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O-Zone: Tough three weeks

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Gabe from Washington, DC:
Who do you see having a "better" year, Myles Jack or Dante Fowler?
John: This is tough for a couple of reasons: the positions are different, and Fowler at defensive end is judged more by one statistic – sacks – than is the case for Jack at linebacker. I'll go with Jack, because Jack likely will be at the nickel linebacker position that suits his skillset about 65-to-70 percent of the time. I think he'll excel there. I'm intrigued by Fowler, though. He has had more flash moments in full pads this training camp and preseason than he did last training camp and preseason. There's a cautious optimism around the Jaguars that this could be a sign of good things to come. The regular season is a different animal, so we'll see if things stay optimistic for Fowler, but the past few weeks have been encouraging.
Sac from Gainesville, FL:
I feel that Chad Henne could be very similar to David Garrard in terms of being a game manager when we last went to the playoffs: a good running game, good receivers, and a good defense. He doesn't need to light the world on fire, just be consistent and don't lose games. Thoughts?
John: That's the hope.
Joseph from Sacramento, CA:
Come Thursday's game against the Panthers and neither quarterback performs well … what happens then? Also, why keep three quarterbacks on the roster when decision-makers don't think Brandon Allen is good enough to surpass Blake Bortles and Chad Henne?
John: If both quarterbacks struggle Thursday, I think you'll see the Jaguars go with Henne. I don't know how many quarterbacks the Jaguars will keep on the roster. That's fluid until next weekend when the team cuts the roster from 90 to 53.
Steve formerly of Woodbine, GA now of Upper Tract, WV:
If they're not going to give Brandon Allen a chance with the first team ever, according to you, then why do they keep paying him every week to hang around?
John: NFL players aren't paid until the regular season begins.
Mark from Richmond, VA:
It's just really sad that we have key players in a lot of other positions ready to go and we farted around on the most important position. Of all the people in this entire world, you mean to tell me there are only 31 people that can be NFL winning quarterbacks!?!? I feel like there might be one or two guys out there that can lead us. We just don't have the guts to go get them.
John: I wouldn't ever tell you there are 31 people that can be NFL winning quarterbacks. I would tell you that number is way too high.
Jerry from Jacksonville:
Personally, I wish the fans/media would let Blake play and stop killing him over every single preseason rep. I would take 35-15 with five rushing touchdowns - let him run an aggressive offense as we did the last two games last year. I think the results with this defense would be very good. Is it too late for that?
John: It's not too late, because I think Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone legitimately wants to see Henne or Bortles take control of the position. I think he is leaning toward Henne, but if he was certain, he already would have named Henne the starter. So, while time is running out for Bortles, it's not too late. As for Bortles getting killed over every preseason repetition … yes, that has happened. But quick-trigger/real-time analysis and overreaction is part of the deal for an NFL quarterback in the Twitter era. It's no one's "fault" – not fans or media – and it's sure not going away.
Hippy from Fleming Island, FL:
The offensive line's lack of push probably won't be improved from last year, most likely leading to the same struggles in the run game. Add the left tackle now being a rookie. Ouch. Henne seems to get rid of the ball more quickly and hit receivers in stride. He's gonna need to. Maybe this team is far enough along to utilize a game-management-style quarterback and the offense will click. Please, O-ski, tell us what we have for Henne to now succeed.
John: I'm assuming your first sentence is your premise. If your premise is correct – that the offensive line won't get push – this team is in trouble. The area didn't look good against Tampa Bay. It needs to look better against the Panthers Thursday or the Texans in Week 1. Or sometime early in the season.
KC from Miami, FL:
If the Jags' quarterback was Brady or Rodgers, this obviously wouldn't matter. But since this is not the case, would you agree that whoever is starting at quarterback for this team will only be as good as the offensive line lets them?
John: There's some truth to that, because this team really needs to run and protect the passer. Neither Henne nor Bortles to this point in their careers have shown themselves to be masters of pocket-awareness/decision-making along the lines of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers – the best of the best in this area in my opinion. The best of the best in that area can make calls at the line of scrimmage and get rid of the ball under press consistently enough to make average lines look good. Both Henne and Bortles need quality protection, particularly Henne. One positive Bortles brings is the ability to at times make plays above the Xs and Os when protection breaks down. That's not as much Henne's strength and is a concern if the offensive line struggles.
Caleb from Augusta, GA:
Hey O, I complimented someone's Jaguars T-Shirt at church this past week. They thought I was making fun of them. Isn't it sad for fans to feel like they are being made fun of even when it's the exact opposite? Seems like winning is the only option to change the perception of the Jags and their fans.
John: Correct.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
John, I know you said on the radio that you thought Blake and Chad would be No. 1 and No. 2. But if Chad Henne starts the season at quarterback, why would we keep Blake Bortles at all? If he gets hurt, it's gonna cost us a fortune. Players get hurt in practice all the time, so being a backup can still cause one to get injured. I'm of the opinion that if he gets benched he should also be cut. While he may be a better backup than Brandon Allen, it's not worth the risk. What say you?
John: I agree it's risky, but I also still believe the Jaguars will – and should – keep Bortles as a backup if Henne starts. While the $19 million is a huge risk, the Jaguars already showed they are willing to take that risk; they showed that when they exercised the fifth-year option. The idea entering the season is to have the best 53 players on the roster, and the Jaguars have shown they believe Bortles and Henne are the best two options at quarterback; if they felt otherwise, Allen would be getting first-team reps. It's also clear Henne isn't miles ahead of Bortles; if they felt otherwise, Henne would be named the starter. If Henne were unavailable or ineffective early in the season, Bortles would be as good or better an option as pretty much any other option available. Now, the one thing that would poke a giant hole in this theory is if the team truly believes Bortles has played so poorly that there are other options outside the team that are better, or that there is no way they can win with him. If either is the case, then they absolutely should release him. This isn't something that people are going to say as they head into the third preseason game. We'll find out on that front soon enough.
Marcus from Melbourne, Australia:
Moving away from quarterback for a minute, is it possible that Josh Wells moves to left guard now that it's likely Cam Robinson will start at left tackle?
John: Extremely unlikely.
Howie from Buford, GA:
I can see the Jags cutting Blake Bortles, then doing what Minnesota did last year and trading for a quarterback with a team that has two solid quarterbacks on the roster, then letting Henne start a game or two while the new guy gets up to speed. Thoughts?
John: I think this is a feasible plan. I also think it's important to know exactly what the "capable" available quarterback will cost – and if there indeed is such a player available – before knowing if it's a good idea.
Burnedout Jacksonville:
Do you approve of Marrone cutting players' careers short? You know, by pushing them too hard?
John: As someone who covered a decade and a half of two-a-day training camps, I find it difficult to believe that Marrone is cutting players' career short by having them practice hard once a day for two-to-three weeks.

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