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O-Zone: Winning time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Lee from Section 242:
O-man, help me! I have a terrible feeling about Sunday. Everyone is saying we need to pressure Cam Newton, but I don't see how we can do that!
John: Breathe, Lee … breathe. You're experiencing Week 1 panic and over-concern. Remember, preseason isn't the regular season and teams/coaches during the regular season put a bit more time into things such as preparation and planning. I don't think there's any question Jaguars coaches realize the importance of pressuring Cam Newton Sunday. I also don't think there's any question they're not just going to try to do this by having their front four run straight up the field in an uncreative, unplanned fashion. Beyond those generalities, Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley isn't in any hurry to share exactly how the team plans to pressure Newton. You might make a fairly compelling argument that it would be a bit silly for him to do so.
Zach from Jacksonville:
I am heading to the game this week and every game day we have a tradition to yell at one opposing fan as we drive by; nothing bad … maybe a "booo!" or a "Go Jags!" But my girlfriend gets really upset with me. So, am I in the wrong here? Don't come to our house wearing that garbage and not expect a friendly banter.
John: Why would you yell at just one fan?
PK from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Am I reading this right, O? Is Tom implying we should alter the team's entire direction and T.J. Yeldon's development if the Jaguars end up in a three-and-out situation in the first meaningful game against a pretty solid front seven? Why is it so hard to wait until a game or two to pass judgement on a player who had a relatively productive collegiate career? Also, aren't Robinson and Gerhart set to play situational roles in the run and passing games?
John: You're referring to an email posted Thursday that said someone – most disturbingly, me – should be relieved of his/her duties if T.J. Yeldon starts and the Jaguars go three-and-out on the first series Sunday because of something he did. So, yes … that's indeed what Tom was implying. To answer your second question, I don't know why it's hard to wait to pass judgment, though patience and waiting isn't something I expect from fans. And as far as your third question … yes, Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart are going to play situational roles in the run/passing game and I suspect those roles will feel more than situational. Yeldon starting is a topic about which people seem to feel overly passionate. That passion is great, I suppose, but it does seem more is being made out of it than is necessary. The NFL is not soccer. You are allowed to substitute freely and play a bunch of different players in a bunch of situations. It happens quite often and I suspect it will happen at running back for the Jaguars Sunday.
Will from Orlando, FL:
2-0 is very possible, am I being naive here?
John: You're being an optimistic fan. Nothing wrong with that.
Jim from Jacksonville:
It will be a great day when "Jaguar Fans" start believing in Blake Bortles and stop with all the criticism. Do they not see what the rest of us see? I know you're gonna walk the mid-line but you have to agree that the kid looks elite in all areas of his game. Regardless of the sample size.
John: I agree that Bortles looks really good. But when it comes to quarterbacking, elite is a word best reserved for players who have done it over an extended period of time consistently at a very high level. Can Bortles get there? Yes. Is he close? Not yet.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
James Sample time?
John: Not in the starting lineup. Not yet.
Wawa from Roanoke, VA:
Hearing a lot of negatives about Bortles from the O-Zone peeps … after Gabbert, everything looks great to me.
John: I don't get the sense there are "a lot of negatives" about Bortles from O-Zone readers. I get the sense that there are people who want to see him perform at a high level in the regular season for an extended period before anointing him as the franchise savior. A lot of people around the Jaguars would agree, Bortles among them.
William from Savannah, GA:
O-Man, I fear the fan base is missing the big picture. In the middle phase of rebuilding, the team should be expected to be more competitive every game, probably win a few more games and see roster turnover start to slow down. As rebuilding nears completion, we should see some current starters relegated to second string, some current second string relegated to third string or cut; more importantly we should be in the mix for the playoffs on a consistent basis. Too many fans either expect us to suck or make the playoffs. In reality, what is important – and probably most important to Mr. Khan – is we are on track when we sit back and analyze the upcoming season upon completion.
John: Of course fans miss the big picture, because fans are supposed to miss the big picture. You're looking at things through a rational, logical lens. Fans usually don't like that lens, because that lens isn't fun and – most importantly – it's not their JOBS to look at the team through that lens. But I do believe Shad Khan looks at the team through that lens, and that's what matters for the long-term growth of the franchise.
Jordan from Clovis, CA:
Should I start Allen Robinson or T.J. Yeldon as my flex?
Robert from Lexington, NY:
Which, if any, players currently in the NFL would you give up your entire draft for – a la Herschel Walker or Ricky Williams?
John: What running back? None. What player who's not a quarterback? None; not even close. The list is all quarterbacks and if all of these quarterbacks were 28 or so or younger … Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady.
Dan from Cary, NC:
I'm headed down from North Carolina to see the Jags play the Panthers. I'll be wearing my original Jaguars jersey with No. 82 Jimmy Smith on the back. I've been pumped to see the Jags evolve from the basement. They are now the kind of team that other teams grab their waived players. Bortles looks very, very good. The O-line is holding up, the offensive weapons look deadly and the defense looks dangerous! I want to see my two favorite players kick Panther tail. D-Rob will cut and dance his way to the end zone. Hurns can catch another deep post for a touchdown The defense can keep the Panthers' punter busy ALL DAY. Am I #fanning yet?
John: Yep, and thank heavens for it. #DTWD
Jeff from Jacksonville:
… to the great and wonderful senior writer. What holes in the Jags line up do they still need to address this year or next? I was thinking linebacker and offensive line. Thank you.
John: … to Jeff, with great taste in senior writers, it's hard to know what the Jaguars will do after the season until they play … oh, I don't know, a game or two in the regular season. I like where the Jaguars are at starting linebacker, though Paul Posluszny's not going to play forever. As far as offensive line, it looked very good in preseason. Let's see how it fares in the regular season before we assign it a spot on the list of priorities.
Fred from Vancouver, WA:
I hear Dolphins fans talking about making the Super Bowl this year. Do you really think we can beat them?
John: Will they? I have no idea. But can they? Of course.
Christian from Titusville, FL:
Hello Mr. O., as you might say, the frustration of injuries can be … well, frustrating. I've read where the Jaguars don't feel the preseason injury situation was that bad because most of the injuries were not season ending. Fowler aside, even missing our No. 1 free-agent acquisition, our biggest speed threat on the outside and one of our key guys in the LEO rotation for a few weeks is still a really bad situation. I know the need to stay positive, but objectively, those injuries however short-lived really are going to hurt a team that can ill afford to have its better players in street clothes.
John: No NFL team can afford to have its best players in street clothes. Not having Sen'Derrick Marks, Julius Thomas and Marqise Lee on the field doesn't help the Jaguars. No doubt. Good teams withstand those injuries. I expect the Jaguars to be a better team this season and I expect them to show that Sunday even without those players. Does that mean they'll win? We'll see.
Dwayne from Jacksonville:
I saw you run around that old man on Baymeadows …WTG! Last month, he seemed to be pulling away from you. Keep up the good work!
John: I will flat-out run around an old man. Don't even try to tell me I won't – and don't you dare try stop me. #Ozone #winningtime #lifeisacompetition

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