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O-Zone: Price of friendship

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Chris from Los Angeles, CA:
O-Man, I'm a little concerned with your quick-glance analysis of BB5. The "sometimes-he-looks-good" part gets me excited. And some of the videos showed him throwing tight spirals with his elbow high and no dip. Then, the follow-up "sometimes he doesn't" has me concerned. A LOT! We cannot afford BB5 to be anything but better than he was the last three years. If he looks that middle of the road, then why wouldn't the brass bring Colin Kaepernick in to push or take the job? You can say they don't think it's an upgrade, but Kap's resume says different. Calais Campbell said we have every piece but as fans we all know what piece needs to be right the most. Tell me you gave an off-the-cuff, quick-snap assessment and I shouldn't be concerned. Or be as honest as you can without losing your job and tell me "we should probably look for another guy." What say you, Johnny Boy?
John: I can be completely honest about Bortles without losing my job. I know this because I never have been anything but honest about Bortles in this forum. I thought he looked good at times during OTAs, and I thought other times he didn't look good. I thought he looked good during the first minicamp practice Tuesday, and he looked again Wednesday. Either way, don't let my assessment of Bortles' offseason cause your stomach to quiver. As I've said many times, his mechanics overall have looked more than good enough for him and the Jaguars to succeed next season. I thought the same last offseason and much of last preseason. I also thought it was true at times last season. I think overall Bortles can throw accurately enough to allow the Jaguars to compete – and I think from what I've seen this offseason he has a good chance to be more accurate than he was in his low moments last season. The bigger question for Bortles remains reducing interceptions, making better reads and improving pocket presence. If he does all of those things, the accuracy issue won't be as important. As for whether he will improve those … we'll know when we know, but there's no way to know until we know.
Aaron from White Hall, AK:
I know ultimately winning football games matter, but I do like Doug Marrone's approach talking about Branden Albert: Just saying what he thinks and not sugarcoating anything. This coming from a Gus Bradley fan.
John: I, too, liked Marrone's approach with Albert. He approached it as an NFL coach should approach the situation. He wasn't thrilled, but he also clearly understood that an absence in May and June isn't a franchise-altering crisis and he didn't treat is as such. Marrone gets the NFL and treats players like men. That's a good place to start, and your feelings on Bradley have nothing to do with it.
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
Tashaun Gipson had a couple of really impressive seasons in 2013 and 2014. Do you think he can return to that level of play and if so, what will it take? It would be great if he does. Sorry about being so upset with Branden Albert. I promise no more emails from me about him. He is saying all the right things I should have given him the benefit of the doubt.
John: I don't know if Gipson can return to his 2013-2014 form. I didn't think he was as bad last season as many observers did, but neither did he make the big, game-turning plays needed from a free safety. Gipson's view at the end of the season seemed to be he wasn't put in position to make those plays, so we'll see if he is allowed to play more to what he believes are his strengths this season. One thought on Gipson pertains to the entire secondary, and indeed the entire back seven: I tend to not blame the secondary/back seven too much when it comes to not producing turnovers because I believe most turnovers come as a result of pressure/disruption from the defensive front. The Jaguars' defensive front in recent seasons has not been good at pressuring the quarterback, which is a huge reason the back seven – including Gipson last season – struggled during that time to produce big plays. As for Albert … no apologies necessary. Fans tend to get upset when players don't attend OTAs because teams have succeeded in creating a perception that they are mandatory when they are in fact voluntary. This anger usually is temporary and goes away when players show up for the mandatory things.
Otter from Jagsville:
Zone, in this case I think we have to go all out. I think this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.
John: I'll get Shadrick.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Branden Albert reported to the mandatory OTAs … SHOCKING. He is a grown man and the other practices were voluntary. My employer holds many functions. Some are mandatory; many are not. Most of the time I don't go to the voluntary functions because I am a grown man; it's voluntary and I don't feel like it. How about you?
John: I started to go to the Jaguars' Employee Appreciation Day last month. Lamping pulled me aside and said, "John, the employees would appreciate it if you stayed away."
Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Hey John, this question isn't meant to sound accusatory, merely curious. Nick Saban said last month to J.P. Shadrick on his podcast that Cam Robinson playing guard is perhaps not a good fit for his skill set. Doug Marrone has said there was no plan for Robinson to play guard. Robinson is a rookie and Tyler Shatley, Patrick Omameh and Chris Reed (each effective last season when healthy) are more natural guards. Why do you think that players that are borderline jars on the shelf to starters would not make a better guard on day one than a rookie that has never played the position before?
John: I think what Saban says about Robinson's NFL position isn't germane to the conversation and I think it's OK for a player to play guard for a short time before moving to tackle. I think the Jaguars will put their best five offensive linemen on the field, and I think Robinson will be one of the Jaguars' best five offensive linemen. Maybe I'll be wrong. It has happened.
Derick from Jacksonville:
What is James Sample's status?
John: Healthy and practicing.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
So, let's see if I've got this right: skilled veteran players are valuable now? Who'da thunk starting 75 percent rookies wouldn't be an ideal lineup?
John: I assume you're referring to 2013 and 2014 when the Jaguars were uncommonly young with the idea of growing for the future. No, that wasn't ideal for winning in the short term and the record showed as much.
Herbert from Midstate Office Supply Accountz Receevablez:
If winning is the "only thing" as TC & Co. like to remind us, then why didn't the Jags finish the bubble/flex fields before the amphitheater? Is it about the "fan experience" or is it about the W/L record?
John: Are we really trying to start an argument over this point? Is this really a "topic?" The amphitheater – which, by the way, will help solidify the Jaguars financially and also enhance downtown Jacksonville – needed to be done in time to meet a late-May deadline. The flex field is scheduled to be done in mid-July, which means it will be done about … six weeks after the amphitheater. The Jaguars have missed no practice time in the offseason. If they had missed practice time in the offseason, they would have missed practice time in … the offseason!!! Non-issue. Move on.
Lloyd from Buxton, England:
O(mniscient)-Man, your Daily's review has refreshed for me memories fade(d). For some reason, I've always thought you a fan of the likes of Wham! and Duran Duran. … As far as your outlook on the Jags this upcoming season, do you think they're looking like a born again or living like heretics? Are they pumped up full of vitamins on account of all of Tom's seriousness? Are they reading Norman Mailer, have new tailors? I fear I am not ready to be heartbroken, yet again.
John: Wham! Are you kidding me? Wham???! The bottom line is that the sickest joke was the price of the medicine. Either way, just wake me up before you go-go.
Toboyone from St. Johns:
The clarion call for the remainder of preseason has to be the words spoken on Tuesday by Coach Doug: "I've got enough friends … I want a winning football team." Looks to me like the new sheriff in town has a gunslinging chief deputy who don't take no ... aah yes, there's good news in JagVille tonight.
John: I asked Doug Marrone if he wanted to be friends once. His reaction was as you might expect. I stopped crying after a while.

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