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O-Zone: Man with a plan

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Calais Campbell seems very excited about the level of play on defense. Telvin Smith is less so. One of them is either right, or it's somewhere in the middle. If Campbell is right, is that because the defense is actually good or is it because the offense is bad and Blake Bortles is making bad decisions in practice?
John: I wouldn't base too much on comments made by players during organized team activities. They provide perspective, but they're probably not a deadly accurate description of what will happen next season. Still, in this case it's possible – and even probable – that both Campbell and Smith are correct. Campbell when talking to the media this past Thursday expressed excitement about the talent level on the Jaguars' defense, particularly along the defensive line; Campbell appears to like players such as Dante Fowler Jr., Yannick Ngakoue and Abry Jones. He thinks those players have a lot of ability and can form the core of a good, productive young line. I didn't hear Campbell say anything about the actual level of play on defense, which was what irritated Smith when he spoke to the media earlier in OTAs. Is it possible Smith can see a need for better execution when looking at the same defense Campbell sees as being talented? Yeah, I'd say that's possible and even probable. And, oh yes: in this case, neither was discussing anything that had anything to do with Bortles, so how about we not blame him this time? Hasn't he been blamed enough already?
Trae from Ponte Vedra, FL:
John, imagine that the NFL was forced for some odd reason to rename the sport. Let's just say soccer in America became wildly popular and it took over as America's football falling in line with its foreign counterparts. What would you rename the sport our Jaguars play? Thanks.
John: Ted.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
From what I can recall of the Marcus Stroud-John Henderson teams, the Jaguars had pretty-good-to-very-good defenses. There was one year – I think it was the 2007 team – where they consistently got pressure with four down linemen. They also had Rashean Mathis playing cornerback at a very high level. I also recall some good run blocking from the offensive line, with Chris Naeole and Brad Meester leading the way. The issue came from the passing game, which was consistently anemic. The quarterback play was not good and the receivers weren't good, either. They simply couldn't keep up with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. We will always have the game where MJD and Fred Taylor ran for 375 on the Colts. What were the Colts' players saying after that game?
John: I seem to recall the general theme was, "How in the world did we give up 375 yards rushing … how does anyone?" That loss was part of a difficult time for that Colts team, a stretch late in 2006 when they struggled big-time defensively and when they uncharacteristically lost three consecutive AFC South games. What Colts players said after that game wasn't as significant as what Head Coach Tony Dungy said – that the defense was fixable, and that there was no reason to panic. The Colts lost one more regular-season game after the Jaguars loss – at Houston – then got safety Bob Sanders back from injury before winning four postseason games, including the Super Bowl.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
O-man, I can't wait until we don't have to talk about 1999 to remember the good times. It has been so long that we should ban talking about it. As beautiful as it was at the time, it's now ancient history and basically irrelevant now. Here is to being ready for another great season so we can put 1999 behind us.
John: We have 365 days a year to talk Jaguars in this forum. I don't think it's ridiculous to spend a few days talking about the '99 team on occasion.
Bill from Orange Park, FL:
If Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. both become double-digit sack guys in the future, do you think they could combine for 20 or more sacks?
John: Hold on …
Nathan Provo, UT:
This could be considered one for Leonard Fournette – a.k.a., "Freebird." Your response involving "elite quarterback play" … I disagree. Just the threat of a "take-it-to the-house" running game, which the Jags now have, will take much pressure off Bortles. What's your re-take? I mean, the jags had NO running game, or running threat last year. So teams were able to pin back their ears on defense and get away with it. Not anymore …
John: You're talking about a recent question that asked the best formula for turning the franchise around. I answered, "Elite quarterback play, a better turnover ratio and a dominant pass rush." I don't have "re-take."
Robert from Van Nuys, CA:
Do you agree that in next year's draft we are going to take a quarterback and then second, draft an offensive lineman? Do you think next year's draft will be strong on offensive linemen?
John: Hold on. I have to find a large board to beat myself in the face with.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, in my quiet moments when I start to fret about offensive line, wobbly passes, lack of depth, lack of finishing, I just sit down and chant: TC... TC... TC... TC... Then all seems better and I smile.
John: I'd say you need to get out more, but my quiet moments – while decidedly different – aren't necessarily superior to yours.
KD from McAlister, OK:
No matter how outrageous you may think it is, the Jags will win 10 games this year. Bortles will protect the ball better while still being a gunslinger, Fournette and the offensive line will wear down defenses. Our secondary will shut down offensive passing games and the Jaguars WILL pressure the opposing quarterback consistently. New attitude, everything is in black and white, no gray areas. Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone are here and they will have a much more disciplined, mentally- and physically-tough team. Our young players we have been waiting to develop will take a leap this year and the team will believe in both themselves and the culture for which they work. So there it is, take with a grain of salt, just my OPINION. Not that it matters much.
John: OK.
Sam from Florida:
Dante Fowler Jr. was never a big sack guy at Florida. Why does everyone think that will all of a sudden change?
John: Because he has the skill set to be a sack guy and because he was the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. I'm the first one to say it's understandable he had just four sacks in his first season because of many, many factors. Still, that doesn't mean more shouldn't be expected moving forward.
Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
There is a very simple reason Colin Kaepernick isn't an upgrade, or on an NFL roster: he can't play in the pocket. No team is going to tailor an entire offense around a backup. Same reason RG3 doesn't currently have a job, either.
John: Hmmmm …
Jason from Tampa, FL:
When mentioning offensive-line rotations, I haven't really heard you mention Earl Watford. Is it possible the Jaguars gave him $1.25 million guaranteed just to cut him before the season? I guess the best comparison would be Mackenzy Bernadeau from last year, but that was only a $750,000 guarantee. Looking at past free-agent signings in the Dave Caldwell era, I don't see any who were given that size guarantee who failed to make opening day roster. Doesn't Watford's contract all but guarantee that he will be on the roster and in the offensive-line backup rotation come opening day?
John: I actually haven't discussed the details of offensive line depth all that much, but I did leave Watford out when discussing that this week. That's on me, and you're right: I think Watford probably is on the roster. Good catch.
Cornel from Santa Maria, CA:
It appears that all of the talent acquired through the draft and free agency and the new coaching staff has made the Jags a possible playoff team. With all of this new talent on both sides of the ball and the new coaching staff – along with the money spent – it seems like a shame to go into another season with the most important position – quarterback – a question mark. I understand he has worked hard on his footwork and throwing, but his decision-making and pocket presence are unknown for the upcoming season. There must be a Plan B to ensure all of this effort and money is not wasted on yet another mediocre season. Your thoughts.
John: My thoughts are many fans have talked a lot this season about a Plan B. My thoughts are also that any Plan B that would have been put in place wouldn't have made me feel more about the Jaguars making the postseason than Plan A.

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