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O-Zone: The man in black

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Michael K from Jackson de Ville, FL:
John, the first-string defense looked great in the scrimmage! Then, I remembered they were playing our first-string offense.
John: Cute, but I seriously learned long ago not to get too high or too low after any one NFL game, much less one NFL scrimmage. Look, the Jaguars' offense didn't look good early in the scrimmage Saturday at EverBank Field – and the offensive line gave up a couple of sacks that are bound to be a topic. But the touchdown passes that Blake Bortles threw to Allen Robinson and Julius Thomas? Those count, too. All in all, I thought the scrimmage was OK. There's going to be some teeth-gnashing over the offense, but if you're expecting this offense to be the '99 St. Louis Rams right out of the gate you're going to be disappointed. It's not going to be No. 1 in the NFL offensively. That's not realistic this season. There are going to be sacks and there will be stretches when the offense struggles. You don't go from where this offense was last year to 30 points a game in the snap of a finger. It will take some time to grow early, but as pieces come together it has a chance to improve and start to be productive. That's usually how growth happens – over time, not overnight.
Mike from Jagsonville:
How much did it cost you for Sexton and Bruey to have dead mics? I say "you" cuz I know JP didn't chip in.
John: You can't prove that.
Zane from San Antonio, TX:
Last season Dwayne Gratz went through what some would call a sophomore slump. Through OTAs and the start of training camp has he seem to have shaken off the slump? Do you think he has the potential to be a shutdown corner still?
John: Gratz played fine during OTAs, but he has been out much of training camp with a calf issue. I don't think anyone ever described Gratz as a shutdown corner. Those guys are rare. I do think Gratz can be a good second or third corner. I think he's a guy with knack for the ball and making interceptions given the opportunity, and yeah – I think he can build on that in time.
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Would you say it is imperative we win our first regular-season game against Carolina, or do you think a loss might be understandable as long as we see steady growth? This is not a trick question to put the wolves on you. I just really feel that we need that home win.
John: I think it's imperative the Jaguars beat Carolina, but I don't know how much it means if they don't win anything else.
Patrick from Merced, CA:
Hey, John … Do you have any questions you'd like to ask that we might be able to answer?
John: No.
Preston from Waterbury, CT:
Years ago, it wasn't uncommon to see defensive players – mostly cornerbacks – as kick returners and punt returners. It seems like that is no longer the case, but could you picture Nick Marshall as a returner?
John: Marshall certainly has the talent to be a returner, and he indeed took a kickoff return early in the scrimmage Saturday. But even if Marshall doesn't return kicks or punts, it appears more and more likely he will earn a spot on this team. He has the talent to contribute on special teams and the Jaguars love his long-term potential at corner.
Matt from Austin, TX:
What do you think are the odds of Fred Taylor getting inducted into the Hall of Fame? I was looking at Jerome Bettis and their stats are pretty similar for the same amount of seasons. I know due to him playing on a small-market team it hurts his chances but I think he has a decent shot.
John: There's no question Fred Taylor should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and there's no question Jerome Bettis' induction is a strong argument in Taylor's favor. The market size doesn't help Taylor, but the lack of Pro Bowl appearances and All-Pro selections hurts, too. Those honors aren't the end-all or even a criterion, but they can help a player get into the conversation. Look, I've written about this a lot and I'm sure I will continue to do so. It's a shame that Taylor doesn't get more Hall-of-Fame consideration. There's a weird, unfair perception out there with Taylor and for some reason national media don't discuss him that way. A quick look at his career highlights might change a lot of minds, but we'll see.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
Since the Jaguars are using the far field as their primary practice field, it is difficult to tell what or how the players are doing. Some close enough to see the action are less than impressed with Luke Joeckel. In your opinion, how is Joeckel doing?
John: The Jaguars have been rotating fields during training camp, using primarily the two fields furthest away from the stands – and they often indeed have used the far field. That hasn't been ideal for fans, but it's necessary to keep the fields from getting worn out too quickly. As far as Joeckel, I have heard that some were indeed "less than impressed" with him on one of the full-padded practice days – Thursday, I believe. I also know that some were pretty impressed with how he worked Wednesday. I thought he was pretty good Wednesday and not as good Thursday. As far as Saturday's scrimmage, I've heard the same mixed reviews – and I've heard some people (fans) say they were disappointed in Joeckel's performance. I was in the television booth with J.P. Shadrick and it was tough from that vantage point to break down the offensive line play. The word on Joeckel around the Jaguars is they genuinely feel he is improved, that he is stronger and stouter. They believe he'll play better this year than last year. Time will tell.
Tim from Jacksonvlle:
I am encouraged to hear, read and see Bortles making improvements in his game, although it seems to me that a large part of his success will come from the O-line doing its job. No quarterback can throw completions when they are sacked all the time.
John: You're right, and that's why the offensive line will remain a storyline until it's not. All indications are the offseason moves will make this a better line. All indications are the addition of Doug Marrone as offensive line coach will help. All indications are Joeckel is improved and the competition on the interior will improve that area. We'll start finding out a lot more next week and then a whole lot more a month after that.
T.J. Jacksonville transfer to Orlando, FL:
I was nervous when I bought tickets to my first-ever Jags away game in Tampa. Besides having a deep-rooted hatred for that city in general, I was concerned I'd be one of the only Jags fans in the stadium. Thanks to the BCB and all of the diehard Jags fans, we have almost completely bought out the sections under that dinghy that shoots firecrackers. I'd almost say it's enough that we can board it and have it taken over in a matter of minutes if the need should arise. I'm pumped!
John: #DTWD
John from Jacksonville:
I feel like I don't hear Allen Hurns' name enough with regards to a breakout year. He seems to be having a good camp and has an opportunity to be our best receiver. Each day he is making a big play … at least on the website's daily highlight reel.
John: Allen Hurns does get overlooked a lot during training camp and offseason work. That's because all Hurns does is show up every day, do the right things, make plays and produce. Those things aren't exciting training camp storylines. We'll probably start talking about Hurns this year a lot around the time we did last year – when he keeps doing those things in regular-season games. That's when consistency and production tend to get a lot more exciting and newsworthy.
Aaron from Chehalis, WA:
Hi John! It's been awhile since I last wrote in. I just wanted to say thanks. I really appreciate the daily O-Zone and all the content you guys put out on the website. I know it's your job, but I really enjoy reading about my favorite team from you and your team. It makes my life better. So ... thanks!
John: I have no idea what you mean my "you guys" and "your team," but I certainly appreciate your kind words. #flyingsolo #takingallthecredit
Adam from Jagsonville:
Sitting in the second booth at Beach Diner in San Marco with my wife, sister-in-law and my two-year old daughter. In walks a semi-balding gentleman in a black Jaguars polo. Without warning, I holler #Shadricksighting! from across the diner. I don't think he was impressed; neither was my wife. It's game day/scrimmage day! GO JAGS #DTWD WOOOOOOOOO!
John: Semi?

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