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O-Zone: Starting off right

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

What can you do other than laugh at the predictions from the national press about the Jaguars? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Myles Jack was not down. Wrong, wrong. Do the experts even know that there is a Pro Bowl player at every position on defense? I think this defense will score more points than some offenses. Time to rattle that lock. Go Jaguars!

I must admit I don't read all predictions about the Jaguars; honestly, I read hardly any at all. I have seen and heard plenty of analysts who believe the Jaguars have a very good roster – perhaps one of the NFL's best – and the Jaguars' players seem to be getting many accolades this offseason. My guess is there will be Jaguars fans unsatisfied until every analyst picks them to win the Super Bowl, a bold guess I make with confidence because fans gonna fan. My guess also is analysts will continue to come down on both sides, with some believing last season a fluke and others believing this team's talent is significant enough it will be a contender. How much does either opinion matter? Not much. Opinions, while entertaining, don't matter in professional football. Championships aren't decided by voting or rankings. If the Jaguars are as good as they believe – and as many locally believe – they will have more than their share of chances on the field to prove it.

John from Apple Valley, VA

Regarding a recent question about our biggest rival: Last season, the New England Patriots beat us out of the playoffs for the fourth time since 1996. I would say they would have to be our biggest rival even though they aren't in the same division. The Titans only beat us in the playoffs once.


Bubba from the Mayor's Office

Who works in IT there? In terms of formatting the O-Zone, they may not be able to prevent ads from appearing between the questions and answers but I'm sure they are clever enough to prevent ads from showing up between the name/location of the person and their question.

Some things on are in the control of those of us who work here. Some are not. It's not always safe to assume which is which.

BoredGuy from BoredVille

The world is having a party, and I'm not invited.


CD from Fleming Island, FL

Hey John, regarding the need for the tight end to pose more of a threat in the passing game, there has been some optimism about Austin Seferian-Jenkins in camp. I feel like we had similar hopes for Julius Thomas also, though. So, first: do you feel it's fair to compare those players? And is there anything you know or have seen out of Seferian-Jenkins thus far that leads you to believe he could have a greater impact than Thomas? Is some of it related to quarterback Blake Bortles maturing as a player?

There are a couple of difficult things about comparing Seferian-Jenkins to Thomas. The first is that the team is significantly better and ready to compete more now than when Thomas arrived in 2015. The other is that Seferian-Jenkins is far bigger than Thomas, and therefore more of a prototypical tight end; Thomas was more of a pass-receiving tight end. Remember this about Thomas: while his time with the Jaguars ended poorly, he was productive and caught nine touchdown passes in 16 starts and 21 games. It appears Seferian-Jenkins can have at least that sort of impact. That's a pretty good start toward giving the Jaguars what they need from the position.

Neil from Gloucester, England

Mr. O. Like my fellow UK compatriot from recently, I am awaiting my air conditioning unit ordered via your website. The tracking system leads me to believe it is currently off the coast of Greenland. Would your influence be available to speed up its arrival? Plus, it's starting to get on the warm side here. Thank you.

Hold on.

Tom from St. Augustine, FL

I did not notice any ads ... thanks for keeping your bikini-clad ladies out of the ads. I am able to concentrate your writing.

You're welcome … no, sorry … no … wait … what?

Mike from St. Mary's, GA

You've been over this, but I still keep coming back to this question this offseason since strong-side linebacker keeps popping up as a topic: Why can't Dante Fowler Jr. play strong-side linebacker? I get that it involves training at more than one position, but he's played linebacker before, so it's not like he's converting from tight end or something. He's had a few years of experience at defensive end and it seems like he's pretty darned familiar with how that position works now, so it's not as though it will be information overload. If it's just for run downs, then it seems like a good opportunity to get a good playmaker on the field. Maybe the coaches want him fresh for when he goes in at defensive end. I could understand that. Maybe the coaches would rather have a linebacker who has more ability in coverage and could gain experience and sub in at other linebacker positions if needed. I could understand that, too. But there certainly seems to be advantages to having Dante play that spot over a typical strong-side linebacker. I'm really just trying to follow the logic.

Part of the logic is the Jaguars see Fowler as a defensive end – and while he played linebacker in college, he has not done so in the NFL. The 4-3 strongside linebacker is a dramatically different position than defensive end in the Jaguars' scheme and involves significantly different reads before the play and after the snap. Remember, too: the Jaguars have just two true "weak-side rush defensive ends" – Yannick Ngakoue and Fowler. The risk of taking one of those players away from that and having him focus on something else may not be worth the reward.

Chris from Norfolk, VA

O-Dog: here's a two-parter. Are you a cigar guy? I just got back from the Dominican Republic and I gotta admit I prefer Dominicans over Cubans. The second is more of a compliment. I've never submitted so I can see my question. I'm really stoked to get your answers.


Rob from Jacksonville

I think the biggest problem people have with Blake is if it's the final drive of the game, and we need a touchdown, it's not gonna happen. That's what makes you elite. I like Blake. Sure hopes he gets a few under his belt this year.

That's a fair complaint. It's also fair to note that the Jaguars struggled enough overall from 2014-2016 that it's difficult use those games as a sample size. Enough went wrong for a long time that it's tricky to say Bortles was the entire reason the Jaguars never rallied in the fourth quarter at the time. Fast forward to last season: Bortles indeed had his struggles in late-game situations – and he also played well in some late-game situations later in the season. There are signs he's improving in this area, but there's no question he needs to show results.

Adrian from Reading, UK

Apen er i treet. Hvor er kyllingen din?

Det er under sengen med coyoten.

Luther from Right Here

What in the Funky Cold Medina is going on, John? Who declared you the King of Funk? Was it Shadrick? Is he responsible?

I declared myself the King of Funk. I haven't as mentioned it as much in recent days because I sense some people are a little worn out on it. But people know. Believe me, they know.

Josh from Lima, OH

This is more of an observation than a question, but watching the clips from OTAs I can't help but notice how well Blake seems to be winging it out there. Nice tight spirals. Very few "ducks" flying around compared to years past. Kinda further proves to me just how comfortable he is right now in the second year of this offense. What are your thoughts?

Good eye.

Mark from Prescott

I haven't heard a peep from anybody about that undrafted wide receiver from Iowa or Iowa State with the great college numbers. Any observations about how he is looking so far in OTAs being as receiver is a skilled position and some assessment might be able to be made?

You're referencing wide receiver Allen Lazard, who signed with the Jaguars as a free agent from Iowa State shortly after the 2018 NFL Draft. Lazard flashed early in OTAs, making at least one reception that stood out. I haven't noticed him as much since, but that's not unusual for a rookie wide receiver. It can take time to learn the offense, and Lazard also is working with reserve quarterbacks as opposed to starters.

The Other Michael from Middleburg, FL

Starbucks and the O-Zone ... the two best things about my morning.

Keep striving to get better.

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