JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it…
Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What is wrong with the NFL? Do they really care so little about teams being able to field a football team? There is so little practice time and they "require" some rookies to fly to the West Coast for pictures. Now some of those same Jaguars players are injured. I'm disappointed (no – really mad). I would have thought Shad Khan was one owner that would have told the NFL to pound sand.
John: Goodness, you are indeed worked up. You're talking about Jaguars rookie wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, who haven't worked at organized team activities this week because of injuries. But while your concern and irritation is understandable, there's no indication Lee is out long-term with his ankle injury. Robinson is out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, but I don't know that this is something that's going to hold him back long term. Either way, don't blame the NFL. The Rookie Premiere that Blake Bortles, Lee and Robinson attended last week was actually an NFL Players Association event, and both Lee and Robinson were injured before leaving Jacksonville for California. #Poundsand
Al from Orange Park, FL:
I'm reading a lot about Stanzi lately. Both here and elsewhere. Do you suppose there's a chance that by the end of the offseason he might have some trade value?
John: There's a chance, I suppose, but it's slim because it would probably take more than a few preseason performances to raise Ricky Stanzi's value. Still, if he's going to have any trade value at all it would probably have to come after he performed – and performed well – in the preseason. That's something he has a chance to do, but he hasn't done it yet for the Jaguars.
Matt from America Fork:
Preseason games are right around the corner. With such a short amount of time to prepare how do teams install the playbook so quickly?
John: It's actually a two-part process, with the playbook installed once during OTAs/offseason and again in training camp. It's not an incredible amount of time, and it's why first-year head coaches are given an extra two weeks of offseason program.
Jared from O-Town:
I live and work in the shadow of UCF's Bright House Stadium, and I can say that there is a genuine excitement about the Jaguars growing in these parts due to Bortles and Storm (Johnson) being selected. I've heard rumblings of a huge group of alumni going to the first game to celebrate, knowing full well that Bortles probably won't see the field. But, people need to remember that the Dolphins and Bucs still have a stranglehold on this city. I'm hoping to see some preseason or regular-season games played at the Citrus Bowl once the renovations are completed to help draw more support.
John: The excitement in Orlando regarding Bortles/Johnson seems real. How intensely it takes hold likely will depend on the success of the duo, particularly Bortles. I've said since the draft that while the Jaguars didn't draft Bortles because of the Orlando connection, his presence certainly gives the team an opportunity to grow the fan base in Central Florida significantly. As far as regular-season or preseason games there, that's an issue for the future. I wouldn't rule out it happening eventually, but for now, the focus is to play domestic home games in Jacksonville.
Howey from Ormond Beach, FL:
I know post-draft was a busy time for your O-Zone, but I think failing to address my letter regarding the need to draft Bortles to draw in more Central Florida fans (Daytona, Orlando) who've historically been Miami/Tampa fans could have been paramount in the (right) draft decision. After all, you've posted two letters from Bangaladore, India in the past three weeks and , well...none from down this way.
John: If I am discerning your letter correctly – and some discernin' was indeed necessary – you're upset about something Orlando/Bortles/Daytona/Tampa/Miami-related. Or something to that effect. We covered the whole Bortles/Orlando thing in Jared's email above, but I must address the fledgling Bangaladore/Ormond Beach rivalry. This may be hard to believe, but I simply don't pay attention to the origins of emails to the O-Zone. I care passionately about many things. Countless are the times I have heard, "O-Zone, if – IF – you have a flaw, it's that you just care too much." Alas, this is true. But where you live and from where you write simply isn't on the list.
Nick from Aarhus, Denmark:
For a team to improve significantly, a few players must have taken leaps forward. Who are some players that you look to for breakout seasons?
John: Such leaps usually take place early in careers, often between Years One and Two. The Jaguars' roster is such that there are several players who could easily improve significantly next season. Johnathan Cyprien, Dwayne Gratz, Luke Joeckel. All were early-round selections in 2013 with talent. Add experience to that and you have the potential for significant, difference-making improvement.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
As a former Wisconsin farm boy, I have a question about your use of the phrase, "the hay is out of the barn." I can remember the saying, "the hay is in the barn" (a good thing), and I can remember "the cow is out of the barn" (a bad thing). Do they farm differently here in the South?
John: In my ill-conceived effort to insert more clichés into the O-Zone, it seems I misplaced the hay. My 1970s upbringing in Arlington wasn't you would call "farm-heavy." My biggest concern wasn't nearly as much rustling up cattle as making sure I had fresh batteries for my Mattel Electronic football game.
Dave from Section 235 and Sunny Jacksonville:
O-man, your response to Stephen about the trainers was a little harsh. You spend a lot of time demonstrating that you get how the fans feel - excited, overly worried, irrationally exuberant, etc. – but you pounced on this guy for acting like a fan. You have a perspective from the stadium we fans don't have. I think the guy was just hoping for a little reassurance that somebody is ON this. Here we are, a few days into a practice session that you describe as more about learning that performance, and three of the top four players at receiver are dealing with injuries. The concern that Stephen raised is valid and I don't read it as a question of anyone's dedication or professionalism - just want to know that they're working on it.
John: The question wondered if the Jaguars' training staff was aggressively proactive to help players remain injury-free. I replied essentially that such questions baffle me because the Jaguars have professional trainers whose job is that very thing – to ensure players are in the best shape physically to do their jobs. If I was a little harsh it was merely to point out to readers that the Jaguars' staff is CONSTANTLY thinking about injury prevention. Injuries happen in the NFL. Trainers work diligently to ensure they happen as rarely as possible, but to think or suggest they're not ON it – well, I don't know … that does read a little like professionalism being questioned, doesn't it? Just a little?
Parker from Tallahassee, FL:
"Is the Jags training staff aggressively pro-active to help the players remain injury-free? That's a little like asking if Jedd Fisch thinks at all about drawing up plays." BEST RESPONSE EVER!!!
John: Parker, meet Dave … Dave, Parker.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
Last one on the topic of Clemons. I actually feel with OTAs voluntary should mean voluntary and players shouldn't be looked at poorly for missing any/all of them, especially vets. However, all indications are that Clemons did not let anyone in the Jags' front office know he would not be attending ahead of time. Just about every person I know has to tell their boss when they will be missing time at work ahead of time. That's all I was trying to say about a bad first impression: that Coach Gus and/or Dave didn't know he wouldn't be there ahead of time.
John: I tell my boss when I'm missing work, but I don't tell him when I don't volunteer to come in on off days.
Pat from Point Edward, Ontario:
One thing a lot of fans may not realize about everyone in the league is they are professionals and spend a lot more time doing their jobs than most (if not all) of us are. I'm sure if Jedd Fisch went to some of the O-Zone readers' offices and started telling them how to do their job, they would be offended. I don't know if it is lack of respect for what they do, or if it is just plain ignorance, but people need to wake up.
John: Most people know players are professionals. They just forget that voluntary means voluntary and that a missed week of OTAs doesn't make you inherently evil. On the Fisch Issue, if he keeps this up, let me know. I'll speak to him and see if I can get him to stop.
O-Zone: Office monitor
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it…
Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL: