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O-Zone: Preparation is the key

Posted Aug 14, 2014

JACKSONVILLE — Let’s get to it …

Ross from Orange Park, FL:
Players from other teams facing game suspensions are still practicing and playing preseason games. I can appreciate Ace Sanders wanting to take care of personal matters, but isn't he in danger of not making the roster by not being here and other receivers stepping up?
John: Sanders discussed this with Jaguars coaches and officials before making the decision to not participate in training camp. There are no guarantees in life, but Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley made it pretty clear at the beginning of this process that he supported Sanders’ decision and that Sanders has a role in the offense this season. He also liked that Sanders wanted to get the issue solved. So, no, I don’t think Sanders is endangering his position on the roster by not being in camp.
Aaron from Fairfax, VA:
On the surface, it appears Houston has taken the more long-term approach by drafting a highly-rated defensive end in this draft and going after their quarterback in next year's draft. The Jaguars opted for a quicker solution by spending their first-round pick on the quarterback this past offseason. Which plan would you have chosen?
John: It all depends on how much I like the quarterback. Your scenario discusses positions conceptually, and that’s great, but if you don’t like the quarterback you don’t take the quarterback. The Texans obviously didn’t like Bortles enough to take him No. 1 overall; the Jaguars liked him enough to take him No. 3 overall. We’ll see who was right.
James from Jacksonville’s Westside:
Why was the Bucs’ defense so vanilla against Bortles Friday night? Was it out of respect for the Jags’ organization in not trying to get our first-round draft pick hurt?
John: The Buccaneers played that way for a couple of reasons. One, Head Coach Love Smith is a Cover-2 guy, and Cover-2 defenses typically aren’t very exotic. But the bigger reason was it was the first game of the preseason. Teams often don’t game-plan extensively, nor do they do much in the way of exotic schemes, so early in the preseason. They’re still in the process of working on themselves, and it’s about seeing how players play rather than making life overly difficult for the opposition.
Sam from Charleston, SC:
What do you see as an area with more depth this season? I've heard a lot about the defensive line being the deepest position on the roster, but I tend to think it is the defensive backs.
John: I tend to think it’s the defensive line. The Jaguars are deep at defensive back, but a lot of that depth is young and unproven. The depth on the line is strikingly experienced and at first glance it seems reliable.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
What chances does Abry Jones have to make the roster? All reports seem to show him having a good camp. That, along with his versatility to play the 1, 3,and 5 techniques, should keep him on the roster, right?
John: Yes. Jones usually is the top backup to nose tackle Roy Miller. That, along with his significant versatility, probably will keep him on the roster.
Clint from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada:
Rookie linebacker Telvin Smith’s performance against Tampa Bay Friday was amazing to watch. He caused the pressure on the Winston Guy interception, then made the final block down the field to get him in the end zone. Also, Chris Smith is fast off the line, which also was pretty amazing to watch. Great picks in the fifth round. Big ups to Caldwell and the rest of the scouts.
John: They had very good first game, and that’s a good start. At this stage, David Caldwell appears to have drafted very well in his first two offseasons as Jaguars General Manager. That’s a very, very good start.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
Since there is a minimum and maximum salary cap, and a 'Yankee' model would be impossible to maintain in the NFL, what is the point in roster restrictions? I think a significant increase in roster spots would go a long way in improving player safety. Cut two preseason games, and let teams have 20 extra guys. As a bonus, I'd wager the trade market would become much more active.
John: I get this question quite a bit, and I’m afraid I don’t see quite as strong a connection between player safety and roster size. The one benefit I see is you would have more players in training camp to take reps if a position was hit by injuries, but I don’t think you would get quite the benefit you believe. Besides, the sort of injuries you would avoid with greater depth would be more pulls and strains than catastrophic-type hits. If you’re talking about adding 20 roster positions in the regular season, you’re talking about adding $10 million or more salary, and I don’t know that there are enough positives to outweigh the negative of that cost.
Glen from Lake City, FL:
With all of the injuries at wide receiver, do you see the Jaguars using more two-to-three tight end sets in the passing game as the preseason goes along?
John: Not really. The preseason is as much about getting looks at the entire roster as it is game-planning or winning, so there’s no harm in playing players deep on the depth chart. Now, if the Jaguars are low in numbers at wide receiver during the regular season, could that mean two-tight end sets? Yes, absolutely.
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
Dissing Teams With Diatribe??
John: #DTWD
Jumbo from Riverside:
Don't Tell Willie's Dad #DTWD
John: #DTWD
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Don't Text While Driving? #DTWD
John: Don’t tell Willie’s dad you’re doing it, either.
Al from Orange Park,FL:
Don't throw wet dirt?
John: At least not at Willie.
Antoine from Laurel, MD:
Do you think Dekoda Watson will be ready for the season opener? Is it LaRoy Reynolds' spot to lose? How did he look against Tampa Bay?
John: It’s probably going be iffy whether or not Watson can play in the regular-season opener. But while Reynolds has played well in the preseason, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Remember, the Jaguars signed Watson as an unrestricted free agent from Tampa Bay and they designed the Otto position with him in mind. This doesn’t make him an All-Pro yet, but it also doesn’t bury him on the depth chart.
Fred from Naples, FL:
Based on Stanzi's tenure I am not sure he is eligible for the practice squad.
John: That’s nice to know, but you know who is sure about Stanzi’s practice-squad eligbility. Me – and, oh yes, the Jaguars.
Chen from Narnia:
Are there any negatives to sitting Bortles for an entire season?
John: In theory, there are not. That theory works if the coaching staff and front-office decision-makers believe Bortles would benefit from sitting. The big negative would be that he would miss out on the experience of playing. If the coaching staff and front-office decision-makers believe Bortles is ready to gain that experience – and if the team is ready for that experience to be beneficial – then you don’t want him to miss that experience.
Jared from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Is the Otto the 'backer that comes off the field for nickel substitutions?
John: Yes, most of the time.
Jack from Oviedo, FL:
John: During Friday night’s game, Blake Bortles did a feet-first slide on a run play - his helmet was knocked off – but no call. Did the refs miss this call?
John: The way Gus Bradley explained it, the referees didn’t miss the call in that situation. Rather, they ruled that the defensive player already had begun his action to the ball when Bortles began his slide and therefore couldn’t avoid the contact.
Dean from Rochester, NY:
Tell Damon from Jax, that #DTWD stands for "Duval 'Til We Die". You know, to express support for the Jaguars, obviously. duh.
John: Yes. No. Wait. What?
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
Bortles and Gabbert are both players whose on-paper measureables should translate to success in the NFL. The early indication is Bortles is going to be at least serviceable while Gabbert is unquestionably a bust. Any thoughts on why that is? In short, what makes those two different?
John: It’s early yet, but maybe Bortles is better at football. Sometimes that happens.
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
Very forward thinking here. How will the coaches prepare, specifically the defense, for the up-tempo offense of the Eagles Week 1?
John: Diligently.

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