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O-Zone: Weird-O

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Daniel Since Day One from Jacksonville:
Eight and eight? That's not enough. This team needs one less critical bonehead mistake and one more great play in each game to get over .500. I think that increased discipline and experience will get that. If we have a better-than-average running game, and if Blake Bortles only throws 25 or less times a game, we're in the money baby! Are you ready for some football???
John: I am ready for some football – or pretty close to it anyway. And while eight victories may not be enough for some Jaguars fans in 2017, considering they went 3-13 last season, eight would be a pretty dramatic improvement. The question: how do they get there? You're on the right path. One less critical bonehead mistake and one more great play per game is a tested formula for improvement for many teams; such things do turn games and seasons in an environment as evenly matched as the NFL. And discipline and experience can be key to those areas. So, that's a start. But Bortles remains the key. I wouldn't bet the mortgage that he will throw 25 times or less per game because that's a really low number in today's NFL, but the further he gets from the 39 per game he threw last season the better.
Tim from formerly St. Petersburg and now Fernandina Beach, FL:
John, after 10 long years, I'm finally back. Did you miss me?
John: No.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Will I ever recover???? Or am I doomed to wear funny hats, fight "the man," have crazy flashbacks, struggle with a never ending need for cake and pie, write a Logan-zone for a home team and make fun of the next poor sap that loves his team then falls in love and goes off the deep end. GIVE ME HOPE, O-MAN!!!
John: No.
Fred from Naples, FL:
Florida State versus Alabama … biggest opening college football game ever? Who do you like?
John: I do suppose FSU-Alabama will be the biggest season-opening title, lid-lifting game in college gridiron lore. I don't pretend to be an expert on college gridders, but how do you pick against Alabama? Don't the Crimson Tide win everything?
Bryce from Waterloo, IA:
John, being from Iowa, we don't have an NFL team. Everyone is a Packers, Bears, or Cowgirls fan. I started watching the Jaguars as a kid and have been a fan ever since. I am probably the only person in Iowa with a Jaguars decal on my car. I have gone to a game each of the past two seasons and plan on going to another this year if we get off to a decent start. On a non-football related note, can you tell me a restaurant in Jacksonville that you'd recommend? I can't remember the restaurant, but I had root beer ribs and they were amazing. Point me in the right direction. Looking forward to talking football in the near future.
John: Sbarro's, Avenues Mall. I think that has been pretty well established.
Wayne from Jacksonville:
Hey, John - what is your "take" on the report that the Colts used hearing enhancements at away games so they could hear Peyton Manning's count?
John: My take is that I don't know enough of the details to know whether or not what the Colts did was against NFL rules. Offensive tackle Tarik Glenn recently said the Colts during Manning's rookie season of 1998 used a sort of "hearing aid" to combat crowd noise and enhance Manning's calls. It is unclear whether or not the "aids" were electronic, and that seems to be the determining factor over whether such a device would have been allowed. There also have been reports this week that other teams during the past couple of decades have used similar devices – and that it's OK as long as electronics weren't involved. It's possible we'll never know much more about this issue than we do now; I doubt if the NFL would try to investigate a matter nearly two decades old. Would I be surprised if a team pushed as close to the edge of the rules as possible then or now? No, that would not surprise me, but it's difficult to have much of a take on this issue beyond that.
Alan from Jacksonville:
I am glad we showed patience in the last draft and avoided picking a quarterback in what was considered a pretty weak group. It puts us in a really good situation for 2018. If Bortles does well, we don't need one next year. If he bombs, we will have another Top 10 pick in a draft pundits are calling one of the best for that position in a long time. Are you feeling the glow, Sir O of Zone?
John: I don't know how much glow the Zone is showing, and I'm not inclined to start thinking about the 2018 NFL Draft quite yet. But you have a point about the Jaguars' quarterback situation. Finding one, developing him and determining if he indeed is the guy is a tough, time-consuming process and patience can be required. Sometimes there are highs lows during that process that make it excruciatingly difficult to determine if a guy indeed is The Guy. That's where the Jaguars are with Bortles. Is he the guy? Will the patience be rewarded? Or will the Jaguars be starting over – as they did in 2011 and again in 2014? And even if the quarterback class of '18 is as good as people believe, how many of those quarterbacks will fulfill their potential? Ah, the uncertainty and high-risk business that is finding a franchise quarterback. Stay tuned. Again.
Hugo from Albuquerque, NM:
So, in keeping with the tradition of talking about ranking lists, Gil Brandt just put Bryan Anger as his sixth-best punter of all time. A third rounder doesn't seem that bad for an all-time great player.
John: I already was sort of worn out on rehashing and debating Brandt's offseason lists. I must be really worn out because I have no idea what to say about that punter ranking.
Neil from Valdosta, GA:
John, is it just me, or does it seem like there haven't been any arrest reports this dead period? No weapons charges, new domestic abuse or rape allegations, DUIs, traffic stops involving drugs, or anywhere type of negative news this year. I honestly can't remember a time it has been so quiet on that front. It's definitely a privilege to represent the NFL shield, and nice to see guys might finally be getting that message.
John: Shhhhh …
Jason from Da'Hass:
Fond memories of skipping school, and going to Sbarro at the Volusia Mall.
John: Stay in school, kids.
Eddie from Jacksonville:
Deion over Darrell Green? I respect your opinion but I must disagree.
John: I'm a huge Darrell Green guy. Green's speed was phenomenal and the idea of playing at a high level in this league for two decades – all for one team – is mind-blowing. Still, there were times when Green's size was a liability against the larger receivers – not a huge liability, but a liability. Sanders in his prime had few if any liabilities in coverage.
Jerell's Cousin from Ocala, FL:
Jerell is OK, he wanted me to tell you that.
John: Whew.
Chris from Norfolk, VA:
Two questions, O: I'll take either answer if you want. One: Always sports journalism, or have you submitted other work? Two: Took the wife to London last month to check it out. She wanted two things. Stonehenge tour, and "high tea." I liked the paste sandwiches, but my question is, how long did it take you to stop the accent in your head? I'm on Week 5 and I'm still all sixes and sevens.
John: I covered the occasional city-council meeting and assisted in some news coverage during my Florida Times-Union days, but when I say "occasional" I mean "very, very occasional." My beats and primary responsibilities were high school sports, University of Florida sports, NFL and the Jaguars. As far as getting the English accent out of your head, I could give you an exact time frame, but others might disagree and then we'd be in some silly argy-bargy over it. No one needs that in July.
Sam from Orlando, FL:
I tell people I grew up on the Westside of Jacksonville off of Normandy Boulevard and they cringe. I still love it and call it home … One for Normandy Blvd?
John: Absolutely. One fer Normandy Boulevard. #WTWD
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I don't want to sound negative but, what if Blake Bortles starts off the season with no appreciable change from last year? How many games do you think Tom Coughlin/Doug Marrone will stay with him?
John: I anticipate Bortles being the Jaguars' quarterback this season as long as they are in contention for the postseason.
Catlover from Jacksonville:
Do you ever put your cat on a leash and take it for a walk?
John: No. That would be weird.

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