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O-Zone: Mind your business

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Kyan from LeMars, IA:
I've watched Allen Lazard play a lot of football at Iowa State; honestly, I was surprised he wasn't drafted. He is a huge target who is very athletic and catches everything. He was their go-to guy. He could be a huge asset to Blake Bortles in the red zone. What do you think he has to do to make the team?
John: He first must be much better than anyone in the NFL anticipates, including the Jaguars. This is no knock on Allen Lazard, who indeed was strikingly productive as a wide receiver at Iowa State. Rather, it's a commentary on how difficult it is to make an NFL roster and to have an impact as an undrafted free agent. Yes, players do it. Yes, the Jaguars have had success with wide receivers doing it lately; Allen Hurns and Keelan Cole both took that route in recent seasons to not only make the roster but earn major roles with the team. But is it expected? It is normal? Are the odds remotely in favor of it happening? No. No. No.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
Myles Jack wasn't down.
John: True.
Tommy from Fernandina Beach, FL:
When you keep getting questions and suggestions that Bortles needs competition or that he's a hack … do you feel you're overpowered by funk?
John: I'm never particularly surprised when I get questions about Blake Bortles or comments questioning him. The nature of the quarterback position is that players who play it will be questioned, and Bortles has struggled enough at times that questions are natural. As for being overpowered by funk … no. Absolutely not. Not even close, in fact. With apologies to George Clinton, I am the overlord of funk.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars reportedly admitted that they wanted to address tight end in the 2018 NFL Draft but could not because there was no opportunity to match the available talent to their draft pick, which is a completely understandable explanation. Do you think they are concerned about their current group of tight ends heading into the 2018 season? With Marcedes Lewis' departure, the current group in my opinion seems made up more of the spread-out, receiver-types than the hand-in-the-dirt, block-first variety. Do you concur? As a run-first team, how might the lack of a good blocking tight end impact the offense? Might this mean that the team will make greater use of the fullback in 2018?
John: If the Jaguars had been overly concerned about their current tight ends' ability to block, they would have retained Lewis or added another tight end in free agency. Not addressing the position in the draft was something they knew was a possibility – and had they felt the need to reach for the position, there were opportunities to do so. The Jaguars signed Austin Seferian-Jenkins as an unrestricted free agent shortly before releasing Lewis. They believe he not only will be a factor in the passing game but as a blocking tight end as well. I don't think the tight end situation will cause the Jaguars to use a fullback more this season.
Phinneus from Daytona Beach, FL:
Johnny Z. I have this vision that at least once a week you walk into Tom and Doug's offices with a stack of printed O-Zone letters – kind of unsorted and facing in different directions, so that you have to carry them with two hands, one on top and one on bottom – and slam them on the desk and yell ... "$#@& guys these are the people and they have the answers" then you shake your fist (simply because you banged your finger when you slammed them down) turn around and storm out! Is that correct?
John: Yes.
Matt from Austin, TX:
Why is the game at Miami TBD?
John: The NFL when releasing the 2018 schedule left the option for several games on the Week 16 schedule to be played Saturday or Sunday. The thought was that with college football having ended, it would be an opportunity to have potential big, high-interest NFL games aired to a national audience on Saturday. The Dolphins-Jaguars game is one of the games. The league expects to finalize the schedule no later than Week 8.
Herbert from MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevablez:
Can you confirm or deny the Jaguars are currently trying to sign Kurt Warner?
John: (Googling…)
Fred from Jacksonville:
One fer the regular readers, who insist on FULL CONSISTENCY, and don't ask the same question that just asked two days earlier, whether about changing a player's position, or about Wembley. One fer the O-Man, who patiently answers the same repetitive questions, without complaining. And one more fer the fans who keep up with the news and take the time to really know the rooster.
John: I never complain about answering questions that already have been asked. Though it seems silly to me on some level that the entire population of our country doesn't take time to devour my knowledge, quick wit and charm every day I have become puzzlingly aware that there are those who sometimes miss an O-Zone. Or two. If a reader asks a question I assume they would like an answer and I try best as possible to give one. And sure … one fer rooster. He deserves a little love after what he has had to endure.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
If Shadrick bulked up a little, would he be an option at tight end?
John: Perhaps. As evidenced in his much-talked about, often-referenced touchdown reception in the Jacksonville-New England media football game last August, he's strikingly nimble afoot.
Josh from Jacksonville:
I wouldn't worry too much about Supernatural. It's basically the X-Files, except that it's garbage. You're not missing anything.
John: I wasn't worried.
Ryan from Apopka, FL:
Why is everyone in love with Dez? His team who got to see him every day decided to release him. After about a month as a free agent only one team offered him a deal, which he for some reason declined. Maybe the Jags and the other 31 teams don't see him as an upgrade to their wide receiver corps. Veteran free agent every year get cut; it doesn't make sense for the Jags to sign them because they have a big name and were productive a few years ago. Dez will be 30 years old this year, and put up 69 receptions for 838 yards and six touchdowns. Our entire wide receiver group is younger than that and can all put up similar stats and we have at a smaller contract than what Dez will want. Can we please move on from this subject now?
John: I doubt we'll fully move forward from the subject of Dez Bryant until the former Cowboys wide receiver signs with another team. The points you make are good ones. I imagine Bryant will sign elsewhere, probably sometime during organized team activities. My guess is it will be with a team perceived to be a passing team with a big-name quarterback. The biggest worry about Bryant is the first one you cite: the Cowboys decided to part ways with a popular, well-known player who had been very productive throughout much of his career. He also plays a position that the Jaguars clearly don't believe an absolute elite player is necessary to be productive. Given those circumstances it's hard to see this being where Bryant signs.
Sam from Australia:
Hi O. No questions just letting u know that the video on the new uniform was amazing. Goosebumps. Can't wait for the season to begin. Duval!!!!
John: #Duval
Ambuj from Minneapolis, MN:
Is there anything like the Oklahoma Drill for the wide receiver versus defensive backs? I would love to see a rugged one-on-competition in that phase of our team.
John: I wouldn't. Wide receivers and cornerbacks work together one on one as much or more than any other position group in the NFL. It can be done comparatively safely with a high level of efficient work. Adding a full-contact element would add an injury risk that wouldn't bring remotely enough benefit to make such a step worthwhile.
James from Oxford, UK:
Hey Big-O, In response to Nathan's question about tackling: watch rugby. The tackling there is with shoulders, any tackles above the neck are immediately penalized and often players are carded for doing so. I know equipment-wise its more difficult for American football players to copy this method, but it could help limit serious head injuries. Love your work, btw.
John: Rugby often has been cited as a contact sport from which safer techniques could be gleaned. My sense is that the NFL will continue to look for every possible way to make the game safer, and I imagine techniques from rugby eventually will be examined, too. Good taste, btw.
Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:
Is this Editor guy an alter ego? A second personality? Should we be worried about his recent presence in the O-Zone?
John: (Editor's note: Don't worry about it.)

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