O-Zone: Back at it

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

David from Chuluota

Zone - Some athletes have the skill set to play all over the field. However, you (and the team) seem to pooh-pooh the idea when fans suggest moving a player here or there – as if players are easily overloaded. However, we watch teams like the New England Patriots have no problem giving players added responsibilities and moving them around the field like chess pieces to create mismatches and get the most out of their best athletes. We now have a player in Josh Allen, with the potential to wreak havoc on opposing offenses, but I fear our “keep-it-simple” approach may not tap that potential. I think this is what former Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. meant when he said he felt like a caged animal. Offenses knew where he was at all times. Our philosophy is more like “our guy needs to beat your guy” than “we will outsmart and out-maneuver you” approach. It’s the coaches’ job to put the players in the best position to succeed and I think that’s done by challenging players, not by dumbing it down. I know I’m painting a picture with broad strokes, but hopefully you understand the jest of where I’m coming from. Thoughts?

I do get your jest. And I’m not kidding about that. But while the Jaguars don’t do as much sleight-of-defensive-hand as other teams, they do move players around in the defense. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, for example, moved around a lot last season with the idea to create mismatches and pass-rush advantages. But remember: Defensive tomfoolery isn’t the end all. While some defensive coordinators lean on it a lot – successfully – other coordinators prefer to keep schemes simple with the idea of allowing players to play as fast as possible. That’s usually the Jaguars’ approach, and it has worked well enough for the defense to be ranked in the top six in the NFL three consecutive seasons. And while I can’t speak to how Fowler felt when he was in Jacksonville and why, but it’s hard to make a case that coaching held him back – and I can tell you the Jaguars are open to the idea of moving Allen around in the defense. He currently has been with the team two days. The Jaguars want him to learn one position before learning another. If Allen proves himself a player who can handle the challenge – and there’s no indication yet that he can’t handle it – I expect he will move around. But not before.

Mark from Jacksonville

"Y'all just chill. Everything's solid, you feel me? Stop going crazy. It's getting aggravating. You feel me? Football ain't everything. Y'all better wake up." Ya know what Telvin? I don't feel you bro. I actually don't feel you at all. And I'm definitely chillin. I just don't think you know the definition of solid …

You’re quoting Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith from an Instagram post Saturday, and I sense you’re not alone among fans in your thoughts on this issue. Support was strong for Smith among fans immediately after he announced plans on Thursday not to play in 2019. I sensed that support wane a little bit with the release of Saturday’s video, and I get the feeling it will wane the more Smith posts on Instagram – but you know what? This isn’t about Smith building support or losing support. I’m actually not sure what it’s about at this point except that Smith appears to be in a troubled place. Here’s hoping he finds his way out.

Shane from Washington, DC

How long before Josh Allen is also lining up at tight end? Seems to have the perfect size and speed.

That will have to wait until Wednesday. He has to punt Monday and work on long snapping on Tuesday morning.

Eno from Jacksonville

Everyone is focused on skill players showing out this year, but shouldn't our concerns really be about a return to form (and the meshing in of new talent) of the offensive line? Former quarterback Blake Bortles absorbed some heavy criticism (a lot deserved), but our line was thoroughly decimated last season.

The offensive line absolutely is a major issue next season, but there’s not much to say about it at this point in the offseason. The Jaguars changed offensive line coaches (Pat Flaherty out, George Warhop in) and drafted a first-round talent (Jawaan Taylor) at right tackle. They have what appears to be a solid group of starters on the line. Now, it’s a matter of staying healthy.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Whether Smith is driven by personal issues or money is, at this point, speculation. I do know that if he sits out, the Jaguars are unlikely to find a replacement who can play at his level. My question is how his going public while refusing to communicate with his employer might affect his short- and long-term status with the Jaguars.

Smith’s handling of the situation hasn’t been ideal, but how it will affect his relationship with the Jaguars won’t be known until the team and Smith communicate. That’s when the team will have enough information to start analyzing the situation. I suppose you’re right that the Jaguars are unlikely to find a replacement to play at his level, but losing him doesn’t necessarily mean a major decline for this defense. There is still elite talent at every level of the defense – including at more important positions than weak-side linebacker. And considering Smith’s inconsistency issues last season, it remains to be seen whether the team will suffer significantly in his absence.

Vincent from Bristol, CT

Hello, John: I don’t understand why fans questioned Williams pick in the draft. Dude is a beast, imo. What's your take on him? Love his hand slap after tackles, too.

Fans questioned the Jaguars selecting Quincy Williams because he went to a small college (Murray State) and because he was relatively unknown to draft analysts. My take is that his college highlights are impressive and that he has a cool hand slap on that tape after tackles. He has the talent to succeed in the NFL. We’ll see if he makes the transition.

Frankie from London, UK

MR O! Who would be your top picks for next Pride of the Jaguars inductees? I know spots should feel special, but it has been a few years. I'm not sure we can start conversations without including center Brad Meester, defensive end Tony Brackens or running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Heck, even Coach McCardell [wide receiver Keenan McCardell]. Just interested in your thoughts, I'm sure Poz (middle linebacker Paul Posluszny) and [tight end] Marcedes [Lewis] will be shoe-ins at some point.

I believe the next Pride of the Jaguars inductee should be McCardell followed by Jones-Drew. The order in which I list them has nothing to do with level of player, but the time they played. It is well past beyond time for McCardell to be inducted.

Brad from Orange Park, FL

Do you think that Telvin Smith's logic in declaring he won't be playing this season, but that he will play the following season, has to do with how the Le’Veon Bell situation played out? That basically, if you’re willing to take the heat in the media – and potentially from your locker room – there isn't anything that prevents you, contractually or otherwise, from deciding to just take the year off. Do you see from this point, if it's not suspension-related and it's just a personal sabbatical he's taking, teams beginning to address this situation in players' contracts moving forward?

It’s tough to talk about Smith right now and use the word, “logic.” It doesn’t appear he’s coming from that place. As far as teams trying to address this sort of issue contractually, contracts are a two-way street. If players are willing to take seasons off without pay, there’s not much that can be written in to deter the action. The pay usually serves as the incentive to play.

David from Orlando, FL

Johnny-O – Put on your GM hat, you can only afford to keep one, cornerback Jalen Ramsey or defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who do you keep and why?

Ramsey because he’s a prototype, shut-down corner who appears very capable of being the best player at his position for a long time – and a potential Hall of Fame player. Ngakoue’s good, but Ramsey is better.

Nate from Granby

I think the real Jerell from SC was abducted by aliens and replaced with peaceful person we have been reading from these past few weeks.

Wait for it …

Jerell from Columbia, SC

Is Telvin Smith in middle school? He needs to man up and talk to and explain his decision to the Jags. If I was running thing he would be a FA now. There is no excuse for how he is handling this. I am a Telvin fan but MAN UP and do what grownups do! ONE NOT FER TELVIN! Put Ryan in the middle and Jack in his more natural position and don’t look back.

… there it is.

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