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O-Zone: Singing along

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ryan from Columbus, OH:
I know that there are some decent running backs on the Jaguars but what are you thinking will happen with this run game since it needs to be stronger to benefit Bortles in the backfield?
John: This is becoming a daily topic, so let's move it to the lead question this morning. There's a lot of teeth-gnashing over the Jaguars' running game in the aftermath of the "DeMarco Murray Pursuit," a phrase purposely capitalized and in quotes because it was more dalliance than pursuit – that despite the angst and fan scrutiny that accompanied it. Why was the Murray "pursuit" not Priority A for the Jaguars? Because with rare exceptions the running game depends far more on the offensive line and the overall offense than the running back. Therefore, running back has been devalued and is rarely selected in the first round. And while I get that the identity of the starting running back next season is Topic A for many Jaguars observers, this will take care of itself in time with little angst required. The Jaguars likely will either start a player from the 2015 NFL Draft or start a player currently on the roster. My guess is it will be the former, but whichever happens there are more pressing issues surrounding the running game.
Victory from O-burg, PA:
I figured we were going to lose Shorts ... but did it have to be to the Texans? I always liked watching him play...when he was healthy.
John: I hated seeing Cecil Shorts III sign elsewhere, too, though I don't know that it's right to categorize the Jaguars as "losing" him. They didn't seriously pursue him and essentially made the decision to part ways pretty early in the process. I believe given the right situation he has a chance to be very successful. Whether the Texans are the right situation, we shall see.
Sam from O-Town:
Who has a better chance at being on the final roster? Storm or Todman? I feel like if we draft a running back one of them will be gone. I know Todman is our kick returner, but I keep hearing that Storm has great potential if he gets his head right.
John: Jordan Todman is no longer on the roster. I'll go with Storm on this one.
Jay from Jacksonville:
Allen Hurns clearly doesn't get the recognition he deserves. Of all the wide receivers acquired last year, he clearly was the most productive and showed flashes of the most potential of any receiver on the roster. For some reason all people talk about are Robinson and Lee. What is your opinion on Hurns?
John: I agree that Hurns doesn't get as much recognition as Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, and I agree that he was the most productive of the trio as a rookie last season. I would stop short of saying that he showed the most potential of the then-rookie trio, though. Robinson and Lee were drafted in the second round, and each had flashes that showed why. So, while Hurns indeed was the most productive, I'd say it's still reasonable to project Lee and Robinson having more productive careers.
Thomas from Middleburg, FL:
I often hear about OTTO, LEO, and some other positions I cannot recall on the Jags roster. I have never seen a good explanation about what they are. I thought the Jags ran 43 defense where the outside linebackers were called Will and Sam. Is there anywhere that Gus talks about his scheme?
John: Bradley actually has talked about this quite a bit. The Jaguars do run a 4-3 defense with a weak-side linebacker called "will" and another called an Otto, which is where some of the confusion sometimes comes in. To keep it as simple as possible, think of the Leo as a defensive end with the skill set of a pass-rushing outside linebacker or light pass-rushing defensive end. Think of the Otto as a strong-side linebacker with pass-rushing ability.
Ralph from Jacksonville:
I am pleased to be a .01�r. Give me House and Skuta over Murray, if you will. I also know many who didn't think Murray should be pursued at all. It seems a lot of the league would agree. I don't see a question in there. Do you?
John: Not really, no.
Henry from Jacksonville:
With all the questions about Justin Blackmon's status, I think people should realize that chances are if/when he plays again, he won't likely be anywhere close to the level he was at when he was suspended. Even if he's staying conditioned, his lack of playing time, years in the system, etc., would take him a season or two to overcome. I doubt he steps in & suddenly we're playoff bound. Would you call that pessimistic or realistic? Like DC said, treat his return as a luxury.
John: I'd call that realistic. I don't know that I agree with your timetable; I think if Blackmon plays again he can be productive fairly quickly. But I also don't think that adding him to the team makes the Jaguars playoff-bound. Either way, he's a luxury – and he has been for a year and a half.
Donald from Jacksonville:
Is it proper to put a space between the last letter and the ellipsis?
John: Well … no.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
There is a lot of symmetry in the way the league sets up the schedules with the AFC and NFC rotations and playing an AFC opponent who finished in their division the same as you. It has allowed us the annual Colts, Pats, Broncos, Steelers games that we will enjoy again this season. If it ain't broke don't fix it.
John: You're right about the symmetry, and there's little question that the current schedule is a good one in terms of doing what it can to ensure good teams play good teams each season – and ensuring that teams play one another on a regular basis. But the question I was answering Wednesday was about the possibility of using the two non-designated games each team plays per season to schedule unique, rivalry-type games … that's doable and yeah … I think it'd be cool.
Ed from Winston-Salem, NC:
Would you pull the trigger on a deal to get AP from Minny for Marcedes & Ace?
John: Ha. Sure, why not?
Guy from San Antonio, TX:
O-man, I was curious about the secrecy with free agency. I know during the draft you don't show your hand on who you want to draft, but what would be the harm in letting the fans know the current targets of the Jaguars, and who is drawing interest from us, rather than keeping us in the dark?
John: The biggest reason for not sharing free-agency targets is NFL teams like as much secrecy as possible in the lead-up to making roster moves – be it in the draft or signing players in free agency. If you start telling people who you're interested in, then other teams might start targeting players, blah, blah, bah … The biggest reason is it's the way it always has been done – and in a lot of cases, to be truthful, there might not be much harm. I guess from the team's perspective the question is, "What would be the benefit?" If a team doesn't see much benefit from sharing information it probably won't. And bear in mind this: Caldwell was pretty forthcoming after free agency on what the team's plans had been, to the point of admitting missing out on Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb and Patriots safety Devin McCourty. Fault this team for a lot of things in recent years, but Caldwell and Gus Bradley have been nothing if not transparent. Particularly by NFL standards.
Hunter from Jacksonville:
Was there an offer on the table along the lines of Bortles for Brees? Was there talk at EverBank?
John: The internet is a dark, scary place. That's especially true in March. My advice. Get outside. Take a stroll. Pick a flower. Believe not everything you read, especially if you're reading Attention Grabbing Headlines That Don't Seem to Have Anything to do With Reality!!
Arianna from Pooler, GA:
If Caldwell can find a Pro Bowl-caliber pass rusher in this draft, and Blake can develop into a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback, those two selections more than anything would likely make this team a perennial contender over a good stretch of years. Okay, BIG IFS, I know … Am I onto something here, or just being Captain Obvious?
John: It is a bit obvious, but it also brings up a point well worth remembering – that you need big-time players at important core positions. Pass rusher and quarterback are such positions, and yes, if you take those positions in the Top 5 in back-to-back years, they're critical to your success – they'd better be, anyway.
John from Jacksonville:
It's all about the Blake, 'bout the Blake, 'bout the Blake....No Tebow.
John: Let it be noted that you wrote this, not me. Let it also be noted that I laughed a good, heart, soul-cleansing laugh.

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