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O-Zone: In the name of love

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Gabe from Washington, DC:
Good for Allen Hurns. Good for Shad Khan, David Caldwell and the rest of the organization for taking care of their own. My question is, does this mean that Bortles and Robinson will be signing their next contract in staggered stages? Seems better to do that rather than sign all three guys to big contracts in the same offseason.
John: Wide receiver Allen Hurns indeed signed a four-year contract extension late Thursday, and indeed … good for Hurns, who personifies a lot of good things. He's a young guy who carries himself with class, who has developed quickly into a team leader and has worked to develop himself from an undrafted rookie free agent in 2014 to a key player on an improving young offense less than two years later. This will be a move universally applauded within the organization, because Hurns is respected by players, coaches … everyone affiliated with the Jaguars. Yes, credit to Khan, Caldwell and the rest of the organization for taking care of their own, but this was a no-brainer move: Hurns not only merits a contract extension based on performance and potential to continue improving, but he is a safe "bet" because there's nothing to indicate he won't continue working tirelessly to continue improving. As far as extending the contracts of Bortles and Robinson … that indeed won't happen until next offseason. But that doesn't stem from a desire to stagger the contracts. Whereas Hurns could sign an extension because he was undrafted free agent in 2014, Bortles and Robinson were drafted that offseason so they cannot sign extensions until after the 2016 season. The bad news for Bortles and Robinson is that they must wait. The good news? At the end of that wait, they're gonna get PAAAAAAAAAIIIIDD!!!
YES! Hurns FINALLY got his well-earned extension. Took Dave long enough.
John: Caldwell re-signed Hurns before his third season in the NFL – and he actually re-signed him well before that third season. He waited until after a phenomenally busy and expensive free-agency period and he waited until after most of the draft selections were signed. Remember, it's the job of the general manager to manage the salary cap and the salaries and the roster based on what's right for the franchise – not to satisfy or please fans who anxiously waiting for news that wasn't overdue in the first place.
Mary from Jacksonville and Section 116:
It was so exciting to see Blake Bortles in the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2016. As fans we always think we've got special players, but when they are recognized by their peers it confirms our excitement. Our arrow really is pointing up.
John: #DTWD
Kyle from Section 133:
I believe it was said there would be five Jags in the NFL's Top 100. After Allen Hurns, Telvin Smith and Chris Ivory were announced to the list, I expected Bortles would be left off because Allen Robinson and Malik Jackson should definitely be among the top players. With only one Jag left in the Top 100, which of these two will it likely be? Am I wrong to think whoever gets left off was snubbed?
John: I quite honestly don't know how many Jaguars players will be in the Top 100, though I have heard the same "five" information as everyone else. I also confess I have given the topic little thought; although I quite honestly understand people's interest in the topic, my own interest in the Top 100 could probably be best described as "minimal." My guess is the "fifth" will be Robinson, but yeah … if either Robinson or Jackson is left off, somebody's got some 'splainin' to do.
Josh from Green Bay, WI:
So, with four out of five Jags on the NFL Top 100 revealed and the presumption that Allen Robinson will be the fifth, does it seem odd that Malik Jackson is NOT on the list? He was considered one of the best if not the best FA and a huge signing for us … I guess I'm just a little perplexed.
John: Yeah, if I put any stock in offseason lists or worried too much about what players thought about other players that they don't think much about I would be, too.
Brian from Duval:
John, reading the OTA reports and piecing together what is out there, it sounds like the offense – Bortles in particular – has not looked very sharp. Within the scope of what you can report, have there been red flags that may indicate a regression by Blake and/or anything you've seen that's given you pause as far as his development for Year Three? Or is this just a case of it being June 3nd and Day 6 of OTAs? I feel like the general expectation is that this offense with all its returning pieces in place should be far ahead of a defense with many new faces, shouldn't it?
John: I have no idea what you've read or pieced together, but I haven't gotten the remote impression that Bortles or the offense haven't looked sharp. Bortles and the offense generally speaking have looked fine during OTAs and I actually thought the group – Bortles, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson in particular – looked particularly sharp Thursday. The overall takeaway from nearly two weeks of OTAs is that this team is supremely more talented with a chance to be a lot better.
Tony from Morrilton, AR:
"Bortles' surprisingly high ranking is likely the result of Jacksonville players turning out in droves to support their offensive leader." That was a quote from one of's writers. I know what you're going to say: it's just one guy's opinion. My point is, if that were really the case why didn't Luck's or Carr's teammates turn out in droves to support them? The real reason is that a lot of NFL players respect him. Heck I bet even Luck voted for him.
John: OK.
Stephen from Gatlinburg, TN:
So far, three of the players drafted by David Caldwell in 2014 have made the Top 100 list compiled from the votes of peers. Robinson seems likely to make this list as well, giving Jacksonville four players from the 2014 draft making the list based on their second year of play. Did DC just have a "lucky" draft, or is he actually a talent Svengali?
John: Caldwell is a good talent evaluator who has done a good job evaluating talent here. One instance where some would disagree with that statement was the 2013 NFL Draft, which generally speaking is considered one of the weaker drafts league-wide in recent memory. Aside from that, Caldwell appears to have drafted very well – though at this early juncture it does appear the Jaguars' 2014 draft has a chance to be particularly memorable.
Sea Bass from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
How about I list a few names and their respective competition and you respond with your opinion on who most likely wins out … D-Rob vs. Jonas Grey (assuming Grant makes the roster)? Sterling vs. Koyack vs. Jacobs? Benn vs. Walters? Beachum vs. Joeckel? Marshall vs. Gratz? (McCray is practically out the door...) And why not add a guy like FA-OLB Mike Neal on the roster?!? it's competition baby! Can't wait for preseason!!
John: Wow, many questions and many exclamation points! OK … Gray, though I'm not sure it's either Denard Robinson or Jonas Gray and in fact could be both – and I'm not assuming Corey Grant makes the roster. Ben Koyack and Neal Sterling. Arrelious Benn if healthy. Luke Joeckel. Nick Marshall (though I don't agree that Demetrius McCray is necessarily practically anywhere). As for why not add a guy like FA-OLB Mike Neal, one reason would be that the Jaguars don't think FA-OLB Mike Neal would help enough or fit well enough to merit the signing. That's as often as not the answer to why a free agent doesn't get signed.
Cliff Lives from the Netherwold:
John, why do I love the Jaguars so much?
John: Why do you love the Jaguars, Cliff? Easy. You love the Jaguars because fans love their teams come right or wrong, and come winning or losing. You love them because there's something addictive, hopeful, awful, wonderful, enticing and a whole bunch of other emotions you get from loving a team unconditionally that you can't get anywhere else. You love them because of Shad Khan and Allen Robinson Sen'Derrick Marks and Paul Posluszny and Blake Bortles and Allen Hurns. You love them because of the Pride of the Jaguars and history and Tom Coughlin and Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew and Jimmy Smith and Mark Brunell and the chance – no, the certainty – that eventually what has felt so right and good and thrilling before will feel right again. You love them because hope and heartache is more fun and meaningful when it's invested in one team – and when you don't love a team just because they're winning. You love them because there's something about the Jaguars and this city that's special and that people outside the city can't possibly understand. Or, maybe it's just Sexton's hair.

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