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O-Zone: This time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …


Dear O-Zone, Why do you suddenly hate Bortles as evidenced by your, "Sometimes-it's-time-to-move-on" campaign? What Jags quarterback holds the franchise record for season touchdown passes? What quarterback in this century led the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game? I gave the kid next door a two-year contract to do my yard work because he did a good job mowing my lawn once. Now, he does a crappy job most of the time, but I've still got a year left on the contract and he's reasonable. (I'm too old and decrepit to do my own yard work) I'll put up with him this year and I'll give him a few "bonus" weeks off this summer while I'm searching for his replacement. The point is Bortles is under contract just like the kid next door! Draft his replacement and give Bortles a place on the bench when the new kid is ready. What don't you get?

I like Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles – quite a lot, actually. I don't personally feel there would be anything wrong with him as a bridge quarterback next season if the Jaguars draft a rookie in the first round. Me writing in this forum that sometimes it's time to move on is not a "campaign," nor is it a matter of how I feel. I simply have been asked quite often why the Jaguars would part ways with Bortles considering the salary-cap ramifications. The answer is that sometimes it's just time to move on. It very much feels like that's the case right now with Bortles – that while it might make sense on some level to keep him, it's just time. And by the way: text me the number of the kid mowing your lawn. I won't pay him, but if he's willing to work for an attaboy and some gently used Jaguars T-shirts I have a job for him.

Cliff from Orange Park, FL

Just wondering, all this time-to-move-on talk: Is it your opinion or has one of the decision-makers informed you "sometimes it is time to move on?"

It's an educated opinion.

Antwaun from Nashville, TN

Question for John: If Kyler Murray was available would you draft him with the number 7th pick?

I wouldn't select Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray No. 7 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft – because he's 5-feet 9 or 5-10 – and I would be scared off by the size issue. I'm old school and I tend to lean toward prototypical size at the quarterback position. Still, Murray is good enough with enough potential that I absolutely would do due diligence. I would really consider it. I would try to determine if perhaps he was good enough to be that rare quarterback who can overcome not being a prototype. I would be very, very tempted by Murray and I almost certainly would worry that by passing on him I was passing on a big-time player capable of changing games. But in the end, I must say I almost certainly would pass on him.

Mark from Prescott, AZ

John, I have my own thought, but I just hope the Jaguars make the right decisions that result in a new successful quarterback. Once again, I still like West Virginia quarterback Will Grier in the second round. I personally would take Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf @ No. 7, bring tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins back and go O-line depth the rest of the way. You must tire of all these scenarios, but what do you think of this one? Thank you.

I like Grier OK, but I'm not optimistic about drafting a true difference-making quarterback in the second round. It seems No. 7 overall is too high for Metcalf, and I also didn't much like how bulked-up Metcalf appeared in a recent photo. Being strong is one thing, but you can get too big and bulky for a position – and Metcalf seems on the verge of that. I don't believe Seferian-Jenkins is returning next season and I don't know if there's much point to just drafting offensive-line depth in the latter rounds of the draft – particularly if you're wanting to improve your line depth immediately. A late-drafted offensive lineman is rarely going to be able to contribute immediately in a significant way. I guess in light of all that, I don't much like your scenario. But that's OK. Many scenarios I don't like are good scenarios.

Drew from Buford, GA

There has been so much attention on what the Jags will do at quarterback this offseason. I get it from a fan-demand standpoint, but how much will that really help when we need a healthy offensive line and some legitimate receiving threats? I don't think there is a single quarterback in the league that would have taken us to the playoffs last year, so if we think a $25 million Nick Foles, Derek Carr or Joe Flacco will change that alone, we are going to be really disappointed again. Are there any viable free-agent wide receiver/offensive-line options out there that could help us and any new quarterback?

It's slim pickings, Drew. That's not to say the Jaguars won't be able to find help in either area, but if you're thinking franchise-changing, difference-making players on the level of defensive end Calais Campbell or cornerback A.J. Bouye … you probably need to think again. The top offensive linemen available figure to be left tackle Trent Brown of New England, tackle Donovan Smith of Tampa Bay and right tackle Ja'Wuan James of Miami. The top wide receivers available figure to be Golden Tate of Philadelphia, Adam Humphries of Tampa Bay and Tyrell Williams of San Diego. The motto: Draft and develop, draft and develop, draft and develop because the pickings are almost always slim in free agency. And very expensive.

Patrick from Madison, WI

I am having a hard time with these Bortles haters getting on his case about not throwing the long ball more often last season. Did people not watch Tom Brady just win another championship by dinking and dunking his way down the field on passes of ten yards or less? There is no need to push the ball down the field on every throw, you need dynamic receivers who can make people miss tackles in the middle of the field or hold onto the ball when it is thrown their way.


Captain Bob from Fernandina Beach, FL

Did the senior writer tune into the AAF last weekend? Did he see anything he liked .. such as, fast-paced games, few flags, commercials … therefore lots of football game!

I watched very little Alliance of American Football last weekend; it wasn't out of protest of disinterest as much as just being busy with other pursuits. I plan to watch at least some moving forward. I think the biggest thing the NFL may take from AAF is the use of a fourth-and-12 play instead of an onside kick. The onside kick because of rules changes geared toward player safety became essentially a useless play last season, which led to more of a feeling of games being over if teams were leading by two scores late. The league must do something to bring back at least the possibility of the miracle comeback, and the AAF's fourth-and-12 play could be a good starting point.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

Why is NFL drug testing such a farce? The league generally drug-tests players at the start of the league year, and then players that fail said test are tested for the next year. There have been plenty of interviews with players about this to know that many are still habitual users of recreational drugs. Now, I know the league isn't exactly naive. Why all the pomp and circumstance?

I'm assuming you're talking about the league's recreational drug use policy. I wouldn't call it a farce, but I'm also not one to think that marijuana use – though still illegal many places – is some awful thing that must be eradicated from society and football at all costs. Players under the policy indeed are tested once a year between April 20 and August 9. If a player passes that test, he is not tested until the same time frame the following year. If he fails that test, he enters Stage of 1 of the league's substance-abuse program and can be tested randomly for 90 days; if he does not test positive again, he is out of the program and back to being tested once a year between April 20 and August 9. I don't know much pomp and circumstance is involved, but that's the process.

Chris from London, UK

John, you keep saying "Sometimes it's time to move on," but that statement in itself means sometimes it's not time to move on??

You're exactly right that sometimes it's time to move on inherently means that sometimes it's not time to move on. But sometimes it's time to move on. This is one of those times.

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