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O-Zone: Longboarding

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

George from Orange Park, FL

John. Three weeks until training camp. Three weeks!!!!!! What has you the most excited about this team?

I can’t say I’m all that excited, necessarily. Still, there are plenty of reasons for optimism around this team – the most obvious being a defense that almost certainly again will be among the NFL’s best. But I suppose the biggest reason for optimism is that I believe the Jaguars’ offense will be significantly better this season than last season. Quarterback Blake Bortles appears poised to be more consistent and productive, and the offensive line should benefit from not only a season in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s system but the signing of All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell as an unrestricted free agent from the Carolina Panthers. I believe the wide receivers will be better, but that group must prove that – and I don’t see any way Austin Seferian-Jenkins won’t upgrade the tight end position in terms of impact in the passing game. It’s hardly a reach to think the Jaguars’ offense will be good this season. Remember: the unit was much better last season than many observers believed. The unit ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring and sixth in total yardage. If you add an improved running game with the addition of Norwell and consistency at the quarterback position, then it has a chance to be very good.

Scott from Jacksonville

Now I can't think of the name of those fuzzy little rat dogs, though – and it's starting to bug me.

Jaguars 2018 Training Camp begins July 26. Veterans report July 25. Rookies/first-year players report July 18 and quarterbacks report July 20.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

I used to hate domestic beer. I thought it was swill. The craft beer explosion has made me love domestic beer. I feel like there is always something new to try. I am a dark beer kind of guy, but recently have ventured into some craft pilsners and ales that I have found more than tolerable, maybe even enjoyable. I like getting the beer from the local breweries so I can (hopefully) get fresher beer. We have some good local breweries around here, one of our locals have a toasted porter that I love. What are your thoughts about the craft beer explosion?

I’m a big craft beer guy, but I also know from experience there’s very little interesting about listening to someone drone on about their personal taste in India Pale Ales. My friend Pete Prisco once said sportswriters have two favorite beers: free and free light. That remains a pretty accurate broad brush.

George from Orange Park, FL

John. Three weeks until training camp. Three weeks!!!!!! What has you the most worried about this team?

I can’t say that I’m all nervous, necessarily. Still, there are areas of concern for this team – as there are for any NFL team. The Jaguars like any NFL team must avoid injuries; they may not be able to be as healthy defensively as last season, but they must avoid a catastrophic run of injuries at any particular spot. As far as non-injury concerns, the Jaguars enter training camp needing to figure out the strong-side linebacker position (the guess here is rookie Leon Jacobs has a chance to start over second-year veteran Blair Brown at the position) and A.J. Cann needs to hold off some competition at left guard. But those are minor concerns. Overall the Jaguars look as good entering training camp as they have looked in a couple of decades.

Steve from Duval

O, help me understand. We have seven free agents still unsigned. What is the Jags’ obligation to these players’ if they don't get signed prior to the 53-player cut?

The Jaguars have just one player unsigned. That’s rookie first-round defensive tackle Taven Bryan. He and all players must be under contract to participate in training camp.

Renee from Jax Beach

O! Your funkiness! Have a wonderful July 4th! GO JAGS! MylesJackwasnotDown!

Happy fourth.

Bill from the Northside

Please explain to me again why the Jaguars didn’t sign competition for Blake? Has this team not learned its lesson?

Though I’m not sure what lesson the Jaguars did or didn’t learn, your question remains an oft-asked one this offseason. There are a few reasons the Jaguars handled the quarterback position as they did this offseason, with the first being that Bortles played well enough last season and in the postseason to merit being the starter. Once that was the case, there was no real need to bring in another quarterback because no quarterback available in free agency or the draft realistically was going to upgrade the position in the short term – and because of their talent the Jaguars need/want to win in a big way immediately. The next option at quarterback would have been to sign a high-profile, expensive backup to replace longtime backup Chad Henne. Their decision not to go that route is risky because backup Cody Kessler and third-team rookie Tanner Lee lack experience. Still, while it’s true that the Jaguars absolutely need Bortles to stay healthy it’s also true that that’s the case for the great majority of NFL teams.

Travis from High Springs, FL

Everyone I speak with is really excited about the matchup in Week 1 between Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. – and as much as I'm looking forward to it myself, I'm also kinda nervous about it. We all know that Jalen plays with a lot of passion and is going to talk a lotta smack and OBJ doesn't seem to be the most mentally stable player in the NFL, so if he freaks out and starts a problem like Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver AJ Green last season, there could possibly be suspensions handed out. Which could cause Jalen to miss the home opener against the Patriots and that would be horrible, because that game could have major implications later in the season, playoff seeding, tie breakers, etc. Do you believe there's any cause for concern?

While I understand your point, I don’t believe there’s much concern here. While Ramsey does talk a lot to opposing receivers, he typically doesn’t get emotional to the point that he lets his behavior spin out of control. Remember: even in the incident you mention in which he and Green were ejected last season, a review of that situation showed that Green was far more out of control than Ramsey. A strong argument could have been made that Ramsey shouldn’t have been ejected from that game against Cincinnati. If Ramsey behaves as he did that day against Beckham in September, I can’t imagine there would be an issue the following week. As for how Beckham will behave in Week 1 … on that front I have no idea.

Dwayne from Jacksonville

Sorry, the new format doesn't have a sarcasm font. Can you get that fixed? Yeah, it's not just defending champions, beat any team from the other conference twice and you just won the Super Bowl.

Thank you, Dwayne.

Josiah from Fargo, ND

Hey John, with dead season upon us and me not being able to buy Yuengling around these parts what is a man suppose to do to pass the time?

Read a book. For you “non-believers” a book is sort of like Twitter, only longer and on pages – and without the viciousness. And yes, it’s still legal. (I googled this, so I know it to be true).

Josh from Jacksonville

I thought Bernie Taupin wrote all of Elton's songs.

That’s what longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette wants you to think. Gene does what he does for the love of it. Credit can go to the others. This approach has caused him to miss out on a few royalty checks over the years. The way Gene figures it, that’s a small price to pay for happiness.

Tom from Section 141 and the Mean Streets of Nocatee

I heard a rumor that Frenette was the pianist on “Rockville” and may have assisted with the banjo on “Wendall Gee.” Can you confirm?

This is difficult to confirm, in part because of Gene’s aforementioned aversion to credit – and in part because this was during what Gene’s followers (the Little Genies) refer to as his transcendental meditation phase, which featured extended study under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Gene it should be noted immersed himself in TM well after the Beatles’ relationship with the Maharishi made the whole “TM scene” trendy. I asked Gene about this once. “I don’t do trends,” he said. “I do higher truth.” I then asked if TM had moved him closer to such truth. “It’s not as good as longboarding,” he said. Gene said nothing else, just looked pensively into the L.A. sunset. I watched him with a combination of admiration and envy, thinking how it was true what a peer once said of Gene – that he’s like an onion. The more you peel away …

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