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O-Zone: Outside the box

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Kyle from Ohio:
As I live in Ohio, I am not always well-versed in the team's off-field stance. I follow the players, games and all of that best I can, but I can't claim to know about the city, local fans or so on. I want a more well-versed thought on the Jaguars as they stand in the city. The types of stories I always see talk about attendance being really low, blackouts and how the team will be lucky to still be in Jacksonville come the year 2020. Will the Jaguars be in Jacksonville after 2020? Is attendance as bad as outsiders think? So on.
John: The Jaguars haven't had a blackout since 2009, and local revenue – perhaps the most important element in the franchise's stability – has increased 25 percent each of the last two seasons. The franchise still must make strides in local revenue to further stabilize, but the progress has been significant. The Jaguars have renovated the locker room, training room and other areas of EverBank Field and – along with the city – installed the world's largest videoboards to enhance what is now considered one of the best game-day experiences in the NFL. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan recently made a potentially game-changing proposal to revitalize and reshape the city's Shipyards area, which the team considers the doorstep to EverBank Field. Whatever the perception nationally, the things I just listed are not the actions of a franchise or a city with plans to leave its market.
Jim from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Did anyone notice? The streak is over. There was no O-Zone for June 12.
John: Yes, there was. It was just posted with a June 11 date.
Jay from Chucktown, SC:
With OTAs over, I mainly keep wondering about two guys: T.J. Yeldon and Rashad Greene (who may have been my favorite value pick). How have they improved and could Greene be our starting slot guy (no disrespect intended towards Allen Hurns)?
John: It's difficult to say how rookies improve in OTAs. The session lasts three weeks, and for rookies, it's usually about getting acclimated to the NFL. Yeldon during OTAs has looked about as good as a rookie running back can look in an unpadded situation. He consistently finds holes, and consistently shows the ability to avoid defenders and accelerate out of those holes. I would be very surprised if he's not the starter next season. Greene has looked fine during OTAs, and I think the starting slot receiver has yet to play itself out. The Jaguars need to get Marqise Lee on the field and get everyone into pads, all of which should happen in training camp. After that, I think we'll get a clear idea of how the rotations and responsibilities will work themselves out. I don't see Greene playing ahead of Hurns, though. At least not early. Hurns was very productive as a rookie, and with the benefit of a full offseason I think he'll be a huge part of the receiving rotation next season.
Clark from Metropolis:
John, with the offense moving toward a gap-blocking scheme, do you foresee us having more success running and passing – or possibly just passing? Also, shortly after the draft there were several zone questions about Yeldon's speed; I re-watched some highlights and I have to say that when he breaks the line and has a lane, his acceleration looked pretty good to my untrained eyes. And as far as Zevon goes, I have to say "Keep me in your Heart."
John: The idea with moving toward a gap-blocking scheme is to improve both running and passing, though I'd expect to see the biggest difference in how the Jaguars approach the running game. The Jaguars have asked the linemen to add bulk and size, and when offensive players speak of the running game this offseason, they talk less about outside zone and more downhill running and power schemes. I agree with you on Yeldon: while he may not have score-from-anywhere-on-the-field speed, he has the quickness to accelerate on and out of holes, which should make him very productive. As far as "Keep Me in Your Heart," it's nothing short of a classic. Considering the circumstances when Zevon wrote it – dying of cancer – it's stunningly haunting, beautiful, touching and unforgettable. So … pretty typical.
Phil from to Boynton Beach, FL:
T.J. Yeldon looks like the real deal based on many of the comments from coaches and media. I know we'll know more once they are in pads. What has Bernard Pierce looked like in OTAs? Do you have a feel one way or another? I know it's early, but most of the talk when it comes to the running backs for the upcoming season has Yeldon, Toby Gerhart and D-Rob competing for carries.
John: We've covered Yeldon quite a bit already in this O-Zone, but I think when it comes to the running back situation overall there is little question there will be more depth than last season – and that the competition there will be real. The talk indeed has focused on Yeldon/Gerhart/Robinson, but the thing about offseason talk is it fades quickly once training camp begins. A few good practices/games in pads for a player such as Bernard Pierce and Storm Johnson and the discussion changes fast. Both Johnson and Pierce are talented enough to alter the discussion.
Tom from Section 141 and the Mean Streets of Nocatee:
Please ask David from Jacksonville to not ever do that again. It gave me Suicidal Tendencies.
John: I'd type a longer response, but I Fear I can't because of my Stiff Little Fingers.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
Nobody remembers or cares that after the '98-'99 season the Rams were voted the "Worst Team of the Decade." They just know the following year the Rams won the Super Bowl, and will be forever remembered as the "Greatest Show On Turf." I'm not saying we have the pieces they did, but we have pieces, regardless of what lazy national writers assert. While I have been one of this franchise's biggest naysayers, with what we now have on the roster that losing trend is not going to continue. A few added pieces, along with growth of younger players and a favorable schedule, can do wonders for a team on the rise. I also can't recall more parity in the AFC than there will be this year. I really don't see anyone in the AFC we can't line up and play against during the regular season. More importantly, a 9-7 team with a good record against its AFC competition very well could make the playoffs this year. We're gonna shock the world!
John: #DTWD
Colton from St. Augustine, FL:
Justin Blackmon has been spectacular every time he has had a chance to play. But ever since the second suspension, I haven't heard anything about his status with the team. I was just wondering if you could give me an update on his status with the Jags, or even his future in the NFL.
John: I don't know Justin Blackmon's future in the NFL, or with the Jaguars. I'm not sure anyone does. I know the Jaguars would welcome Blackmon back if his status of being indefinitely suspended by the league changes, but I have heard no indication that it will happen. I certainly haven't heard indication it will happen before next season. The Jaguars' stance therefore remains the same: that while they wish Blackmon the best they don't know much about the details of his situation – and he does not figure in their plans/decisions when building the roster or planning for this or future seasons.
Austin from WA:
After watching Coach Doug Marrone's OTA interview it seems to me like he's a very good coach and his effect on the offensive line could be a boon. What are your thoughts, having been around the organization?
John: The offensive linemen to whom I have spoken about Marrone have very good things to say, as do Head Coach Gus Bradley and former Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli. Having good things to say in the offseason doesn't translate to on-field success, but yes, if Marrone does a good job – and there's no reason to think he won't – it can have a positive effect in the offensive line. Coaching does matter a great deal at that position. I'm not trying to be vague on his potential impact. It's just tough to gauge anything regarding an offensive line before the players start working in pads. That won't happen until training camp.
Clint from Richmond Hill, GA:
John, I have come up with a fun and innovative marketing ploy to use during Jags games at EverBank. At one of our home games, have several real jaguars released into the crowd and then sit back watch the reactions from everyone. Just think of how funny it would be to see people screaming and running for their lives! This would surely get us some "highlight" time on ESPN. Please make sure you pass this along to the marketing team, and pass along my email address if they want more outstanding ideas.
John: I need to think on this.

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