getting that quarterback are almost a guarantee. Can that team give the quarterback the playbook to start studying before the draft commences, or is that a no-no?
John: A team can give a playbook to anyone it wants, but your scenario never would happen. Playbooks are state secrets in the NFL. Their contents are protected, and only players currently associated with teams have them. A team never would give one to a player not associated with the team no matter how certain it might be the player would be drafted.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
John, it seems Tom Coughlin wants to play power-run, smash-mouth football. I'm all for it! But do you think our defense is up for it? Playing that kind of football, you have to keep the score low. Our defense was pretty good on paper last year. But the defense also gave up a lot of points on a few occasions and seemed to get gassed late in nearly every game and start getting beat. Do you think we've done enough to win a close, low scoring game this season?
John: Tom Coughlin indeed believe it's important to run effectively – and perhaps more importantly, it's clear Head Coach Doug Marrone is committed to being able to run effectively. Is the defense up for it? That remains to be seen. The Jaguars' decision-makers clearly didn't think last year's defense was up for it enough; that's why they signed end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church in free agency. One thing to remember: part of why the Jaguars are taking the approach they are offensively is to not only help Bortles, but to help the defense, too. Having a running game that can control the ball, tempo and everything else a running game controls helps a defense significantly. That's a major part of the team's offseason thinking.

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