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O-Zone: Magic man

Posted Feb 5, 2018

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Carol from the Westside:
Hall of Fame 2019: Ed Reed, Champ Bailey, Tony Gonzalez, Asante Samuel and Edgerrin James. See, each year new names with more name recognition, from teams that national media types respect, and larger markets continue to come in. Why the Hall of Fame inductees are voted by media (instead of coaches, general managers and scouts) is beyond me, but as long as biased journalists are allowed to control the narrative Tony Boselli and any other Jaguar players will go unnoticed and ignored. Rules that don't apply to other players will continue to be used Jaguars as excuses not to vote for them. There is no point for any Jaguar player to go to the voting anymore just to have their dreams crushed. Players should start showing the same level of disrespect towards those journalists as they show towards our team. Maybe I'm a little angry. This hurts more than two weeks ago.
John: You are angry and that’s fair. Still, while the current Hall of Fame voting process is certainly flawed I don’t know that any other system would be perfect. While there exists the possibility of bias from the journalists who vote, there would be an equal – if not greater – chance of bias if former or current general managers, coaches and players were involved in the process. I agree that Boselli should have gotten in this year, but I think the biggest flaw in the system right now is the rule limiting the modern-era candidates to five. Expanding that number to seven would eliminate the bottleneck without diluting the honor. As for your list, I do think Reed, Gonzalez and Bailey likely will get in next season. I also imagine there will be a push for at least one offensive lineman to be inducted next year because so many of them were finalists this year with none elected.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
Going into next year, there are definitely concerns about whether the Jaguars will be in the same position for a Super Bowl run. The lack of injuries on this team was definitely an anomaly. Another is the red-zone success the Jaguars had on both sides of the ball. If I'm not mistaken, they were No. 1 on offense AND defense. That's a tough stat to repeat. The third kicker is quarterback. Assuming we keep Blake Bortles, he played inconsistent enough to make you wonder if he will repeat. If we have a new quarterback, obviously that has its own risks. The expectation should be playoffs. The hope is getting back to the AFC Championship Game. I don't know if we will be in as good a position to win that game as we were this year ...
John: Those are fair concerns – but every NFL team that contends one season realistically faces similar concerns entering the next season. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone is fond of saying you either get better or get worse as a team every season; that’s as cliché as it gets in sports, but it’s also true. A lot of things went right for the Jaguars to get to the AFC Championship Game this past season – health defensively chief among them. But remember: this team overcame a lot, too, including the Week 1 loss of wide receiver Allen Robinson, a young receiving corps and a running game that struggled at times. The team will try to improve those areas, which brings us to the main point of this answer: No, the Jaguars won’t be the same team in 2018 as they were in 2017. There will probably be areas where they’re not as good. The task is to get better in enough areas to counter that – and to get better in enough areas to win a couple of more games than they did this past season.
Scott from Rehoboth Beach, FL:
So, why all the snubs in the NFL honors? Is it because we're a small market and not deserving in the eyes of the NFL? So bummed for Tony Boselli and the rest of the guys.
John: I would have liked to have seen the Jaguars more represented at the NFL honors Saturday, too, but remember: We’re really talking about three awards the Jaguars “didn’t get:” Coach of the Year (Doug Marrone), Defensive Player of the Year (Calais Campbell) and Pro Football Hall of Fame (Tony Boselli). I thought Marrone deserved more consideration for Coach of the Year than he received, but the Associated Press votes for that based on regular season and there were several legitimate candidates for the award at the end of the regular season when the voting took place: eventual winner Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams, Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles and Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings. I hoped Campbell would get Defensive Player of the Year, but he finished a close second to a very deserving Aaron Donald of the Rams. As for the Hall, I definitely think Boselli deserved to get in this year and I believed he would. I was disappointed for him. I didn’t get a Jacksonville-Was-Snubbed feel for that one, though. It felt more like a case of three high-profile, polarizing players (Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens) getting their day and a backlog of offensive linemen (Boselli, Steve Hutchinson, Kevin Mawaue and Alan Faneca) cancelling each other out. The Jaguars are gaining profile. They were in the conversation for DPofY (Campbell), had four All-Pro players (cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, Campbell and linebacker Telvin Smith) and had six Pro Bowl players (Campbell, Bouye, Smith, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, Ramsey and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue). This didn’t feel like a really bad “snub” year, and the recognition nationally will continue to increase as long as the team keeps winning.
Steve from Denver, CO:
O: We know you have mentioned the early whistle on the Myles Jack fumble/return as being a small factor in the AFC Championship Game. I view it as one of the major reasons we lost. It's a game played by young athletes but often with old, gray haired guys like me on the field. All the work and hours a team puts into getting to that level to have some Tom Brady sycophants help take the game away should not be overlooked by the league officials in New York. Shouldn't the league have a physical test for all officials or make more use of video technology?
John: The Myles Jack play absolutely was a major reason the Jaguars lost the AFC Championship Game. I have discussed that several times since that game, while also making the point that there were many things the Jaguars could have done outside that play to win the game. As far as “old, gray-haired guys” as officials being a reason for the missed call on the Jack play … I don’t know that I’m feeling that. That call was missed because the official blew the whistle too early on a bang-bang play. Would the official have done something different had he been in better shape? I don’t know that there’s a connection. I do believe there needs to be something done in training to let close plays play out, but a “physical” test or younger officials wouldn’t get that done.
Kyle from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Leonard Fournette definitely left some big plays out there by lowering his head rather than finding the seam. That comes as no surprise: in college he had much more success running behind a fullback. He was only a rookie, so I think he'll improve that aspect over time. There's another thing I want to critique: Can Fournette maybe not do that crazy spin move every other run? I appreciate that he is trying to make a defender miss, but he seems to lose control of his balance and end up being tackled anyway. I'd like to see him develop a nice stutter step and quick lateral agility. Making defenders miss isn't always about physical tools; sometimes it’s mental.
John: It’s likely unrealistic to think Fournette will dramatically change his running style. A lot of what runners do is instinctive and reactionary – and when you’re trying to avoid being hit by multiple large people running very fast toward you, there’s not a lot of time to think things through logically. I think experience can help Fournette improve at seeing plays develop and getting a better feel for what’s about to happen, and I think getting a full offseason to heal could help the lower leg issues he had as a rookie. Those are probably the areas that can help him take a step next season.
Jay from Salem, OR:
No question, just another tiddlywinks of Jag Nation. Calais Campbell is a beast, and albeit he didn't land the Defensive Player of the Year, he is a "Sacksonville Magic Man." Such a great leader, force and hell of an athlete. One fer' Calais!
John: … and another fer Calais.

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