O-Zone: Pretender king

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Doug from Jacksonville

This day will live on in infamy. The end.

This was a common refrain Sunday afternoon and into Sunday evening with many believing there was no O-Zone published Sunday. While the O-Zone did not appear on the web version of jaguars.com much of the day, there indeed was an O-Zone. It appeared on the app throughout the day Sunday and I trust it will be visible on jaguars.com moving forward. Apologies for the confusion.

Biff from Jacksonville

You’ve covered Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Across the roster of 32 teams, most quarterbacks are at worst efficient – and at best, game changers. The total package is leader, athlete and mental bedrock. Everyone can’t be Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, etc., so where does Blake Bortles sit as we await his fifth year? What is his greatest strength entering the season, his most significant weakness and is his stoic public persona his authentic self?

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles’ most defining trait as of May 2018 might be the unknown. What I mean by that is there is understandable debate over whether he indeed is a good NFL starting quarterback. Those who believe he is not can point to most of his first three NFL seasons. Those who believe he is can point to the 2017 season, particularly the second half of the season and the regular season. Which quarterback is the Real Bortles? We’ll see – and I think this season will tell a lot about the answer. I would say Bortles’ biggest strengths are leadership, durability and command of the offense. His weaknesses to this point have been a lack of precision accuracy and a tendency to commit turnovers, but he improved on those weaknesses late last season. As far as his public persona, what you see with Bortles absolutely is what you get. He is as unfazed by criticism, attention and pressure as any quarterback I’ve ever been around. That trait is a huge reason why I give him a good chance to continue developing.

David from Ormond Beach, FL

O, you have stated many times over the years you see no conspiracy between the league and calls made against the Jags. “Why would the league have an interest in doing that?” you have often asked. While I have no answer to that question I do have some plays that make you wonder. Myles Jack was not down. But all these damn ads in the Ozone??? Tell me that does not reek of conspiracy!!!!!

All fans think more calls go against their team than for their team. It’s one of prerequisites of being a fan. As far as the new preponderance of ads in the O-Zone, I’m told it’s a “thing” that’s now consistent across all NFL team websites. I don’t care enough about other team websites to read them carefully enough to know if this is true. I do care enough about the O-Zone to know it needs to be addressed and I know we at jaguars.com will continue to try to get it addressed.

Gamble from Brasilia, Brasil

Just to interrupt the questions about the ads: don’t the shiny new black helmets look incredible? The OTA videos prove that the new uniforms are going to look great on the field!

The shiny new black helmets are cool. It seems a lot of people like them more than the old helmets.

OK, GO!

Please don't ignore this important question. Why haven't the Jaguars been interested in Mychal Kendricks? They could use him, right?

You emailed this before, but the reality is I don’t answer every question from every reader about every available player possibly being signed by the Jaguars. That’s because the Jaguars couldn’t possibly sign every available free agent – and to answer every question along those lines gets a bit tedious. A case indeed can be made that all O-Zone answers are tedious. To that case, I would say perhaps you’re correct, but I’m the one doing the O-Zone every day (still), so I’ll decide what exercises in tedium to perform. As far as Kendricks, he’s a good player, yes – but he’s a veteran player whose salary-cap implications must be considered. He also essentially would be a part-time player for the Jaguars because Myles Jack and Telvin Smith are going to be the team’s two full-time, every-down linebackers. The Jaguars must be wise with the salary cap for the short- and long-term – and adding a veteran player to play what essentially is a part-term position perhaps isn’t wise at this point.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

Okay: Why. Just who had the bright idea to litter your column with stupid banner ads? Were you not producing enough revenue for the site? Please beseech the ownership and management to remove them. This makes the site difficult to navigate and read. You however O-man are still awesome.

You know what? I am awesome. I do a great job. (Still).

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Best thing to do if Marcell Dareus comes after you is to go down. He is fast and if he has to run to get you, you’re in trouble. You do not want to get hit by a running Marcell Dareus. He is such a special player and the Jaguars are lucky to have him. I hope he decides to stay. Go Jaguars!

I don’t know what the future holds for Dareus after the 2018 season. I do know he’s a major reason the Jaguars’ defense has a chance to be really good in the 2018 season. I also know I would probably try to run if he came after me. It probably wouldn’t work, but fleeing from trouble is such a well-worn habit I can’t see me responding any other way.

Joe from Brentwood, UK

So, Zone, Shad Khan now owns two top-flight sports teams. Congratulations to Fulham FC and kudos to Mr. Khan. He has turned around a team which was struggling. And then there's the Jags ….

Hey, one fer the Khans …

James from Jacksonville

John, do you wonder how many of these readers envy you? Not because you’re "cool," mind you, but because you get paid to talk, write and – dare I say – breathe Jaguars football. Someone told me OTAs have started. How has the team looked? Blake Bortles looked sharp from what I hear, and spent the offseason how he has every other season: which is working hard to Improve. He is now more comfortable in his second season with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Not that any of the national media would report this and I'm OK with that. #MJWD

I always assume everyone envies me, not only because of my job but because of my exquisite taste in gloves and slacks. As for Bortles … yes, he has looked comfortable in organized team activities. I agree that a lot of that has to do with being in his second offseason working with Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. I believe you’re going to see Bortles play throughout next season as he did at the end of last season. If that happens, I think that will have a lot to do with getting more comfortable in the offense.

Thomas from Ponte Vedra Beach and Section 106

Wow, cheers Fulham and congratulations Tony! Looks like you have the touch.

Well said.

Josh from Lima, OH

Hey Zone, long-time reader first time with a question. I kind of look at our defense in two ways. Before Marcell Dareus and after. So dead last in rush defense to Top Ten in rush defense. With him as a starting nose and the added depth from Taven Bryan, where do you see the run defense next year and do you see our starters still running out of gas in the playoffs like they did against the New England Patriots?

I expect the Jaguars’ defense next season to look a lot like the Jaguars’ defense in the second half of the season and in the postseason – so long as the defense remains relatively healthy. Dareus had that sort of impact in terms of stoutness, and the addition of Bryan should bolster the line. As far as running out of gas, there indeed was an element of that in the AFC Championship Game against New England. And the defense did allow a huge offensive game by the Steelers the week before. But when you’re playing the best of the best, the teams you’re playing tend to make plays. If the Jaguars’ defense indeed is as good or better this year as last, I think you’ll see the Jaguars have a chance to reach the Super Bowl. That’s what you want entering a season: a chance.

George Clinton from Tallahassee, FL

You are NOT the King of Funk. I AM the King of Funk. And I'm gonna sue you.

You’re right. You are the king of all funk. I am the pretender king of all funk. That’s not as cool.

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