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O-Zone: Back off

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

David from The Island

Mahomes has a contract valued in the area of $450 million. Just a few years ago, that seemed like an impossible number. If Trevor turns into a Tom Brady-type player (Super Bowls/Most Valuable Players), can you see him getting the first $1 billion contract?

That's a big jump in a relatively short time, and remember: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' contract is a 10-year deal with a lot of yearly bonuses – and it's one that enables the Chiefs to potentially release Mahomes without salary-cap ramifications anytime after 2026, a scenario that admittedly currently seems unlikely. That doesn't mean Mahomes won't get every dollar of his contract, but it means the contract – like most others in the NFL – actually could end up being worth a different amount than what is reported. Either way, could the NFL's financial dynamics accelerate quickly enough that $1 billion would be possible when it's time for Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence to re-sign? Probably not quite that much, though a 10-year deal for Lawrence in three or four seasons almost certainly would exceed Mahomes' deal if Lawrence fulfills his draft status and potential. The obvious caveat here is we're waaaaaaayy ahead of ourselves. While Lawrence is a phenomenally good prospect, there is a long way to go from being a good prospect to proving NFL worth in the way Mahomes did during his first three NFL seasons. Let's let Lawrence win a few games first – or at least participate in a padded practice or two.

The Better Mark from Markleeville, CA

Anyone who believes these athletes are paid millions of dollars for anything other than their ability to play football is confused. Let me help. They're not being paid for their ability to do interviews. Suggestion: No requirements for media availability, but give incentives for being available "x" amounts of times per season. Rather than punishing (fining) them for not doing something that isn't aiding their ability to play the game. Players get workout bonuses worked into their contracts to incentivize them to workout. Do the same for media of it's that big of a deal. Or, just let them play the game.

I'm not sure anyone needs this help. No one's confused by this. No one thinks athletes are paid for their ability to do interviews. They are paid for their ability to play the game. But the game pays well because of fan interest. Why it suddenly is a big deal for athletes to speak about the game – thereby addressing the fans whose interest generates the players' salaries – without financial incentives, frankly, is beyond me.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I was reading the news about the stadium hiring, which is great by the way, but I noticed the description said "a pen is recommended." Are they trying to fill your position?!

Wait. What?

T Daddy from Glen St. Mary, FL

Hey, O Dog. How good do you think this defense is in comparison to the championship defense we had in 2017?

It would be disingenuous to project the Jaguars' 2021 defense as being on par with the 2017 defense. That defense was unusually loaded at all levels, with two Pro Bowl/All-Pro cornerbacks (Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye), an All-Pro defensive end (Calais Campbell) and a slew of other front-line Pro Bowl-level players around the rest of the defense (end Yannick Ngakoue, tackles Malik Jackson and Marcell Dareus and linebacker Telvin Smith). It was in a very real sense a perfect storm, one difficult to recreate and/or sustain in the salary-cap era. I expect this defense in 2021 to be improved from last season and to show signs of building toward something like the 2017 defense. I expect players such as linebacker Myles Jack and defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen to have a chance to play at a Pro Bowl/All-Pro level. The first step is improving on the interior to get the run stopped more consistently. A second is getting the offense functioning so that the team can play with more leads than has been the case recently. Once those things happen, we'll get an idea if the 2021 defense can start creating the turnovers and chaos that defined 2017. It's a monumental task. Stay tuned.

_Zac from Austin, Tejas  _

My wife got me opening day tickets for our five-year anniversary. I am so excited as this is my first football game. Tell me you'll be there to sign bare chest.

Some things are better left unsigned. And unseen.

Kinzie from Asheville, NC

Not sure if I have seen much of this formation but knowing that we have two dynamic players that can rush and catch in Travis Etienne Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr., what are the chances we see formations with three rushers in the backfield? Seems like it would be very difficult for a defense to key in on what player would do what. Is this a formation that has been used often in the NFL? Thanks for all you do, especially being an influencer on all things napping. =)

I doubt you will see three running backs/H-Backs lineup in the backfield for the Jaguars next season, at least not as an oft-used formation. Now, could you see formations with Etienne and Shenault – along with, say, running back James Robinson – all on the field at the same time, with Etienne or Shenault shifting in and out of the backfield? Or getting the ball on reverses or quick screens after lining up wide? Those options all could make sense considering the versatility of Etienne and Shenault. That's the sort of creativity and offensive diversity the skillsets of Shenault and Etienne could give the Jaguars' offense this season.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, can we do less math in the Zone? I'm tired.


Zachary from East Palatka, FL

Imagine watching an NFL game or even a NASCAR race (sorry, not sorry) and right after the game ends, it goes to commercial break followed by a rerun episode of Friends. Wouldn't this hinder the fan experience? Part of the entertainment is the post-game presser. Unless you're a Jags fan watching the 2017 AFC championship game, in that case gimme some Sbarro pizza and reruns of Friends. Also, which WR do you think will have the most TDs this year?

You're correct about the fan experience; that players speaking to the media adds a layer of entertainment and knowledge to that experience is inarguable. As far as what receiver will lead the Jaguars in touchdowns this season, I'll go with wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. He has scored nine touchdowns each of the last two seasons and three of the last four; I expect a young quarterback to lean on his experience a lot near the end zone.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

I take your running back lining up to play receiver and raise you a quarterback who lined up to play receiver. Etienne isn't the first slash player. Kordell Stewart, Percy Harvin. Marshall Faulk was the best of them all he was an All-Pro running back and maybe could have been a Pro Bowl wide receiver. Deion Sanders was the best cornerback ever to play, and he played receiver at times – and he also was a decent baseball player; I think he hit around .270. There have been at least a few tight ends over the last 15 years who weren't quite tight ends and not quite wide receivers but could play both. Tony Gonzalez played true tight end but at least with the Falcons he was often lining up outside. I feel like I'm forgetting some players, because there have been so many slashes.


Tom from Charlottesville, VA

The O-Line has played together and know each other. That is a plus, but with H-Backs being discussed, do the guards and tackles have the speed to pull out for the running plays? Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer has talked about speed, but I have not read where it has been discussed about the line?

This is a good run-blocking offensive line. It's a strength for offensive tackles Jawaan Taylor and Cam Robinson. It's also a strength for the interior of the line. Tight end Chris Manhertz also is considered a very good run-blocker. This line should be plenty fast and quick enough for this offense.

Stevie from Boise, ID

Zone, I get why you, Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, etc., don't disclose much publicly regarding your respective abilities to serve in multiple capacities, thus please forgive me if I'm out of line in asking this. I'm hoping you might share the brand name of the voice-to-text software you would almost certainly have to use in order to meet the demands of serving as Jaguars Senior Writer, while also maintaining global recognition as the King of All Funk; as my goal is to figure out how to get my homework done while slappin' the bass 'round the clock, in an attempt to one day have a career AND be the Prince of All Funk.

No. You're asking too much.