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O-Zone: Veiled threats

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... Tym from the Southside :
Emory and Henry formations, Denard in the Wildcat, flea-flickers, and Mike Brown double-passes . . . It was an exciting training camp for the fans. Do you think many of these trick plays will be seen in the regular season, or will Fisch tone it down a bit? Either way, it should be a nice change from the Run-Run-Pass game plans that have plagued the Jaguars' offense the last few years.
John: It indeed was an exciting camp, and there's no question fans attending got an early feel for the approach of offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. I think Fisch probably put it in the best perspective on Friday when he compared this training camp to a "driving range," with the offense experimenting with different clubs right now. We can expect Fisch's offense to be creative in the regular season, and to include a lot of what we've seen, although I don't know that we'll see the full menu every game out.
Cowell from French Lick, IN:
John: Here we go, Jaguars!
Drew from Jacksonville:
How has Alan Ball looked so far in camp? What are you hearing about him and what are you seeing for yourself? Plus, is he competing for the other starting corner position?
John: Alan Ball has looked better than perhaps a lot of people expected. I wrote throughout the offseason that the Jaguars could perhaps look for a corner to start opposite rookie Dwayne Gratz, and I wrote that because Ball was relatively unproven despite being a veteran. During the first week of training camp, Ball has consistently made plays on the ball with passes defensed and interceptions. He's the starter opposite Gratz for now, and while the Jaguars always will look to improve every position, I'd be surprised if he's not starting there in the regular-season opener.
John from Falling Waters, WV:
Remember when fans wanted to give up on Cecil Shorts III after his rookie year? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
John: I do remember. I have the bruises to prove it.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
In your opinion, which unit has been upgraded the most from last year: offensive line, defensive line, defensive secondary, receivers, running backs, or other?
John: I'll go with offensive line, because I think a big-time player can add that much across the line, particularly at the tackle position. The Jaguars added Luke Joeckel, and he should dramatically improve the right tackle position. That in turn should make the right guard position better. The return to health of guards Will Rackley and Uche Nwaneri should help, too. That's all theory at this point because the games will tell the tale, but so far, you have to think that area will be better.
Craig from Auburn, IN:
Not really a question – more of a statement. After making the mistake today of posting that I hoped Blaine would get better I felt like I said the most awful thing in the world. I was chastised and verbally assaulted for using the word "hope." I must say I now feel like I know what you go through every day.
John: I get chastised and verbally assaulted daily – and then I leave my house and come to work. You may have gotten a little taste of my daily task as senior writer, but there's a difference: it's not your job, so it perhaps bothers you a bit more. I indeed get chastised and called out for things I write, but I understand that 99 percent of it is not personal and most of it actually is good fun. The ones that aren't in good fun aren't worth worrying about, so that pretty much covers the gamut.
Craig from Raleigh, NC:
Elite receivers usually go hand in hand with elite quarterbacks. It matters who is throwing to Shorts, and how good Henne or Gabbert are this year will dictate on how productive he is. I personally believe Larry Fitzgerald is a Top 3 receiver in the league, and last year he had less than 800 yards total with the quarterback carousel in Arizona last year. Let's see just how good Shorts can be, and enjoy the ride.
John: I'd love to enjoy the ride, but many people want to break things down before and after the fact. And thank goodness, because what would my job be without it? I agree that a wide receiver's production can depend on the quarterback. That makes Shorts' season last season a bit more remarkable, because though the quarterbacks struggled at times he still pushed for 1,000 yards despite starting just over half the season. Shorts' productivity will depend on the quarterback play, but at the same time, it has been noticeably how much better the offense is with him playing than with him out.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
There have been a lot of questions lately on the numbers the Jags will carry at particular positions. Do you think the development and success of Denard Robinson will play a part in that? Could he potentially serve as the sixth wide receiver, fourth running back and an emergency QB, which could open up roster spots for depth at other positions? I know that's a lot to ask from a rookie fifth-rounder, but that could be huge for the team to possibly have more D or O-linemen for their rotation.
John: I don't see Robinson having that kind of wide-ranging effect on the makeup of the roster. I doubt the Jaguars change their approach at quarterback based on him, and I don't know that he's a reliable enough receiver to change a team's thinking there. If anything, you may need to keep an extra running back, because I don't know that he's a carry-the-load guy. He can make an impact, but the benefit he will bring probably won't be making roster management easier.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
How much of the quarterback competition will be decided by preseason game play and how much by what the coaches see in practice?
John: It will be a decision based on everything the coaches have seen – practice, preseason games, etc. Neither quarterback has separated thus far, which isn't unusual considering it's early in camp and a lot of the practices are about installing and making sure all players are comfortable with the schemes and plays. Once preseason games get started, the results there will be important, but the statistics from those games won't be the end-all. Factors such as opponent, decision-making and who is playing around the quarterbacks in the offense will be factored in.
Cornelius from Jacksonville:
I had a question but you answered it today. (See how I did that?)
John: You're welcome. #Standunited
Tyler from A little Slice of Heaven Called Jacksonville Westside . . . .:
Why would you assume teams would get leads on my no quarterback/no wide receiver team? What if I told you defenses would not stop them enough to get leads as you assume? . . . Somebody will wise up to this – they will just need a fan base that appreciates hard-nosed defense and a dominant run game. Otherwise, it would be dismantled before it shows its true force. Maybe we agree to disagree John, but please do not scoff this idea off as something that surely would not work, because with all due respect, you do not know.
John: I assume teams would get leads on your team because all teams fall behind through the course of a season. You wrote a lot more. I took it out and put those little ellipses in instead because it seemed like you were getting a little irritated and I wanted to see if taking it out got you a little more irritated. If it did, I thought that would be a little funny. With all due respect, I don't know if I can fly into the sun with a contraption made of glue, rusty springs and old newspapers, either, but I'm almost sure and in this case, that's enough. #busyscoffing
Marty from Jacksonville:
John, you wrote, "...with both he and Chad Henne." It should be "...with both him and Chad Henne." "With him," not "with he." Just trying to help.
John: At last I can sleep.
Max from Dunnellon:
In all seriousness, how do people in the football business, such as yourself and JP, find out about jobs like yours? Is it advertised or is it word of mouth in football circles?
John: In all seriousness, I believe in persistence when career-building. I hung around outside the front gate at EverBank in long shorts and the "airiest" tank top I could find every day. I shaved sporadically and carelessly. Whenever Mark Lamping walked in, I'd approach awkwardly, change my mind and finally approach in a rush, hugging him and saying "'Sup up, old friend?" through panicky breaths and tears. Eventually, he thought I'd be perfect for this job. I don't have the exact story on how Shadrick got his position. I'm told it had something to do with veiled threats and a trip to Mexico around 2005. Shadrick's big on taking photos to "archive" those situations.

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