JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Weston from Greenville, DE
What surprise cuts or trades do you see happening to big-name players?
This remains among the trickier O-Zone questions each offseason because it's hard to know what people expect and what they don't when it comes to the Jaguars' roster. I don't particularly anticipate any "big-name" Jaguars players being traded before the season, and I think the prominent players we've discussed here all offseason to be with the team next season. While observers have speculated often this offseason about defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. being traded, such a move would surprise me because Fowler is important to the Jaguars' defensive-line rotation; this was a player, after all, that registered 10 sacks including the postseason last season. One area to watch along these lines is wide receiver. I expect Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and D.J. Chark to make the team, which could mean two familiar names – Rashad Greene Sr. and Jaydon Mickens – competing for one roster spot. That could mean one of the two not being on the roster. Would it be a surprise? Perhaps not, but it would mean parting ways with a good player.
OJ from Jacksonville
The 2016 draft could arguably go down as one of the best drafts in Jaguars history and surely the best in the last 10 years. How likely is it that the Jags can keep the top three picks of that draft?
The Jaguars' 2016 draft appears likely to be remembered not only as one of the best drafts in franchise history but one of the NFL's best in recent memory. That is based pretty much entirely on first-round cornerback Jalen Ramsey, second-round linebacker Myles Jack and third-round defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Ramsey and Ngakoue already have been to a Pro Bowl, and Jack could reach that level soon. While keeping all three won't be cheap or easy, signing them will become a priority following the 2018 season. The only way it won't be a priority – and the only way I could see it not happening – is if any of the players were to sustain a major injury or to have their level of play drop significantly this season. The question with this trio? Not whether the players will be re-signed, but whether they will be the type of core players who can be the foundation of the defense – and the franchise – for an extended period. The Jaguars likely will bet that's the case.
David from Section135
Roses are red, chocolate is brown. In the AFC Championship …
We all wore a frown?
Kevin from Saint Johns, FL
After some adult beverages and discussion, my brother and I have come to the following conclusion. Had Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette had the ball, the refs would never had even thought for a second that he would have been down. Then again, adding Gene to the team would probably decimate the salary cap calculations for 2019.
Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette is never considered "down." And you don't cut Gene for cap reasons. You figure out a way. You just do.
Earl from Julington Creek, FL
Are you kidding me?
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
John, a couple of things to clean up before camp starts. I have been a resident of the Jacksonville area for twenty-plus years. I grew up loving the New York Football Giants – and still do. I root for them every Sunday. However, I made a commitment to this town and am a Jags Season Ticket holder. Come Game One, I'll be cheering loudly for my team the Jaguars to defeat the G Men. I would hope many of the other transplants in the area start feeling the same way. It was embarrassing to see so many tix sold to Bills fans in January. This is your home, folks. Embrace your team. Second, I don't get why so many folks worry what the national press thinks about us. Jason La Canfora, Woody Paige and Tony Kornheiser are just old and lazy formerly good reporters going after low-hanging fruit. I am retired in my 60s, which makes me an expert on lazy and old. I really don't give a rodent's derriere what these folks think. Just want the Jags to do great. Oh one more thing. Hey, you kids get off of my lawn. Go Jaguars.
A few thoughts on your cleanup. One is that you're overestimating the Bills fans at the wild-card playoff game in January – and their impact on the game. It's very common in most NFL cities for visiting fans to have a presence, even in the postseason. That's particularly true in these days of tickets being easily available on the secondary market. While the so-called Bills Mafia made a big deal of their numbers before the game, their real presence at the game was rather unremarkable – and their presence in Jacksonville that weekend was more notable for annoying behavior than for any impact on the game. As far as the national-media types … I've long been on record of how much their opinion on the Jaguars matters: not a bit, because far too many rely on public perception rather than reality to shape their view. As far as your final thought... yeah, no doubt. Kids are awful beings. Get them off my lawn, too. Always and forever.
Andy from St. Augustine, FL
Is it true that Gene Frenette's first real movie role was the banjo playing boy in Deliverance? You could see how talented he was even at that young age.
Good eye. Good ear.
Paul from Washington, D.C.
What's the biggest position battle entering training camp? Wait? Is there even such a thing as a camp battle anymore?
Your second question has merit, because in the NFL true camp battles where coaches have no real feel for who will start at a position are rare these days. Teams spend too much time, draft equity and free-agent dollars in the offseason filling their depth chart to enter camp with no idea who's going to start at many positions. A team with a bunch of wide-open competitions in training camp would understandably and correctly be considered to have been negligent addressing necessary offseason issues. Still, Jaguars 2018 Training Camp won't be without its intriguing storylines. Will Leon Jacobs or Blair Brown start at strong-side linebacker? Will A.J. Cann earn the starting right guard position after missing much of the offseason with injury? Who will play what role at receiver? Those are three major issues to be decided in training camp.
John from Naples, FL
Dez Bryant remains available. The Jaguars remain weak at wide receiver. Please explain why these dots don't connect.
As often is the case with such questions, the dots don't connect because the team sees its situation differently from how observers see it. Whereas many observers see former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant as an elite receiver available on the open market, NFL teams apparently see a player no longer in his prime and therefore one not in high demand. And while some observers see the Jaguars as weak at receiver – perhaps because there's not a clear "No. 1 receiver" on the roster – the team sees a balanced group with a slew of ascending young players who fit what this team wants to do offensively. Bottom line: I would have been surprised had the Jaguars made a quick move for Bryant after he was released from the Cowboys. I would be really surprised if they made a move now.
Shane from Washington, DC
I'm pretty sure most every team that played the Jags last year played a 4-4-3 defense.
This is either an attempt at snide humor in response to a recent O-Zone question/answer regarding NFL teams not using 4-4-3 defensive schemes – or a gross misunderstanding of defensive scheme. I'll go with the "snide-humor" option – and there is a case to be made that a lot of teams played the Jaguars with essentially a 4-4-3 scheme a lot last season in the sense that teams often stacked eight defenders near the line of scrimmage to defend the Jaguars' run-heavy offensive approach. I doubt teams will defend the Jaguars that way as much this season. We'll see.
Stu from Wrestlingworth, UK
Hey Johnny O: Reading that Doug from Jacksonville is coming over to watch the game in London, how about setting up some kinda foreign exchange programme for fans coming across the pond to games? As mentioned, I'm over to the states for the Super Bowl next year, Mrs. O will be down with putting me and the family up for a couple of days? I'll bring some quality bangers and a cheeky ale or two?
I ran this by the wife Tuesday. I misread your question and told her you offered "quality burgers." She said no. I realized my mistake and told her it was actually "quality bangers." She said, "So, like sausage?" I said, "Yes." This didn't change her mind.