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O-Zone: I dreamed a dream

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Gabe from Washington, DC:
Do you see Paul Posluzny and Myles Jack ever developing a similar relationship to the one between Chad Henne and Blake Bortles? Sure, Jack is the future of the linebacking corps, but he has a long way to go (mentally, at least) to be able to fill Posluszny's shoes.
John: Relationships are hard to predict, particularly since Jack first began practicing with Jaguars veterans this past week. But it's easy to envision Posluszny in a mentoring role with Jack. He works extensively with Telvin Smith and the two are close. They often can be seen working together and walking off the field after practice. I see no reason Posluszny and Jack won't behave similarly.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Do you get questions like this from time to time?
John: No.
Jay from Morristown, NJ:
Any news about Bjoern Werner's performance so far? Has he been taking practice reps at LEO? What does he need to show, or who would he need to beat out, in order to make the 53?
John: Werner hasn't really stood out thus far, but that's not unusual for a defensive lineman in the offseason. You have to be ultraspecial-athletic – a la, Dante Fowler Jr. – to stand out in non-contact work. Werner likely would have to play well enough to merit keeping a third Leo over a third player at another position.
Daniel from Lake City, FL:
O-Man, how is Blake Bortles learning the offense similar to someone developing muscle memory, like a musician or martial artist?
John: There are a lot of similarities between a quarterback and a musician, I suppose. The key for a quarterback learning an offense is first learning the language, then being able to use it in such a natural, instinctive way that sometimes defies how it is written on the page, so yeah … there's a musician's element in there.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
So these last couple of weeks some players around the NFL have been getting new contracts. I'm confused (which can be, you know, confusing) about the guarantees in these new deals. I heard a reporter talking about the guarantee and that there are two different types. I thought that guaranteed money meant that no matter what that money was … you know, guaranteed to be paid no matter what. Could you please explain what the difference is?
John: The term "guaranteed money" has become increasingly vague and often misused in recent seasons. It in fact has come to mean different things to different people – and that indeed causes confusion. Signing bonuses are guaranteed in NFL contracts; aside from that, the only guaranteed money is that which is specifically identified as such. It has become common in recent seasons to refer to money early in contracts and other types of money as guaranteed. In fact, it's usually only the signing bonus and other money specifically referred to as such.
Sebastian from Austin, TX:
O, I hope you can clear this up. We've heard all offseason that Johnathan Cyprien's play will benefit from having a true free safety that has a knack for the ball and could cover sideline to sideline. I understand that to mean Cyprien could now play closer to the box and assist in a more run-support-oriented role. In this pass-oriented league, with a better linebacker group that is not only faster but good/great tacklers and a stacked D-line that together should play well against the run, why not try and field two free safeties to double the coverage down field? I understand that acquiring another great free safety is a big task since they're pretty rare but even if the other free safety is not at Gipson's level, would it not benefit to have two ball-hawk role players back there?
John: I've often thought the same thing, and there's little question the NFL is veering toward getting more players on the field who excel in pass coverage. Why don't the Jaguars and other teams play two free safeties? There are probably a couple of answers. One is that the Jaguars' defense puts a heavy emphasis on stopping the run and playing well on first and second down; if you don't play well in that situation you never get a chance to be effective on third down. That's true even in the pass-oriented era; teams always will run if they know it can't be stopped. The other answer is teams really do have two free safeties on the field much of the time. That's because teams in this era have their nickel packages on the field much of the time, which means having a nickel corner that plays a lot like a free safety in terms of coverage.
Bill from Hammock:
O Meister, I am also very excited about the upcoming season. I believe in what the organization has done in the offseason. I am concerned about a slow start and a negative reaction from the fan base. Aaron Rodgers playing against several rookies and new veterans may take a while to jell. The second West Coast game also presents potential problems. With saying this, I feel really good about our prospects.
John: Your concerns are valid, but they're the same concerns that face every team every season. An NFL schedule is never easy, perceptions to the contrary. Yes, the Jaguars could start slow. Fans wouldn't like that. They also could start fast. Fans would like that. We'll just have to let it play out, but there's no reason to worry about it.
Andrew from Jacksonville:
I've been wondering this since before the draft. Who do you feel was the better prospect coming out of college between Joey Bosa and Dante Fowler Jr? And is there a chance that Fowler would have been taken before Ramsey if he was in the 2016 draft?
John: Fowler and Bosa would have been very, very close had they been in the same draft. I imagine Bosa would have been viewed as the more pro-ready prospect with Fowler possibly having more upside. I'd go with Fowler by a nose. Yes, there's a good chance Fowler would have been taken before Jalen Ramsey had they been in the same draft. If prospects are close, teams often go with defensive ends over defensive backs because pass rush.
Kyle from Pensacola, FL:
I'll bite. Who is Erik Lambert?
John: C'mon, Kyle. He's Erick Lambert … Erik Lambert!!!!!
D from Jacksonville:
Why do you think Cyprien will beat out James Sample for the starting safety position? It seems to be the belief that Cyprien will be better in the box-safety role because he won't have to cover as much and can play near the line of scrimmage and stop the run, but his tackling seems to be the biggest issue. He can't make routine tackles and takes a lot of bad angles causing him to miss tackles. I know he has more playing time than Sample, but it doesn't seem like Cyprien has improved since he's been here.
John: I've said I believe Cyprien will win the job, but it's not as if I'm betting my house on it. The reason I believe it is that's the sense I get around the building this offseason. Jaguars coaches believe Cyprien played well last season when close to the line. They believe he can succeed in that role if allowed to play there more consistently. The tackling issues often have been when he has been out of position and if he's closer to the line that may not be as much of an issue.
Malachi from Frazier Park:
Loading up the freezer at home with Ziplock bags of melted soft serve. #shadricksighting
John: #Shadricksighting
Mike from Jacksonville:
O, obviously you're a sports writer. Which means you love the sport and most likely have since you were a child. We've all had that dream of being an NFL player as a kid, my question is: What team were you playing for and at what position?
John: Yes, I dreamed that dream, Mike. I read football books by the dozens, and devoured any football magazines I could find. I of course dreamed of playing for my favorite team, the Washington Redskins. Ignoring my obvious physical shortcomings, and forgetting my tendency to weep when dealt even the mildest of blows, I indeed dreamed of gridiron stardom. I spent many a day in my backyard throwing the football to myself, catching it, evading imaginary defenders and running for imaginary touchdowns. I spent afternoons and evenings, too, throwing a nerf ball to myself, making diving catches on my bed and floor for Redskins victories over the Dallas Cowboys or for dramatic Super Bowl victories. I had a Redskins beanbag chair that took many sacks and that also caught many touchdown passes from me. I led heroic comebacks, achieved unprecedented feats of athleticism, set unbreakable records – all to the tune of my own voice commentating each victory. "Oehser for the reception!!! Oehser for the sack!!! Oehser is the hero!! Yes, Oehser is a champion, a hero, a conqueror of all!!!!!" God, it was great being 23.

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