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O-Zone: Hi-tech

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Frank from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Bill Polian was quoted as saying the best way to avoid a quarterback controversy is to not have a quarterback competition. Do the Jaguars subscribe to that school of thought?
John: Nope. The Jaguars subscribe to the school of thought that Blake Bortles is their starting quarterback and that there was nobody available on the open market or in the draft this offseason who was a better option to be their starting quarterback – and that there is no need to bring in anyone who is pretty much the same level as Bortles because he took them to AFC Championship Game. And because he improved dramatically in the second half of last season and in the postseason. They also subscribe to the school of thought that Bortles has withstood more than his share of adversity and criticism in four NFL seasons, so he certainly wouldn't shy away or be otherwise affected by a quarterback competition or even a controversy. Seriously, though … considering what Bortles has been through in four years, do people really think he would be bothered by a competition? Or controversy? Really?
Emile from Tallahassee, FL:
Hey, John. Last year popular consensus was there would be competition between veteran free agent Branden Albert and second-round pick Cam Robinson to start at tackle with the loser potentially kicking in to guard. Even though it didn't play out like that, could you foresee the loser of the Jermey Parnell/Will Richardson competition at right tackle pushing A.J. Cann for his starting spot on the line? Why or why not?
John: No, for a couple of reasons. One, while Parnell and Richardson could play guard if needed, they're more right-tackle types and would be hard-pressed to outperform Cann at guard. Two, the Jaguars aren't in as big a hurry to push Cann out of the lineup as many observers. Three – and this is perhaps the biggest reason – is Richardson doesn't appear nearly as much of a threat to push Parnell as Robinson was to push Albert last season. I believe Richardson has a good chance to start in 2019 at right tackle, but you ideally want him to play sparingly in 2018 and have a chance to develop.
Keisha from Virginia Beach, VA:
Have you ever considered sneaking into Coach Coughlin's office and switching the buttons on his keyboard, and then just sit back and watch?
John: I can't get remotely that close to Coughlin's office. I thought about doing this once, but that was the day I realized they're watching me. (Editor's note: They are).
Dave from Jamestown, NY and Section 137:
I don't know if the kid from Iowa State is even going to make the team – and even if he does, I don't know how much impact he will have. But if he does well enough to warrant a nickname, put me down as a voter for "The Lazard." Unrelated, how come no one on this forum EVER suggests Dante Fowler Jr. as a solution for our strong-side linebacker problem?? I can't believe no one thought of this inside the building??
John: I imagine they probably will let Allen Lazard take and pass a physical before having the nickname contest. As for Fowler at strong-side linebacker, the topic comes up in this forum. Often. Fowler is a defensive end. That's where the Jaguars played him last season and that's where he will play this season. It's not going to change. It appears Blair Brown is going to start at strong-side linebacker. He is young and relatively unknown, but that doesn't make him a problem. If the Jaguars saw him that way, they would have addressed the area in the offseason.
Nimrod from Montreal, Quebec:
Hi, John: Just a quick question. Has Blake gone to California this offseason to work with the quarterback gurus? Cheers.
John: Yes. Bortles worked with his personal throwing coaches, Tom House and Adam Dedeaux, in California in late February and March. He did this after signing his contract extension – and after recovering and rehabilitating from the wrist surgery he underwent shortly after the playoffs.
Ruben from Jacksonville:
I know it seems we have a full stable of wide receivers, but any chance we bring Dez Bryant in to compete at least in camp? Seems like too good a value to pass on considering he doesn't have too many options. Second part of the question: let's say he earns a spot. A depth chart that lists Bryant, Marqise Lee, DJ Chark, Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook sounds like a good one considering Donte Moncrief can be let go without any dead money next year. How difficult would it be to release Lee considering his contract? This is of course considering another receiver makes the team like Allen Lazard or Jaydon Mickens.
John: I get a striking number of emails about the Jaguars' receiving corps, many hitting on these same themes of wanting the Jaguars to sign former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and wanting them to release either Lee or Moncrief. Many of the emails seem to have an underlying premise that the Jaguars somehow would go back and undo the March signings of Lee and Moncrief if they could – and that they regret signing those players now that Bryant is miraculously and gloriously available. While that is the view of some fans, I get no sense that the team feels that way. The Jaguars signed Moncrief and Lee for a reason: they … wait for it … like Moncrief and Lee!
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I see a bunch of ex-coaches and ex-players as ESPN analysts – and on the big networks as well. Is there a long line for these jobs? Some of them are mediocre and some of them are plain terrible.
John: I don't know what "long line" means in relation to this question, but ex-coaches and ex-athletes don't apply for such positions. Networks usually contact the players or coaches either late in their careers or early in retirement; usually, the player or coach has done well in interviews and media availabilities during their careers. Certainly there are some who are mediocre and others who are terrible. And there are others who are good and some who are great. Like pretty much any profession.
Joel from Boston, MA:
O-Zone - couldn't the kickoff remain in the game with reduced violence by eliminating the running start that the kicking team normally gets? Furthermore, would using the drop-kick make it closer to a punt play where there are fewer injuries sustained?
John: Your first suggestion is likely being implemented next season, with approval likely coming at an upcoming league meeting. I would be surprised if your second suggestion is implemented, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the kickoff become a punt.
Red from the O-Zone Comments Section:
C'mon, Johnny O: You can't fool us. Not only do you love Air Supply, but the episode of Supernatural where Dean Winchester sings Air Supply's All Out of Love is indelibly etched into your memory because you've watched it so many times. You can be honest with us Jag fans. We're your big friends!
John: I'm perhaps honest to a fault with Jaguars fans. I'm almost sure I never purchased an Air Supply album, and I honestly can say I haven't the foggiest idea of what you're discussing when you discuss Supernatural.
Chris from Yulee, FL:
On the "Marrone-is-awesome" front, I attended a "Sergeants Retreat" at EverBank Field a few months ago. It's an information/training seminar with various speakers. As part of that, staff actually gave us a tour of the facility. It is quite impressive. When we got to the training facility or gym, guess who was there? Coach Marrone. He allowed everyone in and must have spent 15 minutes or more greeting people and taking pictures with them. He was gracious and affable. It's something he didn't have to do. So yeah, Coach Marrone is pretty damned awesome.
John: I didn't know Marrone well when he took over as interim head coach in December 2016. He didn't speak to media much during a season-plus as an assistant – and even within the building, he focused primarily on his role of coaching the offensive line. I have gotten to know him better since in the last 16 months – and Jaguars fans have, too. The most striking thing about Marrone in front of the camera and behind the scenes is the trait you just mentioned. He seems to have a genuine appreciation for fans and a "realness" to his personality that is … well, real. Marrone ain't a phony. Not by a long shot. That goes a long way in his profession – and in life, for that matter.
Nathan from Richmond, VA:
John, there is a movement among football coaches to move towards a "shoulder tackle" instead of using the head. Pete Carroll trained up his Legion of Boom defense this way and even has a few videos out on the ol' internet about this. Learning new things is cool. People should like them.
John: The internet is cool. I google things there.

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