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O-Zone: Kinda cool, kinda fun

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Marcus from Jacksonville:
On Julius Thomas, do you think there is any fear within the organization that he is just a good tight end that Peyton Manning made great for a couple seasons? I know it is too early to tell and chemistry is an issue right now, but with Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson lighting it up on the outside, it seems like a perfect opportunity for him to control the middle of the field. There have been a lot of good players that have been made great by Hall-of-Fame-caliber quarterbacks, so could this be another one of those scenarios?
John: I can't speak for the entire organization, but I honestly haven't heard that sentiment. The main reason for that is the Jaguars saw first-hand Thomas' speed, athleticism and playmaking ability during the offseason and training camp, and they also have seen glimpses of it in the four games he has played: a touchdown against Houston, an athletic catch that was called back against Buffalo and a couple of near-miss plays that could have been touchdowns against the Jets. You can typically tell when incoming rookies/free agents don't have the "look" – and Thomas very definitely had the "look." I don't know that Thomas will ever put together back-to-back 12-touchdown seasons as he did in Denver with Manning. That's rarefied air for a tight end, and there's no doubt Manning makes any player look better. Manning also during those seasons was putting up historic numbers, and few quarterbacks have had those types of seasons. But nothing has happened so far to indicate Thomas can't be really, really productive here.
Gabe from Washington, D.C.:
We have not gotten a ton of pressure on the quarterback this season. We also, however, have not given up as many big plays in the passing game as we did last season. Blitzing is cool. Sacks are cool. Giving up big plays is not. I'll let the coaches do the coaching.
John: So, you're the one.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
I think the D-line is fine with who the Jags have and will have when Dante Fowler Jr. gets healthy. I only see that help is needed at safety, the linebacker position and maybe depth at corner and the offensive line. What say ye, Sir Oehser?
John: I think the Jaguars will address the Leo position in the offseason, because you need more than one really good Leo pass rusher on the roster. I think that will be done via free agency. I also think very few resources will be spared to get a playmaking safety unless James Sample proves to be such a player. As for linebacker, cornerback depth and offensive -line depth … it's safe to assume all three areas will be considered, though getting better pressure up front is far and away the priority.
Kyle from Ohio:
I am so sick of Blake right now. He is just truly terrible. "Oh, he puts up lots of yards." Yeah, well so does McCown in plenty of games, but you don't talk about him and the Browns being awesome. Blake simply does not have the ability to win games because he is so dumb with the interceptions.
John: OK.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
The Jags will be at home next week for the first time in over a month and four of the next five games are at the 'Bank and all of them are very winnable based on the way the team is playing now.
John: OK.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
O-Del-A, Do you think Walters and/or Hurns have earned new or revised contracts? The details for each are as follows: Walters, one year, $660,000; Hurns is in the second year of a three-year deal at around $1.54 million. I think both are amazing, sure-handed and durable athletes – unlike some other high draft picks. When do you think they'll get paid in line with their talent?
John: It's hard to imagine Hurns not being around for a while. As for Walters, let's see how Rashad Greene and Marqise Lee fare before we start handing out long-term deals … but would the Jaguars want to retain him in some capacity? Sure. Very possible.
Sean from Arlington, VA:
Praise for our stud wide receivers named Allen, but no mention of Bryan Walters. Praise for Dave's great free-agent signings but no mention of Bryan Walters. I don't get it. His stats don't jump off the page but it seems like he makes three big third-down plays every game. And I honestly can't remember him dropping a single ball this season. He's still relatively young and looks like he could become a core guy. Is he just a one-season rental (hence the ignorance of the O-Zone) or does somebody (ANYBODY) else see what I do?
John: You're right: Lets heap praise on Bryan Walters … PRAAAAAAAAAAAA-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAAAAAAAAAA-AAAAAA-AAISE!!! Seriously, he has been good and he probably isn't mentioned enough.
Randy from #DTWD:
I'll say it John: we're two plays away from 4-4 (missed field goal, Colts; muffed punt, Jets) and probably six-to-eight plays from being 6-2. On the other hand, we're also a few plays away from 0-8. Welcome to the NFL.
John: Thanks. It's awesome to be here.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
We should have taken this guy … we should have taken that guy ... etc. I think that no matter who we took, he was destined to tear his ACL 45 minutes into his first practice. Of course, then we would hear that we should have taken Dante Fowler Jr.
John: Yeah, the thing about hindsight is it's always 20-20 or at least something close. That's why although I understand fans' inclination to play "What if?" when it comes to the draft, I don't do it often. There's just not much point and there are too many variables. I wouldn't go so far as to say any player the Jaguars drafted No. 3 overall this past offseason would have torn his ACL. I will go so far as to say you couldn't control or predict it, so why spend time analyzing what could have been?
Chris from Section 437:
Hi, John … I know it will be a help to get Dante Fowler Jr. in the lineup next season, but typically first-year defensive ends are not that effective – even highly-drafted ones. Do you think the Jags will target this area in free agency?
John: If the right player is there, yes.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
Okay, so what do the Jaguars-winning-the-division talk and John Oehser going on the Pride have in common? Both are way premature and probably fantasy at best. But hey … it's good to dream, right? By the way, you are really great at what you do. Thanks for that, O-Man.
John: It is good to dream – and you should write more often.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Reading a question about Fowler being a beast made me wonder: Does he still have to report and keep his upper-body strengthened and conditioned while he is injured? I sure would hate to get to next year and not have anything like the guy they drafted.
John: Dante Fowler Jr. is around the facility and has been all season. He is rehabilitating the torn anterior cruciate ligament and is conditioning. I would be very surprised if he is not really close to 100 percent when training camp begins next August.
Dominique from Rancho Cucamonga, CA:
Hey, Zone … is it too early to say that Blake and the Allen brothers will rewrite the Jaguars' quarterback and receiving records?
John: It's not too early to say it, but it's too early to know if it will be true. I think if Bortles stays healthy, it's pretty safe to say he'll break a lot of records. As far as the Allen brothers … Jimmy Smith's numbers, particularly the yardages, are impressive. There's a long way to go.
Mark from Middleton, NJ:
Would this team support a three-four style defense? It seems to be the new way of the NFL, and with their personnel, I think they can do it. It would allow them to rush the passer, and bring Dante Fowler Jr. back to his Florida days – and still let Telvin Smith patrol the middle with his speed. Odrick is a big enough end to be in the middle with Marks, and Davis is mainly an interior rusher, so what's stopping or preventing this team switching to a 3-4? (or essentially a 5-2 considering how much the Jags love this high safety look with Cyp).
John: Probably the biggest thing preventing that is the Jaguars have no inclination to go to a 3-4. The Jaguars built their personnel to run the hybrid/Leo scheme they're running – and that that's the defense this coaching staff installed. I'd be stunned if you saw a scheme change with this staff.
Chris from San Marco:
Pardon my post-game negativity, John. You know how it is. Sports are an outlet to vent the other frustrations in life.
John: I can't quite say that postgame negativity is cool, or that I like it. But I understand it, and sometimes, it makes things kinda fun.

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