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O-Zone: Blow it up

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Steve from Hilton Head, SC

John, I know you prefer 1 p.m. home games. But can you explain the typical timelines for home and away games? Doesn't the visiting team have to be in town the day before? Does the home team stay together in a hotel the night before? Of course, London is much different. For you, away night games must be the worst?

I do prefer 1 p.m. home games because these mean typically making my arduous mile-plus post-game trek to Casa Ozone at a somewhat reasonable hour without having to board a bus and plane while writing on the way back to Jacksonville. As for home and away games … yes, timelines are about the same. This is because football teams – players, coaches, everyone involved – are creatures of routine. There are simply too many parts to reinvent schedules on a week-to-week basis. Road teams typically arrive the day before a game, though some teams leave a day early when traveling across the country. Whether home or away, players stay in a team hotel the night before games with meetings, late-night snack and a curfew standard operating procedure. London indeed is much different, with the Jaguars typically traveling on Thursday before a Sunday game, then the team implementing the aforementioned schedule the night before the game to get as close as possible to a normal pregame routine. I indeed would say night road games are bad, but so are 4 p.m. games. All this is relative, of course. It's a football game. My job is to write about it. There are worse things. But it's fun to complain. For me, anyway.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

The AFC boasts seven Pro Bowl quarterbacks (Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins, Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars, Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers, C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans and Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens) that are under 28 years old. They have combined for one AFC Championship, Patrick Mahomes already has four and will probably play (at least) 10 more years. Are the gang of seven just playing for the privilege to lose the AFC Championship game or will these numbers even out over the next decade?

Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs indeed have dominated the AFC in the last six seasons, hosting the conference championship game for a remarkable four consecutive seasons following the 2019-2022 seasons and winning three Super Bowls – including the last two in succession. Mahomes is poised to be an all-time "Rushmore" quarterback and it's easy to project him winning two or three more Super Bowls. At the same time, projections that feel easy and given sometimes don't play out that way. A coaching change here, an injury there or a lost skill position player or two can change a dynamic. I don't know that any player in the "gang of seven" will pull even with Mahomes. Three Super Bowl victories is all-time stuff. But I expect multiple players in the "gang" to have their seasons and their moments.

David from St Augustine, FL

You took the words right out of my mouth with your answer to Marc from Oceanway. This year the Jaguars will very much be "what you see is what you get." The play calling shouldn't be an issue as offensive coordinator Press Taylor spent a good amount of time going over film from recent years and was overheard around the offices recently declaring that "It's all coming back to me now." Even Harold Carmichael is excited about this season as he recently tweeted "Heaven can wait, I gotta see the Jags this season!"

For crying out loud.

Deane from Daytona Beach, FL

Yo O-Zone!!! When discussing scheme, coaching, who is calling the plays and the ability of players I would like your insight. IF a coach called in a play that had a low probability of success and a player(s) were able to make an instinctual, split-second decision that changes the call to become successful. Whether that is a quarterback or offensive lineman seeing something, or a linebacker or safety making a call to change coverage that turns a bad call into a successful play. Who should get the credit? On the flip side, if the coach calls in the "right" play and the players do not execute the play properly. Is it coaching or is it the player who should shoulder the blame? What says you O-Zone???

Credit and blame in these cases often is misplaced, just as credit and blame are as often as not more accurately shared than taken individually. In a vacuum, credit in your first scenario should go to the player who makes the on-field change. The blame should go to the player in the second scenario. Remember, though: This is the NFL. So, it's always coaching. Always.

Matt from Jacksonville

Is it just me, or do the guys who dressed up in the clown suits look juuuust a bit silly with hindsight? Nah, probably just me.

Wasn't it always juuuust a bit silly?

David from Chuluota, FL

King of the funky socks - I read somewhere that the Jaguars were one of the worst teams in the league in dropped passes. It seems that if we could eliminate these drive killers, it could lead to a few more victories. Why do we have so many dropped passes and what can be done to improve?

Dropped passes in my experience tend to be somewhat random, often fluctuating based on circumstance. During recent seasons when the Jaguars have had more drops than seem normal, I have been asked why that's the case." Concentration. A statistician's decision. A difficult circumstance. A tricky pass. All can contribute. What can be done to improve? Concentrate better. Catch better.

Raymond Sis from Windermere

Instead of playing games in London to generate revenue and interest, why don't we just sign Caitlin Clark?

I'd click on that.

William from Savannah, GA

Summer School Essay: Please write a story or essay on what Jacksonville would be like/look like if St. Louis had been awarded an NFL franchise instead of Jacksonville about 30 years ago. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan personally thought this was a good idea for you to write this so that "he'll earn his pay this dead zone."

I don't do "essays" because I'm not in fifth grade. And while I don't necessarily earn my dead zone pay, I don't see why the dead zone should be different than other zones. I can tell you what Jacksonville would be like without the Jaguars because I lived here most of the years between 1973-1995 when the team started. It would still be a fine city. There would still be fine people here. But it wouldn't have near the national or international profile that it has gained. There also wouldn't be the energy and the moments people in this city share during the good times – or the bad times. It just wouldn't be as much fun for many people and there wouldn't be as much camaraderie, and it's OK for a city to have camaraderie and fun.

Richard from St Augustine, FL

O KOAFunkiness. Now I see where you get your great sense of humor! You are a great son even though you are the KOAFunkiness!! I may have missed it, but if so, could you remind me when you lost your father and touch on his brilliance but gruff nature. Was your Dad like mine no animals can live in the house? DTWD

My father, Richard Oehser, passed in January 2014 of leukemia. He was remarkably healthy until fighting the disease the last year of his life. I never knew him to be gruff. Though we were not particularly close when I was growing up, this was not due to gruffness as much as him being of a time when fathers and young children were not always as chummy as is the case today. He also traveled extensively in his career, the final years of which were spent as a vice president in various roles for Suddath Van Lines in Jacksonville. We had a dog, Boozer, but he was my mother's dog more than my father's. My father absolutely had a brilliance. It was based in common sense, a sense of humor inherited from his father and shared by most of my family and a sense of responsibility to family that I hope to emulate. Maybe my favorite story is one I shared with O-Zone readers shortly after his passing. I visited him with my son at dad's home in North Carolina. Dad treated us, as was his way, to multiple meals and multiple movies. My son, Jacob, asked him after one of the movies, "Are you a millionaire?" My father replied, "I was until you got here."

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

I watched fireworks on the fourth of July. You still sucked.