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O-Zone: Starting off right

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Church of Moodachay:
Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor, Mark Brunell, the Weavers – and now Jimmy Smith. Keenan McCardell and MoJo (Maurice Jones-Drew) are the only two missing now.
John: You've pretty much covered the possibilities, and there's no question Tuesday morning's announcement that Jimmy Smith will be inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars gives the Pride a more complete feel. Smith is well-deserving of the honor and certainly was one of the great wide receivers of his era – and one of the two or three best players in franchise history. I agree that McCardell and Jones-Drew are musts and I'd probably put Rashean Mathis and Tom Coughlin in at some point, too. After that … well, let's see how this current group of Jaguars grows matures. But that's a long way off. It's a lot of production off, too.
Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
No question. Just want to say I am delighted that Jimmy Smith is going into the "Pride."
John: You're not alone.
David from Oviedo, FL:
O-man, back in the day I remember marveling at the relative ease that Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell moved the ball up and down the field. With all the weapons we have on offense now, is it unreasonable to think another "golden age" is right around the corner?
John: It's absolutely reasonable to think the Jaguars' offense can be very, very productive soon – and that the team can begin winning. Still, I would caution against expecting that sort of ease – just as I would caution against comparing the current group of Jaguars to the Brunell/Smith/McCardell era. Remember, that era featured three offensive players with Hall-of-Fame talent in Smith, Tony Boselli and Fred Taylor. It also featured McCardell, who was just a shade below that trio. Can this era's players have the same types of careers? Sure, but there's a long way to go to reach the level that players such as Taylor and Smith reached.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
My after Day One story. Everyone forgets how different the "pre-internet" period was. We had AOL and dialup, but it was nothing like today. Not only were these the days before Facebook, Twitter, etc. … they also were the days before NFL Network, or DirecTV. I remember trying to find a bar that had satellite where I could watch the first preseason game(s); it wasn't easy. Fortunately I found the bar that would become my home away from home for those first years, and remember watching Mike Golic on the Jaguars Network announcing the games. I owe a great debt to that bar and specifically one bartender (who sadly have both since passed) for not only having the equipment, but the patience to find the game for that one lone Jaguar fan no matter the conditions. All I can say is I am thankful we now have a way to watch preseason games that doesn't require clear sky and a bar with the right satellite equipment. Heard that Mike guy went on to bigger and better things later…
John: Whoa, whoa, whoa … are people not using AOL anymore?
Preston from Oakville, CT:
O-man, two unrelated questions: Could you see the Jags taking an unconventional route due to Jason Myers struggling with PATs such as having a second kicker, or going for two more frequently? And in regards to Greg Hardy - if we lost Dante Fowler Jr. or Yannick Ngakoue to injury (knock on wood), do you think people would be more open to signing him?
John: I don't see the Jaguars taking an unconventional route with Myers. If he's the kicker, they'll trust him and use him as such; if they don't trust him, he won't be the kicker. As far as Greg Hardy, I imagine fans/observers would be more open to signing him if the pass-rushing situation becomes dire, but people's "openness" won't impact the decision. If Dave Caldwell and the Jaguars' other decision-makers decide Hardy will give the Jaguars a better chance to win, they'll sign him. If they don't, they won't.
Mark from Archer, FL:
O-Man, why do you and others think that it will be hard for Blake Bortles to replicate his numbers from last season? Many of your top quarterbacks throw for those kinds of yards and a high number of touchdowns year after year after year. Even if we do get the running game going, I see no reason they cannot put up numbers in that same range maybe a little less – heck, maybe even more. Just again: curious why many do not think he can put up the same kind of numbers.
John: It absolutely will be difficult for Bortles to throw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns again; that's because it's difficult for any quarterback to throw for those numbers. Yes, players such as Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have done it fairly regularly, but those guys are considered Rushmore-type players. Bortles isn't a Rushmore-type player yet and this offense hasn't proven it's elite for one year – much less on a year-in-year-out basis. That's not to say Bortles can't do it, but by definition it will be difficult. The bigger point in this discussion is it might not be a horrible thing for Bortles' statistics to be less than they were last season. The Jaguars need to run better. They also ideally would be playing with leads late in games a lot more. Both of those things could reduce passing numbers. That's why it's very conceivable that Bortles' yards passing could be in the 3,600-to-4,000 range with his touchdowns in the 25-to-32 range and the Jaguars be a decidedly better offense. And a better team.
Tim from Atlantic Beach, FL:
We have a very young team with some very young starters. Keeping in mind the balancing act of playing time versus injury risk, what do you think will be the average playing time the starters will get during each of the preseason games?
John: I don't believe the Jaguars' starters' playing time in general will vary much this preseason from normal preseasons. Starters typically play a series or two in the preseason opener, a little more than a quarter in Preseason Week 2 and into the third quarter in Preseason Week 3. They now rarely play any – if at all – in the fourth preseason game. It's possible rookies and a player such as Dante Fowler Jr. – who never has played an NFL snap – could get a series or two more than a "normal" starter somewhere during preseason, but I doubt you'll see a great variance from the normal playing time even for those young players.
Jaginator from Section 124:
You can remove kickoffs while keeping (the spirit of) onside kicks. The team that used to be kicking off would instead be given possession on their own 30-yard line with down-and-distance automatically set to fourth-and-15. During "normal" game conditions, the possessing team would choose to punt, therefore giving the ball to the team that would previously have been receiving the kickoff. But in end-of-game situations when the kicking team needs to keep possession to have any chance of winning, they can choose to go for the first down. Converting a fourth-and-15 is about as likely as recovering an onside kick.
John: That could be an option, though an argument could be made that it would give teams with a potent passing game a decided advantage over a run-oriented team.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
In celebration of his induction into the Pride of the Jaguars: "Tell you what I do when I get the ball. Run down the sidelines. Don't fall. Hands like glue, what you gonna do? Eighty-two coming right at you. You can't catch me, Super Bowl bound. Players don't test me. Touchdown! Eighty-two in the endzone. I'm antzing, prancing. Don't you like my dancing? Ninety-five South to the Alltel. Go Jags! Give me hell yeah. So run tell your friends that we're bound. Jaguars coming to your town." - Jimmy Smith, from the song Uh Oh! Jaguars.
John: When I reach your email, I immediately stood and began dancing and singing along. I strained my back and had to sit down. So thanks.
Bryan from Preston, VA:
My now-retired father was in the US Army in 1993 and we were stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. Hailing from J-ville, my father was hoping for a team for as long as I can remember. Because of the time difference and programming schedule of the single channel that we received (Armed Forces Network), he woke me and my sister up at 3:30 a.m. to hear the announcement. Pure elation, joy, and madness ensued ... while my sis and I just wanted to go back to bed. It wasn't until the run in '99 when I was old enough to truly appreciate who "my" team was and is. Day one? Perhaps. But more importantly? #DTWD. Thanks Dad!
John: Good stuff.
Ian from Greenwood, IN:
Of course, the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner for my wedding happen to be on August 5, the same night as the Jags' scrimmage. What advice do you have about sneaking a computer in to be able to watch? Do I use my phone with an earpiece like the secret service? Please, help me out!!!
John: Do what I did for the rehearsal dinner: Tell your wife, "Relax, babe … I got this 'wedding thing.' No rehearsal needed. I'll check in tomorrow for this shindig." This what I call "starting things off on the right foot." It's a move I long have credited with my unending 24 years of wedded bliss – heavy emphasis on "unending."

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