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JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Red from the O-Zone comments section:
A major sports media site recently posted an article comparing Blake Bortles' career statistics to other quarterbacks in the NFL during their first 62 starts. Isn't analysis by career stats misleading? Hypothetically speaking, if Blake's stats for 2016 and 2017 were swapped, his career statistics would be unchanged – but how would the front office and Jag fans feel about having Blake as the starting quarterback in 2018 in that scenario? I know I'd be less enthusiastic about Blake if that were the case. How about you?
John: I don't particularly care about Bortles' statistics the last two seasons – and I actually never really have cared much about his statistics. This is because I've never really thought his statistics accurately reflected his development. I wrote often during and after what was then perceived as his "breakout" season of 2015 that he had a long way to go before he was a franchise quarterback – and that his 35-18 touchdown-interception ratio that season wasn't nearly as important as the issues he had with pocket awareness, decision-making and field awareness. I cared less this past season about his touchdown-interception ratio and yards than the fact that he grew as a leader and decision-maker – and clearly showed a veteran-level command of the offense. He also was much better in terms of pocket presence and accuracy this past season than he previously had been – and that was true whatever his touchdown-interception ratio. I'm not particularly enthusiastic or unenthusiastic about Bortles; I typically don't get all that enthused about players. What I can tell you is he showed real growth this past season, and I believe the Jaguars can win in the postseason with him. I don't know if he will return next season, but I don't believe it would be tragic if he did.
Don from Norfolk, VA:
I get a - 404 Error - message when I click on "O-Zone: Seeing is believing …"
John: Yeah, well … some might say that's for the best.
Sebastian from Orlando, FL:
What do you think about picking up Mason Rudolph in the second round?
John: I'm wary about the approach of "picking up" someone in the first two or three rounds of the draft. I say that because the phrase "picking up" makes the move sound like kind of an afterthought – and those early-round selections over time are key to building the core of your team. As far as Rudolph is concerned … I don't pretend to have studied all of the top quarterbacks yet, and I expect to have a better feel for a lot of top players after the NFL Scouting Combine later this month. That's not because the combine is the great end-all; rather, it's when I have had time to talk and listen to a lot more people on the prospects of interest. As for now, my thoughts on Randolph are those I have after watching a few videos. I don't love him. He's OK. He looks like a later-round selection who probably will get pushed up because quarterbacks get pushed up in the draft. If you're going to take Rudolph or any other quarterback in Round 2, I'm fine with it – but if you're going to take a quarterback that early, you better feel strongly he eventually can develop into a starter. The selection is too valuable to just "take a flier."
Doug from Jacksonville:
To the reader who said A.J. McCarron is young and has upside. ... Bortles is two years younger with a lot more experience. What is McCarron's perceived upside? His alma mater?
John: Roll Tide.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
Just saw Charley Casserly's recent mock draft that had FSU safety Derwin James still on the board at No. 29 and Jags passed. If Derwin, Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams, and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson are all on the board, who are they taking?
John: I actually have no idea. We're nearly 10 weeks from the 2018 NFL Draft. My guess right now is the Jaguars will go offensive line, tight end, wide receiver or quarterback in the first round. Jackson scares me because of his lack of accuracy, so right now – on February 18 – I'd answer: "Williams." I may have a different answer next week. Or tomorrow.
Terry from Northside:
I keep seeing Allen Robinson as an unrestricted free agent. Why is he not signed yet? What's the hold up?
John: The holdup is that Robinson indeed is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent as of the March 14 start of the NFL League Year – and when unrestricted free agents get this close to the start of the new league year unsigned, it can get trickier to get them re-signed. I believe Robinson will be with the Jaguars next season, because the receiving corps will need to be readdressed – and rebuilt – if he isn't re-signed. But I don't think it's a given that he is re-signed to a long-term deal this offseason. He likely will be seeking elite-receiver money and that will be a tough ask from the Jaguars' side. My guess is he will be franchised, but I guess wrong a lot. We'll see.
David from St. Augustine, FL:
You think you're funny. You're not.
John: Wait? What.
Chad from EverBank – soon to be, TIAA Bank – Field:
O-face, this is pure speculation – and only time will tell – but I'm concerned for Dante Fowler Jr. I question if he is mature enough to go unrestricted free agency. He had some very questionable issues both on and off the field, which seem to be turning around once he got around Calais Campbell. My fear is that the new money goes to his head – and the new location gets in his head. I'm concerned he might feel the need to "show off" and/or become a spectacle to achieve the same camaraderie that was developed here. Just putting my two cents out that he may continue to improve and excel here, and may be someone else's FA regret. I'm assuming there are too many rea$ons for him not to negotiate a contract to stay with the Jags, should they decide his cap hit is too much for a "non-starter."
John: We're a ways off from Fowler needing to renegotiate his deal. He is signed through 2018, and I honestly don't have a real feel for whether the Jaguars will want to re-sign him. My guess right now is that they will not, but we'll see. Either way, I wouldn't stress too much about Fowler being too immature to become a free agent. At the very least, he won't be alone.
Jimo the Aussie from Philadelphia, PA:
Hey O, with all this talk of a black helmet from a team that uses analytics I was wondering if anybody could explain why the team with arguably the hottest stadium would use the color that absorbs most heat in the area that needs coolness the most? Seems a little "hot headed" and dumb to me... your thoughts, bud?
John: I've never heard a Jaguars player complain about a black helmet feeling hotter. I'm not sure this is a "thing."
Joey from Athens, GA:
What are the Jags going to do with Brad Nortman this offseason? He didn't seem to be a very good punter this season. His punts were short a lot of the time.
John: I thought Nortman was OK at times last season and I thought he struggled in some big situations. There were times he had a chance to bail the Jaguars out with a monster kick in a big situation and he didn't come through in enough of those times. The final punt in the AFC Championship game that led to the Patriots having a short field for their go-ahead, fourth-quarter touchdown comes to mind. The Jaguars can save $2.375 million against the cap by releasing him before March 14, and I expect that's what they will do.
Daniel from New Jersey:
O-man, when I saw that you thought Poz would sign elsewhere as a free agent, it was the first time that I have hoped that you were wrong, but I fear you are not. We love Poz.
John: I hope so, too. I thought much of last season that there was a good chance Posluszny would return next season on a team-friendly deal. I thought this because I know he ideally would like to finish his career in Jacksonville. But playing a role as limited as the one he played last season isn't ideal.
Jim from Jacksonville:
Your titles each day are part of the entertainment of reading the O-Zone. Kudos!
John: What?

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