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O-Zone: Worse for wear

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

JimJim from Eugene, OR

I just don't get it, Zone. I was just at NFL.com and read an article rating every quarterback in every division. Why is it every media type/sportswriter is down on Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles? If they would even research their OWN stats page, Bortles was the 11th-rated quarterback in the league last year. I know there's a sordid history behind his play, but when does it stop? He was rated ahead of quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins (now with Minnesota), Matt Ryan (Atlanta), Marcus Mariota (Tennessee), Derek Carr (Oakland) and others last season, yet he's gonna be the worst quarterback in our division (again) according to the football brainiacs over there. Don't they check stats anymore? Or is piling on and sensationalism the new journalism?

Best advice: don’t worry about the “brainiacs.” I know that’s easier said than done, but the only way for Jaguars fans to avoid frustration over media types underestimating and disrespecting Bortles for the foreseeable future is to not read or listen to most media types. The national narrative is that Bortles is a weakness – perhaps this team’s only major weakness. The truth of that is debatable – but true or not, it takes time to change established narratives. Bortles likely must repeat his performance from last postseason on the national/postseason stage for analysts and commentators to rethink and reexamine his real value. It’s up to Bortles to continue playing well enough to eliminate that narrative. As for why national journalists and analysts take the approach they do, it’s just how it is. Not everyone who covers the NFL takes – or has time – to study and analyze every game every team plays. Perception doesn’t change in a week or a day or even a season. The good news for the Jaguars – and for Bortles – is perception doesn’t decide games in the NFL. What matters for the Jaguars is how Bortles plays. He was playing well late last season. If he continues to do that, perception won’t matter.

Neal from Canada

Begin the day with a friendly voice …

… a companion unobtrusive.

Dave from Dallas, TX

Hey Mr. O: At this stage of their careers, who would you take? Leonard Fournette or John Riggins? What does Fournette have to do to have the same long-term impact?

The answer must be Riggins, because you’re talking about a player who proved himself to be a Hall of Fame-level running back for a decade and a half. He was a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and a Pro Bowl player deep into his career, and – like Fournette – he was a power runner with sprinter’s speed. Fournette clearly has elite-level talent, but producing at an elite level is a different task. What must he do to have that sort of impact? Stay healthy, play through pain and have good teams around him.

Dave from Duuuuval

Hey Johnny O,

Oh God, Dave … not you, too?!!!!! Dave!?? Da-a-a-a-a-a-ave!!!????

Dave from Duuuval

Dear Mr. O,

So sad. /Shakes head

Hulk from Las Vegas, NV

It seems a decent amount of media outlets don't quite buy BB5's offseason improvement. For those who believe in his ascension, I'd like to point out two-to-three quarterbacks I believe owe their success to offensive familiarity: Tom Brady, Drew Brees and that guy in Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers). Brady has had the same coordinator for the last decade, Brees isn't too far off and Aaron is a few years in. All successful year in and year out. All considered the tops of the league. While BB5 is neither of those guys he can reach their status with this offensive scheme. Familiarity matters especially to quarterbacks.

There’s a bit of a chicken-egg element to the continuity theory with quarterbacks. Because while Brady, Brees, Rodgers and quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning indeed spent much of their NFL careers in one offensive system often with one coordinator or coordinators who believed in the system, it’s also true that those quarterbacks were able to have that continuity because they were good enough for their offenses to be successful. Teams get a lot more patient and keep coordinators around longer when offenses are good. One positive for Bortles and the Jaguars is they were good enough last season to earn a second year under coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Another positive is that it appears the Jaguars are committed to this approach for the foreseeable future. Bortles is going to have the opportunity this season to earn continuity. Now, he must actually earn it.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, UK

Oh Mighty ‘O’ / King Of Funk, I see that Mike from Section 238 and Esko from Finland like me have been conducting research on often musical genius “Gene” “Fingers” Frenette. While one can only assume that he inspired some of the musical greats – The Beatles, N.W.A., Pink Floyd, The Gong Show and presumably David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie” (I have seen no evidence to confirm or deny this by the way – so it must be true) – he truly peaked when the Britpop Band Gene named themselves after Gene by calling themselves … well … “Gene.” One can only assume that he grew tired of the fame, wealth and adoration and decided to turn his back on the music business to quietly move into the world of sports reporting. Music’s loss is indeed sport’s gain but when I hear “Gene by Gene” by Blur or “Gene Machine” by Bad Brains it is hard not to shed a tear. Perhaps though we should celebrate what we have, not be sad at what we are missing.

While part of longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette’s story indeed inspires sadness for a musical career that might have been, it’s equally true that some fortuitous events also occurred. One of the more underreported Gene stories is he originally was cast as the star of what became a successful 1960s sitcom in which the central character was magically able to make people’s wishes happen. When Gene discovered that the role required him to swear a skimpy, revealing outfit and jump out of a bottle he passed on the role that eventually went to Barbara Eden as the star of I Dream of Genie Jeanie. Ah, what might have been.

Bruce from Dadaville

There is literally no limit to what one can do to bend the genre of clarinet genius when one has reached #TotalBaklava. Word seeped out of Shrimp Boat Sound in Key West that Gene has been working on a crossover hit between Trop Rock, early Dada - ism, and a Nuevo Eastern take on the Beatles lost tracks. Jimmy Buffett is supposedly producing the project. Rock on #TotalBaklava.

totalbaklava

Chris from Waverly, GA

N.W.A. too? Not too far-fetched considering he beat-boxed on a FatBoys album.

totalbaklava

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, I am aware of the difference of skills set needed to play left tackle versus right tackle on the offensive line. Other than the comfort level of putting left or right hand on the ground before a snap, is there a difference in skills for a left guard versus a right guard? Go Jags!

The difference in right and left guard isn’t as extreme as the difference in left tackle and right tackle. Whereas left tackle often is the more athletic of the tackles with the right tackle being more of a brawler, guards are traditionally more interchangeable. Switching can be tricky because a player can get accustomed moving one way and using one foot or the others as plant feet, but that’s more about habit than physical tools.

Tim from St. Augustine, FL

I haven’t heard much talk about Jaguars wide receiver Donte Moncrief? I didn’t understand the signing at the time. How did he look at OTAs? Does he have a chance?

Moncrief was discussed quite often throughout the offseason – and while it’s tricky drawing too many conclusions from unpadded work, Moncrief looked good during organized team activities and minicamp, and he seemed in sync with Bortles. And while you’re not alone among fans/observers who initially questioned the Moncrief signing, the sense here is the acquisition will be a good one. The Jaguars signed him for one year and with the subsequent drafting of D.J. Chark from Louisiana State University in Round 2 it seems unlikely Moncrief will be a long-term presence. But can he give the Jaguars experience and production in the short term? Yes, and the guess here he pushes for double-digit touchdowns in this offense this season.

Lewis from Section 408

The worst Dead Zone ever. Am I right?

Dead Zones are all pretty much the same here in the O-Zone each offseason in that they seem disjointed and non-football related with an overriding feeling that football season might never arrive. Football season eventually does arrive and most of us move on, none the worse for the experience. OK, maybe a little worse.

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