JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jon from California:
This defense looks good ... real good. I have a foolproof plan for this team to win. One word: punt. Just punt it away and let the defense do the work. You're welcome.
John: You're exaggerating, and that's fine; I'm all for a nice, healthy exaggeration. Still, this may be a good time to remind people that while the defense does look good on paper, the key to having a defense that can carry a team and win games is for it to score or set up scores. That means being a defense that creates turnovers and big plays. That almost without fail means being a defense that disrupts, creates havoc and pressures the passer in big situations. On offense, it all comes down to the quarterback; on defense, it comes down to pressuring the quarterback. That's what makes the defensive front and Yannick Ngakoue/Dante Fowler Jr. so important. This team must improve its pass rush in passing situations. I've repeated it a lot this offseason, but it's worth repeating.
Dude from Clermont, FL:
Hey, Mr. O, for goodness sake. It's DEFENDED, not "defensed!" Staubach! Annoying isn't it?
John: Your passion on this topic is commendable, though unfortunately incorrect. When speaking of a defender intercepting or breaking up a pass it is perfectly acceptable to call it a pass defensed.
CD from Fleming Island, FL:
More dead-zone tennis talk: it was just amazing to watch Roger Federer dominate Wimbledon, but I'm also happy he was able to beat Rafael Nadal in the Aussie Open final earlier this year. As great as Federer is, there's always that "but, he has a losing record to Rafa, especially in big events … only won his French Open when Nadal was out … etc. …", which is a bit mind-numbing given Federer's success. Both he and Nadal will be remembered as all-timers, but only Federer had that "but..." attached to him, so it was good to see him exorcise that a bit, and continue that success the way he did at Wimbledon. It's funny, I remember him being an unknown, beating Pete Sampras – I think in the semis – to end his run. They spoke about him as a "decent" player. Little did we know ...
John: I'll probably let this end the dead-zone tennis talk; with training camp two days away, the deadness is pretty much over. Still, I never mind talking Federer and tennis. I personally didn't believe he needed to win this year's Australian Open to be remembered as the greatest player of his generation – and perhaps ever – or to be remembered as better than Nadal. Federer is unquestionably one of the best grass-court players of all time as his eight Wimbledons prove, and he has won 10 grand slams (five U.S. Opens and five Australian opens) on hard courts. He also is generally considered one of the best indoor players of all time. The lone mark "against" him is his trouble on clay courts against Nadal. What gets lost, however, is that Federer actually is one of the sport's all-time great clay-court players. He made five French Open finals, losing four times to Nadal – the greatest clay-court player of all-time. Federer also lost a French Open semifinal to Nadal. If not for Nadal, Federer probably has four or five French Open titles. So yeah, regardless of surface, Federer turned out to be a little more than "decent …"
Ken from Yulee, FL:
O-Zone God, I read on NFL.com that Branden Albert may be released if Cam Robinson wins the starting left-tackle position. If he is released, would Jaguars still have to pay out his two years remaining on contract?
Mikey from Tampa, FL:
OK, I know I'm biased, so please talk me down to reality. Am I wrong to say if you compare our defensive line to, say, the Patriots, that we have more talent? What if we compare corners to them? Linebackers? Wide receivers? Running backs? I swear it feels like we have more talent than the reigning Super Bowl champions except of course where it counts most ... QB. Is the position really THAT important?
John: First: yes, quarterback is that important. It's absolutely that important – and in fact, it might be more important. Second: I'd prefer to pump the breaks on the Jaguars' talent level until they start winning on the field. We can look on paper, for example, and say Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns are a talented receiving corps. That corps might even look better on paper, than, say, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks of New England. But every time I watch the Patriots I see Edelman making big, clutch plays in critical situations. I also always seem to see a lot of other Patriots players make plays in big situations – and I see them win a lot of games. I have watched him do this a long time. I believe a lot of the young players on the Jaguars have a lot of potential, and I believe a lot of their talent will start showing a lot more this season. But let's let that time happen before anointing the Jaguars as phenomenally talented.
Dave from Orlando, FL:
In 2015, ESPN rated Sen'Derrick Marks the No. 76 best player in the NFL. It seemed like only yesterday when he sacked Charlie Whitehurst to seal the victory against Tennessee in a nationally-televised game. We all loved it when he popped up and did the money sign with both hands, after securing a $600,000 bonus. Less than two years later, he's released and goes unsigned? How does this happen? What do you remember most about Sen'Derrick Marks?
John: When NFL careers end, they usually end fast. It's a young man's game and effective careers spanning a decade or more are very rare. What I'll remember most about Marks is the person I knew off the field. I never heard anyone say they didn't like Marks, and I never saw him treat someone rudely or without respect. He seemed to truly appreciate the game and his place in it, and it was easy to root for a player like Marks.
Mason from Palm Bay, FL:
You've more or less been predicting the Jags to win seven-to-nine games, which probably means missing the playoffs. Are you going to tell Malik you disagree with his Super Bowl prediction?
John: Sure, if it comes up.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
Which is the bigger concern right now: lack of a premier edge rusher or depth at cornerback? Are those the two most concerning concerns outside of the quarterback position? Because concerning concerns can be, you know ...
John: It's close, but I'll go with edge rush as the primary concern. While cornerbacks Aaron Colvin and Jalen Ramsey will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list, they are expected to be back for the long-term, so you have a good idea for the quality of the starting three corners. If they play at their expected level and stay healthy, I believe the Jaguars will get a high level of play from the position. Edge rusher has potential to be good, but we haven't seen a dominant level from Ngakoue and Fowler. They need to get closer to dominance for this defense to reach its potential.
Shawn from The Mean Streets of Arlington:
They will or they won't ... we won't know until we know ... when is training camp again?
John: Jaguars 2017 Training Camp begins Thursday.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
If it's not a lack of effort/intensity, but a team actually not being able to do something, how do you (or Coach Dungy for that matter) explain the change in the Colts' defense in 2006 after the ass-whippin' Fred & Mojo put on them? They couldn't stop the run for anything, then after that game suddenly they could. (I swear if you say Bob Sanders...)
John: The Colts' defense didn't actually make giant strides in 2006 until a few games after the Jaguars' 375-yard game. Some of it was inserting Rob Morris at strong-side linebacker after the Jaguars game. But the main difference was that Sanders returned for the playoffs. So, sorry Doom but … (Bob Sanders).
Richard from Southside:
Hey Zone, this question is around prime-time games. We are all familiar with watching games at 1 p.m. here in Jacksonville. Do you foresee the NFL changing start times for the Jaguars if we are on a hot streak? Say 12 games in we are 9-3 … could we get a prime-time switch? It appears the league has done this in the past or would things stay as us? Would they even consider? Although that 1pm start time works great for church services #blessingindisguise
John: The NFL has the ability to "flex" games from Weeks 5-17. If the Jaguars are, say, 9-3 and playing another contending team it's certainly possible the league could flex that game into the Sunday prime-time slot.
Trey from Fruit Cove, FL:
John, I'm not contagious either, but sometimes on airplanes people hog up the armrest. When this happens, I like to make a call and tell the person on the other end that "No, I'm just using the cream now." Usually things open up after that.
John: I'll be doing this now.
O-Zone: The right call
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jon from California: