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O-Zone: Championship pedigrees

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

With the early retirements of players such as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, do you foresee this becoming a more common thing in the league? Once players get their big payday, there really isn't any need to keep playing for 15 years. Do you see more players looking to call it quits after seven-to-eight years? And do you think this will affect how contracts are set up from teams to protect themselves?

Early retirements undoubtedly will continue to happen from time to time, but I don't anticipate it being a trend that changes the scope of the league. There have been cases of position players retiring early throughout NFL history (google "Mike Reid"); they just weren't as publicized because the league is covered and analyzed more today than ever before. And Luck feels different from the other players you mention. Johnson and Gronkowski both played nine seasons and Willis played eight, so as position players it's reasonable to assume they were all at least nearing the end of their productive seasons. Luck played seven seasons; considering the career expectancy of a quarterback, he seemed barely halfway through his career. That's a shockingly early exit for a player who was nearly the NFL Most Valuable Player last season. As for teams setting up contracts to protect themselves, this already happens. Teams don't pay the future salaries of retired players unless the contracts are guaranteed, and teams can pursue the prorated signing bonuses for the unfulfilled portion of a retiring player's contract. The Colts opted not to pursue Luck's bonus, but protection was there had they so desired.

Sean from Jacksonville

Did I miss anything? Is the regular season almost here?

No. Yes.

Jess from Glen Carbon, IL

The Jaguars drafted Josh Allen because he was the best available player, even though they already had two Pro Bowl level defensive ends (Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue). Allen looks like he is going to be a star. It is in the best interest of the Jaguars to re-sign Yannick next year and the following year let Calais go since they'll still have two potential Pro Bowl-caliber defensive ends. That will free up salary-cap dollars for other signings, either through free agency or some of their JAGs (Just Another Guy). Is that how it works?

That's how it would work in a vacuum and the Jaguars undoubtedly would like to have that play out that way. How the situation plays out in reality largely will depend on Ngakoue. The Jaguars made him an offer this past offseason and I don't doubt they would like to keep him moving forward. Whether he will agree to sign for what the Jaguars offer remains to be seen. It's not as simple as the Jaguars simply "wanting to re-sign Ngakoue." They do want to re-sign him. They tried to do so. Now, it's a matter of the sides agreeing. That continues to be problematic.

Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL

What are the chances of Calais Campbell starting at three-technique tackle to open every down spot for Allen at end?

I doubt this happens. Although Campbell is really good against the run from the end, you wouldn't necessarily want him at tackle against the run over Abry Jones and/or Marcell Dareus. I do think you'll see the Jaguars in a 3-4 defense in base situations this season – i.e., first and second downs – a bit more than originally expected. They opened in this formation this past Thursday against Miami. Campbell at end with Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue at outside linebacker and Jones and Dareus on the interior is a good look. Very good.

Jags Fan 818 from Jacksonville

Hi, Zone. I hear the coaches, players and the media talk about the Jags doing a "walkthrough." I think I have an idea, but what exactly is it? Thanks ... Go Jags … DUUUVALLL.

A walkthrough is either a practice or portion of practice when players or coaches are on the field installing or "walking through" plays at a slow pace. It's a time for learning or reinforcing the play rather than running through it at high speed.

Howard from Homestead, FL

Are you sure all the owners are gonna be as eager to cut the preseason? That means less parking, concessions, fan gear, etc. It's not just the ticket prices that will have to be adjusted. Imagine how much a hot dog is gonna cost.

The owners absolutely don't want to cut the preseason – or at least they want to retain some combination of 20 regular season and preseason games. That's their revenue formula for now. If something changes in that, they need to make up for the lost revenue.

Otto from Ponte Vedra, FL

John, I've noticed in past Zones you have pretty much pooh-booed the thought of second-year defensive tackle Taven Bryan not making the 53-man roster. No, I'm not a coach. However, I've watched the NFL for over 40 years. He just doesn't pass the eye test in my and many others' opinion. It seems the coaching staff is forcing themselves to find good things about his game. One thing I learned many years ago is that the worst thing about being wrong is staying wrong. Go Jags!!

Bryan hasn't been good enough to be a starter. He hasn't been bad enough to deserve to be released. Both things can be true.

Mike from Atlanta, FL

Remember the consternation among fans in 2011 and 2012 about the Colts getting the first draft pick, which everyone knew would be Luck? The fans wanted to tank a game so the Colts wouldn't be able to select Luck. He was the surest of sure things I have heard around the NFL in many years. Exhibit A that in the NFL there are no certainties, especially when talking about what will happen in the future with a particular player.

Luck indeed was the surest thing the NFL had seen in more than a decade, but it's incredibly tough to win championships in this league. A franchise quarterback – and Luck absolutely was that – provides a foundation, but you must surround him with enough structure to allow the quarterback to win the three or four games per season for which an elite quarterback typically accounts. If the structure around the quarterback isn't there, even the franchise guy can't win. Witness the Colts during part of Luck's time there. Witness Green Bay at times in recent seasons. A franchise quarterback is a key component, but he can't do it alone.

Antony from Columbia, SC

Zone, people got this thing mixed up. I'm hearing people say that Allen's productivity could mean Yann isn't around next season, but they're looking at the wrong defensive end. Allen's play likely means Calais won't be around next season. With Calais and Dareus off the books, it will be easier to sign Yann, Jack, and Ramsey, which will allow us to potentially have elite players at every level of the defense for years to come. What say you, O?

I say even with Campbell and Dareus off the books, signing Ngakoue, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Jalen Ramsey will be difficult. It won't be impossible, but it will be difficult. This storyline will play out in the coming months.

Steve from Nashville, TN

I am sure some of our wideouts are going to be signed to the practice squad during roster cutdown. What are the rules for how another team can poach a player off another's practice squad, and do you believe we might lose a receiver that way?

There are a couple of steps here. A player released during roster cutdown this weekend first must go unclaimed by another team. If that happens, he can be signed to the practice squad. After that point, any other team can sign him with the caveat that the team signing him must keep him on their active roster for at least three games.

KC from South Florida

Datone Jones and Dawuane Smoot have looked very good throughout preseason so far and Taven Bryan has not. Do you see a scenario in which all three of those players make the 53-man roster, but Bryan is inactive on gameday until he improves?

I do think all three players could make the roster, but I don't expect Bryan to be active on game day. He has been inconsistent, but the idea that he is a liability is greatly exaggerated.

Holger from Zurich, Switzerland

Pay the man! (Josh Allen)

Fair. (And funny).

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Apropos of nothing, have any current Jaguars players been in a Super Bowl other than Calais Campbell and Nick Foles?

Yes. Linebacker Najee Goode won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles following the 2017 season, guard Andrew Norwell played in the Super Bowl with the Carolina Panthers following the 2015 season and defensive end Lerentee McCray won the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos following the 2015 season.

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