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O-Zone: Too real

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Steve from Floyd County, VA:
Longtime Jag fan … been some long seasons, but sooo pumped about this year!! Other than overall youth and injuries, is there any reason not to expect 10 wins with all of the talent?
John: I've been accused often in the weeks since the 2016 NFL Draft of trying to douse expectations … so here I go again, I suppose. Look, I understand the optimism around this team – and I've said often that the past few drafts seem to have set this organization up for some big things over the coming years. Perhaps even some very big things. And indeed, the Jaguars could very well win 10 games next season, but would I predict that? Would I call that my expectation? No, I would not. Not necessarily. The reason is simple. While your question quickly and deftly touches on the "overall youth" question before moving on, that will be a significant and real issue for this team. It is still very young. That will be true on offense, but it's really true on defense. Three of the defensive players that have people so excited – Dante Fowler Jr., Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey – never have played a down in the NFL. I'd be surprised if the Jaguars' defense isn't better next season, but I don't think it will be elite yet. I think it will be a lot better in 2017 than in 2016. I think that holds true for the entire team. The long-term future seems very bright for this organization. In the short-term, I don't doubt the team will be improved. Enough to get to 10 victories … we shall see.
Austin from Jacksonville:
Will we have enough cap space to retain important players next year? I can't be the only one wondering about this.
John: Yes, the Jaguars will have the cap space to retain their important players next offseason. And in the offseason after that.
Raymo from Jacksonville:
This team should focus on winning the division, period. Green Bay will be a fun challenge but in the big scheme of things, unimportant. 5-1 in the division will win it, no matter if we win or lose to Green Bay ... do you agree?
John: I completely agree. Unless the Jaguars go 0-10 outside the division. Then, I don't agree as much as I did at first.
Jesse from Hilton Head Island, SC:
With the depth the Jags have on the defensive side of the ball, is it possible we could make a trade for an established veteran interior offensive linemen? Also, if a trade like that were to occur is there any sort of offseason trade deadline or can they be made at any time?
John: A trade sounds great in theory, but who would you trade? And for who? Are you going to give up a starting linebacker? A front-line defensive lineman in an area where it's ideal to have eight or nine really good players? Are you going trade Myles Jack? Or Jalen Ramsey? Obviously not, but there's a limit to what you're going to get for a player such as, say, Abry Jones, Tyson Alualu or Dwayne Gratz. Remember, too, the perception that the Jaguars are desperate for an interior offensive lineman is a perception outside the team. If Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell thought the team was weak there he would have addressed it well before now.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
I read your Q&A with Tashaun Gipson. That guy could sell ice to an Eskimo. I also listened to Allen Robinson do a solid interview on a fantasy football podcast recently. There seems to have been an influx of well-spoken young men over the last couple years. Would you agree?
John: Yes.
Chris from Crestview, FL:
John, what is the fear factor around Blake Bortles regressing this year? He threw a lot of INTs. I know the thought is another year in the system, but how Blake goes can determine everything on this young team.
John: I wouldn't call this a "fear factor," and I don't get any vibe that the Jaguars are even concerned Bortles will regress. I don't believe he will regress. The issue is how much he can improve and at what rate he develops. As you said, the interceptions were an issue last season. Decision-making and pocket awareness also were an issue at times. That's normal. Those things are usually issues for young quarterbacks, but how much he improves in those areas indeed can determine a whole lot for this young team.
Preston from Oakville, CT:
O-Man, when the offensive line shuffles around, is it typically harder (meaning that there is more of a difference) to change positions, or change sides? For example, would it be "harder" for Brandon Linder to move to left guard, or move to center?
John: It would typically be more difficult to move to center because that entails snapping and making line calls, but it's not as if it can't be done.
Ian from Indianapolis, IN:
In years past players such as Chris Clemons haven't been with the team during organized team activities. How does attendance seem this year? Are there any notable veterans not participating?
John: No, but if some veterans weren't attending that would be OK. OTAs are voluntary.
Bill from Dansville:
All this talk about "Who will back Linder up" is stoopid... see what I did there? Correct me if I'm wrong, didn't Luke Bowanko start 16 games at center his rookie year? Or at least most of them? If so, do people really expect an Alex Mack type player to be sitting on the bench waiting for him to get injured?
John: There indeed is a tendency to overanalyze, overcriticize and over-panic when fans study their own favorite team's roster. Very few teams in the NFL truly have front-line players on the bench all over the roster ready to play if a starter is injured. If those players were the best players on the team they would be playing. Sure, there are backup players in the NFL capable of starting, but overall elite depth is rare.
Greg from Running Springs, CA:
Do you think the Packers will find the sun to be bright at 1 p.m. September 11 at EverBank field?
John: Only if it's out.
Ric from Jacksonville:
Hello, John. I have always been curious about something, especially with all the new defensive players coming to the team. I have heard a lot about how chemistry is so important with offensive lines. But, does any of that factor over on the defensive side of the ball? Does a defensive line improve at all with developing chemistry? Or is it strictly a "You see that guy with the ball? Go tackle that guy!" #DTWD #thetimehascome
John: Chemistry matters with most position groups – offensive line and secondary more than most. It's important on the defensive line, but not nearly as important as offensive line.
Munchie from London:
Lord O … who do you feel will have the biggest impact on the team this year – Jackson, Fowler, Jack or Ramsey?
John: Yes.
NotaKop from Pennsylvania:
I was listening to Ken Mastrole (Mastrole Passing Academy) talk on the radio earlier this week in regards to some of the quarterbacks he worked with prior to the draft. He seems absolutely head over heels about Brandon Allen. He seems to think Allen was one of the most pro-ready quarterbacks and would probably be one of those most poised to step in (and be somewhat successful) in their rookie year. I know you've probably gotten your fair share of "How-safe-is-Henne" questions, but if Allen shows to be solid do you possibly see the front office going the Josh Scobee/Jason Myers route?
John: No. The Jaguars signed Henne to a two-year contract this offseason that guarantees $5,000,000 for the 2016 season. They also like his influence on Blake Bortles, his knowledge of the offense and the experience he gives them at the backup spot. I see no way he's not the backup quarterback this season.
Kevin from Jagsonville:
You're scary when you're feisty.
John: Meow.
Chad from Sinking Spring, PA:
I was about nine years old one night in January 1997. Earlier in the day I had watched Mark Brunell have a 63-yard scramble and beat the undefeatable Broncos in Denver. Then my dad took me to the stadium way past my bedtime and I got to see the players come in. It was a very memorable night and since then it has been all Jags for me. I feel it brewing again with this team. Wouldn't that be great?
John: There is a lot of excitement about this team. Excitement's cool. People like it. Memories are cool, too, and the best thing about them is plays get better and runs get longer, and none of the details matter because they're your memories and no one else's and that's what makes sports so great.
Chris from Palm Beach, FL:
Standing in front of a free TPC parking lot trying to collect $10 a car. #shadricksighting
John: You saw that, too?

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