JACKSONVILLE – This O-Zone was filed Thursday evening.
Many of you around the state, nation and world will be reading it Friday as Hurricane Matthew passes Jacksonville – and presumably as its effect pounds huge swaths of the area many of our readers proudly call home.
It's a frightening time, a serious time. I imagine I'll write the O-Zone daily unless power or circumstances prevent me from doing so. I'll do that because it's what I do. I make no promises about quality during these times, but the quality honestly isn't that high in normal times, anyway.
There may not be as much football as usual. It may be more well wishes and the like. We'll see.
I'm 50. I've lived in Jacksonville most of my life and obviously have never seen a storm like this bearing down on this area. We'll see what the day brings.
OK, breathe deep. Be smart, everyone – and be safe.
Let's get to it …
Mandy from Section 424:
Questions and football really don't seem to matter. I just wanted to say "Safe to you and yours, Mr. O – as well as everyone else in this terrible storm's path." Everyone is in our thoughts. So, batten down the hatches and help one another and we will see everyone on the sunny side after this storm passes.
John: True that. Here's hoping people are as safe as possible in the coming days, and here's hoping also for serious sunny – and good – days in the days to come.
Chris from Houston, TX:
So, I'm curious as to why the Colts didn't receive a bye after the London game like the Jaguars have – and as most have teams after playing overseas. Did they request not to have it immediately after?
John: The Colts indeed requested to have their bye later in the season rather than immediately after London. That will make them the first team to play a game the week after the London trip. The NFL and other teams undoubtedly will be watching to see how they fare. Perhaps the Colts will win Sunday. They're playing the Bears, which by any measure this year is a winnable game. Regardless of the Bears-Colts outcome, it's a tough thing to ask a team to prepare for a game the week after returning from London. It's not un-do-able, but that doesn't mean it's not tough.
George from Savannah, GA:
It will be Caldwell versus Mackenzie on October 23. Bortles and Lee or Mack and Carr. It won't be Del Rio vs Bradley, but rather who drafted better in 2014.
John: Yes, there undoubtedly will be people who view it that way.
Eder from Mexico City, Mexico:
Hello, John: I don´t live in Florida, but please tell everybody to be in safe places and take precautions about Hurricane Matthew. Please stay safe. Best wishes!
Jordan from Little Valley:
Did David Caldwell really get a fair shake on his first draft class? He didn't have a full year to prepare for that draft in detail like he probably would have wanted to. Or is four months enough time to figure it all out? Since that year his draft classes have been on point.
John: Caldwell actually had plenty of time to prepare for that draft. Remember, Caldwell and the Jaguars' scouts all had worked in the league either for the Jaguars or another team in the year before. They had done scouting for their respective teams and therefore knew the class. The issue in 2013 wasn't lack of preparation, though a strong case could be made that the Jaguars and Caldwell that year were hampered by it being one of the weaker drafts overall in recent NFL history. On that front, the Jaguars were far from alone.
Scott from Ponte Vedra, FL:
If you had to put one player on the field and your choices were cyprien or jack, who would it be? it is obvious. don't give me scheme, it is over engineering at its fineish. I like gus but he doesn't get it and his replacement at d coord. is a puppet. that is what is disheartening. go jags.
John: The shift key is one on the left – one row up on the bottom. FYI.
Thomas from Jacksonville:
You definitely won't post this! The NFL won't minimize the influence of officiating, because they use it to control the outcome of games. Example: holding can be called on every play, but they call it when they want to. Solution: have offensive linemen wear eight-ounce boxing gloves (player safety) and remove the rule. Easy, so CORRUPTION is proven. The question is why do they control the outcome?
John: My son is 20. When he was 17 he used to tell me all the time Tupac was still alive.
Armando from Vacaville, CA:
Isn't it encouraging to know your team has so many good defensive players to where it's hard to play them all at the same time? I think whatever the scenario, our bench is finally as equally as good as the starters.
John: I almost dismissed this email out of hand because the fact is your starters are typically better than your backups. I didn't dismiss it out of hand because there are a couple of positions – Leo end, three- technique defensive tackle, cornerback – where the backups aren't a big dropoff from the starters, so hey … one fer the backups!
Mike from Albany, NY:
Get outta town, John. Be Safe!
John: For the record, I'm not leaving town because my family and I don't live in an evacuation zone. There are plenty of readers who do live in such zones. Here's hoping they're reading this from somewhere away from those zones.
Steven from Memphis, TN:
Hoping all my friends in the Jacksonville Beach area and in Duval County are safe from the storm. I will be thinking of you all. Stay safe.
John: Well said.
Tym from the Southside:
O-Zone, you said that Blake Bortles may never be crisp and dazzlingly accurate from the pocket, which sounds a lot like a West-Coast type quarterback. Few quarterbacks can make all the throws, and generally they have certain tendencies. So, let's put you in as a hypothetical general manager with the first pick during a draft that has three equally high-rated quarterbacks: a big-arm quarterback (Matt Stafford, John Elway), a West Coast quarterback (Philip Rivers, Drew Brees), and a mobile gunslinger (Brett Favre, Steve Young). Who do you take?
John: I'd take Elway because I prefer a quarterback who can stay in the pocket, make every throw and win from there. That remains the best way to win consistently in the NFL, and it remains the best way for the quarterback to have a long, productive career.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
I hope Luke Joeckel has a speedy recovery and is back strong as ever. A lot of people have declared him to be a terrible player but I will always disagree. I think he was solid and if not for poor coaching he would be elite. I think he has had rough games, but let's be fair: he was forced to play right tackle early then got hurt and missed the rest of his rookie year. He was the best player on the line the next year minus a game. This year, playing with zero experience, he did a solid job at guard. I think we gave him a raw deal. So I hope he is either re-signed or given a chance to shine elsewhere because he was completely mistreated here so far.
John: Luke Joeckel's NFL career is no way over. He's still a very young player and he absolutely has played well enough that he will play in the NFL somewhere next season. He's a hard worker, a high-character person –and overall just the kind of person you want on your team. I imagine he will want a chance to play left tackle. If that's the case, that probably won't be in Jacksonville. As far as if Joeckel and the Jaguars would work out a short-term deal to play guard … well, I see that as a possibility, but there's a long time left until this has to play out.
Jeff from Rutland, MA:
Alright. I'm riding the wave. For the next 10 days (at least) I'm buying the idea that the Jags have finally turned the corner and will be adding Ws to the win column. I'm ready to admit I was wrong (again) to predict another losing season. Man, I'm really ready to be wrong on that.
John: The three weeks coming out of the bye will tell a lot about how right or wrong you are. Those three games – against Chicago, Oakland and Tennessee – going to be interesting. We'll see what happens.
Jfilo from Neptune Beach, FL:
I'm beginning to see a lot of love here for our defense. Don't look now O, someone might actually compliment a coach!
Nate from York, PA:
Just want to say to everyone in Duval, stay safe with the hurricane hitting. GO JAGS!
John: No doubt.