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O-Zone: Happy place

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Quinn from Tampa, FL:
Wouldn't it hurt teams to play "vanilla" or basic defensive schemes during preseason? You would think teams would take advantage of game-time situations to get timing and positioning down for the more exotic plays. I think it would be more beneficial for the team to have these plays down than to have a sloppy set the other team has never seen.
John: This is a legitimate way to see it, but coaches for the most part feel differently. NFL coaches worry a lot about putting things on film that other coaches can see, which often means working on more exotic situations in practice and keeping preseason games pretty basic. The theory is that professional football players can take what they practice and apply in it games. It's a fine theory, though as with anything in life there are exceptions.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Is Bortles' chance of starting Week 1 or 2 hindered by the fact that both weeks are road games?
John: No, Bortles' chances of starting are hindered by Jaguars coaches and decision-makers believing that Chad Henne should be the starter in those games because he's more experienced, knows the offense better and gives them a better chance to win.
Les from Jacksonville:
I haven't heard many updates on Allen Robinson's progress with his hammy lately. Can you give me an update?
John: Robinson caught a few passes very early in practice Tuesday but he's not going to play this week. He's progressing enough that Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley says he may make the trip to Detroit for the game Friday to get accustomed to the road routine.
John from Jacksonville:
I have seen defensive backs come and go but have not seen a player like Winston Guy, Jr., with the attitude and determination, not to mention the ability to deliver a solid hit and stick someone, since Donovin Darius. Do you agree?
John: We'll see. Darius was a good player for the Jaguars for a long time. Guy indeed brings energy, enthusiasm and big-hitting ability. Now, his task is to turn that into being a consistent, reliable player for the long haul.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Bortles sticks his tongue out, Manziel stick his middle finger out. I'm so very happy with what we have.
John: Heh, heh.
Gene from Los Angeles, CA:
Da Tongue Will Dominate #DTWD
John: You may be onto something.
Matt from Boston, MA:
Have you noticed that Chris Smith (No. 98) has a tremendous ability to get off when the ball is snapped? Dude has a quick trigger. This year's defensive ends are going to wreak havoc!
John: I have noticed Smith is very quick off the ball, and coaches have noticed it, too. Smith isn't fully developed yet and with his size, there's going to be an adjustment period. He will have to continue to hone and perfect pass rush moves, something that usually doesn't happen in a rookie season. But he has shown enough to make you believe he has a chance to be a legitimate pass rusher in this league.
Austin from Athens, GA:
John I have not been impressed with Clemons thus far. I realize its preseason, and only halfway into the preseason at that, but statistically, what numbers are you expecting from Clemons?
John: Wow, you're difficult to impress. Chris Clemons has a sack in essentially about a half of football for the Jaguars. Even if you argue that Clemons has played about a full game, that would mean he is on pace for 16 sacks this season. I think the Jaguars would take from Clemons this season – you know, it being more than the franchise record and all …
Skylar from Maxville, FL:
Mr. O, we've heard a lot through camp and the preseason about the improvement of Ryan Davis' technique and speed. Although there has not been negative talk of Andre Branch, it sounds like Davis may be passing him on the depth chart. Am I reading too much into this or will it be something that unfolds during the season?
John: You're probably reading too much into it at this point. Davis is improving and he has a huge role as an inside pass rusher in the team's three-Leo lightning package. I don't know we're at the point of him moving past Branch on the depth chart. Branch hasn't been fantastic in the preseason, but we're two games in. There's time.
Ken from Jacksonville :
You were a little more snarky than usual Tuesday. I like it.
John: Shut up.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
Hey, John. The NFL's decision to expand the practice squad from eight to 10 has to be music to every general manager's ears. Do you think this increases the chances of guys like Tandon Doss to make the 53-man roster and allow for some of the younger wide receivers who have shined (Hurns, Bumphis, Taylor, Thomas) to be sent to the practice squad?
John: I don't think the decision to expand the practice squad is going to have much of an impact on who makes 53-man rosters. The Jaguars, for instance, probably won't use an extra spot on a practice squad for a player such as Allen Hurns because putting him on the practice squad still could well mean losing him to another team. The additional two players will allow teams to keep two more developmental players and it will allow teams to function better in practice. The Jaguars, for instance, had situations last season when rookie practice-squad quarterback Matt Scott -- #freemattscott – worked at wide receiver in practice because the team lacked enough healthy wide receivers. A couple of additional practice squad players should help in that area.
Luis from St. Johns and Section 412:
Johnny-O, you have the smartest, most modest and most unselfish readers ever. From the questions and comments in the O-Zone, it is clear the vast majority of them can do your, Bradley's, and Caldwell's jobs. But rather than go for the money and try to take away your jobs, they are happy to do whatever they are now doing for a living. They even provide helpful suggestions so the folks at the 'Bank can do better at their job. You have to love them, no?
John: I'd sort of rather not answer this right now.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Allen Hurns has played well this preseason but he'll likely be the fourth or fifth receiver on the depth chart, assuming everyone is healthy. Does he need to become a solid special teams contributor to make the 53-man roster?
John: Not necessarily. While some wide receivers play special teams it's not a necessity for receivers to be on kickoff or punt coverage. Hurns has worked with the first team much of preseason, and hasn't worked much with special teams, so he can make the team solely as a receiver.
Dakota from Dupree, SD:
Henne Given Sunday hasn't done anything to lose his starting job. Yet.
John: Correct.
Jason from Mims, FL:
Not to rain on the Bortles parade, but some of those throws he made last week could have just as easily been interceptions. It's nice to see someone thread the needle, until he plays against a defense that thrives on taking away the thread. Blake will have to learn to balance that aspect or risk becoming an interception machine. It sure is fun to watch when it's working though!
John: Part of the development of Bortles and any quarterback is managing that risk. I didn't see anything in the first two games that makes me think Bortles has an overwhelming tendency to overly risky throws. Interceptions will happen and they will probably happen a lot more early in his career than they will later. But in time there's no reason to think he will interception-prone.
Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Here's what I don't get about the Start Bortles Now debate. Caldwell and Bradley have shown to know what they are doing to this point regarding personnel decisions. Maybe, just maybe they know what they're doing here as well. Otherwise, Pete Prisco would be the GM and we'd live in a magical world of rainbows and unicorns.
John: Weird you mentioned this. When Pete and I worked on Jags to Riches together in the spring of 1997, he often wore his rainbow and unicorn sleeveless 'T.' I doubt he still has it, but the memory is vivid.
David from Orlando, FL:
When I hear about how much Blake Bortles is improving, I wonder if he thinks, "I've always been this good, you guys are just catching up?"
John: I doubt it. First, while Bortles indeed seems confident, he also seems pretty self-aware – certainly self-aware enough to remember that he didn't play all that well at times in the offseason. Now, I would imagine there are times he thinks, "Boy, some people overreacted a touch to a few rough days I had in the offseason." But he probably also is smart enough to know fans and media are going to react and not worry too much about it.
Joe from Jacksonville:
John: I'm getting the feeling that other teams coming to the "Bank" this year better strap their helmets on tight. The Jags are going to be in more games this year! I like what I many wins this year I don't have a clue, but I like my Jags. What about you?
John: I'm sorry … I was still thinking about rainbows and unicorns. #happyplace

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