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O-Zone: Rolling across the pond

LONDON – Let's get to it, mates … Marty from Jacksonville:
Johnny O, love the column. However... "The purpose of the games being here (London) is to grow the game to a new fan base. To give that fan base games that aren't real (Preseason Game 4) would defeat the purpose." John, think about that answer and what it means to a fan in Jacksonville who has to buy a ticket for Preseason Game 4. You're telling us one of the games for which we have to purchase a ticket is worthless. Are we not trying to grow the fan base in Jacksonville, too?
John: I thought about the answer before I answered. Sometimes I throw the readers a bone and do that. I'm not saying that having a regular-season home game away from EverBank Field is ideal, and I'm not saying fans in Jacksonville are wrong to be annoyed by it. That's a perfectly understandable feeling, and I would never say it's not. I'm simply saying preseason games aren't the way the NFL is going to go in London.
Rodney from Duval:
Hey John, will you bring me a T-Shirt?
John: What size?
Josh from San Juan, TX:
Why can't we keep the Henne talk out of here? Bortles is the Man until he's not. Accept it and move on, my fellow Jags. #DTWD Bortles 4 now
John: Yeah, I think most people get this. There are a few who don't. That's OK because it's OK to be wrong – in England, and in the United States. There are people who wonder if Bortles is hurting the team, and in a sense that's understandable. He has thrown some costly interceptions in recent weeks and interceptions are easier to see than Bortles' effect on the offense and the way he has helped the running game – and, in turn, the defense. But just because those things aren't easy to see doesn't mean they're not real.
Guy from San Antonio, TX:
Am I watching the same Jaguars as everyone else here? I watched the games that Chad Henne started and we never had a chance to win a game. Other than one game where he connected with Allen Hurns on a few deep plays, we didn't move the ball. I would bet we had more three and outs than first downs. Blake Bortles coming in has changed the team overall; our defense is off the field more, we have chances to win games, and he makes throws (though some bad) that Henne couldn't ever make. Henne was a placeholder, but man … Bortles' flashes of brilliance give me hope ...
John: Good eye.
Todd from Orange Park, FL:
After the four "home" games are done in London what are the chances the Jags agree to be the away team for multiple years to continue to grow their presence overseas?
John: We'll see. I don't know what the future holds in London for the Jaguars, because I don't think team officials know that yet, either. But the benefit of the London game for the franchise goes beyond growing the fan base. It's also a huge revenue producer, and a big reason for that is its designation as a home game. If the Jaguars are to play in London or anywhere else, being the home team probably usually will be part of the deal.
Bobby from Salt Lake City, UT:
Surprise, surprise, surprise … Cecil Shorts is injured again. It took longer than I expected, but same result.
John: Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III practiced full on Friday and is listed as probable on the injury report. He is expected to play against Dallas Sunday.
Joe from Tallahassee, FL:
I get the sense that there are people out there that use the word "excuse" without really knowing what it means. Do you get that sense too, O-Zone?
John: Now that you mention it …
Jacob from Jacksonville:
It seems many people don't realize that the reason Blake has been 'losing' games for us is because the Jags actually had a legitimate chance of winning when he has made those mistakes. Not a knock on Chad, but we weren't really in a game until Blake started playing. Thoughts?
John: I think I've been writing this quite often and in a bunch of different ways, and I think there are a lot of people who still don't quite get it. Or at least a few ... Or maybe just one …
Rick from Jacksonville:
This team is better with Bortles starting!? What drugs are you on? Bortles has cost this team at least four games and has done nothing to help the passing game. The games have been close thanks to the defence and the run game, not Bortles. Seriously, when you write stuff like that you just sound like a dolt and you show that you have no football knowledge.
John: … yes, at least one. #dolt
Keith from Jacksonville:
If there is a premium pass rusher at No. 1 or No. 2 where the Jags are likely to pick, I can see them taking him, but wouldn't they be better served by shoring up the offensive line given the improvement in the Jags' pass rush this year?
John: I'm of the belief that defense and pass rush will be a focus in the draft next year. One, there's no such thing as too many sacks or too much pressure on the passer and two, the Jaguars still need a big-play, impact defensive end around which to build the defense. Most teams do. As far as the offensive line, that's a group that has played a lot better the last three games, so let's wait until the end of the season to decide how much more "shoring up" is needed.
Scott from Section 137 and Ponte Vedra, FL:
Do you think Anger will be with the team next year in his contract year or do you think the Jaguars will look at other punters? Also, I suppose they will not draft another punter so high in the future. What are your thoughts?
John: Yeah, I think Anger will be with the team next year. No, I do not think the Jaguars will take a punter in the third round again anytime soon.
Ralph from Middleburg, FL:
I agree with you we have been competitive in our last several games. I would also like to point out that we have been playing a tough schedule as well. Seven of our nine opponents have winning records with a combined winning percentage of .573 (43 wins and 32 losses). Our next seven games are going to be tough also. Four of our seven remaining opponents have winning records. A very tough schedule would support your theory that our final record many not be indicative of our overall improvement.
John: This is a point I have made often – often to the anger of many. People wonder how a team can be improved and not have a better record. Well, we're seeing it now. The Jaguars last season won four games but were not competitive in many others and at times looked overwhelmed early in the season. This season the Jaguars have had two clunkers – Washington and Indianapolis – but aside from those have had significant stretches when they have played well, been competitive and had a chance to win. That's not good enough. The Jaguars aren't satisfied with that. General Manager David Caldwell was very specific about that this week when speaking to the media here in London. But it is a significant step forward and a sign that the team is moving in the right direction. As long as that continues, then it's improvement. That's true no matter how angry it makes some people.
The Great Brucini from Duval:
Hey Johnny-O! Can you tell us about your London/U.K. experience and what you think of the NFL's viability across the pond?
John: My London experience has been covering the Jaguars, and spending most of my time at the Grove Hotel, which is actually about 20 miles outside London. The reality is those covering the team sometimes don't soak in the sites until later in the week. That's OK; part of the job. As far as the NFL's viability here, I believe having four-to-eight games a year here makes sense. I believe that because that would give the league a presence and still have the games possessing an "event feel." I believe there are significant logistical and financial challenges to putting a team full-time here. If the NFL wants it badly enough, it could be done, but it would be extremely difficult for that team to be competitive. I also don't know that there's the organic interest to support one team long term. But hey, we'll see.
Mark from London:
Dear O-Zone, just watched the Scobee interview and saw you lurking in aviator sunglasses - in the UK in November!!!! Obviously, the sunglasses aren't needed but have you signed some lucrative endorsement deal to promote the shades in the UK :)
John: No, that's just how I roll.

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