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O-Zone: Sobbing and pleading

JACKSONVILE – Let's get to it … James from Orange Park, FL:
I rarely read/watch ESPN or the NFL channels. I really only do so during the regular season because I feel I can only trust them to represent the score. To me, too much of what both mentioned organizations produce is sensationalism.
John: There's nothing wrong with watching ESPN and the NFL Network to follow the NFL. Both networks sink a ton of resources into covering the league and both therefore have a lot of entertaining, talented people who know a lot about football. If you want to have a good idea about what's going on league-wide, it's easy to stay up to date watching the networks. But remember: they're talking to a broad audience. They also have the difficult task of trying to know 32 teams on an in-depth basis. As a result of both factors, you're not going to get the day-to-day, event-by-event, breath-by-breath coverage there that you get from local sources, such as If you want to have a broad idea about the perception of Blake Bortles and perhaps Jaguars' the latest first-round draft choice, then you might get that every few weeks from ESPN or the NFL Network. If you want to know something deeper, then go local.
Eric from Yulee, FL:
I know you aren't one for lists, but Bleacher Report rated the Top 60 tight ends in the NFL and the Jags had two players in the Top 40 and one in the Top 5. Neither of those players were Marcedes Lewis. What's up with that?
John: That's what we in the sportswritin' biz call "a miss."
Aaron from Fairfax, VA:
John, after years of being annoyed but at the same time loving the team and being genuinely interested, I think the guys at the top get it. Not to say all of the guys in the past didn't, but there were enough screwball decisions that were made that tilted us. I am actually becoming optimistic and it's scary. It's like being jaded from dating and finding your way out of that … hope that happens for everyone and hope it continues thru October. Here is to a hopeful October!!
John: The guys now at the top of the Jaguars do get it. That begins at the top with Owner Shad Khan and extends to Head Coach Gus Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell. I look at the foundation of this team and see a lot about which to be optimistic. By that I mean that Caldwell has built the right way, emphasizing the draft and focusing on young, ascending players in free agency. That approach is difficult. The first two years of the build have been difficult. Caldwell would be the first to tell you not every move he has made has been perfect. Still, if the lineup is clearly better than in 2014 – and 2014 was a better lineup than 2013 - that's the sort of solid, foundation-building progress that gives you the best chance for long-term results.
John from Jacksonville:
Can someone please get Vito a long-stemmed microphone - for oh-so-many reasons?
John: I'll look into it.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
O-Zone, is there still talk around the administrative offices of erecting a three-headed statue of you, Sexton and Shadrick outside the stadium? You could pose as "The Thinkers" sitting around your square table or just one body standing with three heads staring blankly into space.
John: I'll look into it.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
When will the Jaguars need to renew their four-year contract to play an annual game in the UK? Is 2015 Year 3?
John: Yes, 2015 is the third year of the current four-year deal. The decision on what teams play in London is made at the league level. Khan has said more than once he would like the team to continue playing there. The league is aware of this, and I've heard nothing to indicate the Jaguars won't be playing there after the current four-year deal expires. I'd expect to hear something along those lines in the next year, but as of now, there's no hurry.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
You mentioned the tight-end roster spots being crowded; besides kickers and quarterbacks, what position battles are less crowded?
John: It's a significant development for this team that most of the positions do appear more crowded – with more legitimate NFL-level players – entering training camp. I would say safety right now is not quite as crowded as the team's other positions. James Sample and Sergio Brown are at free safety, with Johnathan Cyprien and Josh Evans at strong safety. Craig Loston and Matt Daniels drew mentions from coaches during the offseason. So it's not as if there are no options there, but safety certainly seems more of a question mark than, say, cornerback or defensive end. Linebacker also stands out less-crowded. The starters appear strong with Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny and Dan Skuta. The depth is less established, though the team likes what it has seen in the offseason from Jeremiah George and LaRoy Reynolds.
Marty from Jacksonville:
O-man, in regards to the Jags not having "star" players, my opinion is great teams produce star players, not the other way around. When a team is 13-3 rather than 3-13, people ask, "Why are they so good?" No one asks that question when you're 3-13. That's why 3-13 teams don't have star players. So, if we win, we will have star players. Winning comes first. Player recognition comes after that.
John: Yep.
Miles from Chengdu, China:
Marqise Lee's decision to spend his offseason finishing up his degree may be an admirable one, but time will tell if it was the smarter choice. I would think devoting as much time as possible to preparing your mind and body to the being the best possible player on the field is the financially wise decision. Anyway, to each his own, but most people get a degree so they can get a good job and the last I checked most recent graduates aren't making millions per year to play a game. John, can you knock some sense into this guy and tell him to wait until he has established his career to earn his degree?
John: You're drawing a conclusion that Lee's decision to pursue his degree somehow led to the knee situation that kept him out of OTAs and minicamp. You're also drawing a conclusion that Lee's decision to spend part of January, February, March and early April not studying football and training 24-7 is somehow doing something different than most NFL players. I wouldn't draw the same conclusion. I know that there's nothing wrong with him taking offseason time to work toward his degree.
Brent from Jaxsonville:
Which question do you think will be that one annoying, asked 100 different ways, and never really relevant for this offseason? (Remembering all the third-string quarterback questions over the years …)
John: I don't know, but the one about Marqise Lee pursuing his degree in the offseason seems to have broken from the gate pretty fast.
Adam from Richmond, VA:
You answered a question regarding cutting the preseason to two games. I am not for changing things for the sake of change, but in the name of player safety, would it make sense to move it to three games and use that available week to add in a second bye week? I know it wouldn't increase the league revenue, but it would be another week off from a long and grueling season. Your thoughts?
John: Each NFL team had two byes in 1993 and the league quickly returned to the one-bye-per-team system. The second bye made the season really seem to drag. I don't know how much benefit an extra bye week would bring in terms of injury prevention. I'd imagine the evidence would have to be pretty overwhelming for a return to two bye weeks per team.
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
Seeing you jog down Baymeadows is almost as bad as streaking...
John: There's no rule that greatness must be beautiful.
David from Ormond Beach, FL:
John, let's play the 'What-if?' game. What if the Jags won the Eagles game last year? What changes? Does Bortles get his redshirt year? Do we get more wins because of achieved confidence or was the roster limited in a way not much would change? Thoughts?
John: I'll paraphrase (sort of) the late, great Washington Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh. Following the Redskins' 73-0 loss to the Chicago Bears in the 1940 NFL Championship Game, Baugh was asked if the outcome might have been different if not for a dropped touchdown pass by the Redskins early in the game. "Yeah," Baugh replied. "It would have made it 73-7." Sure, the Eagles game might have changed the Jaguars' season. Had they won, they would have been 4-12.
Jack from Mandarin:
Why didn't you go to Bimini with the Culligan Girl for her calendar shoot?
John: Because I don't respond well to begging, sobbing and pleading.

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