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O-Zone: Sing it proud

ORLANDO, FL – Let's get to it … Geralt from Celina, OH:
What is your best prediction for Blake Bortles? Do we let him walk? Do we pay him his $19.1 million option? Do we extend him – and if so, what kind of potential deal would he get?
John: My thought as of now – four days after the season – is I believe Bortles probably will be the Jaguars' quarterback next season, but I don't think it's a given. The Jaguars will explore options at all positions, and quarterback certainly will be the major decision. And I do think there's a possibility the Jaguars explore veteran options via trade or unrestricted free agency. How realistic are options such as Alex Smith and/or Kirk Cousins? Time will tell. What would the Kansas City Chiefs want in exchange for Smith? Would the Jaguars be able to woo Cousins – provided he doesn't re-sign with the Washington Redskins – in a quarterback-thirsty free-agent market? It's clearly uncertain and there clearly is a possibility Bortles won't return; if that wasn't the case, he already would be signed to a long-term deal. I've said for a while I believe Bortles will be the quarterback next season and play on his $19.1 million contract. If he plays well next season and shows continued development, then the sides could work out a long-term deal – and if he doesn't, the team could move on. If the team was still uncertain about his future in that scenario, they could then franchise him for the 2019 season. There are issues and unanswerable questions galore on this topic. I suspect the answers will get a lot more answerable in the next month or so.
Greg from Carlsbad, CA:
So … 29th. Whom are Jags picking?
John: Wide receiver or offensive lineman … that's my early thought.
Tony from Land of Confusion:
Not really a question as much as an observation - this was our '84 Bears season. Coming from nowhere to reach the conference championship game on the back of a strong defense and a powerful running game. Next year is our 1985.
John: That's certainly the hope. The Bears in 1984 not only won the NFC Central, they began emerging as an NFC power with a young defense. They beat the two-time defending NFC Champion Washington Redskins on the road in the divisional round – a relatively similar accomplishment to the Jaguars beating the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in the divisional round earlier this month. The Bears then lost the NFC Championship Game, 23-0, to a powerful 49ers team then in the early stages of a dynastic run. That championship-game loss motivated the Bears throughout 1985 to one of the great seasons in NFL history. We'll see if the Jaguars follow suit.
Robert from Jacksonville:
Will the Jaguars submit their questionable calls to the NFL office for review? If so, what is the typical response? The league office has stated they missed a call – or maybe that's the NBA?
John: Teams routinely submit calls to the league office for clarification. The NFL indeed often admits mistakes. The response? Typically something akin to, "Sorry." If that seems as if it doesn't particularly ease the pain when critical, season-ending calls are missed … you're right. It doesn't.
Wayne from Jacksonville:
I just read on my phone that Roger Goodell confirmed that the NFL does sometimes "help" with the outcome of a game so that they can create a bigger revenue - just like the WWW - so does that confirm that the refs worked against us and for the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady last Sunday? There were just too many Patriots penalties that were not called. Do you believe that this will go unanswered by the NFL or will the owners get together and demand honest officiating?
John: I think there's something wrong with your phone. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell certainly never admitted anything close to that publicly. To do so would call into question the integrity of the entire league.
Bruce from Jacksonville:
So now Mike Florio has the ability to look into a player's mind and heart and discern intent? I see a very different intent and a very different take on whether the hit on Gronk was intended to harm; sure it was illegal according to the rule, but the rule ignores that in many cases when you hit someone above the chest their head is going to go forward and probably hit the helmet of the other player. … Laws of physics: action equals reaction.
John: I don't pay all that much attention to Florio, though I'm sure he spends hours perusing the hidden meaning behind everything I say or write – sort of like trying to figure out if Paul is really dead. But anyone who saw Jaguars safety Barry Church's hit on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski last Sunday as a hit with intent to injure was watching a different game than I saw.
Micky from Section 308:
What's the difference between an "All Pro" and a "Pro Bowler" – and I don't mean the kind that gets paid for bowling.
John: A Pro Bowl selection is a player selected to the Pro Bowl, which could mean he is selected in the original process in December and also could mean he is named to the game if a player originally selected to the game is unable to play. An All-Pro player typically designates a player named first- or second-team Associated Press All-Pro. Both are prestigious honors, but All-Pro – by virtue of their being far few players named – is considered the more prestigious.
Hippy Ryan from Fleming Island, FL:
I think we agree that guard could be our late first-round pick. I think a charging rhino that opens holes for our "run-first" offense could be the big difference, along with maybe a receiving tight end. Or are we at more of Best-Available-Player level now?
John: We sort of agree in the sense that I believe a guard is possible at the end of the first round, but I consider that a small possibility. I would guess tight end, wide receiver or right tackle would be the selection there with interior lineman more of a possibility late.
Gamble from Philadelphia, PA:
Just curious why you didn't list cornerback as one of the Jags' needs with Aaron Colvin leaving. Obviously, the Top 2 are world class but we do play a ton of nickel. Do you think a player currently on the roster will step up? Thanks O-Zone.
John: That was an oversight. Nickel corner clearly will be a need if Colvin leaves.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
If it's me, I either sign Drew Brees to biggest three-year contract of all time or I aggressively trade up to get whatever quarterback I think is the best.
John: I won't be surprised if the Jaguars seriously explore quarterback this offseason, but I doubt the Jaguars do either of these things. I'll be shocked if Brees isn't playing for the New Orleans Saints next season because both sides want that to happen – and I'll be shocked if the Jaguars trade up for a rookie quarterback because I can't see them being able to get high enough to get a player they would want to start immediately – if such a player actually exists in this year's draft.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
Is there much of a chance free agents like Paul Posluszny, Aaron Colvin, Marqise Lee, and/or Allen Robinson would sign a team-friendly contract to remain part of this ascending team? Do you think there is a very good chance the team pays Blake Bortles the fifth year and sign him long term next year if he continues improving?
John: I would be stunned if Colvin, Lee or Robinson sign cap-friendly deals. They're young, ascending players who have every right to make as much money as they possibly can as they enter the primes of their careers. I do believe Posluszny could sign such a deal. He wants to finish his career in Jacksonville, and my sense is he wants to play at least another season or two.
Nate from St. Petersburg, FL:
Firstly, I'm a Bortles backer. I've got to admit though that I'm extremely intrigued about the possibility of Kirk Cousins in teal. I can't help but be nervous about the idea of booting a guy who clearly has the support of his team, from a team like this. Tight knit, loud, expressive and loyal. How do you think the other 52 would look at the team bringing in another starter after this run?
John: How good is the new guy? How tough is the new guy? This is not a snide answer. Rather, it is to make the point that the Jaguars' locker room absolutely supported Bortles this past season and I believe most players would love to have him back. They respect him and like playing with him. At the same time, if the Jaguars brought in a player who truly could help the team win more than Bortles and displayed similar toughness, leadership, etc., they would play for that player, too. Players want to win. They adapt. And if it happens, the Jaguars' players would adjust to a different quarterback.
Biff from Jacksonville:
O-Zone carried me through. Thanks, John.
John: No worries.

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