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O-Zone: Mr. Right

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jake from Illinois:
Zone, was Leonard Fournette a pretty highly-touted baseball prospect coming out of high school? Shortstop and centerfield? I thought I saw something about that during draft season. Maybe it doesn't necessarily translate to catching a football out of the backfield, but if he was a shortstop (and a good one) I dunno if we need to worry about his hands.
John: Fournette to my knowledge ran track and played football in high school, and I've seen nothing in his background about baseball. Whatever his athletic background, I don't sweat the concern over Fournette's hands as much as many. From what I saw Friday during the third organized team activities, Fournette's hands are at least adequate – and Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone talked positively about Fournette's receiving ability after Friday's practice. Here's the main thing on this issue: while it would be great if Fournette can catch, block and do all of the periphery things backs are asked to do, he's here to run – and as Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin put it during the draft – to put the ball in the end zone. If he can do the last two things, the Jaguars won't spend much time worrying about his hands out of the backfield. And anything he gives them as a receiver will be a bonus.
Aretha from Jacksonville:
We know that Poz has had a big impact on Myles Jack, and the way he has handled that deserves great respect. But, it also sounds like a one-fer is due to Chris Ivory after Fournette's statement on Friday.
John: Ivory indeed apparently is working closely and professionally with Fournette – that despite Fournette clearly being in Jacksonville to be the No. 1 running back. Fournette made mention of this Friday, saying that Ivory had taken him under his wing. It's relatively common for NFL veterans to be helpful with young players, and many veterans feel an obligation to do so. Still, that doesn't mean they have to do it, and it doesn't make it less notable. So, yeah … one fer Ivory!
Ricky from Fairport, NY:
A wise man is one who understands who is boss in the family ...the wife. She obviously he hasn't told you, however, that preseason games need to be reduced or totally eliminated. Making rules changes that benefit their importance is absurd. When she tells you at 4 a.m. that she has to pay full boat for these unimportant games that don't even showcase her favorite players while you sit in your comfy press box I bet the neighbors will hear it!
John: I dislike preseason as much as the next person. It turns training camp into perhaps the longest month of the season from a coverage standpoint, and there's no question that in the ideal world for fans teams would go straight to the regular season. But there is a preparation/evaluation element to preseason games that teams value – that despite the games not being aesthetically pleasing. Now, as for fans having to pay full price for tickets … though the issue is well above my pay grade, I'm not a fan of that. Either way, this latest rule change won't change the preseason conversation one way or the other. I suspect sometime in the next decade or so the league will reduce the preseason schedule to two or three games per team. I suspect that will happen when it becomes financially feasible to do so, and I expect the football people who miss preseason for evaluation purposes will just have to live with that inconvenience. Until that happens, this new rule eliminating the Preseason Week 3 cut to 75 will help all involved.
Chris from Mandarin:
Is it possible that strong-side linebacker ends up being an even more natural fit for Poz's skill set? I don't see anything from that role that he couldn't do better than Dan Skuta did, and that includes blitzing. He has been effective in that in the past.
John: I agree that Posluszny seems to possess the skill set to play the strong side, but it's hard for me to say he's a better fit for strong than middle. You're talking about a player who has played middle linebacker in the NFL at a high level for a decade. As far as rushing the passer, I don't doubt Posluszny will figure out a way to be effective at times. But he's not likely to rush off the edge as regularly as Skuta, who was more accustomed to doing so from the strong side. The trick will be getting Posluszny in blitz situations, where he indeed has been effective quite a bit from the middle.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
I know it's not that big of a deal for a rookie to miss OTAs because of the PAC-12 rules, but why does the NFL honor that rule? The NFL has no obligation to the NCAA or the PAC-12 so I've just never understood why the NFL abides by the rule if they don't have to?
John: The rule that rookies can't participate in OTAs until their school is finished with the spring semester is a mutual rule between the NCAA and the NFL. The NFL basically abides by it because it's a good look for the league to "encourage" players to stay and finish the spring semester rather than withdraw from classes to join practice. It's a silly rule at this point because most players in NFL camps opted to not attend the spring semester anyway. That means the end result of the rule is it hurts marginal players' chances of making the team – and it also sets drafted rookies back, at least to some extent. The NFL sticks with it because it would be a bad look to get rid of a rule that appears to promote academics, but I agree – it's time for it to go.
Notatroll from Jacksonville:
If I be your best friend, will you get me season tickets?
John: No.
Bradley from South Lake Tahoe, UT:
Do you think the Jags will be better than, worse than, or about the same as the league average in the following categories: One, turnover differential; two, rushing yards; three, sacks; four, red-zone touchdowns; and five, penalties?
John: I think a huge focus for the Jaguars will be on all five areas. I would be surprised if the Jaguars don't get significantly better in the first two areas (turnover differential and rushing yards) and the fifth (penalties), and if they get better in those areas the record should get better, too. Where will the Jaguars rank in turnover differential, rushing and penalties? Let's say close to the Top 10 – somewhere in the Top 10-to-15. The most intriguing area to me next season will be sacks. Can the Jaguars get pressure when it matters? That will go a long way toward deciding their season.
Will from Jacksonville:
What players on offense and defense would you take in a hypothetical game if that player had to play all 11 positions? For example, 11 Leonard Fournettes vs. 11 Jalen Ramseys. Or maybe 11 A-Robs vs. 11 Telvin Smiths.
John: Eleven Carson Tinkers … on both sides of the ball.
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hi, John. I believe that Blake Bortles' down-the-field accuracy will improve if he can throw a decent spiral. I'm hoping his ability to lead his receivers on crossing routes will improve. I think he had at least three interceptions last year by throwing behind his receiver and the ball being tipped.
John: There are obviously situations in which Bortles would be helped by throwing a tighter, more-accurate spiral. I don't think that issue is as big as his decision-making, but it's still clearly an issue to some extent.
John from Imperial:
We need to convince the owner and general manager to go all out and draft a couple of quarterbacks and a couple of running backs and re-sign Eben Britton for right tackle do you agree? We need to go back to smash mouth football from '07.
John: #DTWD
Dave from Orlando, FL:
Your opinions are clearly biased when you can't even bring yourself to admit Gus Bradley did a very poor job coaching and preparing this team last year. It's dishonest. It's why most of us don't value your opinions at all. It makes you seem very petty, too, when you try so hard to argue with fans and want to be right all the time. So just delete this one, too, because you'll never post this.
John: Hmm … Maybe you're right, Dave. Maybe I am petty. Maybe I do owe it to fans to tell them what they want to hear rather than answer honestly based on thought, analysis and experience. Maybe I should take the easy way out. Or maybe I should just keep being right all the time. I'll probably do the latter, and here's the weird thing: being right all the time doesn't take me nearly as much effort as you seem to think.

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