JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Scotty Jag from Points North:
OK ... we all wish Blake Bortles the best this year. Put that aside for a moment. How does Brandon Allen look at the quarterback spot? Does he throw a tight spiral? Nice fades? Give us something.
John: Allen remains a topic of great intrigue in Jaguarsland, an understandable fascination considering the uncertainty regarding starting quarterback Blake Bortles – and considering Allen, a sixth-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, looked OK during his brief appearance last preseason. How good is Allen? Is he capable? His lack of significant NFL playing time makes it hard to assess from the outside. I watched Allen for a few minutes last Friday during the third organized activities practice. This was the first I really had watched him throw in anything close to a practice or game situation since last preseason. I plan to watch him more as media access permits. He often throws a fine ball. His spiral is often fine. He appears often to be able to make NFL throws. I wouldn't be so bold as to say his ball stands out from a bunch of other quarterbacks I've seen throw, but neither do you cringe and raise your eyebrows after he throws and wonder how he is getting paid to play football. I think Allen perhaps could function at the position and manage a game. I have no idea based on the limited amount I have seen him if he has the "it" factor to be a starter. I'm sure he'll get a lot of snaps in the preseason. I'm sure observers and fans will focus on him more this preseason than they did last preseason because fewer observers and fans feel good about Bortles than they did last offseason. Can Allen make a push and show he's more than a reserve? We'll see.
Steven from Memphis, TN:
So if Brandon Linder is working out at guard, who will play center? Luke Bowanko? Or someone else. Actually I think Linder will play center, but is someone else looking decent at center?
John: It's unpadded work during OTAs; so the importance of how anyone looks is minimal. I, too, believe Linder will play center. That's because I believe Branden Albert will play left tackle for the Jaguars next season, with Cam Robinson at left or right guard, Linder at center, A.J. Cann at right or left guard and Jermey Parnell at right tackle. If that scenario doesn't play out and Linder plays guard, I would guess Tyler Shatley or Bowanko likely will play center – more likely Shatley.
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, am I reading too much into Linder playing guard right now? It would seem to me that if he was/is going to be the starting center, then he should only be playing that position to get better. Do you think that they are planning to play him at guard and start someone else at center? If so, who?
John: I think they are working Linder at guard mostly to have a Plan B in the incredibly remote scenario of Albert not playing left tackle. I also think that the negative to not having Linder at center during OTAs is miniscule because this is unpadded work. There are those who believe it is a crisis to not have Albert in camp, and to not yet have announced the Week 1 starting line. It is not a crisis. It hardly qualifies as an issue.
Chris from Los Angeles, CA:
What's good, Johnny O! I just saw the piece with you and Mychal Rivera. Gotta say, pretty impressed for the few minutes you had him. Albeit just a few minutes of exposure, he seems like a really intelligent ball player ... a real Jimmie Johnson type of player. Well-spoken and good on the mic. Felt good energy out of him, too. What's your impression and how do you think he'll fare in our system and club?
John: Rivera indeed was impressive and came across well during Thursday's O-Zone Live on Facebook. When someone can overcome my influence and come across well in an interview … well, that's impressive. I've brought many a good man down. And I think Rivera's going to have a bigger role in the passing game than many observers believe. I think he'll lead the tight ends in receptions, and I think he'll have a significant impact on the offense.
J, Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Great interview with Rivera! He truly has been the dark horse in the free-agency frenzy. If he plays as big as his personality, it very well might be the spark we needed at that position. I'll bet that was a fun interview.
John: Not for him, it wasn't.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
I think you decide on who makes the cut based on how awesome our questions are and how much we feed your ego (both good and bad… ;) ) or at least that's how my questions seem to get answered. Am I wrong?
John: Darts at a board, Charles … darts at a board.
Gary from Jacksonville:
O, I have a proposal. We hear the tackle from Miami [Branden Albert] wants a new contract. I say: let's do one. Hear me out. As it is, he gets roughly $8 million a year good, bad or ugly. I say, redo the contract where if he plays every game and makes the Pro Bowl, he is the highest-paid left tackle in the league. However, if he gets hurt, misses games and generally stinks he makes, say, $4 million. If he is as good as he thinks he is, that contract shouldn't scare him a bit. Put up or shut up, baby. What say you?
John: I say it's a wonderful idea. I also say it's not based in anything close to reality.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
I've been trying to contain my optimism and I think I've found a way. Just look at four/fifths of our starting secondary sitting out with what? Hangnails? They haven't done anything yet to injure themselves. Where is the "grit" and playing through injuries that TC talked about? To Telvin's point, we'll never get where we need to be with so many starters on the sidelines.
John: I don't know if that was Smith's point. There's grit and playing through injuries, and there's being smart. Is smart pushing through an injury in organized team activities – nearly two months before pads go on and three months before the start of the regular season – and risking long-term setbacks? Sure, maybe.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
While watching Telvin's press conference the other day, I made note of the fact that he said "Defense Wins Championships." I, too, am a firm believer of this age-old philosophy, but it seems like most teams in the league have gotten away from it. Based on this offseason's acquisitions mostly being on the defensive side of the ball, do you think that the Jags are trying to "Win Now" by hiding sub-par offensive play with hopefully stellar defensive play? It seems as if great defense can carry this team while still trying to figure out how to make the offense work.
John: The league has gone far more toward offense and it's a league heavily dependent on quarterback play. It's hard to argue with this approach because the great majority of teams that contend for the Super Bowl every year have elite-level quarterback play. I don't believe the Jaguars are trying to hide subpar offense. I do believe they saw a defensive unit that was very close to being a strength last season and are trying to turn that unit into something that can help build an identity. I also believe the Jaguars believe they have a better chance at getting better than subpar offensive play by emphasizing the run rather than the pass – at least for the short term. And I think on that topic they're probably correct.
Ralph from Jacksonville:
Logan's rather acerbic statement that Dante Fowler Jr. needs a million plays to have a successful pass rush suggests a sack is not a successful pass rush since he had four of them last year and, while I have not counted them all, I am pretty sure he wasn't in on four million plays. I also note Dante is but 22 years old. I, for one, am far from calling him a bust as Logan has so frivolously concluded.
John: I'm not ready to call Fowler a bust yet, and I honestly don't think he ever will qualify as a bust. That's because I think Fowler is fast enough, strong enough and sudden enough to contribute in some capacity along the defensive front. I don't know if he'll live up to his status as the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft because he needs to develop into an elite pass-rusher to do that. He obviously has significant, difficult improvement to make before he gets there.
Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington:
Why did you lie to us John? Why? Whyyyyyyy?
John: For sport.
O-Zone: Just for fun
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Scotty Jag from Points North: