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O-Zone: Our candidate

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ben from Jacksonville:
Cam Robinson looked good Friday. I saw him stand Yannick Ngaouke up several times and he looks to be a dang good run blocker. Feeling better about the left-tackle position. What say you?
John: I say there's reason to feel good about the Jaguars' left-tackle position. I thought Robinson struggled a bit early Friday on plays on which I watched him, and he got beat by defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. off the edge on one early play. But early struggles are normal for rookies, and he appeared to stabilize after that. Robinson shows all the signs of a good, young left tackle. He has brawn and athleticism, and he absolutely appears to have the right mindset. I thought throughout the offseason the Jaguars' offensive line had a chance to be improved because I thought Branden Albert could be a really good addition at left tackle and that Robinson could upgrade guard until eventually moving to tackle in a season or so. With Albert retiring Monday, the equation changes. But if Robinson can be an effective pass blocker and be as good as he looks early in the run game … yes, in that case there would be plenty of reason to feel not only good about left tackle, but better overall about the offensive line.
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hi, Mr. O: "I said he would be our biggest free-agent bust and it turns out he was what we thought." Ain't hindsight grand?
John: Yes – and so plentiful, too.
Zeleznoc from Jacksonville:
Regarding Blake Bortles' record, I certainly appreciate that he has thrown way too many interceptions – and five during one practice is really awful. However, in 2016 there were also a lot of bobbled catches that ended up being interceptions, especially by A-Rob. I do realize some were bobbled because they were inaccurate throws, but definitely not all. While Bortles definitely has a problem with interceptions, they're not all entirely his fault and receivers let him down frequently as well.
John: There was plenty of blame to be shared in the Jaguars' season last season, and some of Bortles' interceptions were bobbled. It's impossible to put an exact percentage on who should share what part of blame for what, and it's a pointless endeavor anyway. The bottom line is Bortles too often has made things more difficult than necessary for his receivers, leading to either incompletions or interceptions. Part of quarterbacking in this league is not just throwing the ball within range of the receiver, but throwing it where a receiver can catch it without breaking stride or where he can make the catch without putting himself at undue risk. Did the Jaguars' wide receivers drop passes at times last season? Sure. Receivers drop passes. It's NFL reality and even the best do it. I'm not one who believes accuracy is Bortles' major issue. I think for the most part his accuracy is OK, and that his biggest improvement needs to come in the areas of decision-making and pocket awareness. But does Bortles need to get more accurate and make things easier at times for his receivers? I think he would be the first to tell you the answer is yes.
Chris from Palatka, FL:
John, whether we agree with his politics or not, you have to at least give "Kap" a look; that's if you truly want to win, of course. At worst, his presence makes BB better.
John: Your last sentence is impressive in its boldness and confidence. It's not necessarily based in fact. But it is bold and confident.
Bill from Jacksonville:
If outplaying the player in front of you practice, after practice, after practice doesn't result in you surpassing said player on the depth chart ... what exactly are we doing here? What message does Brandon Allen being behind Chad Henne on the depth chart - despite outperforming him - send to other players? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: The words between your dashes are impressive in their boldness and confidence. They're not necessarily based in fact. But they are bold and confident.
Sam from Jacksonville:
Zone, someone is spreading rumors that the Tink is not invincible...?
John: It's no rumor. Carson Tinker indeed sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament this week and is out for the 2017 season. And while I have had fun with the Jaguars' long snapper on occasion in the O-Zone, the reality is Tinker is a darned good guy. Here's hoping for a quick recovery and more successful long snapping for the Tink in 2018.
Sandro from El Paso, TX:
After the first handful of practices, there definitely appears to be a higher demand of work ethic and expectations from every individual player. Of course, the players won't talk ill of their head coach, but do you sense the players prefer this style of coaching rather than the "good-job guys" coaching from recent years?
John: Players are human beings. Some like some things on some days and some complain about things on other days. Some of the players who complain about things on one day like those same things the next day and some who like some things one day complain the same things the next. If the Jaguars win, players will like this disciplined style and buy in. If the Jaguars don't win, players will be less likely to buy in. That's how it usually works.
Tom from Virginia Beach, VA:
Blake Bortles has a tendency to throw interceptions that are returned for touchdowns, maybe the highest average ever? My question is: Do they practice him holding the ball and running or throwing it away instead of trying to thread the needle with a bad result?
John: Bortles doesn't practice differently than any NFL quarterback practices. He works in individual drills and team drills, and interceptions are discouraged.
Tim from Jacksonville:
I understand you can only glean so much from training camp practices but has Dawuane Smoot looked more like the third-rounder we selected in the 2017 NFL Draft or the first-round he was projected to be prior to returning to the Illini for his senior season?
John: Smoot through a week or so of training-camp practice has looked like a promising rookie. His size and strength are impressive, though he hasn't wowed in pass rush drills. I wouldn't say he is impressive as first-round running back Leonard Fournette or even fourth-round wide receiver Dede Westbrook, but those are skill position players with more chances to "flash."
Gamble from Brasilia, Brazil:
What kind of season does Bortles need to have to prove he is worthy of a long-term deal?
John: He needs to reduce his game-turning interceptions and fumbles, and needs to show command of in-game situations – particularly late-game situations with the game's outcome in the balance. Those would move the Jaguars a lot closer to winning. The more winning the Jaguars do, the better for Bortles' long-term future here.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
If Brandon Allen were a starting-caliber quarterback, other teams would probably be offering the Jags draft picks to get him. I think every team has enough tape to on him to determine he's probably not the next Tom Brady. This all boils down to the fact that everyone's favorite player is the backup quarterback.
John: Allen has looked good at times in Jaguars Training Camp. He hasn't done enough to make the Jaguars think he should be starting. What he primarily hasn't done is played enough to make fans dislike him – and yeah, everybody loves the untested backup.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
What are the chances that the team adds a starting-caliber offensive lineman via free agency before the season begins?
John: Slim.
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, I have been reading from other media sources that Bortles' mechanics are starting to revert to their old form. Can you confirm this to be true or not? Is this a bad sign for the upcoming season? I mean, he spent months working on fixing his mechanics and if they are already reverting to his old ways in practice, what is going to happen in real games when the pressure is more intense?
John: As closely as Bortles' mechanics are going to get watched this training camp and season, people are going to see times he looks like the old Bortles. That's unavoidable, and I suspect so long as he plays NFL quarterback people are going to pick his motion apart find traces of "the old Bortles." He for the most part has looked a lot better mechanically – and when I say "a lot better" I mean a lot better – in training camp than he did a lot of last season. I suspect he will keep working on it, and I suspect he will have some throws that look good mechanically and others that don't look great. I also suspect that his decision-making and pocket awareness do more to shape his season and the Jaguars' season than his mechanics.
Paul from Gainesville, FL:
Luke Bowanko for President!
John: I'd click on that.

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