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O-Zone: Quite the process

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Steve from Jacksonville

Just saw a report that Blake Bortles paid for the meals of all the first responders' meals Monday who were working at the Landing. For all the crap that Blake takes for some of his on-field mistakes, damn what a good guy. Two fer Blake (because one fer Blake just isn't enough).

Bortles long has supported first responders through his foundation, and he has spoken about his respect for them often during his time quarterbacking the Jaguars. I cover athletes and speak to them often. I never claim to "know" them because in my experience you rarely truly "know" people in life. But from what I have seen from Bortles he is as genuine an athlete as I've been around. What you see in the media appears to be what you get – and as Monday's gesture indicates, what you see is damned good guy.

Paul from Jacksonville

O, from what I've observed of Blake and the passing game over the years, I have seen him make good throws to open guys, but I don't recall many passes where he threw a guy open. Can you recall a play where a receiver was pretty well-covered, but Blake pinpointed a pass that led the receiver to an open spot?


George from Macclenny, FL

O-Man, I think the Jags should find a way to get running back Corey Grant a lot more involved in the offense this year. Your thoughts.

I don't think this is something about which people need to worry this season. The Jaguars re-signed Grant to a one-year deal this past offseason for a reason, and it was clear watching the team during offseason on-field work and 2018 Training camp he will have an expanded role. This probably won't mean Grant as the "starting" running back – even if other players are injured. But it probably will mean a lot of what we saw against the Atlanta Falcons in Preseason Week 3 Saturday – i.e., Grant on the field a lot as part of creative packages designed to strain the defense. Because when it comes to straining defenses, few things do it as effectively as Grant's speed.

Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico

I don't mean to flood your inbox with one more such message, but I still want to express my sadness for what happened Sunday, as well as my thoughts for the families involved. I was fortunate enough to attend a game two years ago, and I remember breakfast at the Landing on game day, talking to everyone in their Jaguars attire and people being awesome and very welcoming to us. Even though we are far away, we feel like part of your community thanks to the Jaguars. I think this is what the Duval chant really means. Stay strong, dear Jacksonville.


David from McAlester

Without wide receiver Marqise Lee do you think a lot of split backfields, screens, quarterback scrambles and play-action passing being our best options going forward? It will make it tough to get chunks of yards and keep our offense on the field longer. That can be good if we can score somewhat consistently, right?

If you're asking if the wide receiver Marqise Lee's season-ending knee injury Saturday means the Jaguars will abandon their offense, the answer is no. They still will be a run-oriented team with a heavy emphasis on play-action passing. But it has been apparent watching this team in preseason that the offense will use a lot of run-pass option, two-back sets and screens. That apparently was going to be the case regardless of Lee's injury.

Limo Bob from Jacksonville Beach

Dez Bryant?

Doubt it.

Steve from Duval

I hate what happened to Marqise Lee, a great receiver, but considering the timing of his injury how does this help the selection of our wide receivers for the final cuts? If this happened in the first regular-season game, what would be different?

The injury to Lee perhaps means that both Jaydon Mickens and Rashad Greene Sr. will make the final roster whereas one of them might have been released had Lee remained healthy through the regular-season opener.

Ron from Orlando, FL

The reluctance to replace quarterback Blake Bortles will destroy this Super Bowl window that we have been waiting 25 years for. The idea that there are options available such as Tyrod Taylor or Teddy Bridgewater that would both improve the position and reduce the cap hit, yet the administration not only refuses to address it, but actually extends his contract is laughable. We easily have one of the most talented teams in football and a few of these ridiculous mistakes will be the downfall. Any quarterback can hand the ball off, but someone like Tyrod that can manage the game and deliver when needed would put us over the edge. Shame on all of you!!!

How unfortunate for you to have missed your calling. Likewise, how sad that the collective 62 seasons NFL experience of Jaguars Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, General Manager Dave Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone were put to such poor use. And how ironic that the same people who compiled one of the NFL's best rosters … ah, never mind.

Tony from the Land of Confusion

OK, yeah, I'm growing more serious as the preseason moves on. Bortles had two picks against Atlanta and could have had four. Meanwhile, backup quarterback Cody Kessler played exactly the kind of competent run-first, no-turnover game that we need with the offense we're rolling with. Is Cody really not an option? The defense bailed us out again Saturday, but it can't keep doing that forever.

Stop. Please.

Matthew from Huntington Beach, CA

OK, all my friends including Mr. Tom McManus saw your response and agreed that you should take another swing at Kelvin Taylor. Not based on him being a Gator, not based on Jaguar responsibilities, and not based on fun. Based on proven talent and upside, do you think the Gators should pick up Kelvin on the practice squad?

Ironically, the one reason for signing a player that might be worse than "fun" or him being a Gator is all of your friends – including Mr. Tom McManus – believing it should happen.

Mr. Arrogant from Utopia

I saw a play or two in an exhibition game that weren't perfectly executed. Consequently, I have decided some players suck and should be replaced by players whose names I have heard before. Otherwise, this team will lose an inordinate number of games. You're welcome, fans everywhere. I knew you'd want to know.

Sounds like you nailed it.

Johnny from Jacksonville and East Palatka, FL

Lee is out for the season because a defensive back HAD to go low to avoid a penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver or hitting too high. How many players' knees (except quarterbacks, of course) are gonna be blown out in the name of player safety? Tackle football is dangerous. If one doesn't want to be injured playing football, one should not play football. Years ago, NASCAR changed rules to make the racing more enjoyable for everyone, and in the end only managed to alienate hardcore race fans. NASCAR ratings plummeted. The NFL, in trying to cater to casual fantasy-football types, has ruined the game for the core, ticket-buying fan. It is NOT possible to play "safe" football and the NFL is going to rule-make itself into oblivion. Go Jags, boo NFL.

The NFL rules on player safety aren't catering to fantasy-football types. They're an attempt to save the game and to enhance player long-term health. Still, is there a need to find a balance between playing the game in entertaining fashion and playing it in a safe fashion? Absolutely.

Chris from Jacksonville

I was wondering if you know how well did quarterbacks do on their new team after getting cut from old team they took to playoffs? Ex: Tyrod Taylor this year

I could google it. But you could, too.

Bruce from Jacksonville

John, I appreciate the writing skills, humor, football knowledge, dedication, and even the (usually gentle) sarcasm you show in this blog. I'm curious though. What percentage of your time is spent on the O-Zone versus all your other duties?

I do the O-Zone daily in a seven-minute, caffeine-fueled frenzy that typically features me screaming at the top of my lungs, banging the keyboard with bloodied fingertips and jumping up and down while crying loudly in a sweaty, panting, cathartic haze. I typically stagger from my pathetic half-cubicle upon completion, weaving down the hallway screaming "THAT'S THE PRICE FOR ART, LAMPING!!! SHALL I OPEN A VEIN, TOO????" while frantically knocking two decades worth of team pictures askew. The younger women in the office naturally recoil at the sight, while the men wonder, "Is this what life holds? Might this be me someday?" Some of the older men nod knowingly (they, too, know pain). That's the process in the weekdays, anyway. On the weekends, I sip my coffee from my ceramic "Dads Do It Better" mug and wrap it up in a couple of hours.

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