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O-Zone: Reassessment

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Marc from US Assure East:
Hey O, I'm a little perplexed that most everyone is penciling in Davon House as one of the starters at outside corner. If Prince Amukamara stays healthy, I would argue he may win one of the outside corner starting spots. I agree that House played fairly well overall last year. He also struggled a bit at times. I know we have a ways to go, but barring injury, how certain are you that House will start and why – or do you think the coaches will treat it like a real open competition?
John: I'm sorry you're perplexed, Marc. Perplexity can be, well … perplexing. Look, all roster spots on some level are "real" open competitions because if a player is better than another, the better player is going to have a decent chance at starting. At the same time, coaches and personnel are around these guys a lot. They see practices. They see games. They review every game each week and do so again at the end of every season. The staff in general has a pretty good idea of who the better players are for the system and who will probably be the best choices to start. House showed a knack for passes defensed and interceptions last year, and with a few exceptions played at a high level. That was particularly true considering the Jaguars struggled most of the season to get pressure while rushing four down linemen. House overall played well enough that the general consensus is he probably will start and that Prince Amukamara would have to play very well to beat him out. So, how certain am I that House will start? As of now, pretty certain. We'll see.
Scott from Jacksonville:
I've seen sites that have "like" buttons without "dislike" or anything else. In fact, the message board is like that. It's annoying to be unable to dislike sometimes, but it is a sustainable ... Wait! Oh, never mind ... You were just making excuses.
John: That's right. It's what I do.
Bob from Fernandina Beach, FL:
John, I read that the Steelers were using a robot tackling dummy that can run a five-flat 40! Wow! With all the injury concerns in football, how long till we have "robotic football," all wise one?
John: My first thought here was just to say "a long, long time" and leave it at that, but your question does raise an interesting point. As we advance in technology, it's not far-fetched to see a time – probably not in my lifetime, though perhaps in the lifetime of some readers – when football theoretically could be an all-robotic venture. But while it's theoretically possible, it's hard to imagine the game having the same appeal. Part of the NFL's appeal – and indeed, of all sports – is the human element. We like to watch the competition and the athleticism, but there also is a joy in seeing some human beings doing things at levels other human beings cannot. The mental side of the game also fascinates us – i.e., the ability of some humans to perform under pressure where others cannot. Another part of the appeal of sports is its unpredictability – again, something that stems from the human side of sports. So, is robotic football a possibility? I suppose, but I also suppose it would lack something and I don't suppose it would in the end feel all that much like human football. I don't suppose I'd watch much of it – even if it were to occur in my lifetime.
The Grabster from Jacksonville:
A new position is needed; The FRITO (Free roaming intercepting tackling officer). Tashaun Gipson, Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey or J.P. Shadrick? #ShadrickSightingsAgain
John: Shadrick's out. He's already busy mastering the DORITO position.
Clint from Jacksonville:
When you said it might be cool to see Jalen Ramsey wear number No. 8, it made me wonder if he would be allowed to do so. I thought that having a player in the Pride of the Jaguars also meant his number was also retired; meaning 71, 28, and 8 would be out of circulation. So does being inducted into the Pride not mean that the team also retired your number?
John: It's a non-issue because Ramsey can't wear No. 8 under NFL rules unless he plays quarterback or is a kicking specialist. As for a quarterback or specialist wearing eight with the Jaguars, it's probably not happening. While the Jaguars have not officially retired the Nos. 8, 28, 32, 71 or 82, they are not currently issued.
Mark from Brighton, Sussex:
God blind me, governor (someone in higher authority)! I've only gone and seen Scotty Jag started following our football or soccer as you call it. And lord love a duck (exclamation of surprise), up the stairs (apples and pears), if he doesn't think that all of us over here speak cockney (dialect from East London). Strewth, (another exclamation of surprise) governor, I was in a right state (two and eight) was I not? Who'd have thought all of us over here in the UK speak like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins? Hello and strike a light (yet another exclamation of surprise) my old mate (china plate shortened simply to china). He's got it all wrong (Pete Tong) has he. Give us a look (butchers hook shortened simply to butchers), Knees up Mother (Muvva) Brown (WW1 working class song), down the Old Kent Road (street in south east London), he framed me (stitched me up like a kipper etc). I'll go mental (chicken oriental). Goodbye (cheerio). Getting back to football, who will be the starting left tackle?
John: Luke Joeckel or Kelvin Beachum.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Is anyone missing this year from OTAs other than Myles Jack type? Any present-day Chris Clemons? Just curious.
John: No, all veterans attended OTAs last week and attendance is high. This is significant because OTAs are in no way mandatory and there is nothing wrong under NFL rues with not attending. This was true when Clemons was being unfairly criticized for not attending in recent seasons and will be true the next time a Jaguars veteran makes this very reasonable – albeit, unpopular – choice.
Sam from Orlando, FL:
How about FSU's 14 consecutive top 5 finishes? That's gotta be considered one of the greatest sport accomplishments.
John: OK.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
Which player would you say is the undisputed leader of the team in the locker room (if there is in fact one single player who fills that role for us)?
John: There really isn't one player who completely overwhelms all others on this front. Though Blake Bortles has become a stronger and stronger presence and probably is the overall leader, there are pretty strong leaders at several position groups: Paul Posluszny, Sen'Derrick Marks, Brandon Linder, Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson, Roy Miller.
Michael from Duval:
How far do you see the Jaguars going this year if they have good chemistry and everybody's healthy?
John: I think the Jaguars have a very real chance of going .500 or better. That depends a little on chemistry, a lot on health and mostly on the improvement of Bortles.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
I'm very excited about the coming season. But, to join you in realistic expectations, with all of the young and "new to the team" guys, I'm expecting a least one real stink bomb of a game. Even the best teams can have one on occasion. Your thoughts on this topic, sir?
John: It's absolutely likely that the Jaguars will have a bad game this season. Most teams have had a bad game during an NFL season.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
Hello, Mr. John, I have two questions for you. The first one is, "Are the Jaguars planning to blitz every down?" My second question is, "Are the Jaguars planning to just run first or pass first?" Thank you for your time to answer my questions.
John: Benjamin, the Jaguars certainly won't blitz every down – and ideally, they will blitz as little as possible. The best scenario in the Jaguars' scheme is to get pressure with four down linemen, which allows the back seven to focus on pass coverage – and also improves coverage because you're not having to pull a player out of coverage to blitz. To answer your second question, the Jaguars will probably mix their play-calling a bit on first downs, though with Blake Bortles/Allen Robinson/Allen Hurns as the core of the offense, this probably will look like a pass-first offense for the foreseeable future.
Mike from Jacksonville:
John, I for one don't want a FRODO position. They are all about returning rings and destroying them. Last I checked we don't have one to do that with.
John: I had a long talk with Gus Bradley about this Thursday. There will be no FRODO position. You're in the clear.
Dave from Jacksonville:
I've often heard it said, "There is no such thing as a stupid question." After producing the O-Zone day after day for these many years, what is your stance?
John: It's softening.

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