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O-Zone: Name game

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mike from Des Moines, IA:
I think the last three weeks of the season will be very important. I have January 1 against the Colts circled on my calendar. If the Jaguars get any consistent pressure on the quarterback – with all of the additions and a big-play offense – this will be a competitive team. I'm ready to watch this team play some entertaining football.
John: You're far from alone, and you're right that the last three weeks of the season have a chance to be important. But while I agree that consistent pressure on the quarterback is a priority, I continue to be more intrigued by the Jaguars' offense than the defense. That's because I'm assuming the additions on defense will make the group at least marginally better. I see no way the pass rush won't be improved, and the speed added in the secondary and at linebacker has to make that group better. I believe the unit has a chance to be really, really good in 2017 and I believe it certainly will be passable this season. Why is the offense so intriguing? Because it has a real chance to move to an elite level, and I believe that's what it must do for the Jaguars to have a winning season. That will mean more efficiency and consistency – and it means the running game, quarterback Blake Bortles and the offensive line all must improve. The improvements that must be made offensively this season are more difficult than the ones made last season. The positive for the Jaguars is there are many reasons to believe they will make that improvement. Still, they must make it.
Matt from Easton, PA:
My Day One story, as told by my parents since I was too young to remember: I was three years old in Pennsylvania when Jacksonville was awarded the franchise. At the time I was fascinated with "big cats" such as lions, tigers, and jaguars. My dad, a Rams fan, watched the NFL religiously and always sat me in the living room while he watched. I wasn't much interested and would instead play with my jungle toys, reenacting lions chasing and taking down their prey. On Week 3 my dad was watching the Jets play the newly formed Jaguars. During the opening of the telecast, I glanced at the screen and saw the Jaguars logo, stood up and roared the best that I could. My parents say that I stood in front of the TV and watched the entire game, making growling noises and jumping around whenever I saw the logo on the helmets. There was no other team for me after that.
John: Your 1995 Week 3 story sounds a lot like a typical Shadrick Saturday night.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire:
Mighty 'O' … it is Training Camp time! Whoo-hoooo! How long before you break out "THE HAT?" Do you think J.P. will jump on The Hat bandwagon? We need to be told!
John: The Hat makes its 2016 Jaguars Training Camp debut Thursday morning. As for Shadrick … I don't even know who he is anymore.
Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Why does everybody keep referring to the Jaguars as a "young team?" The Panthers started the same year and they seem to be more advanced than the Jaguars. Maybe the Jaguars had to reconstruct, etc., but 20-plus years in the league is not young.
John: I've been answering questions here in the O-Zone for more than five years, so I like to think I have a decent ear for a sarcastic question. I searched this one pretty deeply for some sign of that, but just to be safe I'll answer this one straight: the references to the Jaguars being young – at least when I make them – refer to the overall age of the key players on the roster and not to the overall age of the franchise. The Jaguars are considered young because core players such as Bortles, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are in their third seasons and because some high-profile players such as Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Dante Fowler Jr. have yet to play an NFL snap. As far as overall age, you're right that 20 years in the league isn't young. For that matter, neither am I.
Cameron formerly from JAX:
My dad worked at the TU/JJ (Jacksonville Journal) and was the managing editor at the JJ. He retired and lived a quiet life. He joined "Touchdown Jacksonville" and supported every effort to get an NFL team in Jacksonville. When the NFL selected J-Ville my dad said this was a huge moment for Jacksonville. This was going to be a very, very big step for the city to grow economically and socially. NFL in Jacksonville! Anyway, and unfortunately, my dad passed away in 1995 before seeing a game. I took my mom to the very first game in 1995. Thank you, Dad. Day One Fan. Yes?
John: Yes. Without a doubt.
Brandon from Duval:
John, with reports of the NCAA thinking about eliminating the kickoff, do you see this potentially happening in the NFL? It would reduce the risk of injury, nothing hardly ever happens during them, less commercial breaks, speed up the game, and give roster spots to players with more potential and provide additional depth. Seems like a no-brainer to me but I'd appreciate your thoughts on the matter.
John: I do see this potentially happening in the NFL – and such a move indeed seems more and more likely as the NFL continues to implement rules trying to make the kickoff safer. When it first became apparent that this was the direction, I didn't much like the idea. I thought the kickoff was one of the NFL's more exciting plays, and I didn't want the league to alter the game in that way. But some of the most brutal injuries I've seen in 21 years covering the league have occurred on kickoffs, so now I am sort of resigned to the inevitable – and it would make the game safer. One concern would be the loss of onside kicks. The league would need to come up with some way to ensure a team scoring would have some chance of regaining possession. Losing that element would eliminate a lot of potential comebacks – and the league certainly doesn't want that.
Chris from Rochester, NY:
John, so with the recent lift of Josh Gordon's suspension is there a chance we will see Justin Blackmon appeal to be reinstated?
John: The news regarding Josh Gordon indeed sparked a slew of Justin Blackmon e-mails Monday. One case has nothing to do with the other – and until something happens specific to Blackmon to indicate otherwise, I wouldn't worry about him playing for the Jaguars. I don't anticipate it happening.
Neal from New Jersey:
Hey John, I know Dwight Freeney probably wants to play with a Super Bowl contender, but is there any chance we get him? I know the scheme is different than the one he has always played in, but he brings a veteran and leader to our Leo group and was effective when played last year. Whatya say John?
John: I don't know that the Jaguars are going to sign any veteran pass rusher, and if they do, I seriously doubt it will happen until after the regular season begins. They like the potential of Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue, and right now there's no reason to think the Jaguars need additional help. They worked out Greg Hardy to gather information in the event they need a pass rusher. As for Freeney, I do get the idea he wants to play for a Super Bowl contender. If the Jaguars are in playoff contention and needing a pass rusher, could Freeney be an option? Sure, but it's not likely to happen immediately.
Joe from Jacksonville:
I just read we signed a third kicker to our preseason roster. Talk me off the ledge, what is going on down there? A third kicker? Am I going to be checking my heart rate during every PAT attempt this season? We should just go for two every time.
John: The Jaguars signed Sam Ficken, a second-year kicker from Penn State, on Monday. Yes, it means a second kicker in camp that could represent competition for Jason Myers, but I don't see Ficker winning the job. The Jaguars like Myers' leg strength and he was very good kicking field goals last season. He struggled on extra points last season and he can't do that again this season. But here's guessing he gets the chance.
Jim from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Johnny O, I think it's time to contact Barks and sue First Coast News for their new Olympics 2016 show called the "O-Zone." There is only one "O-Zone" and it has nothing to do with the Olympics, except maybe when you perform mental gymnastics when trying to answer a question by not answering a question.
John: I've got some calls in.

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