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O-Zone: Searching for answers

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Scott from Satsuma, FL:
John, discipline caused us more than a few issues last season. It kept our defense on the field instead of getting off. The offensive discipline issues put more pressure on Blake Bortles to make a play, and that led to forced passes – a.k.a., bad decisions. Discipline caused quite a lot of the Jaguars' woes last year. Then, there is the lack of faith Bortles had in his protection. Watch the tape: mechanics and lack of trust really affected him mentally – and for a quarterback to take a leap forward, you need both of those. Fix the offensive line and discipline issues.
John: I wouldn't make a case that the Jaguars were disciplined enough last season, and there is no question that cleaning up penalties and eliminating avoidable errors will help matters. That will be a primary focus for Head Coach Doug Marrone, and perhaps that focus will yield the desired results. Still, I can't make a strong case that Bortles' issues last season were caused by discipline issues elsewhere – or even, for the most part, a lack of protection. The Jaguars' offensive line wasn't the NFL's best pass-blocking line in the NFL, but it wasn't bad – and it protected more than well enough to allow a quarterback to function at a higher level than Bortles functioned last season. And while it's true that penalties, mental errors and the like create adverse situations for an entire team – quarterback included – all quarterbacks and teams face adversity, just as all quarterbacks face pressure from opposing pass rushes. Yes, discipline and the offensive line can and must improve. But that improvement alone won't magically make Bortles better. He also must improve. And remember, a quarterback's role also is to be good enough to overcome things that go wrong elsewhere on the team. That's what makes the position so important. It's why teams sacrifice so much to find and retain elite quarterbacks. The great ones are great equalizers, and make up for a lot of their team's shortcomings – not the other way around.
Aaron from Bethlehem, PA:
When is the Jaguars' first full padded practice in 2017 Training Camp?
John: Saturday, July 29.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
Who was the better coach/quarterback combo: Joe Gibbs/Joe Theismann or Tom Landry/Roger Staubach?
John: Landry and Staubach. They're both Hall of Famers who combined to win two Super Bowls and play in two others. Gibbs is a Hall of Fame coach while Theismann is not in Canton, and they combined to win one Super Bowl and play in another. Landry and Staubach were the superior combination because of the presence of Staubach. If you take away the quarterback, Gibbs remains the only head coach to win three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks, none of whom made the Hall of Fame or received serious Hall of Fame consideration. He gets the edge here – and in the vast majority of most all-time head-coaching matchups, for that matter.
Mike from Jacksonville:
John, I think it is time for you stop with the Cowboy hate and allow Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Harvey Martin into the Hall of Fame. And while you're at it, you can also let L.C. Greenwood in for sacking Staubach a Super Bowl-record times in 1976. It's a travesty these guys aren't in the HOF.
John: Travesty? Really?
Doug from Jacksonville:
O-man, you said you missed Jacksonville when you went to Indy: Family, friends, weather, etc. … sure. What about favorite places to eat? Were there places you hit soon as you got back? Places you couldn't wait to go to again?
John: Sbarro, Avenues Mall.
Jensen from Nacodogches, TX:
O, I am about to have 12 days of freedom roaming the French countryside. If you were able to have an opportunity to do the same, what destination and activity would you look forward to the most?
John: Sbarro, Egulshelm Mall.
Paul from Jacksonville:
With all respect to Zach from Ocala, I hope camp and preseason will go well enough that the Jaguars' defense will be well-prepared for the Texans without regard for the identity of the opposing quarterback.
John: I agree with this mindset. I've frankly never been one for obsessing over the details, strengths and weaknesses of a specific opponent, just as I've never been big on the approach of acquiring players to beat a specific opponent. Why worry over who's starting against you? Why draft a player just because one team on your schedule is strong at a certain area? Worry about getting better. Worry about building your team to beat 31 teams rather than one. Get good enough to enforce your will – and beat – all opponents and let the rest of the league worry about trying to beat you.
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
Do you think we ever called Seattle when they were flirting with a Richard Sherman trade? I mean we had the capital to trade for him in good young receivers and maybe a runner as well as draft picks at the time.
John: I doubt it because: A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey.
Roger from White House, FL:
John, as far as Jalen Ramsey only having two interceptions and not being able to catch the ball, didn't Darrell Green only have 50 to end a 20 year career?
John: Green finished his Hall-of-Fame, 20-year career with 54 interceptions, and never had more than five in a single season. Deion Sanders had 50 interceptions in 14-year, Hall-of-Fame career. Darrelle Revis has 29 interceptions in a 10-year career that figures to put him in the Hall. Teams throw away from great cornerbacks, limiting opportunities for interceptions. Look, I get that Ramsey's hands were a "thing" during the lead-up to the 2016 NFL Draft. I just haven't seen anything to make me think they're a major issue – much less something that will keep him from being an elite player.
Neil from Gloucester, UK:
Dear Mr. Oehser. Blimey, this Dead Zone is doing my head in! When is something going to happen?! I have come to greatly respect your opinion on football matters. Who is the best cornerback you ever saw? Darrell Green for me. Thank you.
John: Sanders.
Jeff from Orange, CA:
It seems that tons of praise is being thrown at Jalen Ramsey, and perhaps deservedly so, but what are the risks of a sophomore slump? In other words, were there any weaknesses you could point out in Ramsey from last year that opposing teams could look to exploit now that there is a year's worth of NFL film on him that could be studied?
John: I wouldn't say Ramsey is immune to a sophomore slump, but I would expect him to go the other way. I think he's too good for teams to target, and I think he's too athletic and talented to not make a few impact plays when teams throw his way.
Zach from Jacksonville Beach:
Do you think Parnell could play right-guard?
John: I imagine Jermey Parnell could play guard if absolutely necessary. I don't think it will happen at his or the team's choosing.
Thrill from The 'Ville:
Which do you think is a better strategy, having your shutdown corner mirror the other team's No. 1 receiver in order to limit his production, or having him mirror the other team's No. 2 receiver to shut him down completely and roll the double team over to the No. 1 for the whole game?
John: This generally depends on the level of players involved, and whether your shutdown corner indeed is capable of shutting down the No. 1 receiver. If he can do it, let him.
Bob from Accounting:
The Jaguars have the most losses in a six-year stretch than any NFL team ever. I have yet to hear anyone acknowledge this. Why?
John: Maybe it never came up.
Chris from Section 437:
Everyone is thinking way too much about this contract thing. There is a reason why players negotiate for the guaranteed money. Wait for it … It's guaranteed! The rest of the contract years are the team's side. If the player is a bust, it's bad for the team. If he's great, the team may have got a good deal. But either way the guaranteed money was what the player was worth at the time of signing.
John: You say everyone's thinking way too much about the issue of guaranteed contracts. Perhaps there's an argument to be made that people aren't thinking much at all.
Tucker from Gatlinburg, TN:
Do you see Bortles in the film room? He has to Manning the film room if he wants to be our future.
John: I don't spend every waking moment with Bortles, so I don't know the extent of his film work. I know he works at it. I feel safe assuming it's not to the level of Manning. That's rare air. I'm sure there are others who have breathed it, but I'm also sure the numbers are few.
Charlie from Fort Mill, SC:
Hey John, tell me exactly why I should respect Shadrick. Give me one good reason.
John: (Space left intentionally blank).

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