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O-Zone: A fool's rules

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

So, let me get this straight: Even Press Taylor doesn't have confidence the running game will improve? LMAO.

Sigh. I assume you're referencing Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor this week saying there's no way to really know if a team will be able to run effectively until the regular season. This answer had nothing to do with whether Taylor is confident in the Jaguars' running offense (he is, by the way) and everything to do with him being transparent – and honest. While observers and fans clamor all offseason for hot takes/definitive answers to questions about their NFL teams, coaches know you don't get real answers until the season starts. This is perhaps particularly true in this era when it comes to the running game. One reason is because the run is often about one-on-one physical matchups – and the sort of one-on-one, controlled matchups that happen in NFL practices these days tell you little about who will win such matchups once games really matter. Another is that the run often is about specific game situations – i.e., down and distance and defensive tendencies. There's no way to know in advance how teams will fare in those, either. Taylor on Wednesday discussed in decent detail what the Jaguars have done this offseason to address the run. He said they essentially have re-examined and revamped their approach in this area because they haven't been good enough here in recent seasons. He sounded like he liked what had been done. As he said, we'll start finding out in September if what they did was enough.

Stokes from Orange Park, FL

Someone on social media posed the question about how many touchdowns for Brian Thomas Jr. this year. My heart's first - admittedly wishful - thought was twelve. My next maneuver was googling "NFL rookie WR touchdown record." Twelve would tie for fifth all-time behind only Randy Moss of the Minnesota Vikings (17, 1998, unreal), Ja'Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals (13, 2021), Justin Jefferson of the San Diego Chargers (13, 1978) and Billy Howton of the Green Bay Packers (13, 1952). My heart readjusted to ten. My head went with eight. My obvious next move is to bring this to the KOAF and hope he'll grace me with a post and response as to where my number crunching lies on the spectrum of reality in his learned NFL experience and professional estimation.

Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know I'm not one to lock in on a particular statistic measuring a player. I prefer to try get a feel for how a player might impact the game – and those around him – overall. Does the player matter? Does the player worry opponents? Do opponents have to account for him? On this front, I expect Jaguars rookie wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. to matter for the Jaguars' offense in 2024 – and I expect his importance to increase as the season continues. As for a touchdown number … seven or eight would be a significant impact. That's close to one every two games – a number that would help any team. If all four of the Jaguars' top receivers – Thomas, Gabe Davis, Christian Kirk and Evan Engram – reach that, this will be one of the NFL's best offenses in 2024.

Scott from Jacksonville

What's wrong with June birthdays?

I probably shouldn't say.

Richard from St. Augustine, FL

I was shocked recently when saw Jags ranked 25th of 32 in team sack totals for 2023. It is clear to me that if both the offensive and defensive line do not improve, the Jags are headed for more of the same. What is more of same, you ask? Risk of quarterback injury, quarterback hurries, poor running attack, defensive getting gashed in pass and run by opponents, etc. What say you all knowing of sage football wisdom?

I say I didn't ask – and I say I'm not sure where it was a shock that the Jaguars ranked in the bottom fourth in the NFL in sacks in 2023. That's kind of how the pass rush felt all season. I also say the Jaguars' offensive and defensive lines must improve in 2024. The Jaguars realize this. It's why they addressed the areas by signing center Mitch Morse and defensive lineman Arik Armstead in the offseason.

Steve from Hilton Head, SC

John, another reason for missed or poor tackling is the continuing, increasing emphasis on forcing turnovers. Many times, you see a defender trying to strip the ball versus tackling the ball carrier. It truly is a risk/reward choice. Turnovers so often change the outcome of a game.

Good eye.


O-ZONE, why don't they update players height and weight? They're all listed at what they weighed at the combine.

Who's "they?" And who's to say "they" are wrong? Players are officially weighed and measured in a controlled, monitored setting at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in March. For many players, that continues as their official height and weight during their NFL careers.

Bradford from Orange Park, FL

Word up, Don from Marshall, NC and his most recent comment regarding the Dolphins' GM's comments. I hadn't seen/heard what he said but I know enough to know that when you extrapolate Don's speed in response to it - & the fact we're kindred spirits - he was 100 percent on target. Well done, bro. I'm with you.

When it comes to not realizing that Don from Marshall, NC, — while characteristically "all in" --didn't realize that Randy Mueller is no longer the Miami Dolphins' general manager, Bradford kindredly remains "all in."

Steve from Nashville, TN

I was struck by the stat recently mentioned on that the team last year had 25 percent of their running attempts failing to gain a yard. Without context or contrast it seems like an indictment on the futility of our running game last year. Wondering what was our defense's measure in this area for our 2023 opponents - what percentage of our 2023 opponents' rushing attempts against us were held for no gain?

For context, 25 percent of running attempts for no gain is not good. The Jaguars had 73 tackles for loss on 421 opponent runs in 2023, or 17.3 percent.

Eddie from Jacksonville

Wait, a kicker that can tackle to deal with the new kickoff rules? Hmmmm. We need someone who played Australian Rules Football. If only there was one on the roster.

You're somewhat cryptically referencing Jaguars tight end Patrick Murtagh, who indeed has an Australian Rules Football background. Hmmm.

Jack from Jacksonville

O, Zay Jones released, wow! What's the inside scoop on this development?

I assume you're referencing the Jaguars releasing wide receiver Zay Jones this offseason. I don't know that this any longer merits "wow!" seeing how the Jaguars released Jones a week after the 2024 NFL Draft – nearly six weeks ago. While it did surprise some Jaguars observers at the time, it wasn't too much of a shock. There was speculation around the start of the 2024 NFL League Year that the Jaguars might release Jones if they re-signed free-agent-to-be wide receiver Calvin Ridley. When they didn't re-sign Ridley, Jones remained on the roster. When they then selected Thomas No. 23 overall in the '24 draft, Jones in the Jaguars' view became a bit too much of a burden on the salary cap to retain. I thought/hoped after the draft they might retain Jones for a season. That would have given them nice depth at wide receiver: Christian Kirk, Gabe Davis, Jones and Thomas. But such depth at one position is a luxury in this era. In this case, it was too luxurious a price to pay for the Jaguars.

Biff from Jacksonville

I'm not loaning you my kayak. Not after last time.


Marc from Oceanway

Nobody is asking about this Meet and Greet correctly. Here's how it is done: "John, I am your loyal O-Zone reader. I know who I am. I will be at Strings on June 29 at 8 p.m. I will be wearing a name tag that reads, 'Marc from Oceanway.' " Fellow Zone Heads, if we build it (the event), John will come. #fieldofdreams

This sounds like a "good team-building exercise." Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – can imagine how much I love a "good team-building exercise."

Kevin from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Hi, John. What's the chance the streak has already ended but you prepared a daily O-Zone to be printed on the day you wouldn't be available? Do you consider the streak still going?

I've never done this. I'm not saying I would. I'm not saying I wouldn't. I'm just saying I've never done it. Yes, such a scenario would mean the O-Zone streak would still be going. Some may debate this. It doesn't matter. My streak, my rules. If you want to make up rules, start your own damned streak.