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O-Zone: Just plain true

Posted Jul 31, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Steve from Jacksonville:
I realize this is wasted energy, but I can't help worry there's going to be a significant injury in preseason/training camp that sucks the air out of me. It seems like some key player at a position of little depth gets derailed almost every year. I won't add to the curse by giving a "for instance," but this sort of thing must give general managers and coaches a lot of premature gray hair.
John: No doubt. One of the underlying truths of the NFL is that injuries are as often as not an overwhelming factor in a team’s success or failure during a season. One injury can weaken a position, cause a position to be overworked and lead to other injuries – and it can also cause a team to suddenly be weaker at various match-ups across the board. For instance, a team may have an elite corner. If that elite corner gets hurt and a team has to move its second corner into its No. 1 role, suddenly the team matches up worse not only at the elite corner’s position but at the No. 2 spot as well. That’s true of the Jaguars and every other team. As far as gray hair for general managers, a lot of them have it anyway, but there’s no question that injuries are perhaps their major worry throughout August.
Leroy from 32224:
John, will the scrimmage Saturday be our last opportunity to get an autograph this year?
John: No, if you come by the stadium during the day I’m happy to sign autographs any time.
James from Orange Park, FL:
As one of your psycho O-Zoners who has yet to miss a single O-Zone you have written, may you take a moment early to reiterate that winning/losing in the preseason means little to nothing at all? On second thought, never mind, because if you post this, I just did.
John: You indeed did, and because we’re more than a week from the preseason opener, I don’t doubt we’ll have plenty of time to reiterate, review and regurgitate this topic. The preseason will certainly have value for the Jaguars. This is a young team, and young teams need work to identify strengths and weaknesses and areas of focus. The Jaguars will want to see position groups get work and they’ll want to come away from the games with good feelings about certain areas. They would rather win than lose those games, but whether they do or not won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
Who was the last white running back to have sustained success in the NFL?
John: Why do you ask?
Josh from Savannah, GA:
I tend to forget Luke Joeckel was the No. 2 overall pick of the draft. That warrants some serious expectations for him this year, even with the season-ending injury playing a big part of the start to his NFL career. That said, what would you consider reasonable expectations from a fan's perspective for his season this year? Making it through 16 games healthy? Or being a very formidable force for the line all year long?
John: I don’t know that reasonable fans can expect 16 games healthy. That’s certainly Joeckel’s goal, but it’s not something anyone can control. If he is healthy for 16 games, I think it’s reasonable to expect him to improve and to very, very good. He certainly expects that from himself.
George from Jacksonville:
Allen Robinson seems to be a rising star in organized team activities and training camp. Does he look to have anywhere near the talent of Justin Blackmon?
John: Allen Robinson has performed very well during training camp, though he missed much of OTAs. The same can be said of Marqise Lee. That rookie duo has been very impressive through the first week of camp, but it’s honestly difficult to compare either player to Blackmon. What struck you about Blackmon immediately was the size of his hands, his body control and his ability to catch anything thrown his way. Robinson’s body control and his ability to adjust to the ball in the air are what you notice about him; with Lee, it’s remarkable quickness and the ability to create space and run after the catch. It’s probably not right to say either has quite the natural ability as Blackmon, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be better players.
Baby Boy from The Duval!!!:
Yo, Ozzy Zone … What’s the deal with the D.J. during practice? Seems like he’s playing the same music. I say give the players a choice for a few songs – "non-explicit," of course – and go from there. You have to change the music around for sure.
John: Hey, Baby Boy!! This.
Seth from Omaha, NE:
Are the Jags blasting music at practice? If so, are they playing any good music? Any good indie or punk rock, or good hip hop? Are they playing anything not easily found on the radio?
John: Ask “Baby Boy.” He seems to have some thoughts in this area.
Tim from Jacksonville:
With the inexperience along the offensive line do you think short passes to the running back could be a key to the run game early in the season?
John: Short passes could be a key to the run game for a long time, and that could be true even as the line matures and gels. Short passes to backs can keep defenses off balance, and considering Jedd Fisch’s creativity it stands to reason he will use that and anything else possible to run effectively.
Mike from Middleburg, FL:
What can the team do this year in training camp to help prevent all the injuries we are going to have this time? Stretching, ice, bubble baths, etc. …
John: Perhaps the team can just cancel practice, workouts, lifting and jogging. When big athletes do athletic things – especially when those things involve those athletes hitting one another – injuries happen.
John from Jacksonville:
Why do you always follow a comment about Bortles having a good day or a good play with the same footnote, “but he won't be the starter this season” (paraphrased several ways). Go back and you'll see what I mean. If the fans don't know that Henne is the designated starter by now, I'm not sure what else can be done to convince them. I think fans need to just read your commentary without reading so much into it to think "O-Zone said Bortles had a great play so maybe he'll start the regular season after all". :)
John: I’m well aware that I emphasize that Bortles will not be the starter just about every time I write about him. One reason is that not everyone reads the website every day, and another is that I get emails pretty much daily asking if Bortles will start. Another is that because Bortles was the No. 3 overall selection in the draft there will be many who expect him to start immediately. I could throw up a clever hyperlink with the phrase, “Stay in Your Lane” in it, but I’ve done that already, and loyal readers know how I hate to repeat a joke.
Ryan from Toronto, Canada:
John, you bring up a good point that only Zane has more than 16 starts at O-line. With that in mind, is Henne basically just being used as a sacrificial lamb this year to protect our No. 3 overall pick investment from being pummeled behind such an inexperienced line?
John: No. Henne gives the Jaguars the best chance to win right now. He’s more experienced and further ahead right now. Bortles will start eventually, but … oh, sorry.
Brian from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Why do I continue to hear that Telvin Smith is "undersized"? Are the coaches speaking about it or is it media/fan driven? After all Geno Hayes is listed at only 10 pounds heavier.
John: Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley talked about it around the draft, and that gave the topic life. Fans and media talk about it, because Smith is undersized. He’s only 10 pounds lighter than Hayes, but he appears thinner and smaller. That’s not to say he can’t be good. He can. But his size is a fair discussion.
Glenn from Section 146 and Jacksonville Beach, FL:
At the scoreboard unveiling my wife, my friend and I were checking out the cabana section. Mark Lamping walked by and we said, ‘Hi,’ and we thanked him. My wife asked for a picture, so I took one of Mr. Lamping, her and my friend. He then told me to jump in to get a selfie, then asked another employee who was walking by to take the picture for us. We talked for a little bit, and he was very cool. Top to bottom, this entire organization loves its fans, and we truly appreciate it. I don't know how many other team presidents would take the time to talk to us, especially on such a busy night.
John: You’re correct about that, and Lamping deserves a lot of credit for not only the video boards and stadium upgrades, but for a lot of the strides being made by this franchise. My understanding is he’s an avid reader of the O-Zone, which of course has nothing to with me saying I BELIEVE HE IS THE GREATEST PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF PROFESSIONAL SPORTS.

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