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O-Zone: The new view

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Tom from Orlando, FL:
Not sure I have seen any World Cup love from the senior writer. Have you been tuning in? If so, how about the blue-collar, underdog grit of this team led by Clint Dempsey? Surely you will reserve some time on Tuesday for the love of country! I feel pretty good about our chances against Belgium.
John: I indeed have offered little World Cup "love," primarily because I have little to add to this conversation. My soccer knowledge is well-described as "lacking" and better-described by 17-year-old Junior O-Zone as "really sad – sort of like a lot of things about you." His perceptiveness aside, I have watched quite a bit of World Cup this month (quite a bit for me, anyway). The U.S.-Portugal match obviously was riveting, as was Brazil-Chile. I also watched the Netherlands-Mexico match Sunday with interest, thinking of my former boss at the Florida Times-Union, Nico Van Thyn. A native of the Netherlands, he was passionate about the World Cup before I knew anyone else passionate about the World Cup. I could only imagine his emotion as the Netherlands rallied in dramatic fashion. When I worked with him, most of the people in the T-U sports department rolled their eyes when he talked soccer. I'm guessing that doesn't happen in sports departments as much two-and-a-half decades later.
Mikey from Tallahassee, FL:
Special thanks to the Jaguars who took time out of their dead zone to participate in the caravans. As we were leaving, my son enthusiastically shouted, "Now I want to go to a game!" #ProudPapa
John: Cool.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
I'm no Michael Vick fan and I'm not a fan of running quarterbacks. But you don't think he consistently got his team into contention? He has not been the same since he came back from prison; I'll agree with you there.
John: Michael Vick has a 60-51-1 career record as a starter, so he clearly has been a competitive player. But I don't really recall a period where you thought, "Because Michael Vick is on this team it has a very real chance to win the Super Bowl." There likely were others who thought that, but I didn't. The conversation about Vick in the O-Zone has revolved around whether he revolutionized the game, and it's hard to say a quarterback with a record a few games over .500 did that. That doesn't make him a bad player. At the same time, I just don't see him as a revolutionary one.
Bryant from White Plains, NY:
During the regular season, when Bortles is the backup, do you expect him to get any first-string snaps in practice?
John: I doubt it, and if he does, they would be few and far between. Once the regular season begins, practice is about preparing for games. Players know it. Coaches know it. The organization knows it. To give repetitions to the backup quarterback – even a rookie backup who is being developed for the future – would run counter to that. I expect Bortles to get reps with the first team in training camp and I expect coaches to work closely with him next season, but I doubt the Jaguars' backup quarterback will get much first-team work in the regular season – whoever is playing the position.
Tim from Geoje-Si, South Korea:
Question and a comment: In the late 1940s, plastic helmets were ruled illegal in professional football. Why was that? Evil magic?
John: I confess to not knowing the answer to this one. The NFL's history of rules states that plastic helmets were prohibited in 1948. I have read that there were problems with plastic helmets not holding up at first, but it was legalized again in 1949 and eventually became the norm.
Patrick from Merced, CA:
John serious question… Is it Tebow time in Jacksonville?
John: … I'm sorry. I was still waiting for your serious question.
Nick from Jacksonville Beach and Section 149:
Do we have a wide receiver on the roster that can win the jump ball? I feel every roster needs that one guy who you can heave it to and trust he will be able to jump above the defense and snatch it out of the air. Looking at the roster; it seems our biggest receivers are rookies, who often take a while to adjust to the NFL. Do you expect that we will pick up a few guys off the waiver wire and see how they compete? (You scared me Saturday, I thought the streak was over.)
John: Rookie Allen Robinson indeed appears to be the Jaguars' wide receiver most likely to be that big-bodied, win-a-jump-ball guy – and you're right that rookie receivers take time to adjust to the NFL. But I don't see the Jaguars signing a slew of big, waiver-wire receivers just to take a look at who wins jumps balls the best. Winning jump balls is part of being a good receiver, but it's not everything. (Sorry to scare you, but when the streak ends, I doubt it will be a sneak-up-on-the-world moment).
Nosrtradamus from Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France:
Stanzi is our Kurt Warner. Henne will miss some time and Stanzi comes in and lights it up!
John: K.
Brian from Mandarin:
Marcedes Lewis would have excelled as Joe Gibbs H-back – in motion, blocking at the point of attack or running routes. How is Denard's blocking? It would be fun to see Denard as an H-back, Lewis at tight end and two wide receivers ... run or pass, take your pick. Didier did OK. Redskins did OK. Fun times for me, too.
John: Lewis indeed would have excelled as an H-back. Then again, he probably would have excelled wherever he played. He's a talented guy who brings a lot to whatever role he plays. As for Robinson, you almost certainly won't see him in a role that emphasizes blocking. You want the ball in his hands, using his speed.
Chris from Crestview, FL:
I know this would be very, very hard to do - but what if a team acquired a stable of running quarterbacks to offset the injury factor? Too often I see teams with a running quarterback and a conventional backup. I think the Eagles were close - but Vince Young simply can't throw enough.
John: You would think that will be something teams try at some point very soon. The challenge, of course, is finding enough quarterbacks who can play a team's style. Take San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers presumably would love to find someone with Kaepernick's skill set to be a backup, but the combination of speed and passing ability is not only what makes Kaepernick special it's pretty rare. A team also has to believe that the style is superior to having an offense based on making throws from the pocket. I'm skeptical that you're going to find a lot of teams that believe that, but because more teams appear to be moving that direction, it's possible some team will try to stock the quarterback position with run-oriented players.
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Do you think we'll pick up Jason Babin again later after training camp if we might need him or has he already been signed to another team? I really liked his leadership.
John: I doubt the Jaguars will re-sign Babin. I'd expect him to sign somewhere else before training camp.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
I don't usually follow futbol, but this World Cup I've been paying it some attention. Then I see the biting of an opponent by Suarez, and all that happens is people pointing and crying foul, foul. Where's the fight, the bedlam, the mayhem? Have you heard any talk around the real athletes that you cover of what would have happened to that guy had they been involved?
John: First, my soccer knowledge may be limited but I've watched enough World Cup to know these guys are "real athletes," with no quotes necessary. A retaliating player runs the risk of being suspended for the next match, and in an event as big as the World Cup, that's enough to prevent retaliation. The bigger, weirder issue is that this apparently isn't the first time Suarez has been disciplined for biting. Biting I mean, I don't pretend to know everything about everything, but I don't think I'd want to be his friend.
Geoff from Orlando, FL:
Ahh that feels better.
John: Don't PICK at it!!
Ramon from Saint Johns, Section 150 and DTWD:
Hey John, pretty cool moment Friday night. I'm a pilot and was flying from New York to Orlando. As Jacksonville was coming into view on the horizon, I saw a big bright light in the middle of the city. We were about 200 miles away at 40,000 feet. As we drew closer to Jacksonville we figured out what the light was: the south end zone video board was lit up. I guess they were testing it. Two hundred miles away at 40,000 feet … John, these video boards are going to be awesome!!! Pretty Cool!! Go Jags. #Cantwaitfortheseason
John: No joke. That is cool.

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