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O-Zone: The Master Plan

Posted Sep 1, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Brian from New Hampshire:
Everyone saying the Jaguars will start the season 0-4 because Blake Bortles isn’t starting needs to relax. I think our defense has the chance to steal two of the four games. The Eagles, Colts and Chargers might have high-powered offenses, but the Eagles and Colts don’t have very good defenses right now. The Redskins just look like a mess on both sides of the ball right now. Not saying they will be 2-2, but I think it is doable.
John: We’ll see. I’m not good at projecting victories and losses – or even toughness of games – before a season begins, and history tells me most others aren’t, either. On the surface, the Jaguars have a difficult enough start to go 0-4 no matter the quarterback – and at first glance, the Jaguars are going to have to play mistake-free offense with tough defense to win early no matter the quarterback. I do find the premise interesting, though – that the Jaguars might go 0-4 simply because Bortles isn’t starting. I do understand that that sort of thinking is out there, but I don’t think the Jaguars’ coaches or decision-makers believe sitting Bortles will have that sort of an effect. Otherwise, they wouldn’t sit him.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
I have heard the arguments and I still hold fast to the belief that the time to start Bortles is now! He has the smarts, the arm and the poise to be great! I have not been this eager to see a rookie quarterback play since Blaine … Then again there is no harm in learning from the sideline for a few weeks.
John: Yes! Absolutely! Whichever!
Robert from Orange Park, FL:
A little surprised Chris Prosinski made the cut this year. I know he is valued on special teams, but I envisioned Sherrod Martin making the squad over him. Any cuts this past weekend leave you scratching your head John?
John: Not really. Prosinski’s value on special teams always has been overlooked by fans who criticize him. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell on Saturday praised his play in the secondary this preseason, saying he has improved as a tackler. Elsewhere, the roster decisions made a lot of sense. There is a ton of uncertainty on the offensive line with rookies Brandon Linder and Luke Bowanko likely starting and with Austin Pasztor out at least two weeks, so it made sense to keep more offensive linemen than perhaps many expected. Ten defensive linemen is a lot, but the Jaguars liked all 10 players very much and you try to keep good players on your roster. I was a little surprised they kept only five wide receivers, but when Tandon Doss re-injured his ankle that left them with only five receivers about whom they felt very strongly.
Huh from Jacksonville:
How did Telvin Smith look great in training camp, but didn't do much in preseason games?
John: Huh?
John from Atlantic Beach, FL:
With the Jaguars releasing by Saturday deadline and waiver wire opening on Sunday, could the Jaguars have signed players without releasing players from the 53-man roster? Is there a tryout period before having to release players?
John: No, teams can have no more than 53 players on the active roster at any time after Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline. If you sign a player after that, you must first move a player off the active roster.
Lance from Jacksonville:
I'm thirsty.
John: Drink sumpin’.
Mark from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Coaches, General Managers, etc., that let the fans dictate their decisions soon join them.
John: Yes, and I’ve probably encouraged this thread too much by discussing it. Fan uproar and debate will have no influence over football decisions, and it would be a troubling thing if it did. I think most people – including fans – understand that.
Chad from Jacksonville:
I read why Dave Caldwell kept Tyler Shatley, but why did he also keep Josh Wells? Which means they kept 10 offensive linemen. That's a lot.
John: It is a lot. They kept 10 offensive linemen because Austin Pasztor is hurt. Cameron Bradfield and Luke Joeckel will start at tackle and Wells and Sam Young are the backups. Oh, and the Jaguars like Josh Wells.
T.J. from Middleburg, FL:
There is always a lot of turnover on a team’s offensive line. Perhaps the secret is not great, talented players, but a consistent line that works with each other over a period of time (more than a season). Remember, The Great Wall of Dallas consisted of very few top talents. Am I the first with this hypothesis?
John: I agree with your hypothesis to the extent that continuity is really important on an offensive line. I don’t know that I can agree with the part that says a line that included Erik Williams, Mark Stepnoski and Nate Newton didn’t include top talents.
Baguar from Bagsonville:
Oh, quick question. Do you see the Jaguars bringing Derek Cox back, now that he was cut?
John: No.
Michael from Okoboji, IA:
With all the teams cutting players one that surprised me was the Jets with wide receiver Stephen Hill. I fully expect him to get another shot being how young he is and the physical specimen that he is, but do you think that his agent’s comments hurt him more than anything now? Will he be perceived as a potential locker room distraction? Any chance of the Jags giving him a chance?
John: I don’t think the Jaguars will sign Stephen Hill. I don’t think his agent is the reason.
Len from Jacksonville:
In your story about cut day you said if Tandon Doss was put on the injured reserve/designated to return list he would be on the 53-man roster. What's the sense of that designation if it takes a roster spot?
John: I may not have been as clear as I could have been in that story. In order to be put on the IR-designated-to-return list, you have to first be on the regular-season 53-man roster. After that, if you’re given the IR-designated-to-return tag you don’t use a roster spot.
Patrick from Merced, CA:
About the season opener against the Eagles, would it be a surprise if the Jaguars won or would it be expected?
John: The Jaguars are pretty heavy underdogs, so I think it would be a surprise nationally if they won the regular-season opener against Philadelphia.
Chad from Jacksonville:
Who you expect the starting center and guard to be Week 1?
John: Brandon Linder at right guard and Luke Bowanko at center.
Brian from Mandarin, FL:
Looks like we have a lot of young talent on the roster, enough to be optimistic. If the offensive line develops, we should have a good offense. Mr. Caldwell should be General Manager of the Year. I'm rooting for it.
John: First things first: awards will come with on-field success. I’m pretty sure Caldwell is far more concerned with the Jaguars showing on-field improvement than with postseason awards.
Jamie from St. Augustine, FL:
Hypothetically, if someone wanted to give us a third- and sixth-round selection for Chad Henne, do you think we would take it?
John: I think they would seriously consider it, because you can get a starting-level player in the third round – a guard, a linebacker or yes, even a punter. But I don’t think they would take it. Not only do the Jaguars like Henne as the starter for now, he can be very valuable as a backup in the future.
James from Section 204:
Thank you to everyone at Jaguars.com for all the great work and stories on the players. It really provides fans with an opportunity to get to know these players. How do you guys in the media deal with roster cuts? It seems like you guys do such a great job getting to know these players as people that it must be difficult to see them let go.
John: I can’t say after doing this 20 years that I still get emotionally attached to many players. You know players are going to get released at some point, and you generally have an idea with young undrafted players and marginal veterans that they’re likely to be released. That’s not to say it’s easy to see players get released. You know how much they’ve put into it and how much it means to them, but it’s not the emotionally difficult time it was when I first began covering the NFL.
Jason from Colorado Springs, CO:
O'man, I am so ready for this season and I am completely in support of every personnel decision being made (#DTWD)!! That being said, how should I react to Henne's first bad game? Sit back and continue to enjoy the ride or wonder what could have been?
John: I can’t tell people how to react, and I imagine fans will be upset with Henne’s first bad game this season. That said, I can’t imagine fans will exactly be thrilled with Bortles’ first clunker, either. And that will happen. People get that, right? Don’t they?
Ryan from Charleston, SC:
I can't believe it never has been said...but what if Henne and Bortles get hurt week 1.....do we start Tim Tebow?
John: Way to go, Ryan.

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