O-Zone: Back to basics

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Chris from Space City, TX

On average how many emails a day make you want to reply, "I never know what's going on?”

One and counting.

Marlin from Newberry, FL

Hi, John. Who has a better game on Sunday: the fourth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette; or the 10th pick of that same draft, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes? I know looking back at previous drafts is 20/20 (and can cause much consternation), but how much does Fournette look like a swing and a miss, especially considering that his career thus far makes him no better than the seventh-best back to come out of that draft that includes four Pro Bowlers?

I would project Mahomes having a better game than Fournette Sunday. Mahomes after all was the NFL Most Valuable Player last season in his first season as a starter; Fournette has been consistently unavailable and needs a very good season in 2019 to show he can be a productive front-line NFL back. Taking Fournette instead of Mahomes certainly in that respect looks like a miss.

Keith from Section 436 Since 1995

For all the media and fans who crow about the heat advantage, we need to remember two numbers: 26-2. That was the score the Jags lost by in 2013 in then-Head Coach Gus Bradley's first game. The Jags scored a safety, then Gus became ... Gus. Yes, I know the Jags are better, but just because they will play in 95-degree heat on Sunday, the Chiefs aren't gonna feel it much.

Though I haven’t seen much “crowing” about a heat advantage, it’s certainly a factor to be considered when analyzing Sunday’s game. Either way, I wouldn’t bring the 2013 season into discussions about how the Jaguars might fare in certain situations. That ranked as perhaps the least-talented, most-overmatched team in Jaguars history – something that was true regardless of the head coach. Heat or no heat, safety or no safety, that was going to be a tough game for the Jaguars. The heat doesn’t guarantee the Jaguars a victory Sunday. But if it favors either team, it should favor the Jaguars.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, can we finally put this offseason behind us and get this party started?

Yes.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

First up: Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Maybe the NFL's best offense against probably the NFL's best defense. Good thing we got this one at home. If the Jaguars pull off the upset, how does that happen Sunday?

By the Jaguars’ defense creating points and short fields, and by the Jaguars’ offense turning opportunities into touchdowns rather than field goals.

Big on Blake from Philly

John, I’m hoping everyone in the area and on the East Coast is doing well from Hurricane Dorian. That said, someone better let the Chiefs know they’re due for a direct hit from the Tropical Swarm. Go Jags.

You go, girl.

Brian from Jacksonville

Foles has an oblique injury? Since when? Other than being an injury that could totally derail a passer’s season, how much of a concern is Foles injury?

The Jaguars placed quarterback Nick Foles on their Wednesday injury report with an oblique injury. Though the injury report was purely an estimate because Hurricane Dorian forced them to cancel practice, it’s significant that the Jaguars listed him as full. He said Thursday the injury is “no issue.” He practiced full and will play Sunday. My understanding is the concern over the injury is minimal.

Marc from Oceanway

I don’t believe the Jaguars have officially retired any jersey numbers. Regardless, it has seemed that they avoid using numbers 71, 28, 82 – and until this year – 87. Do we have a policy regarding players wearing certain numbers?

The Jaguars don’t officially retire numbers, but they don’t use 71 (left tackle Tony Boselli, 1995-2001), 28 (running back Fred Taylor, 1998-2008), 82 (Jimmy Smith, 1995-2005), 8 (Mark Brunell, 1995-2003) or 32 (Maurice Jones-Drew (2006-2013). Jersey No. 87 has been worn quite a bit over the years, though I would favor not using it because wide receiver Keenan McCardell – who wore it from 1996-2001 – is deserving of that respect.

Robert from Middleburg, FL

I, too, had pondered the similarities between the beginning of Tyson Alualu's career and Taven Bryan's. There's a little apples and oranges there given how much lower in the draft Taven was selected. I had to do a double-take though when I read the part where you referred to Tyson as a "very good" player. Our definitions of "very good" must be very different.

Sorry about your double take. Alualu, because he wasn’t a pass rusher and because he didn’t live up to being a No. 10 overall selection, always has been unfairly criticized by Jaguars fans. He played seven seasons with the Jaguars and is entering his third season with the Steelers. Players who play more than a couple of seasons with a second team and players who play more than 10 seasons in the NFL are rare. Whether you attach “very” to the description is up to you, but he has been a good NFL player. Bad players are out of the league after four or five years.

Mark from Archer, FL

John, which player on defense Sunday do you see having the biggest impact?

My standard answer on this would be the pass-rushing trio – Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Josh Allen – because I believe the Jaguars’ best chance to win Sunday is to disrupt Mahomes’ timing in the passing game, thereby creating turnover opportunities. But because you asked which player – singular – will have the biggest impact, I’ll pare down the answer to Campbell. He’s the best player on the Jaguars’ front seven until proven otherwise; if he’s as dominant Sunday as he was late last season, he can disrupt more consistently than any other Jaguars defensive player.

Andy from Newark, DE

Can you tell me more about Geoff Swaim? I'm excited about the possibility that he will be sneaky good.

The Jaguars signed Swaim as an unrestricted free agent from Dallas this past offseason. They believe he has a chance to be a value UFA, and that he can help both a blocker and a receiver. They also believe injuries have held him back a bit early in his career – so they, too, believe there’s a possibility he will be sneaky good.

Nate from St. Petersburg, FL

Morning, O. I missed you over the summer. Just wanted to comment regarding how the contract dominoes are falling regarding our Big 3 on D. People are failing to see it's lining up perfectly to where we keep all three for years to come. It's practically impossible to give three market-setting contracts in one offseason. And make no mistake, Yan and Jalen's contracts will be setting the market. So, the Jags picked up Jalen's fifth-year option, re-signed Myles this year, and will either re-sign Yan over the next season and a half or franchise tag him, buying another year to negotiate. It is sound, intelligent roster-structuring to keep our superstar core of young defenders surrounded with quality veterans and solid role players. I’m impressed they are maneuvering through a potentially disastrous situation. Did you see it turning out this way, or are you as equally as impressed?

Nate! I missed you, too. I can safely speak for all O-Zone readers that we all did. The O-Zone without you is a dry, barren place filled with sadness, despair and daily heartache as we await your return. So, in summation: Thank goodness you’re back; now we can start. As for your analysis of the Jaguars’ approach, I agree that it could work out this way – though it’s disingenuous to say that was precisely how the Jaguars planned it because the Jaguars did try to re-sign Ngakoue this offseason. Bottom line: Creativity was always going to be needed to navigate the re-signing of all three players, and it long has been clear that there were going to be major obstacles to re-signing all three. The Jaguars reportedly tried one approach with their first offer to Ngakoue, and now they have taken an alternate first step by re-signing Jack. They already have used the roster-management took of the fifth-year option, and they have another took of the franchise tag available for either Ngakoue or Ramsey moving forward. How those situations play out is anyone’s guess, but yes … staggering the re-signings over multiple years absolutely makes it more possible. I don’t know how impressed I am, but I do know the O-Zone is less barren with your return. Our time of darkness at last has passed.

Sam from Orlando, FL

Rumor has it, the entire Rocky IV training montage is just Gene “Quincy” Frenette’s morning routine.

That’s not a rumor. Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette long has been well-known for his old-school, back-to-basics, upper-body workouts. Woe to those who challenge him in contests of manhood. They do so at their own peril.

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