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O-Zone: Tough crowd

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jesse from Orlando, FL:
John, Dede Westbrook's preseason numbers remind me of Allen Hurns' rookie season. Hopefully, he can stay on that path and not the one another troubled wide receiver of ours went.
John: I suppose it's to be expected that every young Jaguars wide receiver causes some observers angst and worry. It's the legacy of Matt Jones, Justin Blackmon, etc., etc. But it's not as if those are the only Jaguars wide receivers. There were Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith. And in recent years there have been Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee. It's those last few players who are influencing Westbrook as teammates. Not to mention McCardell as the Jaguars' wide receivers coach. There's every chance he will follow those leads as opposed to the leads of troubled receivers from the past.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
With preseason behind us, which receivers will be on the roster? I think they will keep Westbrook on the active roster. I think this means that Cole will be the odd man out, or maybe they can keep him on the practice squad. What do you think?
John: Keelan Cole will be on the 53. Here's my list at receiver: Robinson, Lee, Cole, Hurns, Westbrook and Arrelious Benn. That leaves Shane Wynn out, and that could be wrong. But I think they'll need to keep seven receivers to keep Wynn. But Cole will make the roster for a couple of reasons. He has earned it, and you won't be able to get him to the practice squad.
Steven from Duval:
I hate the picks and maybe it's desperation but I still like Brad Allen over Chad Henne … it's pretty simple. Henne is no good and BRAD can't be much worse. Let's just throw a Hail Mary.
John: I'll assume for the sake of this question that the tongue is firmly in cheek with the Brad Allen reference. I'll assume that because Brandon Allen needs to be discussed in this O-Zone. I've said throughout training camp and preseason that I doubted seriously Allen would get first-team repetitions in the preseason. I still doubt seriously he's in any sort of immediate consideration for starting repetitions. But he has looked good enough in the preseason that it would no longer shock me if at some point he got a look with the starters. It would need to be after a whole of other things went really wrong, and I'm not guaranteeing it would happen, but could it? Yes, perhaps.
Don from Duval:
I thought that Brandon Allen played very well Thursday. All of the interceptions are very correctable though experience. One, the defender made a pretty good play on it. A lot of good from a guy making his second start. He moved the chains all night long. The next step for young quarterback is earring game when to be conservative and how to finish drives with points.
John: I think I speak for all of us cool people in the room when I saw earring game is big for everyone. Not just young quarterbacks learning when to be conservative. #Earringgamestrong
CD from Fleming Island, FL:
Hey, John: it was really kind of emotive listening to Coach Marrone this week regarding cuts. I'm sure that day is tough for all coaches, but you could tell it was especially difficult for Marrone, to the point that he volunteered his thoughts well above and beyond the questions asked. You could hear the emotion in his voice and how much profound respect he has for all 90 players on the roster. I was really impressed.
John: You're right that Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone is heartfelt when talking about cut-day being difficult. He was in that position often as a player, and he understands well the emotions and reality of that day. I think most NFL coaches struggle with the day to some degree, and I never have been around one that didn't feel as Marrone does – that it's the toughest day of the year for a head coach. You're having to release players who have done what you've asked and are sometimes experiencing the end of their careers. A coach who doesn't struggle on that day is probably in the wrong business.
Dave from Glass Half Full:
Zone, does this make us contenders, since we beat both of last year's Super Bowl opponents this preseason? In all seriousness, what did you think of Earl Watford? Did he show enough in one game to make the squad? I was impressed in his first action this year. One play stood out at around the 6:36 mark of the third quarter; he pulled and met the outside linebacker five yards down field and sent said linebacker back on his hind quarter another four yards. Maybe we did try and address the line in the offseason. Also, Jean-Baptiste maybe did enough.
John: Three thoughts on your thoughts. One, sure the Jaguars are contenders; preseason games are that important. Two, I liked what I saw from Watford and I do think he has a chance to make the team; the Jaguars signed him for a reason - he has proven to be a solid option on the interior. Three, I doubt Stanley Jean-Baptiste will make the roster because I think cornerback is a position the Jaguars could address once teams cut to 53 Saturday.
Adam from Jacksonville:
If the Jags' front office won't even consider playing Brad Allen then I will be forced to give away my season tickets. I never fail to keep it real.
John: Play the kid. #Keepitreal
Steve from Section 214:
Zone, I believe I speak for many fans when saying we appreciate your more realistic Jags outlook of late. After driving the offseason hype train with constant references to overall roster improvement every day since your arrival, your empathetic responses to the fan plight makes me think you might actually be wondering internally along with us whether any of the moves since 2013 will make a difference. …
John: You wrote a lot more, but I thought I'd address your first comment. I've written for several years that the roster was improving. I never wrote at any point that this was a playoff team, and I've also written – and said often – that there was a long way to go at key positions. I'm as honest as possible with my answers without getting sucked into some readers' opinion that that everything must be portrayed as awful in order to be driving the hype train. And I've always been empathetic to the plight of the fans. They've endured a lot of losing. Too much. Let's hope it ends soon.
Cole from Jacksonville:
Standing outside the locker room alone waiting for an interview with Brad Allen. #shadricksighting
John: I laughed really hard at this.
Tom Loughborough, England:
I feel that Dede Westbrook could prove to be an absolute steal from Round 4 of the draft. If he can stay fit, then Blake Bortles could rely on him as a deep threat - an area where Bortles had the worst passer rating in the league last year. The Jaguars seem to have a strategy of run Leonard Fournette whatever happens. If the defenses try and put more players up front to stop the run, Dede could create separation from the defensive backs as we have seen him do in Oklahoma, and Bortles could throw over the top of the secondary. Thoughts?
John: Westbrook has an exciting skill set that potentially makes him a real weapon for this team. He has shown that multiple times during the preseason, and he did so again in the preseason finale Thursday. Throughout training camp/preseason, he has struggled in a couple of key areas. One has been staying on the field enough to become a reliable, integral part of the offense. Another has been the ability to get off press coverage. Both Marrone and Westbrook have discussed his struggles in this latter area – and struggling in that area makes it difficult to get into the lineup. Westbrook could prove really valuable to the Jaguars – possibly as early as this season. But getting through these two issues will be the first step.
Doug from Jacksonville:
Two names that have been around for a while who looked poor Thursday: Abry Jones and Luke Bowanko. I do not claim to be a coach, I don't "watch film," but there were too many examples of those two playing poorly in Atlanta. Sure, sometimes someone looks out of position when they actually "stayed home" or was expecting help over the top or whatever, but the game those two played Thursday is going to get them cut.
John: I did see one play when Luke Bowanko appeared to get pushed into the backfield Thursday. This is something that has been an issue throughout his career, and the one play wasn't pretty. As far as Jones, I was surprised you thought he played poorly. The reason this surprised me was he didn't, you know … play. Aside from that, though, I thought your assessment was dead on.

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