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O-Zone: Human nature

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … James from Palm Coast, FL:
Interesting game. Good job by both quarterbacks, but the story was: way too many penalties. The outcome could have been very different.
John: It was indeed an interesting game, and it was indeed a good job by both Henne and Bortles. But that was the story – that the starting quarterback played well and the rookie quarterback looks like he's going to be very good in time. Compared to that, the outcome matters not a bit.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Hey John, the last couple of years we have been awful at scoring touchdowns once we get in the red zone. Even when we are moving the ball okay we cannot score a TD. It seems to be the same story in these first two preseason games. Also, I am concerned over our starting offensive line. They look like they are struggling. Your thoughts?
John: I think you're right on both counts, and the situation is not unexpected. Red-zone offense is often the last area to develop in an offense because it's much, much tougher to score from the 15-yard line than to make a 15-yard gain elsewhere in the field. And yes, the starting offensive line is struggling. Again, that's not unexpected. There are many new parts and it's an area that takes time to develop – more time than this line has been together.
Kathy from Jacksonville:
The game looked good for Jacksonville until Jordan Palmer stepped in for the Bears. We had Jordan Palmer in Jacksonville for preseason and he looked good then. I did think the Jaguars team looked very good and Coach Bradley received a lot of praise so I am still happy. I agree with the decision to keep Henne as the starter. I just wonder with our struggles in the past why we let Jordan Palmer go.
John: Jordan Palmer did look good on Thursday, just as he looked good a couple of preseasons ago for the Jaguars late in a couple of preseason games. I honestly haven't given the matter much thought beyond that because I don't worry too much about which reserve quarterback plays well for who in the final quarter of which preseason game. It matters very much to those players, but in the big-picture of franchises usually not quite so much.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
With the return of the mailbag will we also see the return of the O-Zone first look the night after regular-season games?
John: One in fact has nothing to do with the other, but yes, O-Zone Late Night will return this season.
Zach from Elkhorn, WI:
Seems to me Alshon Jeffery was not down by contact, so why the flag and possible fine on Guy?
John: Winston Guy, Jr., drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty because Alshon Jeffery was down and not making a move to advance the ball. You can't hit a player in that situation.
Dane from Jacksonville:
John, please give me some hope here. Please tell me this isn't how the NFL is going to be this year. The outrageous amount of penalties called is baffling. I don't know if I can watch this version of football. Is this really what the league is turning into? Or are the referees erring on the strict side in the preseason to emphasize the new rules?
John: It's not really all that baffling. It was actually pretty expected. The league has made clear that illegal contact will be emphasized more than in the past. The last time the league made this a point of emphasis Peyton Manning threw for 49 touchdowns and passing was significantly easier. When the league emphasizes this area, you see a difference the following season. It's quite likely the officials won't call quite so many once the regular season begins, but there are going to be more illegal-contact penalties than last season, and it's probably going to be enough more that it remains a topic.
Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington:
Individual player winners and losers of the game? Please enlighten us, oh great Mr. O. I'm still liking this Telvin Smith fella.
John: There's a lot to like about Smith. I also would put Chad Henne, Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, Tyson Alualu and Denard Robinson in the winner category. Center Mike Brewster at first glance appeared to give up a sack and held on the same play, but it's tough to draw real conclusions in live action.
Jordan from Little Valley, NY:
My wife would kill me if I let the grass grow that tall around my house.
John: Yeah, well … I usually mow Wednesday or Thursday. We left for Chicago on Wednesday and were there Thursday, so I … wait … what? Who is this? You're not the boss of ME!
Clayton from Madrid, Spain:
All the pundits talk about Blake Bortles overtaking Chad Henne. They say the future is now. Well, what about just having two prepared quarterbacks and if one gets injured there is a reliable backup that can run Jedd Fisch's offense? It seems like that aspect of this "quarterback debate" isn't really discussed.
John: Oh, somehow I think there aren't going to be a whole lot of aspects about this quarterback debate left undiscussed. From Henne's perspective, I don't know how relevant this one really is, though. The Jaguars re-signed him in the offseason in part because he's a reliable veteran who understands the offense and will be prepared. They're not just playing him so he can be ready in case. He's the starter. But to the overriding concept of your question – yes, it will be good to have two quarterbacks who can play.
Quinn from Tampa, FL:
A few questions here. Where do the Jags stand in the waiver list? When does this change? And do you foresee the Jags picking any players up off of the waiver wire through the upcoming roster cuts, or are they confident with the players/depth currently on the roster? Specifically along the offensive line, running back, and wide receiver.
John: A few answers. The Jaguars are third on the waiver list. This changes after Week 3. I don't foresee them doing much on the waiver wire of significance, because it's hard to get significant contributors. They just signed center Antoine Caldwell, and that's a position where they may keep looking. They're pretty deep at running back and receiver, so I would guess they wouldn't make a move there unless there are injuries.
Dex from Jacksonville:
Don't take wingmen drinking. #DTWD
John: #DTWD
Jordan from San Antonio, TX:
Managed to grind through an hour of "The Worldwide Leader" and 20 minutes of that spent talking about an NFL team moving to LA...Jaguars didn't come up once. Justice.
John: #DTWD
Cole from Jacksonville:
Disgusting Toilet Water Drink?
John: #DTWD
Chris from Crestview, FL:
With all the emphasis on the passing game today, do you think that you could build a dominant run-oriented team? Since running backs are devalued and road-grinding linemen are, too, I would think you could grab a few and pound some teams but it appears no one wants to do that. Thoughts?
John: Sure, you could build a dominant run-oriented team. The two best teams in the NFC – Seattle and San Francisco – are very good running teams built around defense and power. Although running backs aren't as valued as they were two decades ago, I don't know that I buy the notion that road-grinding offensive lineman are devalued. Teams still seek those players and it's harder to find good players in the run game than just going out and grabbing a few. That, in fact, is one of the reasons you see more teams lead toward the passing game. Building a dominant running team takes time and continuity on the offense line. It's a bit harder than building an effective passing game.
Chris from Fort Myers, FL:
I keep seeing debate about when Bortles will earn the starting job over Henne. I feel like it doesn't have as much to do with them as it does with the rest of the offense. Bortles will start when the rest of the offense is ready to give a rookie the support he needs. Is this a crazy opinion?
John: It's not a crazy opinion at all. Stability on the offensive line, effectiveness from the running game and reliability by the wide receivers are things the Jaguars want to see improve before inserting Bortles into the starting lineup on a permanent basis. He certainly must improve and show he's ready, but those areas must, too.
Michael from Jacksonville:
How many emails have you gotten so far saying we should stick with Chad Henne at quarterback?
John: Quite a few, actually. Not as many as have called for Blake Bortles to start, but you wouldn't expect as many fans calling for Henne as Bortles. That's human nature; fans always want to see the new guy. The thing is, this isn't a consensus situation, and there won't be a fan vote. Eventually, Bortles will start, but not until the decision-makers mandate that it's time.

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