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O-Zone: Big risk

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

_Scott from Gilbert, AZ                                            _

Johnny Funkzone: While I'm certain the Super Bowl MVP trophy looks great on Nick Foles' mantle – and while I'm confident he would rather have the distinction on his resume than not – I don't believe the accolade alone defines a quarterback's ability to be a franchise guy as much as many Jag fans seemingly believe. To put Super Bowl MVP in perspective, I would rate former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles' chance to win that award this year behind only Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers – and ahead of players like Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, etc. … – based on Blake having a better chance to actually play in that game behind an incredibly talented Los Angeles Rams team if Goff gets hurt, in conjunction with what he has proven to be able to do when everything is functioning around him at a high level. I'm not saying Foles isn't more accurate and/or won't give the Jags a better opportunity to win this season, but I would encourage Jag Nation to pump the brakes on that award alone being representative or indicative of a quarterback's ability to transcend other team deficiencies.

It seems you're fighting a fight that's not much of a fight. While some Jaguars fans understandably cite Foles' Super Bowl Most Valuable Player postseason with the Philadelphia Eagles following the 2017 season as reason for hope, I get the feeling most Jaguars fans realize he must prove himself capable of sustaining success over a full season. And I think most people realize a Super Bowl MVP does not guarantee elite status. What rightfully gives Jaguars fans hope when it comes to Foles is this: He has shown himself over the last two seasons to be a clutch, poised quarterback capable of making big plays at key times. He has shown himself to be an accurate passer and a leader. He hasn't shown himself to be elite; if he were elite, perhaps he wouldn't have been available. But he has shown himself to be very good at times at the highest level. It's reasonable to assume he will be an upgrade over Bortles over the course of a season. There's nothing wrong with Jaguars fans getting excited about that.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Were you born in a Greyhound bus rollin' down highway 41?

Yes, though I wasn't told about this until recently. I was always told I was born in the back of a Volkswagen bug without car seats or seatbelts, which made sense. It was the '60s.

_Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico                        _

According to the NFL Players Association, the average NFL career is 3.3 years. The only sensible thing for players to do, in my opinion, is get as much money as they can when they can, whatever it takes. Anyone playing longer than the average is fortunate and should maximize that opportunity for the rest of his life and his family. To quote well-known, old sayings of the NFL, "This is the Not-For-Long League, the best temporary job you'll ever have."

It's easy for fans/observers to become numb by the mega-million-dollar contracts paid to professional athletes. There are so many stories and so much talk about money that it seems players are signing contracts throughout their careers. The NFL reality is that relatively few players sign a true life-changing contract, and still fewer sign multiple such contracts. I suppose there can be debate over whether or not anyone should make such mind-blowing money playing a game. What's not debatable is that most people in professional athletes' situation undoubtedly would do everything they could to maximize the financial opportunity.

Big on Blake from Philly

John, though it is accepted that Foles is an upgrade to Bortles, I struggle with the signing. Being in Philadelphia, the locals believe Foles is of deity status. I'm not convinced his magical runs with star-studded teams in Philly will translate equally to Duval even with new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. How does one politely reply to local fans who insist the Jags got "way better" overnight with this quarterback signing when in reality the pieces were in place for a couple years and just derailed for the most part by injury last season?

Whether or not you're polite, your efforts undoubtedly will be fruitless – because people believe the narratives they choose to believe. I do believe that Foles will be an upgrade over Bortles because I believe his accuracy will help the offense – particularly on third down and late in games. That doesn't mean the Jaguars will get closer to the Super Bowl than they did with Bortles, though. Getting to within four minutes of the Super Bowl is difficult. Many good teams don't get so close.

Strnbker from Dothan, AL

I take the Dead Zone is about to become truly dead?

Yep. Thank goodness.

Stephen from Jacksonville

The discussion for whether the NFL should play a 16-or 18-game season typically fails to acknowledge the most logical solution to provide more games for fans and more money for players: a 17-game season. With 17 games, every team could play eight home games, eight road games and one international game. That game would take the game to new markets and potentially expand revenue. As for deciding opponents in the international games, they could be matchups of teams who finished in the same position in their respective conferences the previous year (No. 1 vs. No. 1, No. 2 vs. No. 2, etc.) and the home team could be decided simply by conference in even versus odd years. I see a season with three preseason games, 17 regular-season games, two bye weeks, and six playoff teams from each conference as the best solution going forward for this issue. Have you heard any league considerations for a 17-game regular season?

Much about your idea makes sense, and you do hear discussion of a 17-game season mixed in with the debate over expanding the NFL schedule to 18 games or leaving it at 16. Scheduling the "extra" international game could prove a little trickier than you suggest because there could be years when the similarly "ranked" teams are already playing one another, but that problem could be solved. It's a little too early in the process to get specific on what proposals the league is officially seriously considering. It's very early in the Collective Bargaining Agreement discussions, so the discussion currently consists of preliminary proposals and back and forth. But you do see such 17-game ideas being discussed in the media, and it wouldn't be shocking if some form is implemented.

Donny from Lake Mary, FL and Section 35 and Day 2

The questions about the lack of progress in re-signing Yannick, with implications that the Jags are bluffing or being cheap, are tiresome at this point. He's under contract for another year; they feel they know what he's worth right now based on his pass rushing AND run-stopping abilities. Last year after the 2017 season, the Jags had two free agents – wide receiver Allen Robinson and cornerback Aaron Colvin – who most everyone felt strongly the Jags should re-sign. Robinson got No. 1 receiver money and played like a No. 2 in Chicago (plus three missed games; no surprise), and Colvin got starting-cornerback money and struggled to the point that he's not projected as a starter going into this season. They rightfully refused to overpay those guys and they shouldn't overpay for Yannick when he's still under contract. Sometimes, it's the deals you shouldn't make (i.e. Blake Bortles) that ultimately help a team win, correct?

The Colvin/Robinson situations were a little different than the current Ngakoue situation, primarily because Robinson and Colvin didn't become huge issues until the weeks/months just before their contracts were to expire. Ngakoue has a season remaining on his contract, which doesn't expire until after the 2019 season. Make no mistake: The Jaguars would have liked to have re-signed both Colvin and Robinson – and not re-signing Robinson remains a debatable decision. Ngakoue's contract situation will be intriguing. I think something will get done, but I would be shocked if it's in the $20-million-a-season-range if it happens before the beginning of the 2019 season. If he has a big season in 2019 and still hasn't signed, then yeah …. At that point it could get to around $20 million.

Faux Paux from Jacksonville

What faux pas have u committed?

None. I have lived my life sans error.

Cletis from Funkytown

I have tugged on Superman's cape, I have spit into the wind and, yes, I have pulled the mask off the ole Lone Ranger. I am thinking of messing with "Gene," any advice?

Do so at your peril. While Willie McCoy took down big Jim Walker and got his money back, it's an entirely different issue to take on longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette.

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