JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I must state a concern: the offensive line. Blake Bortles last year was sacked an incredible amount. Our red-zone running game was practically nonexistent. Blake also had to run for his life many times. Still, he and the receivers had a great year. I really don't see any big improvement in the line. Same players except Beachum, coming off knee surgery. Backups are the same. A young, very good guard learning how to play center. Still waiting for Joeckel to step up. We have familiar names but are they any better than last year? What are your thoughts?
John: I get many questions like this, and when I do, I wonder what else the Jaguars were supposed to do this offseason to address this area. You say, "Same players except for Beachum," but the reality is the Jaguars added Kelvin Beachum and Mackenzy Bernadeau to the offensive line this offseason – and they played without Brandon Linder last season. I'm figuring Beachum (tackle/guard) and Linder (center) will start in 2016, so that's 40 percent of the offensive line having been addressed. Jermey Parnell was OK at right tackle and A.J. Cann by all accounts was very good at guard as a rookie last season. That leaves 20 percent of the offensive line as a concern. That essentially means the concern is Luke Joeckel. It's fine to be concerned over him, but the Jaguars made major changes in the roster this offseason, overhauling the defense in free agency and the draft. They also added a left tackle/left guard and a running back in free agency. They went heavy on defense early in the draft, and any offensive lineman added in the later rounds wouldn't have made an immediate impact. As you look at the entire offseason, it's hard to see where they could have/should have done more than they did to address offensive line. But to answer your question (at long last) … yes, I think they'll be better because of additions and experience. We'll see.
John from Boynton Beach, FL:
Whatever happened to the tradition of NFL players being in movies and television back in the '70s and '80s? Terry Bradshaw in Cannonball Run ... Bubba Smith in the Police Academy movies ... Alex Karras in Blazing Saddles and Webster ... Brett Favre was in Something About Mary, but didn't come close to bringing the same gravity to the scenes as Bubba Smith's Lt. Hightower.
John: You forgot Boz in Stone Cold.
Mat from Hudson, FL:
Does Aaron Colvin have to sit out for preseason in addition to his four-game suspension? If so, do you feel his time away could hurt the unit as a whole? I understand Colvin will still be allowed to practice with the team but I feel full-game speed benefits the player-to-player relationship, which in return strengthens the unit to be more productive.
John: Aaron Colvin will be able to play in preseason games. He will not be able to practice, play or be around the team facility from the end of the preseason until after the fourth regular-season game. Colvin will be an interesting player to watch in preseason and when he returns. He has looked as good as any player in the secondary and could be a key player at nickel. If he can maintain that through training camp and the time off he could have a huge season.
JH from Jamie:
How important will the kick returner be this and future seasons? Didn't they pass a new rule that will make the return almost nonexistent?
John: The kickoff returner indeed appears to be diminishing in importance across the league. That began when the league moved kickoffs to the 35-yard line from the 30. The goal was to increase player safety by increasing touchbacks. NFL Owners this past March voted to move touchbacks to the 25 as opposed to the 20 – again, to encourage more touchbacks. The move to the 25 was a one-year experimental rule, but it's likely to stay because it's about player safety. Here's the issue: the kickoff return is exciting, but it's also one of the NFL's most dangerous plays. Considering the league's emphasis on player safety, it's not hard to envision a time when the kickoff return is no more.
Ross from Jacksonville:
Sometimes when I'm feeling down I think about what it would be like to be you, I'm overwhelmed and thankful that I'm not. And then everything is good again.
John: Fair point.
Richard from Jacksonville:
Can you please tell people we need one more year to compete for the division, D-Rob is getting cut, and the offensive line will be the main area of concern this year? We're 3-5 at the break 5-3 after the halfway point. We lose a coach in the offseason, have a good draft in 2017, only sign one free agent in 2017 of any real notoriety, and make the playoffs in 2017/18 with an 11-5 record? People want to know the answers. Give them to them.
John: It's difficult to give them the answers when you apparently have all of them.
Cire from Atlanta, GA :
Not hearin' enough about Yannick Ngakoue … what are your thoughts on his role this season? Thanks, Mighty O.
John: I think Yannick Ngakoue will be the reserve Leo defensive end and that he will be playing in passing situations far sooner rather than later. He showed exceptional athleticism during organized team activities and minicamp and absolutely looked the part of an NFL pass rusher. OTAs and minicamp are different than training camp and preseason, but so far, so good.
Bryan from Nashville, TN:
After listening to you Monday on "Jaguars Today" I ordered "Jags to Riches." I hope it doesn't suck!!! But even if it does, I'm going to talk to the Jacksonville educational system and request that it be inherited so all high-school students would have to read "Jags to Riches" instead of "How to Kill a Mockingbird." We cannot deprive our children of educational literature!
John: You can't make things like this up.
Alex from Jacksonville:
Do you think it's possible the Jags make it to the playoffs this year if they go any worse than 4-2 in division games?
Shane from Jacksonville:
Luke Joeckel seems to have all the traits of a superstar tackle. Why is it so hard for him to put it all together and live up to expectations?
John: Any player selected in the first three or four selections of an NFL Draft has superstar traits. That's the nature of being selected so early, because you're taking players with can't-miss physical ability and elite traits. Why is it hard for Joeckel to live up to expectations? Why is it so hard for any prospect to fulfill expectations? The NFL and the collegiate game are dramatically different games and elite-level traits aren't enough to guarantee elite-level play. Joeckel actually is a very good run blocker and has been OK as a pass blocker in the vast majority of situations. But Joeckel plays a position where mistakes are noticed more than success because the mistakes allow noticeable, high-profile big plays for the other team. That's the nature of the beast, but that's why it's so tough: because it's very, very tough to be great in the NFL no matter your physical traits.
David from Oviedo, FL:
Johnny-O, I'm worried you might be working too hard. With the pressure of your O-Zone streak, daily articles, videos, radio shows, interviewing players and coaches, having to deal with Shadrick and Boselli … I don't know when you're supposed to find time for a nap. Do you long for the days before all this mass media when you could write an article or two then crawl under your desk and cry yourself to sleep?
John: I still find time to cry.
Rufus from Jacksonville:
Zone, Jaguars 2016? Tell me something good. … Tell me that you like it!
John: When you talk like that it just seems to me that you ain't got no kind of feeling inside.
Brian from Duval County:
How have Earl Wolff and Jarrod Wilson looked so far in practice? Is there a chance of them making the 53-man roster and I heard good things about Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Keep me informed, Big O.
John: Wolff looked fine in OTAs/minicamp, while Wilson – an undrafted rookie free agent – stood out as much as any young player, showing a nose for the ball. Boddy-Calhoun, also an undrafted rookie free agent, showed a lot of the playmaking ability he showed at Minnesota. Is there a chance any of the three make the roster? Sure, and Wilson would appear to have a chance. All of that is stated with the obvious caveat that any undrafted or long-shot player needs to prove himself once padded practices and preseason begins, so we won't know a significant amount about any of these players for another five or six weeks.
John from Neptune Beach, FL:
Can Brian Sexton find a tighter T-shirt to show off the guns!
John: I'll forward your request.
O-Zone: Popular demand
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL: