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O-Zone: High hopes

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dan from Pinetop, KY:
John, now that the first win of his career is in the books, and he knows the team can help win, do you think Blake Bortles might try forcing plays a little less? As I've seen it, the majority of his picks have been him trying to force a play. I respect him trying to do everything he can to get six on the board, but if he presses less I see his efficiency rising quickly. What do you say, O'man?
John: I say Bortles is going to be a quarterback who tries to make plays, and who has confidence in his abilities. That will mean some interceptions until he gets a better feel for NFL defenses and speed of the game. I don't think his interceptions have been nearly as much about "pressing" as they have been about a young quarterback trying to figure out how his game will translate in the NFL. He will become more efficient in time, but the fact that the Jaguars won and the rest of the team played well around him won't change much immediately about his approach.
Scott from Jacksonville:
It's becoming obvious that the only reason Bortles is starting is because the owner wanted him to start. Bortles has cost this team at least two games and he nearly cost the team the game last Sunday. It's obvious that Chad Henne is the better quarterback, but the owner wants to sell tickets and get more exposure. It's too bad that the Jags care more about selling tickets than winning games.
John: I get emails like this sometimes. I'm not kidding.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
Hey, Zone … You've said the focus this offseason will probably shift to defense. So would you say the defense would benefit more from a stud pass rusher, a corner with shut-down ability, a ball hawking safety or super-fast linebacker? It seems like the back seven is more of a liability as it stands now, but you can never have enough big bodies up front. Btw, I think a great all around tight end should be more of a priority.
John: I think the defense would benefit from a stud pass rusher, a corner with shut-down ability, a ball-hawking safety and a super-fast linebacker, although the Jaguars may just have a super-fast linebacker in Telvin Smith. I think the Jaguars will probably address all or most of those positions in the offseason. If you're asking what the Jaguars will do in the first round, I still say the odds are the Jaguars will pursue the best pass-rusher available. If you're building a core, you want to find that sooner rather than later.
Renee from Jacksonville and Section 104:
Hey John! I have a football question! I thought "pick" plays are illegal? I'm watching Thursday Night Football and Antonio Gates took out the defensive back covering Keenan Allen, who proceeded across the field with a catch and a first down. It was a lot of traffic within three yards of the line of scrimmage. Is that allowed. Gates acted like it was incidental contact. It was scripted. So are pick plays allowed? Oh by the way......GO JAGS!
John: It's not illegal if they don't call it.
Chad from Jacksonville:
Why would the Jags want to start tanking for the first pick of the draft now? We are not the worst record out there (Oakland). Our record is similar to the Jets and Tampa, plus there are six teams that currently have won only two games. We're not picking last, and right now we're not picking first. If we want to be winners, let's not think like losers. To focus on losing would mean that our players cannot learn how to be winners.
John: You're overthinking this. The Jaguars won't start tanking for the No. 1 overall selection. The NFL doesn't work that way, and the Jaguars certainly don't think that way.
Josh from Dayton, OH:
After throwing two interceptions Thursday, do you think Philip Rivers is regressing? Is there concern that he might be a bust? He seemed to have trouble reading the defense sometimes. Do you think that will get better as he matures? Do you think he will ever achieve FULL CONSISTENCY?
John: #DTWD
Jason from Duval:
Justin Blackmon can apply for re-instatement in a couple of weeks. Do you think he sees the field this season? If so, what game? Maybe the Colts? Gosh, this could be a wonderful story if he can pull it together....
John: It would be a wonderful story, and it sounds as if there's a decent chance it comes off. I don't see Blackmon being on the field for the Jaguars this season. I do feel more strongly than I did a few months back that there's a chance for him to play for the team next season. And yes – that would be a significant addition if that would occur.
Joseph from Levitown, PA:
Hey Mr. John O … do you see the Jags going 2-0 at home this week since winning last week? What are your thoughts on J.T. Thomas?
John: I see the Jaguars going 1-3 at home this week, because they will have played four home games at that point – and because while I expect the Jaguars to play well, I think the Dolphins will be a very tough "get." The loss of Paul Posluszny, Andre Branch and Alan Ball won't be easy to overcome and this is a Dolphins team that has talent and still believes it has a chance for the playoffs. My thoughts on J.T. Thomas are that he has the athleticism to play well at middle linebacker. His challenge will be matching Posluszny's leadership, signal-calling and awareness in the run game. That also will be a tough "get."
John from Lake Asbury:
Last Sunday I broke up with my non-beer-drinking girlfriend. I just got invited to the Jags game by a very pretty, beer loving girl. Sometimes, life is good.
John: Just wait.
Peter from Maribor, Slovenia:
What exactly is the problem with Telvin Smith's size and weight? I think he is a very good tackler and that's what matters. We all know how 5'7 210 Jones-Drew blocked 6'4 260 Merriman. Oh, we do remember.
John: The problem with Smith's size is it's not prototypical and NFL fans and even front offices like prototypical. Prototypical gives people a comfort zone because they have seen it happen before. Smith is a little small for an outside linebacker. That means he has to do other things exceptionally well. So far, he is showing that he can do those things. He can really run and he seems to have knack for making plays on the ball. Those things are real and they're important. If he shows he can do those things consistently, his size and weight will matter less and less.
Kingsavarkied from Yakima:
What is your favorite part about this week's game?
John: Same as any game – hanging on the field pregame with Brian Sexton.
John from Ponte Vedra:
I know character does not win games, but Red, Sen'Derrick, Cecil, Marcedes, Cyp, the young linemen, and especially the guys being featured this week like Denard & Telvin, Poz, Blake … I could go on naming names a long time … it is so easy to cheer for these guys. I feel like Dave and Gus have really assembled a top-quality personality and character team (with a lot of rookies and 2nd year guys) that you can't help but hope they succeed. Do you agree this is a very high-quality group?
John: Yes. They're good guys. That's cool. It's more fun being around them than being around bad guys.
Cathy from Jacksonville:
I know Luke Joeckel is improving, but Tony Boselli has commented that he must continue to get stronger. What impact has his ankle surgery - with a pin placed in his ankle - had on his strength? Was he stronger last season before the injury and surgery? Is he limited in his ability to improve because of this?
John: I don't know Luke Joeckel's bench and squat numbers. I do know he doesn't appear significantly stronger than last season, but he played only five games as a rookie and was at a different position, so don't draw too much from that. Spending the offseason rehabilitating rather than conditioning and gaining strength never helps. That's a critical, oft-overlooked time in a player's development. Coming back from an injury during that time last offseason likely didn't help Joeckel. He appears to have a body type that can gain strength in the offseason as he gets older. That certainly will be a priority.
Nate from Visalia, CA:
I'm not ready to scratch the playoffs with eight more games and only being a couple games back in the wildcard race. It's pretty close in terms of the fifth and sixth spot. If our boys can figure out how to get a win this weekend we may be able to pick up some solid momentum in the second half of the season. Being in "the race" is good improvement.
John: #DTWD

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