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O-Zone: Perfect fit

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Steve from Hudson, FL:
Does elimination of the first roster cut make it more difficult for our personnel department to make decisions on filling the roster with depth positions? It seems like there will be a lot of players available all on the same day.
John: I'm getting many questions about the NFL's elimination of the first roster cut-down date, and it seems there's a whole lot of overthinking happening here. The NFL this week voted to have just one preseason roster cut-down date rather than two, eliminating the post-Preseason Week 3 cut to 75 players. People seem to be trying to figure a negative to this, and I'm just not seeing one. Starters and front-line players are held out of that game far more often than not. Because of that, teams sometimes had a tricky time with roster management for the final preseason game. Having 90 players rather than 75 should make that easier for teams. It benefits players all around because players who are assured of roster spots won't have to play in Preseason Week 4 and 15 more marginal players now will get an extra week to impress a team around the league. It won't make it more difficult for personnel people. If actually will make it easier because they will get a more extensive look at some players they otherwise might not have had a chance to evaluate.
John from Jacksonville:
I hope Abry gets everything he wants ... here's one for Abry Jones and I hope we remember his play for a very long time!
John: Hey … one fer Abry!
Marc from Jacksonville:
Regarding the run game and its impact on the tight-end position, I kind of feel we may not actually see lots of two tight-end sets with the addition of a dedicated fullback. I guess it depends on how often they use the fullback. Otherwise, you are flirting with keeping a high number of talented receivers on the sideline a bit too often. Gotta keep those defenses honest, right?
John: I don't believe the Jaguars will be in two tight-end sets anywhere near all of the time next season, but I think you'll see a good mix of three-wide, two-tight and fullback-oriented formations. I think it will be pretty balanced, but I think two tights will be on the field for the Jaguars a pretty good percentage of the time if the offense is working efficiently.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I was very enthused when we were able to get Myles Jack last year. I was also saddened to see his lack of use. He was magnificent at times, and I feel good about him playing middle linebacker. I hope he plays more with instinct rather than thinking too much. He and Jalen Ramsey have a chance to be outstanding. Yes, we all want it to work. What are your feelings on Jack's future?
John: I think Myles Jack has all of the talent to have a very bright future, and he absolutely last season showed flashes of the potential that had many analysts believing he would be a Top 5 selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. All reports are that he is adapting well to the move to the middle, and there's no reason physically he won't excel there. The question for Jack this season is how quickly he can adapt to the mental demands of playing middle linebacker in the NFL. I think it would have been very difficult if not impossible for him to do last season as a rookie, particularly considering he had to miss organized team activities because UCLA hadn't completed spring classes. Because Jack seems like a bright, motivated player, I have no reason to think he won't do very well in the middle in time.
John from Cape May, NJ:
Do you think the Jaguars will allow Dante Fowler Jr. to move around the defense this season? I asked this question last season and you replied (I'm paraphrasing), "Let him learn one position first." So, do you think it's time to experiment with him in different positions along the defensive front? His strengths at Florida were that he was a movable chess piece that came from all different angles, so why not embrace those traits? Otherwise, what was the point in picking him if you're not going to play to his strengths?
John: I did reply "let him learn one position first" about Fowler last season. My reply this season: "Let him play one position at a high level" first before moving him all around the defense. Fowler indeed was a dominant player at Florida because he was a movable chess piece, and he also was dominant because he could overpower, out-athlete and outrun opponents. That's far harder to do in the NFL than in the SEC. Fowler's task now is to turn ability into production, and that's a huge storyline for this team this season. I think the Jaguars will move Fowler around some, but I'd be surprised if they do it extensively until he solidifies himself a bit more in one position.
Rhonda from Jacksonville:
Here's one for bringing back the prison leagues. Take the skirts off quarterbacks, have real practices and put violence back in the game. Might put the NFL out of business.
John: Hey, one fer the … wait … what?
Logan from Wichita, KS:
This is why Doug Marrone is heads and tails above Gus. Gus was always "gumdrops and ice cream; mistakes are a good thing. Everyone gets a trophy." Doug Marrone knows you don't get diddly until you earn it. No pat on the back: "Awww, poor you … it's just a bad day" anymore. Doug Marrone will let players know when they let up that it's not OK. I LOVE IT! Tough love is the best love. Dr. Feelgood!
John: Marrone's approach is much different than Gus Bradley's – both in how he approaches players and in how expresses his thoughts to the media. I, too, like Marrone's candor and think it's fine for a coach to express to the media if he's unhappy about something. Marrone will be the first to tell you that how speaks with the media doesn't really have all that much to do with what happens on the field, and he'll be the first to tell you that none of it means diddly if the Jaguars don't win. But sure … one fer candor.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
You spent years covering Peyton Manning with the Colts. What is your assessment of Blake Bortles? Does he have deficits that are insurmountable? Can he be a franchise quarterback? I feel like he has the physical tools. He is big, he can move, his arm strength is good enough, and he doesn't appear to be shell-shocked by the amount of pass rush/pressure he has dealt with. I think his accuracy problems stem from mechanics and some turnovers can be attributed to this. Some turnovers are a result of bad decision-making.
John: My years covering Manning with the Colts don't really apply to Bortles, just as I don't think years covering Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and quarterbacks in that class apply to covering quarterbacks outside the Rushmore Debate. This is not meant as a criticism of Bortles because the great majority of quarterbacks to play the game aren't in the Rushmore Debate. You ask, "Can he be a franchise quarterback?" I answer now as I have answered often before: I have my doubts. He indeed has all the attributes you cite – big, good arm, gutsy in the pockets, etc. – and he has had a lot of adversity to overcome. I'm not as concerned over the Accuracy Crisis as many observers, either. It's difficult to succeed without pinpoint accuracy, but it can be done; the Jaguars indeed had times in 2015 when they moved effectively, and Bortles wasn't particularly accurate that season. The concern I have with Bortles now is the same as the last two-plus seasons – decision-making, pocket awareness reading defenses. His struggles in those areas too often have led to long stretches of offensive inefficiency and critical, avoidable turnovers at key times. Can he improve in those areas? I honestly don't know, but I do believe his ability to do so will determine his future.
Jody from St. Augustine, FL:
John, a question yesterday about Poz got me thinking about his future role with the team. I know the move was made to maximize Myles Jack's opportunities and his athleticism, but do you think a possible side effect of having Poz play less snaps is he gets an extra year or two of high level play? I would Love to see him finish his career as a Jag, Do you think this move makes that more likely?
John: Yes.
Cliff from Jags4life:
Have you ever argued loudly with your wife at 4 a.m. and woke the neighborhood?
John: My wife and I don't argue. We have a perfectly healthy relationship based on her pointing out my flaws and me acknowledging her accuracy.

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