JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Don from Lake Mary, FL and Section35
I bumped into two diehard FSU/Jaguars fans over the weekend who wasted their time trying to convince me if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers release quarterback Jameis Winston, the Jags should quickly acquire him and dump quarterback Blake Bortles. Their emphatic reasoning was that they're positive he has learned his lesson and that he's clearly much better than Bortles. I responded that Winston is a ticking public-relations time bomb for any NFL team moving forward and just as emphatically insisted he isn't better than the Bortles we saw toward the end of last season and in the playoffs. Once we agreed to disagree, they smugly walked away shaking their head at my inability to understand their NFL brilliance while I walked away shaking mine at how ridiculous fans will fan sometimes. Having realized that I'll bump into these young dudes again in the coming months, can you reassure me that the Jags would never make their scenario actually happen?
Fear not. There are multiple reasons why the Jaguars won't release Bortles to acquire Winston, with the most basic being that releasing Bortles would mean $26.5 million in dead money on the salary cap in 2018 and $16.5 million in 2019. It's simply not financially feasible under the NFL's salary system – and even if it were, the idea of signing a quarterback with or without significant off-field issues three weeks before training camp and expecting him to be an upgrade that season is a major stretch. As for Winston being a public-relations "ticking time bomb," I can't pretend to know him remotely well enough to predict whether his off-field issues are behind him. Only he can determine that – and time will tell. I do know that a significant amount of time must pass without further incidents for his image as an off-field concern to change. Either way, it's debatable at this point whether Winston would be an upgrade over Bortles without the extracurricular stuff. With it, it's not all that close. Bottom line: Bortles is the Jaguars' quarterback this season. That's not changing except in the event of injury.
Adrian from Reading, UK
Hasn't it already been determined that whether the new rule will be called constantly or only to punish dangerous hits depends entirely on whether the team involved plays its home games in New England?
I'll google this.
Roy from Chagrin Falls, OH
John, not really a question, but I want to say thanks a bunch for the O-Zone and your hard work – as it often is a highlight of my day. Not only does the Zone keep me informed about the Jags, there is often humor that cracks me up and also I gain knowledge about music and other topics as well. For example, I had never heard of kakapos before, so I had to look them up. Your reply was funny, but you were also right: their eyes are scary in some photos. Thanks again. Your work is appreciated.
I learned recently while watching the Netflix Original biopic "A Stupid and Futile Gesture" that National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney lived in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Roy as it turns out is from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. They say it's a small world. I suppose that's true, but I wouldn't want to mow it.
Stan from Jacksonville
A reader was commenting on how the choice of Bortles is looking now with Winston's off-the-field issues. I am warming to Bortles and hope he proves everyone wrong that doubts him. I am and have been a Jimmy Garoppolo fan since college. The Jags brought him in and eventually chose Bortles but I think he was the best quarterback from that class. What do u think?
I think if Garoppolo continues to play as he did for a brief stretch last season then he will be the best quarterback from the 2014 NFL Draft class. It remains to be seen if he will do so.
Michael from Jacksonville
Oh, Great Satirist, King of All That Is Funky, I've begun to relocate my family to a bomb shelter because the O-Zone still won't come up on the app. Goodbye, hateful, awful world! A world without your snark is not a world in which we will live.
Steve from Montreal
Considering the "window" we are in, I think it's very possible the Jaguars will play Philly twice next season. (See what I did there?)
I did see what you did there. You wrote that the Jaguars could play the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles twice next season, implying that one game would be the regular-season game in London's Wembley Stadium and the other game would be in the Super Bowl. You're a sly one, you are. Keep up the good work.
Munchie from London, UK
Hi O, Happy offseasons greetings from across the pond. The lowering-of-the-helmet rule has been discussed to death, but mainly with a focus on the defensive side of the ball. Do you see this being an issue at all for running backs/fullbacks looking to run it up the gut? Many current goal-line runs result in the runner lowering his head at the point of contact. If the rule is properly applied this will negate much of what 27 brings to the party do you not think?
If the rule is applied without regard to logic, then yes … power-running backs such as Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette could be limited or unduly penalized. I'm under the assumption that the NFL will have officials will call the rule in a way that will allow players to lower the head without being called for a penalty almost every time. If they don't, running in short-yardage situations indeed could prove almost impossible – and the game will be nearly impossible to officiate. I imagine we'll learn more in the preseason. Stay tuned.
Jedi from Houston, TX
Wassup O? A couple we got killed when teams started running the ball against us, a clear weakness in our defense. What have we done to get better in that area?
I think you're trying to ask what the Jaguars have done to improve their run defense from last season. But the reality is the Jaguars improved dramatically against the run late last season. After allowing 142 or more yards three times in the first six games of the season, they traded for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus at the bye week and never allowed that many again. This is in no way a bad defense against the run.
Brett from Jacksonville
What!? What??!! Brett?!!!! BRETT!!!!!!???
Brett from Jacksonville
Hey John, there have been several major rule changes over the last couple of years. However, I haven't heard anything mentioned of what I think is one of the most egregious rules. Has anyone tried to change the rule of a touchback if an offensive player fumbles through the end zone?
I never have heard any serious discussion about changing the rule.
Scott from Jacksonville
Yeah, but can Gene play the Jazz Flute?
Chris from Mandarin, FL
Here's yet another question about the AFC Championship game. What I still don't get is why after the game was over and the league was able to review the play, why Jaguars safety Barry Church was still fined for his hit on New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski of course had a concussion and left the game, but he was the one that lowered his head forcing the helmet-to-helmet contact to occur. Have you heard anything regarding the new helmet rule, whether that play would have been officiated differently? Are they allowed to use instant replay for this type of play yet?
I didn't think Church should have been fined, either. I thought Church's play was clearly unintentional and that there was nothing he could do beyond bailing out of the play to avoid the collision. This is the league's dilemma right now in their effort to pass rules to reduce concussions – that the implementation of necessary, well-intentioned rules creates scenarios that are difficult if not impossible to officiate in a way that seems fair and within the spirit of what's going on the field. I don't know the answers. I do know there probably will continue to be a lot of questions.
Steve from Shreveport, LA
So, did Elton John write the song about his relationship with the "Little Genies" – or did Gene write it as another of his many unknown talents??
Elton wrote that one. Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette at the time was contributing lyrics/wardrobe consulting to Rupert Holmes while Holmes was promoting his classic “Escape (the Pina Colada Song)," the idea for which first began percolating in Gene's head a decade or so earlier when he was putting the finish touches on his early 60s doo-wop classic: "Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)." (Story credit: soggyhood.com).