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O-Zone: Sage advice

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jason from the North Pole, AK:
I don't understand why people seem excited about the possibility of Chad Henne starting. Why would I be excited to know our franchise quarterback is a bust? Henne isn't going to take us to the Super Bowl and next year we will be back to searching. It's all very depressing; it feels like the season is over before it began.
John: I don't sense high excitement from most fans about Henne possibly starting. I do sense many fans don't want to see Blake Bortles anymore – that those fans are comparatively pleased to be seeing anything else. That's the nature of the beast when a starting quarterback struggles: anything else will be applauded with the assumption it can't get worse. That's not always the case, and I do understand your skepticism regarding Henne. It's hard on the surface to believe Henne will be a major upgrade from Bortles; he was, after all, a backup to Bortles for nearly three seasons. But I guess I'm not as pessimistic as many when it comes to Henne. Did he struggle in his previous starting stints for the Jaguars? Yes, but his Jaguars starts came in 2012-2014 when the roster was at one of its lowest points in franchise history. Any quarterback would have been hard-pressed to perform at a high level at that time. I'm not going to write that I believe Henne will be great this season if he starts, but can he be better than he was in 2012-2014? And can the Jaguars be better than they were during that stretch? I believe he can, and I believe they can.
Daniel Since Day One:
Henne has always thrown better than Bortles. Now that the team isn't all rookie receivers and linemen, that will translate into more points and fewer catastrophic mistakes.
John: That would certainly seem to be the hope.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
Well, this was inevitable. I sent a question earlier this year stating we should cut Blake Bortles to avoid the $18 million guaranteed. Do you believe the team will do this? This ship is out of orbit. No sense of waiting if you ask me.
John: This question refers to a much-discussed fifth-year option under which Bortles will make $19 million if he is on the roster in 2018. The Jaguars opted to exercise that option this offseason. By doing so, it meant they were assured of his rights for the 2018 season – which will be his fifth NFL season. Under that option, the Jaguars have the right to release Bortles and probably not have to pay the $19 million for 2018. The one scenario under which they would have to pay Bortles the $19 million is if he is injured this season and not cleared physically by early next March – shortly after the start of the NFL's 2018 League Year. It's the $19 million that has people wondering if the Jaguars will release Bortles if Henne is named the starter; the rationale is that there's no reason to risk Bortles being injured if he's not the starter. As of right now – August 20 – I'm getting the sense that Bortles will be on the roster for 2018 whether or not he is the Week 1 starter. The risk of a serious enough injury to have him not cleared physically is relatively low -- and if the idea is to carry the best possible 53-man roster, then Bortles as your backup would be in line with that idea. It's a risk, but it's a risk the Jaguars understood when they exercised the fifth-year option, and the risk would be substantially lower if he is the backup and not the starter.
Josh from Lynchburg, VA:
Do you understand how difficult it is to be a Jaguars fan?
John: Of course.
Bergis from Section 202:
Brandon Allen has looked like one of the best players on the field and has all but dominated when playing, so why not give him a couple of series with the ones? How else are we going to find out? Yes, the coaches see him day-in and day-out, but wasn't Bortles considered at one time to be a gamer and not a practice player. Give the kid a shot, Doug. This next game will be his last opportunity.
John: I continue to get versions of this email, and I suppose I will continue to get versions of this email so long as Allen is on the Jaguars' roster. Fans see Allen succeed late in preseason games and wonder, "Why doesn't he get a shot?" Here's why: because coaches and decision-makers have watched practice and decided that this clearly is a two-quarterback competition. The difference between the first two quarterbacks is such that it is going to stay a two-quarterback competition between Henne and Bortles until either Henne or Bortles is named the starter. I have no wish to denigrate Allen, who seems like a very nice person, but I have no sense that he is going to get first-team practice or game reps because coaches/decision-makers do not believe his performance in games or practice merits such a move. This undoubtedly will anger and frustrate fans. That anger and frustration likely will remain.
Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Have you seen the movie "Groundhog Day?"
John: Yes. I've made this clear: I'm a big Andie McDowell fan.
Bill from Jacksonville:
If the potential quarterback of the future (guy that can lead them to playoffs/Super Bowl) isn't on the team (which he's not), the season is a waste ... already. We literally might as well start talking about the draft. Please tell me why I'm wrong, Johnny O. Thanks! Go Jags!
John: I can't tell you why you're wrong, Bill. The only thing that can prove you wrong now is the Jaguars winning. Maybe they will. We'll see. Go Jags!
AJ from Pensacola, FL:
Will Brad Allen, or Brandon Allen have an opportunity to get first team reps? And, what number does Brad wear? I can never find him on the field.
John: Keep looking. He's there. He must be. Play the kid.
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
Do you think we will ever draft another player from Oklahoma State? Or were we burned too badly by Justin Blackmon to touch the school again? One fer the Pokes?
John: If the Jaguars think a player from Oklahoma State is the best player available when it's their time to draft they would have no issue making the selection.
Matt from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Who made the decision to let Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, and Leonard Fournette sit up in the box during the game Thursday? Granted, all three players are injured and not playing. But wouldn't they have been better served on the sidelines with the rest of their teammates and with their position coaches? I was shocked to see this.
John: I wasn't shocked. Injured players sitting in the press box is a common practice.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
How long until our entire defense throws in the towel and says to heck with trying because our offense is so terrible that our defense will be handcuffed to loss after loss after loss (repeat 13 times more)?
John: This isn't an issue and I expect it will be a while before it's an issue – if it's ever an issue. Besides, while I expect this to be a good defense this season, it didn't play well enough against Tampa Bay to be throwing towels or saying the heck with anything.
David from Duval:
Thursday night was one of the Top 5 worst performances I've ever seen from the Jaguars when the score has been kept. The defense played with effort it seemed like and kept the Bucs out of the end zone multiple times down in the red zone. That's all I got to say about that.
John: I say this not to be cute or snide, but I've seen five worse.
Paul from St. Auggie:
I can understand throwing on third-and-1 at the end, but why go for another low-percentage pass play on fourth-and-1? We could have run for a first down and likely a touchdown. Makes no sense to me. There was plenty of time left.
John: I've gotten more than a few questions on this. I honestly haven't thought much about it. I have thought more about things like a quarterback competition and the first-team offense and defense struggling on Thursday than I have about the final seconds of a preseason game.
Bob from St. Augustine, FL:
So, I'm in our truck traveling out of town. My wife sees me on my phone and asks what am I doing? I said "Reading Johnny O and catching up on Jaguar news." Wife be like, "Why waste your time? The quarterback sucks. The team is pissed and they are going to have another losing season. What more do you need to know?" I immediately started writing this note ... how do I respond? Help me Oh Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.
John: Tell her she should stay in her lane. Literally.

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