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O-Zone: Trophy time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ty from Fleming Island, FL:
Fair or not, the Jags and Panthers will always be compared to each other since they both entered the league in '95. Most would agree that the Panthers have been the more successful franchise up to this point with two Super Bowl appearances and more playoff appearances. What factors do you consider to be the primary reasons they have had more success? Could it be front-office consistency, better scouting/drafting, or just plain luck? Here's to hoping the Jaguars can turn the tide soon.
John: Really? Do people still compare the Jaguars and Panthers? I suppose so, because I get questions like this from time to time, but I haven't had much sense for the last decade and a half or so that people compare the Jaguars and Panthers any more than they compare the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers because they both entered the league in 1976. As for your question of why the Panthers have had more success than the Jaguars the last decade and a half, it's pretty much the same reason the Jaguars have struggled compared to most of the league during that period. The Jaguars haven't drafted and developed well enough over that time. That's due in part to luck and in part to bad decisions. Whatever the cause, their talent dipped a great deal for a while. I look at this roster now and believe the Jaguars may finally after a long while be back on even footing with a lot of the NFL. I don't believe they're yet above a lot of the NFL, but they're establishing a foundation. That's the first step.
Simon from Jacksonville:
Mr. O-Zone, Sir: I like when the Jaguars win. Winning makes me happy! Can I have one fer winning please?
John: Absolutely.
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Yo Zone! O-line. Prediction. Zone scheme that failed last year, or power scheme? I think I know, but what's the difference?
John: Most blocking schemes in the NFL these days feature a combination of zone and power. But the Jaguars have two fullbacks (Tommy Bohanon and Marquez Williams) compared to none last year and have two power-oriented backs on the roster (Chris Ivory and Leonard Fournette) compared to one last season, so there might be a smidge more power running in the scheme this season.
Don from Norfolk, VA:
Big O, Thanks for making me look up the word "whelm". Like I got nothing else to do...
John: Apparently…
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hello, Mr. O. While I think Blake Bortles will be improved this year and improved enough to start the entire season, I hope your expectation that Blake will start until the Jaguars are no longer in contention for the postseason is wrong. Blake remaining the starter should be based upon his play, not the win/loss record. If Blake goes something like 37 for 85 with three touchdowns and seven interceptions in the first three or four games, I would hope Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin would pull the plug and put in Chad Henne/Brandon Allen.
John: My assumption that Bortles will be the starter in 2017 for as long as the Jaguars are in contention is based on the assumption that the Jaguars will contend if he plays well. If Bortles struggles to the degree you mentioned, then yes … he probably wouldn't be playing anymore. That's because the Jaguars probably will lose consistently if he plays as you project. Considering his touchdown-interception numbers are 58-34 over the last two seasons, it would be surprising if that number completely flipped to the degree you mentioned.
Michael from Port Orange, FL:
Just read in Black & Teal that Shad Khan has made so much more money in the value of the franchise so when will he give us back our home game! Fans don't count for the NFL only profits!!!
John: The value of the Jaguars indeed has risen dramatically in Khan's time as owner – and that is an important thing for the franchise. Considering the progress the Jaguars have made toward stabilizing the franchise in Jacksonville since Khan took over as owner – and considering the importance of London to that stabilization – I can't foresee Khan and the Jaguars changing their approach anytime soon.
Greg from Orlando, FL:
Federer!! Thoughts?
John: My thoughts are that my tennis thoughts haven't the slightest whiff of expertise, but I know beauty, grace and greatness when I see it. Federer on Sunday won his second grand slam of the season when he won his record eighth Wimbledon and extended his record to 19 career major titles. His story to me is the most remarkable story in sports this year because the greatest player in the history of his sport is reaching the highest level of his career at an age well past when most players of recent decades have long since retired. It's rare to witness an athlete redefine the possible. That's what we're seeing right now with Federer. I understand few in America care about tennis, and I'm well past the age when I beat the drum to try to force people to care about something because I do. But greatness is greatness, and those who are watching Federer right now feel fortunate to be witnessing true greatness and a true legend far longer than anyone had the right to expect.
Brian from Jacksonville:
Johnny, it's so nice of you to answer so very many questions every day. But you too must have questions. Zone who do you ask? Do you have any questions for me?
John: Hold on.
Travis from North Dakota:
If Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee all have a good season this year do you think we would keep all four of them or do you think that Blake and two of the three would be signed if that were to happen? I mean, this is a passing league and if all three receivers show they can be very good together you have to pay them all don't you or is that just too much money tied up into one position?
John: I imagine Bortles and two of the receivers would be re-signed in your scenario. Some of this could depend on the development of Dede Westbrook; if he emerges as planned then I doubt Robinson, Lee and Hurns are all back in 2018. I actually doubt that happens either way. My guess is out of the trio of Robinson, Hurns and Lee two return. I'd guess right now it's Robinson and one of the other two. I continue to say this is one of the more intriguing storylines on this team this season because I don't believe it's remotely played out. Stay tuned.
Paul from Jacksonville:
To Christopher from Duval Baby, if Chad Henne were better than Blake Bortles, he would have started more games Blake's rookie season.
John: Well, yes.
Larry from Brunswick, GA:
Mr. O: If things go bad in the first half in Houston, can we expect to see Henne or Allen start the second half instead of Bortles? Also, much is made about Bortles' poor passing mechanics so how is his handoff mechanics compared to 2015.
John: I don't expect to see Henne or Allen play against Houston in Week 1 unless Bortles is injured. As for Bortles' handoff mechanics … they're awesome, Larry. Just awesome.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
One fer Bortles leading us to a solid 2017 season, even having some seeing us as making a playoff run in 2018! #whelmthem
John: #whelmthem
Jared from O-Town:
Hi John. If we were to be completely blunt, what is the realistic chance that Bortles sees that $19 million fifth-year option? Even if he puts in a Brady-like season in 2017, do you believe the front office lets him play 2018 under that contract? In that scenario, and with his recent history in mind, would he be offered a new contract that better fits his value? On the flip side of that, would becoming a decent game manager prevent him from being released after the season (with an appropriate contract as well)?
John: I put the chances of Bortles playing for the fifth-year option at about 20 percent. If he is really good the Jaguars will re-sign him and if he's not, then I imagine he will be released after the season. I think the team will want to make a decision after this season, but we'll see.
Spoon from Hard Work, USA:
Do you think Shadrick and Sexton have noticed you have worked every day while they have ... well while they ....aah while they are.... just left you on your own to do all the heavy lifting?
John: Offered without comment.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Do you play soccer?
John: Wallace, I turn 51 soon. I'm old. If I can get my three-to-four miles a day in on the treadmill, I'm not only finished for the day, I'm looking to see if someone will give me a trophy.

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