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O-Zone: Losing cred

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it ...

Seth from Denver, CO:
Is the learning curve as steep for a defense adjusting to a new defensive coordinator's scheme as for an offense learning a new offensive coordinator's scheme? Can the Jaguars' defense realistically get comfortable in Todd Wash's system this season, or will it truly be at least until next season for that to happen?
John: This no doubt will be a storyline for training camp – and into the regular season. First off, no: the learning curve for a defense under a first-year coordinator generally speaking won't be as steep for an offense under a first-year coordinator. While there undoubtedly is an adjustment to a defensive coordinator, there also are times in most defenses when scheme gives way to simply reading, reacting and playing fast. The Jaguars have an advantage in this area in that Wash isn't dramatically changing schemes. Most of the principles, calls and formations are the ones brought to Jacksonville by Head Coach Gus Bradley from Seattle. Still, there will be an adjustment period for the defense. The lineup could feature six new starters, and will have at least seven key newcomers: Dante Fowler Jr., Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack, Prince Amukamara, Jalen Ramsey and Tashaun Gipson. That's a lot of new, and therefore it's certainly a group that should be playing better at the end of the season than the beginning.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
I accidentally scrolled down to the comments today. Shudder.
John: Don't do that.
Brian from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Let's go on Hard Knocks next season.
John: Let's don't do that.
Freddie from Jacksonville:
Do you think Jalen will be a big part of the blitzing scheme on not just third downs?
John: I doubt the Jaguars will overload Jalen Ramsey early. There will be a concerted effort to ensure that both he and Jack learn the defense at one position before trying to take advantage of their versatility. But as they learn the defense I think their athleticism and talent is such that there's not much limit to how they will be utilized.
John from Starke, FL:
Why is Mr. Khan's first name is spelled both as Shahid and Shad?
John: Shad is short for Shahid, much the same way Tom is short for Thomas.
Tom from Jacksonville:
So you broke a blind after a Giants loss ... interesting. Was it just one blind or the whole thing? What kind of blinds were they, vertical or room shades? Were they the cheap kind John? Be honest now...
John: In the interest of full disclosure, I actually knocked a vertical blind off the curtain rod and was able to replace it, so I suppose I technically did not "break the blind." I indeed defended myself by saying "it was a cheap blind, anyway." When she began to see me again a few months later, she refused to watch the Redskins with me. This was one of many "low-water" incidents from my following teams passionately. I also put a hole in a wall in my house at Greenwillow Lane in Woodmere when Roger Staubach rallied the Cowboys from 34-21 down to a 35-34 victory that knocked the 'Skins out of the '79 playoffs. I hated Staubach and I still can't say I love the guy. Some scars are deep.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Mr. O, I expect the offensive line will be better at protecting No. 5. Do you think Blake should keep playing to his strength of throwing on the run and extending a play or try to develop himself into more of a true pocket passer? #notadayonefan
John: I'm from the stand-in-the-pocket school, so I generally believe Blake Bortles and any quarterback should stay in the pocket and win games from there as often as is possible. That's the most tested, reliable way to win over the long haul in the NFL. As for the short term, Bortles' style largely will depend on the offensive line's ability to protect. When the protection breaks down, Bortles should continue to throw out of the pocket and on the run. He has been good outside the pocket and I don't expect that to change, but I've seen nothing to indicate he can't be an effective passer/winner from in the pocket. That's the ideal.
Tony from Morrilton, AR:
I was in ninth-grade English class when I heard the news about Jacksonville getting the new team. From then on – sorry, John – it was no more Redskins for me. Which was tough because my friends were big 'Skins fans and it was like I was disowning them. But something drew me to the Jags. Been a fan since. True story. Go Jags!
John: No apologies necessary, Tony. I haven't been a Redskins fan in a long, long time and when I was a fan, I didn't much care who did or didn't share my passion for the team. The heart wants what the heart wants.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
John, which away game this year (not including London, which is technically a home game) are you most looking forward to attending?
John: I honestly don't have an away-game preference. We arrive in away cities late Saturday afternoon and leave shortly after the game Sunday. I spend Saturday night eating and occasionally washing dinner down with a mildly alcoholic beverage. I then go to a football stadium the next day and write about it. This isn't meant as a complaint, because I generally enjoy the process of covering road games. At the same time, there's not a whole lot of time in our schedule to differentiate between road cities.
Trae from Jacksonville:
What would be the campaign slogan for an Oehser/Shadrick White House run?
John: Whatever.
Taylor from Ellicott City, MD:
Hey John, I'm looking to buy a Myles Jack jersey. Is No. 44 his official number for the season?
John: The last I heard Jack discuss his number he was fine with No. 44. I have heard nothing to indicate he won't be wearing it.
Rob from Jacksonville:
I remember having a really bad cold in November of 1993. I took some Nyquil and woke up on December 1, opened the Times-Union and read that Jacksonville had been awarded an NFL franchise. That was a really cool moment for me, but now I feel inadequate. #day2
John: Some mistakes you never stop paying for.
David from Orlando, FL:
Johnny O, I think most people are creatures of habit. They find something that they like and hit repeat. So, here I am, like an ant drawn to a sugary spot on the table. Thanks for all you do and for giving Jaguar fans a place to crash.
John: That's a little like saying "thanks for being the place I go because I don't want to think or work hard enough to think of someplace better to go." I kind of like that.
Church of Moodachay:
I have a Blake Bortles jersey. Does that make me a Day One fan???
John: Without question.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
Best-case scenario for 2016 is we manage to stay competitive in every game and keep our record respectable up the bye week, then when we are sitting 4-4, the defense finally clicks and we run off 6-2 in the second half of the season knocking off all our division opponents and winning the AFC South. That would be a sight to see. It is doable, if we can just manage that first half of the season without the wheels coming off. That is my biggest fear – the defense struggling hard in the first half and the team losing confidence and heart by the bye week.
John: That scenario's possible, though I don't think it's a given that the defense struggles mightily early. I've said often that I don't expect this defense to be dominant from the start in 2016. That's a tough ask from a unit with so many new faces. At the same time, remember: this was not an awful unit against the run last season. They played well for long stretches in that area. What defined the season was that the defense was utterly ineffective on third downs. If the unit improves even marginally in that situation a lot can change defensively this season.
Neil from Gloucester, UK:
Sir, John: Why not this year? I'm not sure you follow the English Football Premier league? It is normally dominated by Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. All extremely wealthy. So along come lowly Leicester City and win the Premier League. Odds at the beginning of the season? 5,000-1. Just saying, it's all about teamwork, passion and a plan. Super Bowl, here we come! Thank you.
John: I follow the Premier League enough to know Leicester City won the league – and just enough to know that when I mentioned it to my Premier League-savvy son I mispronounced "Leicester" to the point that he shook his head and left the room. As is often the case, I had lost my "young-person" cred with remarkable ease.

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