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O-Zone: Linemen stuff

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Michael from Tupelo, MS:
O-man: I am rooting for Blake Bortles, but when you are in Year Four and you are uncertain if he is the man, then he probably isn't.
John: This feeling is understandable – and it's understandably shared by many Jaguars observers. If you judge simply by history – and history doesn't always dictate these things – the odds are against a quarterback emerging from such uncertainty to become elite. But history also tells you players such as Brett Favre, Eli Manning and Alex Smith have overcome slow career starts to become perennial playoff quarterbacks. That's not to say Bortles has many of the earmarks of reaching the level those players eventually attained. So far, he honestly does not. But if history isn't on Bortles' side, there are at least a few examples that can give him hope.
Tom from Section 141 and the Mean Streets of Nocatee:
Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory are probably both in the victory formation, so that's at least 16 times they'll be on the field at the same time. #Moodachay
John: Fair point. #Moodachay
JT from Jacksonville:
What are your thoughts on Myles Jack? Do you think he can be the leader on defense that his position needs him to be?
John: Yes, Jack can be a leader. More pressing now is the adjustment on the field. Jack has big-time athleticism, speed and ability to chase down plays – and he thus far since moving to middle linebacker appears very comfortable and effective in nickel situations. He has appeared less comfortable in base packages – first and second down, usually – and said after Thursday's game he missed too many tackles and wasn't thrilled with his performance. Linebacker Telvin Smith said afterward he liked Jack's progress, but Jack clearly needs to get better and more natural in the base packages where last year's middle linebacker – current strong-side linebacker Paul Posluszny – excelled.
Iron John from St. Augustine, FL:
Watching Jack, it's clear that middle linebacker is a "nowhere-to-hide" position in today's NFL. He made some great athletic plays, but there were a couple where he just took one step in the wrong direction, or was just a little slow to get the right angle – and BOOM – instead of a short gain, it's five or six yards. (Poz made it look so natural.) Jimmy Garoppolo threw over Jack a couple times—was that too short a drop, or maybe miscommunication with the safeties? Seemed like Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was picking on middle linebacker a little, especially in the second half.
John: Good eye.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Starting quarterback plays two series against the best players opposing team put on the field. Result: not awful, but not amazing – just solid. Second-string quarterback comes in and plays well against mostly second-teamers. Third-string quarterback comes in and plays well against third-teamers and lower. Fans: The starter stinks! The season is OVER! God, I missed preseason football!
John: Your email nicely sums up one of the toughest aspects of analyzing the NFL preseason. Many observers want to take what they see, make side-by-side statistical comparisons, then start quickly rearranging the depth chart based on that initial impression. What happens against starters is dramatically different than what happens against second-teamers – and what happens against third teams is often happening against players who won't be getting paid to play football for long. Add in the oft-forgotten fact that teams rarely game plan much – if at all – early in the preseason, and it's just hard to draw many rock-solid specifics from games played in early August.
Daniel Since Day 1:
John: Run DMC! NWA! REM!
Alon from Denver, CO:
For as long as I've been reading this daily mail bag, some fan has always fanned over the quarterback, capitalizing their concerns and begging for our backup – regardless of who that backup is. I get it: fan is gonna fan, but for the sake of sanity we have all seen Chad Henne play. I totally see his place on this team as a quintessential vet/mentor. But no one can reasonably argue that Henne is more talented, physically gifted, or in any way a better quarterback, than Blake Bortles. Fellow Jaguars fans: if Blake Bortles sucks this year, it's over; we won't have to deal with him again. So please: suck it up and support your quarterback. Then again there will always be a backup… and fans… I feel for you O.
John: Feel for me? No need. Fans are always gonna fan, and there's little that says fanning quite like preseason backup quarterback fanning.
Gamble from Brasilia, Brazil:
Thursday's results didn't make me think the Jaguars are magically going to the playoffs. But Thursday did make me think the Jaguars are trying to be the top rushing team in the NFL. What would they need to do to make that happen?
John: Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it … rush for more yards than any of the other 31 teams!
Berry from Camp Buehring, Kuwait:
How did you feel about Leonard Fournette? Did he remind you of anyone? He loosely reminded me of Le'Veon Bell Thursday. I don't think the Jaguars have ever had a running back as physical as Fournette.
John: I don't see much Le'Veon Bell in Fournette; Bell is unique in his patience allowing plays to develop. I still like the Adrian Peterson comparison. It's not an identical match, but Fournette's aggressiveness and power does bring Peterson to mind.
Stephen from Glorieta:
Logan, George and Tom have pummeled me into a major depression with their comments on the offensive line and Blake Bortles. I see no point in watching the Jags play at all this season and probably the next. I find myself hoping that the solar eclipse this month will, in fact, be an unforeseen catastrophic event that will plummet us into a new ice age. They can't all three be wrong, can they, O-man? Is football as we know it, over? Give me a reason to hang on. PLEASE! P.S. Good luck with that whole senility thing ... you probably have already forgotten about it, anyway.
John: What?
Dave from Duval:
If it hasn't been spread around the league yet it will. Dante Fowler Jr. can be provoked easily. Absolutely he can.
John: Fowler's tendency for penalties and on-field mental lapses is a concern for many reasons, including the one you cite.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
True or False: 1) By Week 10, Marqise Lee will be the best wide receiver on this Jaguars team; 2) Blake Bortles will be a Top 10 quarterback this year.
John: False, but maybe true. False, but probably false.
Steve-O from Da Burg:
Is it possible Henne has improved over the past couple of years to where he is better than BB5?
John: Chad Henne always has been a good backup quarterback. That's why he is considered one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Could he have stretches where he outplays Bortles if Bortles is struggling? Perhaps. But one preseason game does not mean he is better than Bortles or that he should be the Jaguars' starting quarterback.
David from Orange Park, FL:
What are your thoughts on Jason Myers' performance against the Patriots? I feel like every kick, regardless of distance, is a roll of the dice with him. Do you foresee any free agents coming in to challenge him?
John: Not at the moment.
Ray from Jacksonville:
How is it that Leonard Fournette "looked like the real deal" when he averaged less than four yards per carry against the second-stringers?
John: Because he broke tackles and turned potential no gains into short gains, and showed the ability to consistently get yards after contact. And because when you "watched him run" he "looked" like the "real deal."
Terry from Jacksonville:
Is there a reason why the Jags do not use Brad Allen. If he is no good, why do they keep him??
John: I truly have no idea what you're talking about.
Trae from Jacksonville:
John. We should not be excited at all about Monday night. Indifference would be the best attitude IMO: First preseason game against the Patriots reserves. No conclusions to draw from this.
John: I drew no conclusions from Monday night other than the chicken parmesan I got at Jake and Joe's in Foxboro was better than I anticipated. I also enjoyed the side salad. As for Thursday, I'm the first to say there are few hard conclusions to be drawn from one preseason game, but you could see a few things against the Patriots that were encouraging. Some decent special teams play. Some good pass rush from Yannick Ngakoue. And there were some good things from Fournette – no matter what Ray might think.
Mike from Navarre, OH:
Which players come off the field for 7-on-7 work?
John: Four offensive linemen and four defensive linemen. The center stays on. Seven-on-seven is pass-oriented work, so linemen aren't needed. They're usually elsewhere doing linemen stuff during 7-on-7 – you know, getting dirty, working run blocking, having giggly pillow fights. The usual.

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