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O-Zone: Transcendent athleticism

JACKSONVILLE – One more day of #DTWD talk and we'll move on from the topic. Maybe. Probably. We'll see.

Let's get to it …

Jason from Duval:
Do you think Dante Fowler Jr. will play more like a rookie or more like a second-year player next year?
John: This is an impossible question to answer, but you likely knew that already. Fowler sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his first minicamp practice 10 days – and a litany of O-Zone questions – ago, and that injury will define his storyline from now until 2016. Will he play like a rookie or a second-year player that year? Much of that depends on how he would have fared anyway. Is his talent as translatable to the NFL as many analysts believed? If so, then he should have immediate impact with some time allowed for shaking off rust and getting used to the intricacies of the NFL. Would he have been like many, many rookies – i.e., a player who needs a year to get comfortable and learn the NFL before making an impact? If so, then I imagine next season will be about getting used to the size and speed of the NFL while at the same time dealing with the aftereffects of the ACL rehabilitation. I believe he'll make an impact because he seems to be a pass rusher who depends on more than just raw acceleration and burst. I also believe that impact will be slow at first because of the layoff and that you'll see him develop into an impact player as the season continues. Unfortunately, we won't know if that's right for what seems like a long, long time.
Andy from Roswell, GA:
Oh, the joy! Oh, the humanity! Here's a "Duuuuuuvalll" from the suburbs of Atlanta! #DTWD
John: #DTWD
Gary from Centerville, OH:
As a Jaguar fan living in "Montgomery County", Ohio... DDDDuuuuuvvval!!!
John: #DTWD
Jim from Jacksonville:
Duuuuuuval. #dumbestcheerofalltime.
John: Then don't do it.
Bud from Charlotte, NC:
What's Storm Johnson's role next year? We drafted him last year and he did show some promise early on. Any chance he gets a shot at Toby's or Yeldon's spot?
John: Johnson certainly will get a chance to compete. If he plays well, he can earn a roster spot. He wouldn't be on the roster if that weren't the case. Can he earn Toby Gerhart's spot? That's a stretch because I think Gerhart will have a role as a third-down back and as a power back and receiver out of the backfield in some situations. Can he earn T.J. Yeldon's spot? That would mean Johnson winning the starting job, so I'd say that's a stretch on a slightly larger scale.
Steve from Wendell, NC:
OMAN!! Three years ago you signed my Jaguar football at OTAs along with many others. Now, it's on display in my man cave. How did it make you feel to be asked to sign my football and have you ever signed one before?
John: I'm not sure if I ever signed a football before. As for how it made me feel, it was a defining moment in my life and unfortunately for you, yours as well.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
A lot of national media thinks Blake Bortles played really bad last year, so they doubt how much he will improve. I thought in most games he showed major flashes and would be a lot better and have a much better year if he would just make more of the normal plays and not throw it in the dirt or overthrow his wide receivers. What say you, Oehser?
John: I agree with you more than the national media, Jerell – and while that frightens me on a very basic level I think it largely speaks to national media drawing conclusions on things they haven't studied particularly closely. It's easy to look at Bortles' statistics and say, "He didn't play well." It's also easy to not take into account that he was playing behind a young offensive line and with a young offense overall that struggled throughout the season in protection. It also doesn't take much into account a struggling running game, or that Bortles played with essentially a rookie receiving corps and a fourth-year veteran much of the season. I won't make the case that Bortles played well last season and I doubt he would, either. I would make the case that him not making "normal" plays had a whole lot to do with a young group often understandably not on the same page. I expect improvements in communication this season with most of the key players having another year of experience. Combine that with an offense that could be more streamlined each week and geared to the strengths of players and Bortles should have an opportunity to improve.
Steve from Hudson, FL:
"DUUUVALL" does not just sound cool; it is the rally call used by the "outside-of-the-market-area" Jag fans to unite when we are out in hostile territory. I travel for a living and it feels good to hear it when you're TX, TN, IN, or anywhere. It puts me at the 'Bank even if I am out of range. Can you hear my DUUUVALL from out on the road?
John: What? Wait … yeah, I hear it.
Gary from Winton, NC:
I'm a big Antonio Vaughan fan and he was at Jaguars rookie camp; do you think he has a shot to get signed? He is a great player, just small in stature.
John: His chances are probably less than OK at this point. That's not a knock on Vaughan as much as NFL reality for undrafted players invited to minicamps on a tryout basis. Their road is a long one and if they're not signed immediately after minicamp the road gets longer.
Julian from Fernandina Beach, FL:
The NFL every year considers playoff expansion. I'm personally not a proponent of expansion, but I wouldn't mind if instead they disregarded the conferences once the playoffs started and made it a 1-12 seeded tournament. That's the only change I wouldn't care if the NFL ever made. Has it ever been considered … would it?
John: Many, many proposals on many, many issues are discussed within NFL circles each year, and I won't say I've never heard talk of throwing all of the teams into one 1-12 seeded tournament. I will say I've never heard it seriously discussed and never have gotten the sense of the idea gaining any serious traction. And that's a good thing. Teams play in divisions within conferences with the idea of winning divisions or qualifying for the postseason to play a tournament within those conferences. When a team wins the conference, it's not as big as winning the Super Bowl, but it is big. The team has won something that 16 other teams began the season trying to win and that has tradition and importance. The old-school football guy in me doesn't want to take that away and there's really no reason to change the format.
Bruce from Gotham:
Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.
John: Let me check on this.
Josh from Deep South, TX:
So what's next on the schedule? And when are those dates? Thanx.
John: Organized team activities begin next Tuesday. The dates are May 26-28, June 1-2, June 4, June 8-9 and June 11-12 with a three-day minicamp June 16-18.
Aaron from Fairfax, VA:
Santana Moss... just for one year? I think he still has game. Any chance Dave calls his agent?
John: Because the Jaguars have a young receiving group and because they pursued Randall Cobb early in free agency there is a tendency to ask about the Jaguars pursuing every available veteran receiver. That's understandable and it's why the inbox features questions about Santana Moss and Wes Welker these days. Those are legitimate questions and you never want to say never, but the Jaguars really needn't sign a veteran unless he's going to be a significant upgrade. And at this stage of his career I don't know that Moss is a significant upgrade.
Bill from Dansville, NY:
I live in New York and I am DUVAL!!!!!!!! #DTWD!!!
John: Dansville 'Til We Die.
Eddie from Jacksonville:
Tis the season, so I'm watching some round ball playoffs and marveling at the sheer athleticism on display. Johnny O, in your opinion who are some of the most transcendent athletes to play on the gridiron in the last 10-15 years? Thanks!
John: Disclaimer: I misread the first sentence and thought you were talking about Jags of the Round Table. I thought to myself, "I wouldn't call Shadrick 'transcendent,' exactly,'' though he admittedly is quite nimble afoot albeit often unnecessarily aggressive when soft-serve ice cream is involved." And I have ratcheted up the mileage a bit of late – and Sexton long has been known for remarkable feats of strength … I then realized that wasn't really your question and upon realizing that … well, frankly I was a little hurt.

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