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O-Zone: Rarified air

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dave from Jacksonville:
Dude!! I had such high hopes for this season, largely due to the expected improvement in pass rush. This has apparently been an offseason focus for two years. Many new faces (Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr. Yannick Ngakoue), plus the return of Sen'Derrick Marks. … So what the heck is the problem?!? Are these players not any good, or is the coaching that bad?? (I think the answer is the latter). It looks like we are "Ready for More" – more watching opposing quarterbacks sitting in the pocket like they don't have a care in the world. Awesome.
John: I just checked my handy calendar on my IPhone (those things are awesome, by the way) and I realized that, yes, it's indeed September 6. That means the regular-season opener against Green Bay on September 11 indeed has not been played. (I double-checked this with Jaguars PR guru Tad Dickman, who confirmed my assumption). Does all of this parentheses-laden sarcasm have a point? Indeed it does – that I'd simply prefer to hold off on deeming something a complete and utter failure at least until the Jaguars play a game that, you know, counts.
Tony from Jacksonville:
It was Adam, not Alan, from St. John, but I'm pretty sure you already knew that.
John: This is a matter of major import to me. I'll check into it whenever.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
It sounds like Paul Posluszny is too respected to be benched. Is that assessment fair? And yes, I am implying that his substandard play is being overlooked.
John: Posluszny indeed is too respected to be benched. That assessment is fair. What's incorrect is your implication, but that's OK. You're hardly alone.
Joe from Sacramento, CA:
Even with better talent on the defensive side of the ball analysts still feel because of the defensive scheme the defense will not be good. Why is that? If Gus Bradley felt this defensive scheme was not good, don't fans think he'd change defensive scheme? I say let the coaches coach.
John: I honestly don't keep a running tally of what analysts say what about the Jaguars. Sometimes, I don't even know what an analyst is anymore. I do know the Seattle Seahawks run a very similar defensive scheme and have managed to play pretty good defense in recent seasons. That leads me to believe this scheme can work on the NFL level.
Nathan from York, UK:
I know a lot of people in the Zone were upset that the Jaguars didn't have a prime-time television game this year. The UK TV schedule for Week 1 has been released and the Jags-versus-Packers game takes the 18:00 slot. They pick the game based on competitiveness and market appeal in the UK so Sky Sports must like the Jags this season. I suppose the question is what benefit does the Jaguars franchise derive from its established relationship with the UK market?
John: The benefits for the Jaguars in the United Kingdom are several-fold. One is the short term, because the revenue from a home game at Wembley Stadium each season represents a significant increase in revenue compared to a home game played at EverBank Field. Another is long term, because having a high profile in the London market is good for revenue and size of fan base over the long term.
Troy from York, PA:
Hey, O-man, did Gus and the offensive line coaches ever experiment with putting Jermey Parnell at guard and Luke Joeckel on the right side? I think Parnell has the body and the better mechanics at guard than Joeckel does.
John: No, they did not experiment with Parnell at guard and Joeckel at right tackle. The Jaguars like the combination of Parnell and A.J. Cann on the right side of the line, and the feeling is that four of the five offensive-line spots are solidified with Parnell, Cann, center Brandon Linder and left tackle Kelvin Beachum. Can Joeckel make that a solid five? Stay tuned.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
John, do you have a favorite NCAA football team?
John: Not particularly, no.
Marc from US Assure Club:
I'm a little distraught. I think Braeden Bowman outplayed some of the tight ends we kept, although it was close and a tough call. However, we will regret cutting Tyrone Holmes. His ceiling is HIGH – much higher than another Leo we kept. Not sure if you'll publish this negativity, but I predict Tyrone will get more sacks this year than Chris Smith. Dave has done a fine job overall, but this one will come back to haunt him.
John: You speak with tremendous boldness, and that's terrific. The Jaguars liked Holmes, but after seeing him in organized team activities, training camp and preseason they didn't see his ceiling as being quite as high as you believe. They also really liked what they saw from Chris Smith this year. Smith always has performed well in practice and he performed to that level in games during the preseason. As for Bowman, he didn't play nearly as well late in preseason as he did early – and the tight-end decisions by the end of training camp were comparatively straightforward.
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
With Myles Jack the presumptive replacement for Paul Poslusnzy at middle linebacker, I would think they're going to play him there on some third-and-longs. He'll need the reps in real games to make the switch.
John: I won't say that Jack will never play middle linebacker in passing situations this season. I will say that I think Posluszny is going to be in the middle in passing situations to start the season and I don't think there's much of an inclination to have him off the field much any time soon.
Naim from Port Orange, FL:
This whole thing about the Jags releasing good players to come down to 53 – there is nothing good about those guys (they are just guys). We have a long way to go before David Caldwell feels like he's losing good players. Then again what do I know?
John: You're right in this sense: the players released as the Jaguars moved to 53 players weren't going to be core, difference-making players. In that sense, very few teams face franchise-shaping decisions when trimming the roster the final weekend before the regular season. Still, there's no question that the players released by the Jaguars this past weekend were significantly better – and therefore the decisions were significantly tougher – than the ones they were releasing the past few seasons. On that front, the Jaguars have improved the roster from the last few seasons.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
Why are some players waived and some released? What's the difference?
John: Players with less than four years NFL experience are waived, which means they are subject to the waiver wire before they become free agents. Players with four or more years experienced are released, which means they become free agents. Those are the rules until midseason. After the midseason trading deadline passes, all players regardless of experience must pass through the waiver process before becoming free agents.
Wayne from Jacksonville:
John, how can Gus Bradley keep Jason Myers? He missed two again this week. He cost us several "wins" last year. What do they see in him? We (the fans) see inconsistency and that's not what GUS wants. Your thoughts?
John: The Jaguars see Myers' leg strength, potential and the improvement he made late last season. While he was inconsistent on extra points, he actually was very good kicking field goals and won games against Baltimore and Miami with 50-yard-plus field goals. I understand the concern of fans, and no one around the Jaguars is dim to the fact that there were major issues with Myers last season. I don't believe Myers will be able to miss seven extra points and remain the kicker this season, but the aforementioned are the reasons he remains on the roster.
Craig from Packer Goindown Town:
I'm excited win or lose. I know we're better. Any chance we can do two to three O-Zones per day? One of my least favorite people is a Packer fan.
John: I'm glad to hear you're excited. As far as doing as two or three O-Zones a day, I could go into a long-winded explanation about how this column takes more energy and work than most people believe, and that how simply one O-Zone a day is mentally and physically taxing enough that I deserve not only increased compensation and adulation for my efforts, but occasional medical attention. I could point out that the O-Zone is my daily gift to the world and that as such, I must carefully cradle each column, caressing each comedic(?) response to ensure the most pitch-perfect laugh – and researching each football-related response to ensure it meets my high standard for wisdom, knowledge and insight. I could point out how each O-Zone column reaches a level of quality so rarified that to risk diluting such a magical formula would put the entertainment of millions at risk and would therefore jeopardize the financial and emotional infrastructure of this and several other great nations. I could do all of that and tell you those were the reasons for not doing two or three O-Zones a day. But the truth is: I just don't wanna.

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