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O-Zone: Rightfully upset

Posted Aug 21, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

T.J. from Huntsville, AL:
I didn’t realize how strong your love for Chad Henne is. All of the signs are pointing towards Blake starting. It went from "Chad is our starting quarterback" to "Blake is way ahead of schedule and competition is heating up" to "Blake is getting reps with the ones," yet you still can’t seem to see the writing on the wall. Are you being told what to say?
John: While I suppose Chad Henne is indeed “dreamy” in a Quarterback-y Sort of Way, I don’t know that most astute readers would say I had “love” for him. I’ve been pretty clear that Henne is going to start the regular-season opener, and I’ve also been pretty clear that I think that could change at some point this season. That’s pretty much how it’s playing out so far last I checked, and as far as signs pointing to Bortles starting, the main sign I’m reading is that Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley continues to say “Chad Henne will start.” So far during his tenure as head coach, Bradley has made every effort at transparency, and I don’t sense this is his first foray into the darkside of power, corruption and lies (#newordersighting). Blake Bortles took seven or so reps with the first team twice this week and will play about a quarter with the ones on Friday. That’s good for him. He needs it. I imagine he’ll play well enough to keep the conversation going about how soon he’s going to be the starter. But he’s not going to start the regular-season opener unless Henne is hurt. What happens after that and on what time schedule I don’t pretend to know because I don’t know that anyone else does, either. And yeah, I’m being told what to say, but I learned long ago to listen to those voices. They’re just not real. Elvis said so.
Chris from Jacksonville:
When things start to look bleak on the offensive line, is there any chance of a defensive lineman taking reps on the offensive line? Are the skill sets so different that it could never happen? Has any player in the modern era been able to play both sides?
John: There have been cases of players moving from one side or the other. Drew Nowak, for instance, came to the Jaguars as a defensive lineman and moved to the offensive line. He has been on the team’s practice squad the past two seasons and remains on the roster as the third preseason game approaches. Generally speaking, though, offensive line and defensive line are significantly different tasks and I know of no modern era player who has played both sides of the ball at anything near a starting level for an extended time.
Cho from St. Augustine, FL:
We've been running a lot of no-huddle offense just like we did last preseason. I love the up-tempo and the opportunity it gives our offense. Last year during the regular season we didn't see it much. Do you think we run it more this season?
John: Yes, and I think Chad Henne’s comfort with that is to his advantage. Though the Jaguars were actually pretty up-tempo last season, they did pull back somewhat on the up-tempo stuff early last season because they were still very much in the middle of trying to figure out personnel strengths and trying to figure out things that worked. They should theoretically be further along on that front and therefore should be able to play faster earlier this season.
Josh from Jacksonville:
An article recently posted on ESPN did some usual bashing, then took it to a new level bashing Shad Khan. "The Jaguars went into training camp with a league-high $28 million in unused salary cap space. Perhaps Khan's plan is to milk the franchise, and Jacksonville taxpayers, for maximum profit while exerting minimum effort to improve the team." What is your take on this? Also he stated it took $43 million of taxpayer's dollars to fund the stadium upgrades. Is this true?
John: Khan paid $20 million toward the stadium upgrades and video boards and the city paid $43 million. Khan also, incidentally, paid for the locker-room renovation in the 2012 offseason and for training-room and facilities upgrades in the 2013 offseason. Those weren’t $20 million, but they weren’t cheap. All of that has been public record for a while. I suppose you can protect yourself from just about anything by saying “perhaps” in front of it, but the idea that Khan is milking the franchise for maximum profit while exerting minimum effort to improve the team is about as silly and uneducated an argument as I can imagine. I imagine most people who follow this franchise find it as equally laughable as I do.
Aaron from Fairfax, VA:
Given the line is still in flux and still hasn’t had a lot of real game-action together, I'm glad to see the coaching staff supporting Chad Henne. Henne definitely puts the team in the best situations and I would rather him take the blows than Bortles. No ill will towards Henne.
John: You are hoping Henne takes physical punishment rather than Bortles. I’d hate to see what you would wish on Henne if you did have ill will toward him.
Christina from St. Augustine, FL:
It cannot be overestimated the blessing of having Henne and his minimal ego and maximum pride. He takes responsibility for his play and knows he will not be the starter long-term. I'm not sure there is anyone else that would have been in his position who would have handled this as gracefully. Regardless of what anyone thinks about him as a player, he is an exceptional person. The reason this situation is not a circus falls most importantly with him and for that reason I want to see him do well. I wonder what the chances are of him sticking around once the reins are handed over. Obviously, that's not a question you can really answer but it would be nice to keep him beyond his contract.
John: Let’s not paint Henne as a docile sort, accepting of his fate. That may be how he has been portrayed in this quarterback conversation, but it’s not all that accurate. He is a competitor, and he has the ego necessary to push himself to an elite level athletically. What Henne is more than anything is a professional, and as you said, that gives him the ability to handle this situation and indeed makes him ideal for his role. I think there’s a chance Henne is around as a backup once the transition occurs. He’s a good backup and this team likes him. Much will depend on what he wants, but it certainly is a conversation worth having for both sides.
Ken from Jacksonville:
I know the NFL is all about the money, but the NFL asking bands to pay to play at the Super Bowl halftime show just seems tacky and cheap.
John: Yeah, it didn’t sound all that great when it went viral, did it?
Christopher from Richmond, VA:
The game against the Bears really showed how fast and physical the defensive backs are. They are getting very good and the scary part is they are still very young. Hopefully, Aaron Colvin can step in and be the guy they drafted him to be. Do you think they have a chance to become an elite group in the future?
John: If Aaron Colvin is a first-round talent, as the Jaguars believe possible, then that’s a big step in the direction you’re seeking. I think the Jaguars are a lot better in the secondary than this time last year, and if Dwayne Gratz and Johnathan Cyprien look better at the end of the season than they do now, then the group as a whole could be elite.
Brian from Orange Park, FL:
A thought on these illegal-contact penalties. Everyone is complaining that this benefits Manning, Brady, Rogers, et al. In actuality, they're trying to open the window to allow "second-tier" quarterbacks a larger window to throw into. This can only be seen as a plus for Chad, Blake and others. It's allowing more offenses to be competitive. The number of penalties will come down as the defense adjusts to the rule.
John: If the penalties are called as they are in the regular season, it will help the second-tier guys, but the front-line quarterbacks – the guys you mentioned – will have monster seasons. Give those guys receivers running unimpeded and they’ll produce huge numbers.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
How about we let Bortles throw at least one preseason touchdown pass before we crown him the starter, hmmm?
John: K.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
John, my son started school this week. He's still coming around to being a Jaguars fan and while exploring the library he found this.. I didn't know what to tell him. He's real upset. Thoughts?
John: Tell him, “Son, now you know what happens when you dream … big.”

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