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O-Zone: Non-issue

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Marc from Oceanway:
I'd like to give a BIG shout out to Branden Albert. I was very impressed with his willingness to speak to the media, with his honesty and with his maturity and willingness to show up and move on. Things may not have worked out how he wanted, but he is not holding a grudge and he is here to work. Here's to Branden Albert.
John: Albert reported to the Jaguars Monday – as expected. He practiced Tuesday – as expected. These things were expected because while Albert opted not to attend voluntary organized team activities in May and early June, there is a mammoth difference in the NFL between missing voluntary work and mandatory work. Albert as you mentioned was professional and candid Tuesday when discussing the issue. He correctly said his absence the past few weeks was business, and that moving forward was football. He said he knew he needed to get in better shape, and he also said he knew that what he did on the field moving forward is how he will and should be judged. He also said the Jaguars had given no indication there would be a new deal when the team acquired him in a trade with Miami in March. Albert in short spoke on Tuesday like what he is: a veteran, professional football player who knows what's important, and who knows what is and isn't a crisis. His absence the past few weeks wasn't a crisis, and it didn't sound listening to Albert or Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone Tuesday as if there were hard feelings. This surprised many observers, but it was no surprise. This is the NFL, and everyone acted as such during this mini-drama. Still, one fer Albert? Sure, why not? One fer Albert.
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
I can see why Albert is unhappy with his contract: $9 million per year is pretty low for an aging mediocre left tackle. His salary might not be guaranteed, but him being our worst offseason addition is.
John: Ha. OK.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
Albert reported. All is forgiven and forgotten. Time to move on and get to work. I like what he says about helping Cam as well. Do you concur?
John: All will be forgiven if Albert plays left tackle at a high level. If not, all won't be forgiven. As for helping Robinson, the word from Miami is that Albert was professional and did what he could to help first-round selection Laremy Tunsil last season. That was significant because Tunsil was selected to eventually take Albert's job, which he did. I imagine Albert will do the same with Robinson. Still, his main job for the Jaguars is to play left tackle. Any nurturing or tutoring that takes place is a bonus.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
The last few years I have made a bet involving a steak dinner based on predicting the number of games the Jaguars were going to win. Needless to say I am a few steaks short. This season the bet is that the Jaguars will pick (no trades) 11 or above. I know you do not promote gambling but what do you think of my new approach?
John: I don't think you'll be buying this time.
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
Hey, O! ... I, for one, did not see Albert's absence from OTAs as an issue. That being said, I thought he handled the onslaught of questions about it during the press conference very well. Handled it like a pro. I think he will be solid at left tackle for at least a couple of years.
John: I thought the most interesting part of Albert's media availability Tuesday was how the last six months helped him mentally, physically and spiritually. He talked of the last three years being hard on him, sounding like a man who had reflected and who had come to the conclusion he was pretty drained early this offseason. He also sounded like a man who was content with his actions the last six months, and comfortable with the idea that he will now play for the Jaguars at his existing contract. He certainly sounded optimistic the last few months had done him some good on many fronts. Perhaps that is the case, and perhaps he has a couple of more good years. If so, good for the Jaguars.
Chris from London, UK:
Big O, not going to lie: I'm quietly confident for this season. The schedule on paper doesn't look bad. The secondary looks slightly improved. The pass rush should be better as Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue were in their rookie seasons. The wide receivers are still very strong. The offensive line is no worse maybe slightly better. If Leonard Fournette hits, we have a running game which should help out Bortles!!!
John: OK!!
Jim from St. Augustine, FL:
Zone, if GM Johnny-O was making the pick and needed a pass rusher, would you draft the player with the potential to become a threat rushing the passer because he first and foremost possessed the athleticism to possibly move around the defense, or opt for the guy that already had sound pass-rush moves, bend and technique off the edge but maybe wouldn't offer as much versatility lining up elsewhere?
John: When drafting a pass rusher, I don't care about moving around. I want a guy who scares quarterbacks and tackles with his ability to get around the edge and disrupt. Those guys are gold.
Jag Fan 818 from Jacksonville:
Hi, Zone. I've been reading where some fans are concerned because J.J. Watt will be in the Texans' line in the regular-season opener. OK, we've played them twice a year and most of that was with J.J. playing. I believe the coaching staff will have something up their sleeve to cover him, just as they do with elite players on other teams. Our offensive line has a few different players then last year and so do all the other 31 teams. The importance of this game is that they are division rivals. I believe the Jags will be sharper and more focused with a hunger that says "Give us your best shot … you're gonna need it. We're here to WIN!" I for one can't wait to see our defense stop the other teams. It will be fun to watch A.J. play against his old team. He has something to say to them for letting him go. It will be an interesting game for sure! Go Jaguars!!!
John: #DTWD
Dan from St. Johns, FL:
Fans are such an untrusting bunch, especially after losing so much. The questions about depth are particularly interesting to me. What is quality depth? A veteran that with name familiarity, but the inability to earn a starting spot? Hmmmm. I remember Drew Bledsoe used to quarterback the Patriots, then he got hurt and some unproven rookie late-round guy had to step in. The truth about depth is you don't know until they play. Then, if they are good, they start or they go sign somewhere else. Is there anyone other than quarterback or offensive line you feel is on the verge of earning a bigger role?
John: Keep an eye on linebacker Blair Brown, safety Jarrod Wilson and cornerback Doran Grant. They have potential.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
With Albert reporting and assuring he will be in camp, I see a LOT of competition on the offensive line and all spots on said line are open. And that is a good thing. What say you?
John: I say there will be a lot of competition. I also say I'll be surprised if Albert, Cam Robinson, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann and Jermey Parnell aren't starting at tackle, guard, center, guard and tackle, respectively, for the Jaguars next season. Of that group I suppose Cann not starting would be the smallest surprise, but that would still be a surprise.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
Albert reported. Now what? Is there a straight-up competition for left tackle? Or is it his to lose? I don't think he (or anyone else on our roster) is truly good enough to have a starting job handed to them. Robinson especially, because he's only a rookie. But that's just my opinion. What's yours?
John: My opinion is there will be straight-up competition for left tackle and that Albert will win that straight-up competition. I don't think Robinson or many other players on the roster will have anything handed to them, but I think he will be one of the best five offensive linemen and I think that will mean him starting at guard.
Josh from Green Bay, WI:
What do you think the chances are that we as fans let the Branden Albert "issue" be what it has always been, a non-issue?
John: I think if Albert is good the Branden Albert Issue will be a non-issue as soon as the season begins. I think if he is bad it will be a huge issue until he's good.

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