JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ray from Jacksonville:
John: The statement that Bortles "took them to the AFC Championship Game" is so wrong. Bortles finished 20th in passer rating and was seventh in interceptions last year. The defense and running game "took them" to the championship game. Bortles had an 84 passer rating, which is about the same as that of Byron Leftwich during his time with the team. Bortles is durable, a competitor and a bunch of other good things, but he makes bad decisions and does not throw accurately. All hail the only quarterback in league history who has thrown two interceptions in the last two minutes and was on the winning team.
John: Sigh. I suppose we can nitpick, parse through/pull quotes from O-Zone answers and go back/forth on this subject ad nauseam – and in a sense it feels like that's what we've done all offseason. Longer than that, truth be told. I can't imagine it ending soon, just as I couldn't imagine Pride and Prejudice ever ending the last time my wife made me cheerfully and willingly sit through it. Some things go on and on – not unlike this answer. But to your point: when I wrote recently that Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles "took them to the AFC Championship Game," I wasn't making the point that he did this by himself – and I'm not sure I've tried to make that point. Ever. That wouldn't reflect the reality of his 2017 season. But it's just as inaccurate to say Bortles had nothing to do with the Jaguars winning the AFC South or making the championship game. I don't expect the discontent some feel with Bortles to end with this answer, nor do I expect it to end anytime soon. Perhaps ever. It's too ingrained in the psyche of many Jaguars fans. But if you're going to hail the quarterback who threw two interceptions against the Los Angeles Chargers, perhaps we can also remember the one who played well throughout much of December and the one who made clutch play throughout the AFC Divisional Playoff in Pittsburgh. Or the one who played increasingly well with more on his shoulders as the Jaguars' running game increasingly struggled late in the season. If you're going to assess things fairly, perhaps Bortles should be at least sort of hailed for these things, too.
Marc from Oceanway:
Is it advantageous for NFL teams to "draft and develop?"
John: I'll google this.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Why not find an eight-foot-tall, 500-pound man who runs a 4.10-second 40-yard dash to play running back? Seems like that's what they need. Is this hard to find?
John: I'll google this, too.
Cliff from Everywhere with a Helicopter:
With the news that the Yankees and Red Sox will play a couple of games in London next year, can you please find out who will play in Yankee Stadium now that the Yankees will be moving to London? Thank you.
John: (Googling …)
Ruben from Jacksonville:
I asked about the receiving corps and you answered with basically the team likes Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief. Which essentially didn't answer the question. The question wasn't an indictment on the organization's feeling for those two as much as it was a realization that the possibility of a true No. 1 receiver is available for cheap. Nobody is going to game plan for Lee and Moncrief the way they would for Dez and my question had more to do with bringing him in to compete and him hypothetically winning the No. 1 spot – and what you do in that scenario because you don't get rid of obviously the young talent we're grooming in Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole and DJ Chark, which leaves possibly Lee or Moncrief as odd-men out.
John: True No. 1 receivers aren't available for cheap. The same often is not true of former No. 1 receivers. And while it once was true that nobody would game plan for Lee and Moncrief the way they would Dez Bryant, I don't know that that's nearly as true anymore.
Kyle from St. Augustine, FL:
I'm a big believer that teams should be rewarded for drafting well. To that end, could we ever see a situation where only a certain percentage of a contract counts towards the salary cap when re-signing players you drafted? It sure improves our chances of retaining players like Allen Robinson or Aaron Colvin if only, say, 50 percent of their contracts counted against our cap. They could still get the money they deserve and us fans could continue to root for players that we have grown fond of.
John: I like this idea on one level because I like the idea of players playing for teams for their entire careers. But I can't see the league doing this. It would go against the idea of parity, and it also would raise player costs substantially because owners would suddenly see the real dollars paid to their own players rise dramatically. The owners therefore almost certainly wouldn't vote for it.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Hey, John. Do you think that POZ would come back to help coach linebackers here with the Jags? He would seem to have the right qualifications for the job.
John: I absolutely could see former Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny coaching – and sure, I could see him working with the Jaguars. I didn't get a sense from Posluszny that he wanted to do this immediately; he talked upon retirement earlier this offseason of wanting to go to graduate school. That's the short term, but in the long term I would be surprised if he doesn't explore coaching. And if he does, I would be surprised if he isn't successful.
Colby from Deland, FL:
It appears that undrafted Allen Lazard would be better suited as our No. 1 or 2 tight end, which would open more options with the current wideouts plus the arrival of DJ Chark. Would this be a viable format to give Bortles more weapons to attack defenses on the field simultaneously? Would Lazard need to bulk up 10 or 15 pounds for the position to be a stalwart for the running game?
John: This is a long-term proposition at best. I understand the fascination with Lazard. And I understand his size and college productivity makes the prospect of him switching to tight end intriguing. I wouldn't rule that out. But to say that an undrafted wide receiver – no matter how productive – appears to be suited to be the No. 1 or No. 2 tight end is to assume that such a transition is easy. Transitioning from the college game to the NFL is difficult. It is historically particularly difficult at the tight end position, where even the most talented players often need a season or two to make the adjustment. For an undrafted player who played a different collegiate position? Well, adding weight would only be the first step of what would be a long process.
Will from Birmingham, AL:
I understand that the quest for player safety is a never-ending task, but at what point do we just say it is a violent game and injuries are a part of the game? We take the head out of tackling, and it causes more shoulder injuries. So, we make better shoulder pads, and new rules of how to tackle ... etc.
John: Nobody of sane mind would believe the NFL isn't a violent game, or that injuries aren't part of it. Making the game safer is a difficult task and the process never will be complete. But that doesn't mean the effort isn't important and it sure doesn't mean it shouldn't be made.
Kamal from Chicago, IL:
O-man, you still on your five-to-eight years or however many consecutive days streak with the O-Zone? Got an official count?
John: It's six years and nine months – 2,467 days. I think. I'm not vain enough to keep track. (Editor's note: He is).
Big on Blake from Philly:
Hey John: a couple of questions. First, I read here the other day "But he's also a smart man and smart men know they should get paid what they deserve." Wise words, from a wise man. Given that logic, does it not imply that because Tom Brady does not seek top-market dollar that he actually is taking a pay cut because he knows that's all he's worth? Secondly, Tyler Shatley played extremely well in relief of Linder last year at center. Is there any chance he earns the starting center role this year and pushing Linder to RG?
John: Brady indeed at times has accepted slightly less than he could have demanded. I suppose he might have realized he and his very, very wealthy wife were "doing sort of OK financially." As for Shatley, I expect him to remain the backup center and top backup guard. Linder is the Jaguars' center and A.J. Cann and Andrew Norwell as the starting guards. Barring something unforeseen, I expect them to stay that way next season.
Ethan from Luck, WI:
Why did you guys let go Allen Robinson?
John: When you leave town are you out of luck?
O-Zone: Lucky guy
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ray from Jacksonville: