O-Zone: A motivation thing

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Big on Blake from Philly

There are a lot of questions regarding the re-signing of the defensive players from the Jags’ star-studded 2016 haul. I’m not sure I understand them. The Jags’ plan under Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin always has been defense first. That said, there will always be money in the banana stand (aka, stashed away to pay) to keep the defense at a certain level. Players from the 2016 class, safety Ronnie Harrison, edge defender Josh Allen, maybe defensive tackle Taven Bryan and the rest of the year’s class will all have the opportunity to become part of the defensive plan. If the team can continue focusing on solid offensive lines, rookie running backs and a cache of young, fast wide receivers, then the Jags should be yearly contenders while consistently spending most of their cap on the defense and keeping the best drafted players for multiple contracts. It could be a sustainable, successful plan that just needs results now in order to stay on track. Yann gets sacks and he will get paid. Myles Jack wasn’t down and he won’t be out of JAX. Jalen is a Jag for life. DTWD.

You have captured the essence of the Jaguars’ approach – and then some. It usually is the case in the NFL – and in life – that following a plan can be difficult with many bumps in the road, and sometimes you get bumped from even the best of plans. What that means in this scenario is the Jaguars must win and the players you mention as certain to return must continue to fulfill expectations. Specific to the team’s 2016 draft class … yes, there’s a good chance the Jaguars will re-sign linebacker Myles Jack, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive Yannick Ngakoue. I believe that’s what they want to do. I also believe there are going to be some bumps and the accompanying angst to reach that point. Negotiations have a way of getting done in the NFL, but they also have a way of being difficult with a lot of anxiety involved.

Paul from Gainesville, FL

We are witnessing the de-evolution of the Zone, O. Are we not men?

We are Split Enz.

Ryan from Ryo, Utah

It will be my first time coming to Jacksonville. For the Tampa Bay game (wife is a Tampa fan; me, Jacksonville). What are some of the must-see, do or eat places in Jacksonville?

Head to the Bold City Brigade Tailgate on game day, and make sure you walk around TIAA Bank Field to see Daily’s Place and the Flex Field. And go to Sbarro’s. There’s one at the mall. As for the BCB tailgate, I’m not sure how to tell you to prep the wife for that. Some things you just gotta do.

Nick from Jacksonville

I don’t get why people make this so hard. If the offensive line still stinks, the team will still stink. Why won’t the offensive line stink next year, Zone? One good reason.

I won’t say the offensive line was good last year. I will say there are a couple of reasons to hope it will be better. One is that the line could/should be healthier than last season; it’s hard to imagine as much going wrong on that front as went wrong last season. Another is the addition of rookie Jawaan Taylor at right tackle. Those aren’t guarantees as much as they are storylines. If Taylor is worthy of his second-round draft status and if the Jaguars’ offense is healthy next season, there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a good offensive line. If not …

Tim from Saint Jones, FL

If Jaguars weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith does indeed decide to sit out this season, what and when would he need to file with the league/team to avoid fines for not showing up to required practices and games?

It would begin with notifying the team of his intentions so that he could be placed on a reserve list, most likely the Reserve/Did Not Report list. He would in that case not count against the salary cap or the team’s roster limits.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Zone, the way I see it, this is one IMPORTANT offseason for this offense, right? Foles has to get on the same page as receivers and has a short time to do it. That seems critical, no?

Yes. While I typically discount the importance of voluntary offseason work and organized team activities, there are times they’re important. They’re almost always important for quarterbacks to attend because so many other players depend on the timing and play of that position. It’s also good for players who are going to be calling plays defensively to be there because of the mental repetitions involved. It becomes less important the less you touch the ball; that’s because offseason work is non-padded work. But for quarterbacks and receivers trying to learn a new offense – and who never have played together – the offseason work does have value. So, are the coming four weeks critical for new Jaguars starting quarterback Nick Foles? Let’s just say they matter more than a lot of offseason work.

John from Fernandina Beach, FL

Enough is enough. Say what you want about voluntary, involuntary, mandatory … whatever. Practice is practice and OTAs are practice. Yann and Jalen need to be here, right?

Practice is practice, but not all practices are created equal. OTA practices are non-padded work so OTA work isn’t nearly as equal as padded practices in training camp. I don’t expect defensive end Yannick Ngakoue or cornerback Jalen Ramsey to practice with the Jaguars until the June 11-13 mandatory minicamp. I expect the normal rabble-rousing and discontent over their absence, and I expect that discontent to be largely forgotten if/when they show up for training camp.

Mike from Orlando, FL

O— There’s a lot of talk about safety, wide receiver and tight end being weak – and they are. But when can we talk about Taven Bryan? If he doesn’t play better, isn’t he a weakness?

Bryan, the Jaguars’ first-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, isn’t a weakness or a strength yet. He’s a second-year player who showed some flashes as a rookie while showing little production. That makes him a fairly typical NFL rookie, particularly a non-Top 10 drafted rookie. Bryan needs to make a Year 2 jump. If he does, the Jaguars have a strong defensive-tackle rotation with Bryan, Marcell Dareus and Abry Jones. If he doesn’t make that jump, then we can start taking about Bryan being a weakness.

TJ from Orlando, FL

I'm 5-feet-9, 265 pounds and nothing has been athletic on my body for about 20 years, but I'm willing to sacrifice my dream of being the next Natrone Means and take the plunge to be the next Jaguars tight end. Tell Shad he knows where to find me. (Five Guys is where he can find me.)

I figured.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Zone, what would you presume to be a more likely outcome for 2019: Leonard Fournette living up to his draft position, or Leonard missing enough games as the result of preventable soft-tissue injuries and team/league-imposed suspensions that Ryquell Armstead ultimately leads the Jags in rushing?

This is in one sense a fair question considering how much time Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has missed in two NFL seasons, but it’s not completely fair to imply that Fournette’s injuries were preventable. The term “soft-tissue” does not by definition mean a player could have prevented it. Players are human beings and human beings sustain injuries. As far as your question, the answer could go far toward deciding the Jaguars’ season. I don’t know that Fournette realistically ever will live up to being the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft; that’s a lofty position for a running back and Fournette has yet to show the miss-ability shown by most long-term elite running backs. But I believe Fournette can get back to his rookie status and perhaps be a 1,000-to-1,200-yard rusher. I do believe there’s a better chance of that happening in 2019 than Fournette missing half the season.

Greg from Middleburg, FL

This is a joke.

I’m not laughing.

Ryan from Fremont, OH

If I’m the Jags’ decision-makers and Telvin Smith indeed sits out the season, I would at least entertain the idea of bringing in Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette to back up John Oehser. He would probably cost a quarter of Telvin’s annual price tag. Gene is a physical person who hasn't left anywhere on bad terms. At the very least he would provide depth and a veteran presence and likely outperform the younger senior writer working on the team.

Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette deigns to back up no man. He also wouldn’t deign to backup this admittedly much younger senior writer.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

Motivate motivate motivate!!!!!

Jaguars 2019 Organized Team Activities begin Tuesday at the Dream Finders Home Practice Complex by TIAA Bank Field.

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