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O-Zone: Matter of perspective

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Let's get to it … Marcus from Jacksonville:
I'm a little shocked that most everyone has deemed Blake Bortles to be much better after seeing him for a scrimmage and one preseason game. It makes a little more sense for you and others in the media who have seen him more, but fans have such a small sample size to make such declarations. I agree he looks more comfortable and seems improved, but I also remember some pretty impressive numbers in the preseason last year. I hope all of the hype is true, but I guess I'm gonna need a few regular-season games before I drink the Kool-Aid.
John: Ah, yes … the Bortles issue and a Kool-Aid mention … all rolled neatly and conveniently into one lead-off O-Zone question!! Awesome. If I recall correctly – and that's not always the case – pretty much every time I mention Bortles' improvement I also mention it means very little until the regular season. Defenses are different once game-planning begins. And Bortles did look good enough last preseason that there was a hue and cry to Play the Kid!!! over Chad Henne. At the same time, the excitement around Bortles last preseason was based off a few big plays and memorable throws, and he was the first to tell you at the time he knew he had fundamental/consistency issues on which he needed to focus. Much of the reason for the optimism around Bortles this preseason is he has been progressively more consistent and his offseason work appears to have benefitted him. He'll have hiccups and I don't think he's going to go 11 of 15 with three drops every week. I imagine at the end of this season it will be obvious there are still areas where he needs to progress before he is considered elite. At the same time, it also appears at this stage that he's going to be improved and more consistent, and that's what you wanted to see following the work he did this past offseason.
Robert from Jacksonville:
Does Ziggy play guitar?
John: I'll check.
Tim from St. Petersburg, FL:
John, what do you think of Peyton Manning discussing strategy in the hallways at Foxboro so the Patriots couldn't bug him? Remember, even paranoid people have enemies.
John: I think it wouldn't surprise me, and I think if Tony Dungy said it happened – and Dungy did say it happened – I believe it. I also think this would fit into a pretty long line of such stories throughout NFL history. Players and teams long have worried – sometimes reasonably so – about opponents going to extreme lengths to find out what they're doing, thinking and planning. Manning certainly pays attention to every detail to an extreme, so to think he would take the precaution of not talking strategy in the Gillette Stadium locker room before a game … no, that doesn't sound like a reach at all.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
Two words for Blake Bortles and "the tongue:" Michael Jordan.
John: Good words.
Trae from Jacksonville:
Oh Privileged One I have a question. I'm sitting here watching Bo, Barkley and The Big Hurt and I'm wondering if you can think of a university having that great of individual player at each of the three big sports. Only counting Jackson for football.
John: Georgia had Dominique Wilkins and Herschel Walker at the same time, and Michael Jordan and Lawrence Taylor nearly crossed paths at the University of North Carolina in the early 1980s. I'm sure I'm missing somebody, but that Auburn trio in the early-to-mid 1980s was as impressive a trio as I remember.
Does anyone else think the Johnny O is actually Ralphie from a Christmas Story?
John: Wait! What? #youllputyoureyeout
Redmond from Jacksonville:
So I guess what you and James are trying to say is it's OK if our first-round picks play like third-round picks? I've saw the same argument used for Alualu; maybe we should just trade our first-round picks since we are only expecting third-round production from them.
John: I can't speak for James, but no, that's not what I was trying to say. Thanks for trying to help, though. Appreciated.
Amar from Morenci:
Has Joeckel been consistent in the run game? He seems to start off games slow like the well-publicized sack early in the preseason opener. Not being discussed is the first run play of the game where Joeckel has no defender in his assignment, runs forward a couple yards and then falls down. I noticed a couple of those inconsistencies during running plays early in the game. What can Luke do to start faster?
John: He could play better early, I suppose.
Strnbker from Dothan, AL:
Once again no love for the Jags. Off of Twitter, now Vegas gets a say on our future. "Matt Miller @nfldraftscout 4h4 hours ago … Using Vegas odds, the top 10 picks in the draft as of today would be... 10 STL, 9 OAK, 8 CHI, 7 NYJ, 6 SF, 5 TB, 4 CLV, 3 WSH, 2 TEN, 1 JAX" and the beat goes on. Maybe we need to see what the betting line is for over/under games won?
John: I admit I got confused and lost pretty early in your email. In an effort to answer accurately I'll just say, "Don't worry about it." National perception is sometimes slow to catch up with NFL reality. The national types don't trust that the Jaguars are improved. That's OK; I don't trust all the national types, either.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
Personally, I get slightly annoyed when Joeckel doesn't do well not because he was the No. 2 overall pick, but because it reminds me that Caldwell picked him to replace Eugene Monroe. I mean, Monroe was fine, and maybe Joeckel is fine, but if Joeckel doesn't turn out a lot better than Monroe, then it seems like a wasted pick, a very valuable pick at that. I stopped being upset about the pick a long time ago, but it kind of brings me back to that decision every time I hear about Joeckel being a middle-of-the-pack kind of left tackle. But, I remember that I got over this a couple years ago right after I start getting annoyed, so whatever. I hope he plays well so I can stop hearing about it.
John: Well, the good news is you're over it, I suppose.
Esa from Eugene, OR:
O-man, you and some blindly faithful fans seem to be missing the point about Chris Clemons. Sure, he thinks he knows how to get himself ready, even as his body ages, but building a culture of accountability is tantamount to escaping the top of the Spring Draft. If everyone else has been participating since spring then what does it say that the presumptive starter doesn't have to be there? If other superstars around the league are able to be there helping their team's young players acclimate then what does it say that Jacksonville's starting LEO doesn't want to be there for our youngsters? I love what Gus and Dave and Shad are building, but we aren't so established a culture that dissent and learned laziness can't break our infant foundation.
John: I'm not missing the point. The point I make when I say Clemons missing the offseason isn't a tragedy – and that it doesn't threaten the Jaguars' foundation – is this is professional football. Not everything is going to be ideal. Not every player is going to have a one-for-all, all-for-one, I'll-volunteer-to-be-there-when-it's-not-necessary attitude. It's Gus Bradley's responsibility to ensure an action by a player doesn't ruin the culture, and I think anyone would tell that the culture Bradley is building hasn't been remotely threatened by Clemons. If he produces during the regular season, he'll be here and the offseason won't be a big deal. If he doesn't, I doubt he's here next season. That's pretty much the storyline.
Zeleznoc from Jacksonville:
John, been having discussion with friends over coffee re: terminology. Seems we can't all agree. `Once again, please define/describe words: Otto, Mike, and several other words used to discuss defense. Also what is the "slot" receiver, etc? Thanks.
John: The Otto is essentially a strong-side linebacker who has some pass-rush ability; it's a term relatively exclusive to the Jaguars' defense. The Mike is a universally used football term to describe the middle linebacker. Why players and coaches insist on saying "Mike" rather than "middle" I can't explain; my personal experience is that saying middle isn't all THAT much more taxing physically or emotionally than saying "mike," but football folks seems to disagree and that's OK. As for several other words used to discuss defense, you may have to be a bit more specific, but the slot receiver is usually the third receiver in an offense. He is so named because he works the inside of the field and lines up between the outside receivers and the line of scrimmage – i.e., the slot.
Johnny from Palatka, FL:
"Doughy" was pretty harsh. Yikes. "Joke of a sportswriter" was on point, but "doughy?" ... No way, man.
John: I've been married 23 years. I've been through worse.

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