JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Eric from Jacksonville:
After Blake Bortles kind of admitted on national television (when he was mic'd up on that ESPN rookie feature) that he sucks in practice and even in pregame, I'm sort of flip-flopping on my stand of letting Chad Henne start until the coaches feel the rookie is ready. How can they really determine if Blake is ready when he admits he's more of a gamer than a practice guy?
John: I had heard you were perhaps flipping, or at least flopping, and I actually made a note to myself to ask you about it next time I saw you. Fortunately for the Jaguars and for Bortles, there's no flip-flopping on any stands at EverBank Field. Bortles will start when he's ready and when the Jaguars feel the time is right. They'll know. And don't worry so much, for goodness' sake. It's bad for the complexion.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
Hey, John: have you been able to confirm Blake is taking a few reps with the ones this week during practice as the coaches said he would? I'm really concerned the momentum he built up during the preseason will be lost if the coaches don't keep him engaged during the season.
John: Bortles indeed has taken reps with the first team in practices this week, but goodness there's a lot of concern and worry over this. Breathe, breathe … OK, now again … Better? Good … Look, this is not a crisis. This is not something over which the Jaguars have lost control. Bortles progressed very nicely from the time he was drafted to the preseason, and he certainly seemed to progress nicely in the preseason. There is nothing to indicate he has a problem with how the Jaguars are approaching this. There's nothing to indicate anyone in the locker room or around the organization has a problem with the approach. You know what? It might be OK in this case to just trust that the same process that enabled Bortles to progress nicely so far is continuing to take place right now. Concerns and worries aside, there's no reason to think the progression won't continue or that Bortles won't be ready when the time is right.
John from Boynton Beach, FL:
Are there any performance-based incentives written into your contract?
John: Thankfully, no.
Matt from Stroudsburg, PA:
What do you think is a realistic score prediction this weekend in Philly? While their offense is undeniably better than ours at the moment, the Eagles' defense is very susceptible and the Jags match up well. If I had to guess, all bias aside, I would guess Philly wins down-to-the-wire 27-20. Accurate, or nah?
John: I have no idea the score, mostly because weird, unpredictable things often happen in regular-season openers. That's partly because teams change dramatically in the NFL from year to year now, and it's also because coaches have all offseason to add new wrinkles. Those two factors make it really tough to game plan for regular-season openers. I think all teams will have a tough time matching up with Philadelphia's offense this season, and for that reason, I think the Eagles will score points. I think the Jaguars' offense will be pretty good later on in the season, but I think youth and inexperience will make it tougher early. So, sure, go with down-to-the-wire, 27-20, but I do think this is a tough matchup for the Jaguars.
Shannon from Brunswick, GA:
Don't sweat it, John. Lance is just jealous of your supreme intellect and humor.
John: Who isn't?
Ryan from Toronto, Canada:
Ummmmm, we named our kicker a team captain?????
John: Ummmmm … yeah .. Chad Henne and Marcedes Lewis are the offensive captains because they play offense. Paul Posluszny is the defensive captain because … wait for it … he plays defense. (Here's where it gets good.) Scobee is the special teams captain because he … well, I forget why, but I remember it was a pretty cool reason.
Stephen from Glorieta, NC:
John, Elvis Costello, Blondie, The Clash and The Ramones … all trend-setters. Elvis, however, is a genius and he landed Diana Krall. Your thoughts?
John: Elvis is King.
Jared from O-Town:
With some of these less-than-elite quarterbacks getting paid exorbitant amounts of money, wouldn't that have adverse effect on when that fifth-year tender comes up for a player like Blake Bortles? For 2014, that amount would be just under $19.2M and I would expect it to be more by then. That's quite a hit.
John: It is quite a hit, but one or two highly-paid quarterbacks won't change the market too much. If Bortles is really good when he finishes his fourth season, it's going to cost the Jaguars a great deal to re-sign him. That's true no matter how much Alex Smith or Andy Dalton makes. Great quarterbacks are expensive no matter who else is getting paid what. And remember: if Bortles is good, the Jaguars won't mind paying.
Allo from Jacksonville:
I know how much you love the Jags or your job. But the Jags have too many wide receivers on the books. Would you leave CSIII in Philly for a first-round pick in next year's draft? He would be a great fit for that offense.
John: Allo, you don't know how much I love the Jags or my job. I doubt anyone does. After all, does one know how bright the sun, how vast the ocean, how high the highest mountain? Yay, I think not. As far as your question, I don't know that the Jaguars have too many wide receivers on the books, and as far as trading Shorts, right now the Jaguars have three rookies and a second-round draft choice at receiver other than Shorts. Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee have shown potential, but they have yet to catch a regular-season pass. Let's not be so quick to trade good players until the Jaguars have too many of them.
David from Jacksonville:
Chad Henne does appear to be playing at a higher level than last season. My question is, why does Blake Bortles seem to throw more downfield passes and throw 'em quicker? Is he seeing the plays faster?
John: The most-promising thing we saw from Bortles in the preseason was exactly that – that he seems to look downfield first and get rid of the ball quickly and with accuracy. I don't know that he sees the plays faster than Henne, but against the competition that preseason afforded, he saw plays further downfield and made a few more explosive plays. That's a good sign for the future.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Getting ahead of myself (as I'm known to do), but when I think of all the potential of this rookie class developing into their second seasons AND an acquisition or two in free agency AND Bortles finally taking the reins next year... well... I get a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside... too soon?
John: Not at all. There are good things going on around the Jaguars. A sound structure appears to be in place. Because much of it is built on rookies, we may not see the results of that as quickly as fans would like, but that's a temporary issue. The long-term issue is the structure, and that's what's most important.
Al from Orange Park, MI:
I'm confused. Who goes off and who goes on in nickel defense this year. And why?
John: Generally speaking, cornerback Will Blackmon goes in for the Otto linebacker and Telvin Smith goes in for starting weakside linebacker Geno Hayes.
Trae from Jacksonville:
Way-too-early draft question here. What needs do you see us targeting early in the 2015 draft? Do you think Todd Gurley could be in play for us?
John: Please stop.
April from Pooler, GA:
I can't help but wonder: if Dave Caldwell knew what he does now (how hard it would be to find a replacement for Meester at center, and how Hurns would develop) would he have gone center in the second round, perhaps Richburg (who went to the Giants at pick #43) instead of, say, a Marqise Lee? I guess in time we will know what would have been the better direction. A minor point in the grand scheme, but something to ponder nonetheless …
John: You can go crazy trying to look back at drafts once they're finished. It's why general managers don't spend much time doing that. Let's not jump to too many conclusions about center or Allen Hurns just yet. The team has played four preseason games, which means as good as Allen Hurns has looked he has yet to catch a regular-season pass and as much time as it has taken for the Jaguars to find a starting center there's no proof yet that the Jaguars are in trouble at the position. If Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson turn out to be special players, there's no harm in Allen Hurns being special, too.
Erock from Orlando, FL:
Hey. When are you gonna throw an O-Zone party?
John: When are you out of the country?
O-Zone: Party planning
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Eric from Jacksonville: