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O-Zone: Panic room

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Samwise from Shire:
In your last Facebook Live, you guys never mentioned O.J. Howard. I know No. 4 is high, but you said all of the offensive guys had question marks. What are the negatives of Howard? I want him and then Joe Mixon in the second.
John: Senior correspondent Brian Sexton and I indeed neglected to mention Alabama tight end O.J. Howard on Facebook live Monday when discussing potential No. 4 selections for the Jaguars. One reason we didn't mention him is we weren't going off of a checklist, so our conversation wasn't necessarily comprehensive. Still, while I wouldn't eliminate Howard as a possibility at No. 4, he's very much a long shot. It's not so much negatives about Howard as much as issues with positional value; tight end is just tough to take so early. The question of how many times per game the player realistically will impact a play long has reduced tight ends' draft value. At the same time, position "value" isn't as much of a hard, fast rule as was the case a decade or so, so maybe – but just maybe.
Emory from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What are your expectations for Dante Fowler Jr. next season? It looked as though he played really hard and has speed, but that his pass-rush technique needed work.
John: Good eye – because that pretty much defined Fowler's first NFL season. He did play with great effort that allowed him to make a few splash plays. That effort, athleticism and speed leads me to believe Fowler will find a way to be productive on some level in the NFL. The question with Fowler is whether he can turn his talent into elite-level pass-rushing production. That's where technique comes in. I can't predict if that will improve or not. If it does, Fowler has a chance to produce in a big way.
Nathan from Richmond, VA:
I get that the quarterback is the key player in this whole funky, fluky NFL thing. But I have to wonder, "Why?" I get that rules have been implemented that help offenses utilize the position more, but it seems logical to me that some team would devalue the position back with the rest of the positions and then try to level the field. I can't wrap my head around the idea that some football guy somewhere hasn't said, "You know what? We don't have a great quarterback, but we have a good one. Why not just make him another part of a great team?" Then again, I get hit in the head a lot.
John: Teams have taken that approach – and teams have won without great quarterbacks. An argument can be made that Russell Wilson wasn't elite when the Seahawks first started winning in this era, and teams such as Baltimore in 2000, Tampa Bay in 2002 and even Denver in 2015 won Super Bowls without elite-level quarterback play. But if you're playing the percentages – and if you're looking to be competitive consistently and for the long-term – you need consistent, efficient production at quarterback. Why? Because he has the ball in his hands every play, because it's really the only position where greatness at that spot can overcome weakness at others – and because turnovers from that position can bring down an otherwise functioning team very, very quickly and easily. This isn't particularly new, by the way: Whatever the era, the better teams more often than not have had the better quarterbacks.
Chad from EverBank:
I find it funny that people still have issues with the London initiative. The London situation has been the same for the past four years, yet fans gonna fan. Here's a thought for all those struggling to comprehend the concept. The London game is a HOME game. It's set up that way for several reasons: the money, and to balance the home/away schedule. Accept it for what it is instead of continuing to want it to be something it's not going to be – and let's move forward. For instance, I may want pizza for dinner, but if I've got a hamburger in front of me, I've got burger. No amount of wanting is going to change the burger into a pizza. Shad Khan doesn't want to change the London initiative, at least not for the current contracted period. The London game is good for us. It makes Khan and the Jaguars money. If Khan and the Jaguars make money, the likelihood of Jacksonville losing our franchise goes down. London = local happiness.
John: I like pizza.
Johan from Gothenburg, Sweden:
Hi, John: As a Jaguars fan living in Sweden and looking forward to the draft I wonder at what time the Jaguars most likely will make their pick (assuming they stay at No. 4)? It will be in the middle of the night and as most poor souls do, I have to get up early for work. Thanks in advance and thank you for the great job you do to spread the news about the Jags.
John: The NFL Draft is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. With 10 minutes between selections, it seems likely the Jaguars will select between 8:20-8:35. That's Eastern. So between 2:20 or 2:35 a.m. Sweden time. Ish.
Dave from 137:
"Much will hinge on the ability of the quarterback position to be more efficient and to dramatically reduce mistakes." Improved quarterback play absolutely is the No. 1 most important thing for the team to improve. You mentioned that once we have a better feel for this, it will be easier to predict how much the record will improve. So here's the question: How and when can you make that determination? Blake looked pretty good early in preseason last year, which ended up meaning nothing. Are we just going to have to wait until the season starts and hope for the best?
John: We'll know a little in the offseason. We'll know a little in training camp. We'll know a little in the regular season. We should be able to see if Bortles is more accurate. We should see signs of him running the offense well. We should be able to hear from teammates and coaches if things are going well. But realistically … yeah, we won't know for sure if or how much Bortles has improved until the regular season.
Bill from Hammock, FL:
Mr. Oehser, I am trying to manage my expectations which – admittedly – slide to the positive side this time of year. I believe the defense will be very good both with the additions and the experience gained from last year for our solid 2016 rookie class. The question is obviously the offense and specifically the quarterback and offensive line. I believe the new discipline will help tremendously. However, don't you think there will be an emphasis on Bortles being more of a game manager and avoiding turnovers at all cost. How do you think this will play out for Bortles and his development?
John: That is the ultimate question regarding Bortles' future – and regarding the Jaguars' 2017 season. There's no rule written anywhere that a quarterback must be a "game manager" in order to reduce interceptions. Plenty of quarterbacks have played aggressively without finishing near the league lead in interceptions/fumbles lost. You can make good decisions about when to be aggressive and you can find favorable match-ups that reduce the chances of turnovers on plays. Remember: it's not as if an inordinate number of Bortles' interceptions have come off plays of aggression. A lot of have come because of accuracy issues and incorrect reads. Improve the second area and the turnovers should reduce accordingly. Can Bortles do that? His future as an NFL quarterback depends on the answer.
Matt from Easton, PA:
Just wanted to add a worthwhile note about the Jaguars' schedule that I saw written on ESPN for those who might not have seen. While fans are upset about not having a single prime-time game (myself included), from a purely competitive standpoint it could be seen as an advantage. The team will not once have to prepare on a short week this season, and awkward travel arrangements are out of the equation. While I would love to watch this team on Monday nights, maybe this is a slight advantage that will help them get back to those games. Do you agree?
John: Coaches with rare exceptions would love nothing more than a schedule featuring 16 one p.m. home games. Football because of its once-a-week nature is a routine-based sport, and short weeks, night games and road games mess with a routine. Good teams can overcome breaks in the routine, but as far as coaches are concerned, early afternoon games seven days apart are ideal.
Nathan from Fort Belvoir, VA:
You open door and walk into a room, you see Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell standing there with their entire draft board exposed. The three of you lock eyes knowing you saw it. What do you say and do?
John: Break into song.

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