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O-Zone: A noble gesture

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Doug from Jacksonville

I remember then-Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell in the 2017 offseason saying he thought the Jags had a team that could win the Super Bowl. The league made sure pretty boy Tom Brady made it that year with a handful of absolutely terrible calls. That said, that year the talk was about energy and the feel of the team – and it was real. I remember thinking Campbell was just saying what everyone says in training camp. Let's hope 2021 is more of the same. I suppose the league would have to steal it for pretty boy in the Super Bowl this time.

The best way to think about the energy, vibe and feel of an NFL team is that those things are important – and at the same time, they guarantee nothing. It's very difficult to win or succeed if there's not a good culture – because it's difficult to win in the NFL if players and coaches aren't moving in the same direction. At the same time, a lot more than culture must be in place for a team to win – good quarterback play, good line play, good run defense and an able pass rush chief among them. There's a lot to like about this Jaguars offseason. The players clearly have bought in to Head Coach Urban Meyer's message. There's a real enthusiasm, and everyone – coaches and players – are displaying it with their words and their actions. That's only a start, but it's a good start.

Brad from The Avenues

Dear O: Sure, Jaguars owner Shad Khan could do pretty much anything he wanted to, but could he actually participate in practices? Like take some snaps, run some routes, throw some blocks? You know, if he really wanted to.

Sure. He might have to get the team to sign him to a contract first, but beyond that … yeah, where there's a will – and an NFL owner – there's a way.

Red from O-Zone Comments Section

Hi, John. I got a question that has been bothering me for quite some time. Do you ever grow tired of answering stupid questions?

There are no stupid questions. Only stupid senior writers.

Liam from Chesterfield, UK

Hey, Zone. I hope you're having a good week! Just curious, why don't all the drafted players sign straight away? Is there a reason they stagger the signings or leave them a while before signing?

More than anything else, this is about there not being an immediate deadline on this issue – at least not until training camp begins. Teams and agents have a few comparatively minor details to negotiate in all rookie contracts since the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, and some teams get this done more quickly than others. Some agents get them done more quickly than others. I'll say this whenever this topic is discussed: There is no crisis or even concern in this area until training camp has begun. If a player hasn't signed when camp begins, it's a "thing." Otherwise, it's not.

Stephen from The Land That Time (or at least the City Council) Forgot; Arlington

Congrats on you're winning $28 million bid for the Blue Origin space flight! Pretty cool. Must say; I completely underestimated the earning power of a Senior Writer. That said, don't you think you could have bid a little less and still won? Say, $27.5 million? I'm just hoping you didn't get Bryce Pauped...

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft …

Jake from Port Orchard, WA

I keep seeing headlines about Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz as a possible trade. Does it feel like a real possibility of actually happening? That would be a huge help to me.

Trades such as this are talk – until they're not. I don't get the idea that the Jaguars as panicked about their tight-end situation as many observers. I also don't get the idea that trading a third- or fourth-round selection for Ertz – then having to renegotiate his contract and perhaps sign him to a longtime deal soon thereafter – fits what the Jaguars were doing with the rest of the offseason. Their offseason plan seemed more about filling the roster with capable players, rather than making home-run swings using big draft and free-agency equity in later offseasons. But never say never.

Rob from St Augustine, FL

I recall that when a defensive back throws his hands up to knock a pass down facing the receiver (without looking back towards the ball) it's pass interference. But I have seen many times where this happens without seeing a flag. I'm I misinterpreting the rule? Can you explain?

The situation you describe is not under NFL rules a penalty as long as the defender does not make contact with the receiver.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, FL

I don't think you worked for the team at this time, but there was a game (I think maybe Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers) where early into the game, Mike Peterson appeared on the screen and said "Welcome to Duval. Prepare to be hit." This honestly gives him the edge over Poz for the best MLB in Jags history. That was such an iconic moment growing up.


_Ryan from Detroit, MI  _

John, when is the State of the Franchise address this year? I know it was skipped last year for COVID-19, but I feel like it was usually around this time in the offseason. Thanks!

There is not a State of the Franchise planned this offseason. The spirit of the event is to inform Jaguars fans and observers about the team's off-field priorities, proposals and plans. The recent press conference that outlined the 1st Downtown Jacksonville plan outlined those issues in detail.

Ray from Jacksonville

When will the training camp schedule be released?


Dave from Jacksonville

KOAF, Wizard of Oz, grand master of Duuuvall, please inform us. Did the Jags get as far as installing the game plan against the Texans Week One? Did you see any reason for the playoffs to be much competition? So, can we book Super Bowl After Party space? It was, after all, minicamp Day One. The fans are ready.

The Jaguars haven't installed a game plan for the regular-season opener against Houston, though it's safe to assume coaches have studied that team and the other opponents. As far as the playoffs and the Super Bowl … make all the plans you want. If the Jaguars make the playoffs, you'll be ecstatic. If not, it sounds as if you're a guy still capable of a having a good time.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

I'll drop it after this. Press conferences are better when the questions are like, "How do you feel about being a seventh-year veteran and what are advantages/disadvantages?" and not like, "Are you prepared to be a sex symbol in women's tennis?" Okay, done.

OK. Fair.

Dean from Rochester, NY

"Why it suddenly is a big deal for athletes to speak about the game?" It isn't "suddenly." "I'm just here so I don't get fined." I would tend to agree that making them do interviews isn't always realistic. Each individual has things they do well, don't do well and don't like to do. Just like you can have a player that is good at X things in his job and a similar player that is good at maybe X + Y things in his job, you can have players who don't like, or want, to do interviews, press conferences, etc. I think a system that forces it is wrong, just like forcing a running back to also catch passes when he doesn't like to catch passes, or isn't as good at catching passes, to try to catch passes. I understand it isn't apples to apples, but neither is performing a sport and speaking to the press.

Mandating that players/athletes speak to the press isn't a perfect approach. But most players in the NFL who truly don't like it aren't forced to do so that often – and the media typically backs way, way off when a player just isn't comfortable with it. That doesn't solve the problem when it's a high-profile player such as Lynch in a high-profile situation such as the Super Bowl, but it does ensure that most players who are really uncomfortable speaking to the press don't have do so all that often. I don't know the solution. All I know is that professional sports are high-profile occupations and those that participate do so by choice and are well-compensated. In the vast majority of cases, I just don't see a problem mandating that those players speak to the public and therefore help maintain that profile.

Beavis from the South Side

This whole media availability thing is completely overblown. Marshawn Lynch was a great interview despite not wanting to be interviewed. "I'm only here so I don't get fined" was the most riveting insight I've ever been offered by a sports ball athlete. It was certainly better than letting him skip media availability. So, I guess I need a question -- what's your favorite noble gas?

The kind you get from noble beans.