JACKSONVILLE – Fifty years old today. Better than the alternative. Don't worry about getting me a gift. No one else will.
Let's get to it ...
Steve from Nashville, TN:
In a five-receiver set ... Julius Thomas, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee and Rashad Greene. Those five could conceivably combine for the best in the NFL by the end of the year?
John: The first step here is you must define Thomas as a receiver rather than a tight end. But if you're comparing the Jaguars' top four wide receivers and top receiving tight end to the other 31 such combinations in the NFL ... yes, the Jaguars' five have a chance to compare favorably by season's end. Let's emphasize "by season's end," because the group has a ways to go before reaching that level. Hurns and Robinson already compare favorably to any receiving corps in the NFL as a duo, but Thomas needs to be healthy and build on his 2016 offseason. Lee and Greene also must remain healthy and reach the potential the team has seen at times. But if that group can maximize potential ... look out.
E-Man from Jacksonville:
I have my signed No. 4 QB jersey, what does that make me?
Mike from Section 238:
My first child was born during the first preseason game in Jags history. He turns 21 next week. There was no TV in the waiting room, but there was one in my wife's delivery room. It was my job to run back and forth updating the crowd with highlights of the game - most of whom also sat in our block in the nosebleed section that year. #jagstillwedie
John: When the NFL awarded a franchise to Jacksonville I remember some people wondering why it was a big deal. I remember, too, people questioning if having a team would be worth it. I wrote at the time that a major impact would be the memories it would create – and the way it would tie people and the community together. Some readers have tired of the #dayone-fan oriented emails in the O-Zone in recent weeks, and the time is coming when on-field issues will push almost all else to the sideline. But the emails in recent weeks indeed have shown that this team is woven into the memories and fabric of this community, and that's kind of cool.
Damian from Appleton, W:
What kind of split do you think will happen with T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory? Do you think it will be like Green Bay where they switch running backs per drive or will they swap for packages/plays? Do you see it as a close 50/50 split?
John: It's early to know for sure how this will play out, because the Jaguars need to see which approach allows the backs to be the most productive. You'll almost certainly see Ivory extensively in short-yardage situations and Yeldon in passing situations. Over the course of the season, I think Yeldon/Ivory will be very close to a true two-headed backfield with playing time split very evenly. Beyond that, I expect the playing time to be very based on what packages are working most effectively.
Alex from Wausau, RI:
When the Jags had their training camp in Stevens Point, Wis., in '95 my dad took my brother and I to go watch. I was 7 and decided this was the team I was going to cheer for. Living in Wisconsin my entire life, watching the success of the Packers year in and year out, my excitement for the upcoming season can't be contained. I have been ridiculed by friends and family too many times to count when wearing my various Jags jerseys through the years. Fingers crossed this thing comes together like we all hope!!! Die-hard fan from central Wisconsin! P.S. I really need a win Week 1 for bragging rights up here.
John: I admit I was a little disappointed in 1996 when it was announced the Jaguars wouldn't be returning to Stevens Point for training camp. While I was glad to have training camp in Jacksonville, Stevens Point was a memorable, enjoyable experience and I liked the campus's cozy atmosphere. As far as your need for bragging rights ... well, we'll see. It's a difficult matchup for the Jaguars against Green Bay Week 1 because Aaron Rodgers is a tough matchup for any defense. Still, I don't think it's insurmountably tough. We'll see.
Tym from Southside:
O-Zone, I'm tempering my expectations for the beginning of the season. We are going up against three elite quarterbacks and a pretty good quarterback (Joe Flacco) in our first four games. We have a new pass rush for the most part, which hasn't really had time to gel with one another. What's your over/under on both eight sacks and a 1-3 record for the first four weeks?
John: I think the tally is pretty much four elite quarterbacks – Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Flacco and Andrew Luck – and I do believe the Jaguars will have eight sacks or more after four games. As for the record, the Jaguars really need to be 2-2 coming out of that stretch. I also think they will attain that record, though I'm not sure yet exactly how that will play out.
Ryan from Dearborn, MI:
It's third and eight. Blake Bortles lines up in the shotgun with an empty backfield. Robinson, Hurns, and Greene set up trips right with Lee wide to the left and Thomas at tight end. What defense in the league could possible cover that??? Also - use that formation in the red zone; who get's the ball?
John: My, my … there indeed is some excitement in the air today around the Jaguars' receiving corps – and yes, that formation has potential to be dangerous. The caveat is that two of those players – Lee and Greene – have been more potential than production to this stage of their NFL careers and must prove they are indeed as difficult to cover as many believe will be the case. Jaguars coaches believe that can happen, and there's no reason to think it won't. If it does, a five-receiver combination could be very dangerous in some packages – though not as a full-time approach. It's still the NFL and that means you still have to get people blocked.
Yahooserious from Australia:
R u aware people make fun of you in the comments section? Maybe change your image, personality, etc.?
John: What's a "comments section?"
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
In the long run do you think either Jalen Ramsey or Myles Jack could play a similar role to what Troy Polamalu did for the Steelers? That being granted the freedom to just play and make plays above the X and Os by having limited responsibility beyond just disrupting the offense.
John: It's easier to see Jack in that role than Ramsey. That's not because Jack is more talented or capable than Ramsey; rather, it's the nature of their projected positions. Ramsey appears likely to be a cover cornerback, and it's difficult for that position to freelance because of specific responsibilities. Jack appears likely to be a linebacker for the long term, and it's easier to allow that position to go off on its own at times.
Ole Minimum Wages from Jacksonville Beach:
Hey Johnny - That PorkyMon thing is all you can eat, right? Lookin forward to it. Thanks.
John: It was all you can eat until Shadrick committed. There's some rethinking going on.
Thrill from the 'Ville:
"Saxsonville" is not new. Fans tried to apply that nickname to the defense in 2008, before Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves played a single down. Let's see them do it first, eh?
Chris from Mandarin:
Who has the hat that is taking bets on the number of practices before Marqise Lee pulls a hammy?
John: I understand people's skepticism over Lee, and I also get that it's easy to assume he will get hurt in training camp. At the same time, a huge objective for Lee this year was to remain healthy through the entire offseason for the first time in his three NFL seasons. He did that and participated in all organized team activities and minicamps. If you hadn't been aware of his injury history there would have been nothing to indicate that there was any risk of him not participating – and if you hadn't known any better, you would have included him among the team's best offensive players. So, while the skepticism around Lee's ability to remain healthy is understandable, he has provided a lot of cause for optimism, too.
Ziggy from Jacksonville:
Don't you get tired of answering football questions? How 'bout a day of just goofball comments/questions?
John: I thought that's what July was all about?
Scott from Jacksonville:
"Thanks for being the place I go because I don't want to think or work hard enough to think of someplace better to go ..." Nailed it!
John: You're referring to an O-Zone answer recently in which I offered the above quotation as a motto of sorts for this column ... and yeah, that's sort of it.