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O-Zone: Never forget

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
Can you help put the strides Blake Bortles has made in context by perhaps comparing his improvement to other players on the team who have made similar strides?
John: I guess I'm not good enough or smart enough to know exactly what your question means, but that's OK. I'm used to falling short. It's difficult to compare Bortles' progression to other players because of the uniqueness of the quarterback position. His passes don't seem to be wobbling as much as they did during the offseason and overall, he seems a whole lot more confident. In practice Tuesday, he had a stretch of a few minutes where he threw four or five really good balls down field beyond the linebackers and in front of the secondary. They were good, NFL-type throws and he looked very comfortable. If you're looking for another rookie who has taken a jump … Marqise Lee has gotten a lot better in camp, too, but he only practiced four or five times during the offseason, so it's difficult to tell how much he has improved. Suffice it to say each player looks better and looks like they have a chance to be good. I don't know how to measure it, but it's a good thing for the Jaguars. I am smart enough to know that.
Adam from Jagsonville:
At the scrimmage Saturday, I kept watching Bortles. His release seemed to be really high, which I was happy to see. I know he is tall, but combined with the release point is this something the coaches like about him? It seems like batted passes won't be an issue with this kid. Or maybe I'm blind.
John: I haven't heard batted balls discussed as a huge issue with Bortles. On that front, a higher release point sure can't hurt. I'm smart enough to know that, too.
William from Savannah, GA:
O-Man: Jags of the Round Table? What's next, the three of you using fake French accents and catapulting cows and poultry over the walls of the stadium at opposing teams?
John: Probably, yes.
Josh from Kokomo, IN:
I haven't heard much about Craig Loston and haven't seen anyone pick him to make the final roster. Could you see him as maybe a practice-squad player or has he just not played well?
John: Loston was projected by some as a fourth-to-seventh-round selection in the draft last May and instead went undrafted. Though he had an interception Tuesday, I wouldn't say he has stood out during training camp, and I also wouldn't say he hasn't played well. I'd say he needs to play well in the preseason, and those games will determine his future here.
Ryan from Mississauga, Ontario:
We officially have the best mascot in the NFL. One fer Jaxson de Ville!
John: #DTWD
Peter from Maribor:
With Andy Dalton getting a nice raise I can't help but remember what you once answered in the O-Zone: 'You give me a quarterback who takes me to playoffs every year and I'll be happy with it.' Two of the best to ever play this game have only won Super Bowl once each (Peyton, Brett) but the ability to put your team in the place to be able to compete for it every year will both make them first-ballot Hall of Famers, right?
John: That's correct. Now, doing it for 15 years (Favre, Manning) is different than doing it for three years (Dalton), but yes, the ability to get your team to the postseason every season gives you the opportunity to take your chances and go try to win it every year. It's rare, and it will get Favre and Manning in the Hall of Fame.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
If a player is not able to get his job done, Coach Bradley will make a change. I think that includes the quarterback position. There is no controversy because David Caldwell and Gus Bradley said so. Honesty and direction are two traits those guys are not lacking in. The fun is just watching it all play out. Energy is power and the tank is not full but it's getting there. Go Jags!
John: Within your email is perhaps the biggest thing to remember about this Bortles/Henne issue. There's no controversy because Caldwell and Bradley say there is no controversy. Henne will start as long as those two – Bradley particularly – believe he gives the team the best chance to win. When that changes, I'm pretty sure everyone will know.
Kait from Jacksonville:
I've heard some of the receivers are having a lot of dropped balls at practice...I understand that our better wide receivers are out with injuries, but what can the coaches do to help them actually catch these balls? I feel like I've spent a lot of time during regular-season games grimacing about catches that were "right in their hands."
John: One thing the coaches can do is play the best receivers. That won't solve everything, but it sure won't hurt. Cecil Shorts III, Allen Robinson, even Allen Hurns and Tandon Doss … those guys are front-line receivers for a reason.
Martin from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I fully support the Jaguars' approach of keeping Bortles on the bench for 2014, but the questions will come. Such as this: Given that Henne will get all the first-team snaps in regular-season practices, if Blake has not won the starting job by the end of the preseason, is it reasonable to expect him to win it at any point during the season?
John: He likely wouldn't win it in the regular season by taking away Henne's first-team reps. But if he continues to grow and continues to show better grasp of the offense and continues to show better command of the huddle and better accuracy – all that Quarterbacking Stuff – can he improve? Can that improvement come during the regular season? Sure – on both counts. Will that be enough to make him the starter? There are a lot of moving parts to this, and one factor isn't going to provide the answer.
Luke from USS George Washington:
Been on deployment for a few months now and due to lack of time, I just finally caught up on reading the O-Zone. Thanks for helping keep me sane!
John: I think you have the wrong O-Zone.
Scuba Steve from El Paso, TX:
Do you think the inside three offensive linemen will be a major difference in the run attack or the difference is in the future via drafts of 2014, 2015?
John: Well, I think 2014 draft pick Brandon Linder and 2014 free-agent signing Zane Beadles need to be good players – and that will mean making a difference in the run offense. They were drafted and signed to play guard here for a long time. What the Jaguars need to do in the future on the interior could well depend on how Mike Brewster plays this season.
Jim from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
There should be no quarterback controversy if people would think. I don't want Bortles in a game until at least half the season is over. We have an offensive line that has never played together. Let them gel, then bring in Bortles. Do you agree?
John: This is a theory that's floated a lot – that the Jaguars don't want to play Bortles until the offensive line gels, and that they're playing Henne to let him take the heat and pounding generated by opposing pass rushes. That may be part of the thinking, but it's a small part … a tangent. The Jaguars will play Bortles when he gives them the best chance to win. So far, the Jaguars have played a mock game, which is a controlled scrimmage. Things aren't controlled in the preseason and they're really not controlled in the regular season. There are no signs yet that the Jaguars are re-thinking this, and until there are, it's perhaps best to remember what General Manager David Caldwell said before training camp. When the team's maturity and Bortles' maturity dictate that Bortles starts, then he will start. Caldwell will know that time. So will Bradley. So will the coaches. When they know, guess what? So will we.
Kevin from Richland, WA:
Dear O-Zone, Ever since Mr. Caldwell and Coach Bradley took over the Jaguars, the message has been incredibly consistent. They have had a plan and have never wavered from that plan. Are the people in the media that cynical that they cannot fathom someone actually following through? That, my friend, is why the O-Zone is the only place for me.
John: #OZTWD
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Okay, I've had enough. Oehs, you are allowed to point out to people that basing the entire season on what would amount to one quarter of a pre-preseason game is epically stupid, right? I'm sorry for sounding this hateful, but, I bet last year even Seattle wasn't stellar in their scrimmage. (If they had one.)
John: I don't know about "epically" … well, OK.
Joe from Jacksonville:
Bottles starting over Henne game one? People just take a breath...that is all!!
John: Heh, heh … Bottles. #soggyhood #neverforget

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