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O-Zone: Rule to remember

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Tim from Ciciora:
Winning IS important in preseason, but winning means different things to different people. Winning, for the fans, is the scoreboard at the end of the game. Winning for the players is earning a roster spot, a starting spot, or seeing all of the pieces come together to form the big picture. Winning for the coaches is seeing the right scenarios on the field where they can evaluate players' potential. The Giants threw a lot of pressure at our second-team offensive line and at Henne. You can't ask for a better scenario from either coach's standpoint. That's trial by fire!
John: You're right that winning in the preseason has different definitions for different people. I think many people – fans included – understand that the score at the end of game is maybe the least important of those definitions, though I suppose there are those who disagree. Maybe the most important definition you left out is how the starters and front-line players fare as a group. On that front, the Jaguars have played pretty well in the preseason and certainly have shown improvement and progress. That's particularly true offensively, and that's the biggest reason for optimism after two preseason games.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
What is the difference between strong side and weak side? Is the strong side the end where the tight end lines up?
John: Generally speaking, yes.
Section 404 from Flawda:
Minimal plays and I try not to get too excited about preseason, but Jared Odrick can sure move for a big guy and he seems like he can go through offensive tackles as well. Good to have him back!
John: I try to temper enthusiasm over preseason, too, but I don't think there's anything wrong with being optimistic about Jared Odrick. He was a first-wave, high-priority unrestricted free agent for a reason and his athleticism, power and ability at strong-side defensive end is apparent.
John from Albany, GA:
I found Bradley's comment that Luke Bowanko was the sixth-best lineman interesting. How do you interpret that comment: Bowanko is a really good player who lost to a wily veteran or Cann (who per Bradley is NOT the 6th best OL) has been slow in developing?
John: I interpreted as I wouldn't have expected to hear much different. Wisniewski is an NFL-caliber starting center and Bowanko started 14 games last season. The Jaguars like Bowanko a lot and the difference between him and Wisniewski was pretty minimal. That means in the Jaguars' eyes Bowanko is very definitely an NFL-caliber starting player. That doesn't have anything to do with Cann. The Jaguars like his potential a lot, but he indeed is a rookie and in the ideal world, third-round rookies don't have to start immediately.
Jason from Jacksonville:
In reading your response to Stu yesterday, I started thinking about red-zone scores. What is the chance that we are playing red-zone opportunities in a very vanilla fashion during preseason as not to tip our hat? I ask because it seemed like we heard a lot during training camp that red-zone scoring was markedly improved. Just a thought.
John: Teams certainly aren't going to show their entire playbook in the preseason, but remember: the red-zone worries became a "thing" in the wake of the second preseason game, during which the Jaguars' first-team offense drove for three field goals on three drives. Would it have been nice for the offense to have converted those opportunities into touchdowns? Sure. Would Julius Thomas, T.J. Yeldon and Marqise Lee make a difference there? Perhaps. Are three series a large enough sample size to determine that the Jaguars have a "red-zone issue?" Yeah, probably not.
Jim from Jacksonville:
I've always believed winning and losing lies mostly in those five guys up front. We have a strong, nasty, aggressive offensive line with quality backups now. Am I dreaming? Nothing can stop us now!!!
John: You're not dreaming, though an argument could be made that you're perhaps a weeeeeeeeeeeeeee bit overzealous. The Jaguars' offensive line indeed looks improved, and as I wrote Monday, there appears a lot to like about the depth. Is this an unstoppable machine? Well, let's get a few more games in before we say that.
Chris from Section 437:
I'm surprised by all the Henne bashing. From what I have seen it doesn't look like he has had much time to throw behind that backup line.
John: I'm never surprised by Chad Henne bashing. It's a pretty common thing. That doesn't make it a correct thing. There's nothing wrong with Henne as a backup quarterback. In fact, there's a lot right with it.
Cole from Orlando, FL:
John, if I remember correctly, the Jaguars' pass rush was pretty much nonexistent last preseason as well. Then during Week 1 versus the Eagles, it came alive in a very big way. I'm not saying there's no concern in the pass-rush area, but perhaps we shouldn't be so fixated on the base four's success in getting after the passer in the first live-setting opportunities of the season. Thoughts?
John: I think you're right. The pass rush in the preseason is a concern. If there's no improvement in the regular season, it's a big concern. But it's OK to have concerns in the preseason and there's no guarantee they will remain concerns once the real games begin.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
One thing that gives me some hope for this season is the number of last year's starters that are now backups. That may sound odd, but the team is improving and the bar has been raised. What constituted a starter last year is no longer good enough, which is a good thing. We have better depth and a great deal of experience coming off the bench. All good things!
John: Your point isn't odd at all. I recall looking out on the practice field early in training camp, seeing Tyson Alualu and Dwayne Gratz with the second unit and thinking, "Those are good backups." If you look on the field and see Toby Gerhart, Luke Bowanko, A.J. Cann and Clay Harbor as backups you might think the same thing. Yes, the Jaguars are deeper. And yes, that's a positive step.
Arianna from Pooler, GA:
With the decision to go with Wiz at center, do you feel the Jaguars may be getting Bowanko ready to unseat Joeckel should he struggle?
John: No.
David from Orlando, FL:
Johnny-O, any chance the Jags go with just three running backs? Bernard Pierce, Corey Grant, and Storm Johnson just aren't showing me much.
John: I think the Jaguars will go with at least four running backs, and I think Bernard Pierce probably will be one of them.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Once the regular season starts, which is more important to the offensive line? Continuity? Or competition at the individual positions? Does Cann or Bowanko winning a starting job at some point mess up the continuity?
John: Good question. I'm big on continuity on the offensive line, and it's my experience most coaches are big on it, too. It's a bit unusual to see a backup just flat-out go win a starting position on an offensive line that's already functioning at a high level. For that reason, it would be a little surprising to see a change made if the line as a group is playing well. Injuries sometimes factor into this, too. An injury on the offensive line can sometimes cause players to shift positions and backups to play, after which sometimes those new positions stick.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
"...they (Clemons and Marks) did combine for 16.5 sacks last season." I also think that their presence attracts attention from the defense, enough that it frees up other players to apply pressure and get sacks as well so it would have a domino effect on the whole defensive line, correct?
John: Yes.
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach and Section 106:
For everyone fretting about our record, how we're going to do, on and on – watch some other preseason games. Of the games I've watched, our ones look considerably better than a number of the other teams' ones. We're functioning, moving the ball and getting quality coverage. I believe there is great reason for hope.
John: There are good things going on. More work needs to be done, but the fact that those good things are at quarterback and offensive line is a very good sign.
Dave from Orlando, FL:
O-man, I continue to be impressed with D-Rob. He is running with great authority and determination. It's taken some time, but dare I say, he's slowly but surely becoming an offensive weapon?!?
John: Yes.
Elizabeth from Brunswick, GA:
With the Steelers losing Pouncey, you think they might make an offer we can't refuse for Bowanko? They played against him and can attest how good he is this year.
John: I suppose I understand the inclination to want to trade a non-starter, but I just can't disagree with this line of thinking more. Bowanko is a good player. It takes more than 22 of those to win in the NFL. DON'T GET RID OF GOOD PLAYERS!!!!!!

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