JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
Jalen Ramsey sure sounded in his interview like he plans to try to negotiate a new contract with Tom Coughlin this offseason. I see a lengthy holdout and lots of distractions. That sounds awful, but that's the kind of stuff teams with elite-level talent deal with. Good problems to have, O-Man ... good problems to have.
John: Ramsey sounded like what?!??!? I don't know what interview you saw. I do know in the interview I witnessed Wednesday – from about a foot and a half away – he said nothing about money or contract, and did say a lot about Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and his own ability. What I also know is the Jaguars and Ramsey can't negotiate a second contract this offseason. That can't happen until after a drafted player's third season, so Ramey's negotiations can't begin until after the 2018 season. Whatever, it's way too early to predict a holdout – and besides, who's to say the Jaguars won't pay Ramsey an insane amount of money? My guess is they will; he's that level of talent and it almost certainly will be in the Jaguars' best interest to retain him long term and have him be a core player. As for holdouts and distractions as they relate to Coughlin, I don't recall those being an issue to any great degree in his first tenure with the team. Contracts for key players were certainly renegotiated, and they were significant offseason topics, but I don't recall any being a major training-camp or regular-season distraction. There's no reason to think it will be dramatically different in the coming seasons.
Travis from Winter Garden, FL:
The Jags are good! That's straight facts!
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, I am tired of everyone saying the Chargers are going to win because Philip Rivers has had great games against the Jags in the past. It is the past. The team he is going to play on Sunday is unlike any Jags team he has ever played before. No quarterback – no matter how great -- is going to play well against a fierce pass rush. If Rivers is being pressured, hit and sacked all game long he will not be a factor.
John: I don't know that everyone's saying the Chargers are going to win Sunday. I do know the Jaguars are favored, and most of the analysis I've heard reflects that. But while I agree this Jaguars defense is a different beast than anything Rivers has faced when playing this team before, don't get cocky. Rivers is smart. He processes quickly. He gets rid of the ball in a hurry, and he's savvy. He can beat a pass rush, and can stand up under a pounding. I believe the Jaguars will win the game, but Rivers is for real – even against a swarming defense.
James from Orange Park, FL:
Well, I'm glad II stayed tuned! (Stupid Apple phones and their problems with the letter "II").
John: The struggle is real.
John from Glasgow, Scotland:
Mr. O, hear me out: Could the loss of A-Rob so early in the season have been a GOOD thing for Blake Bortles? Without an undisputed No. 1 target, I feel like BB is going through his progressions better this year – and spreading the ball about more. As a result, the whole pass offense looks more balanced. In seasons past it looked like there were a lot of speculative throws towards A-Rob that didn't always end well. I'd rather A-Rob was healthy and playing, but perhaps in the long term it could be a good thing.
John: I agree with this assessment – to an extent. Allen Robinson's absence obviously has forced Bortles to go to different receivers more often. But going through – and trusting – progressions was a major offseason focus and was going to remain a major emphasis under offensive coordinator Nate Hackett. Robinson's absence probably has caused Bortles to go deeper into the progressions than otherwise might have been the case because Robinson would have been open quite a bit, but I think you would have seen improvement here anyway.
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
Just wanted to say the O-Zone means a lot to us hardcore Jags fans. Thanks for putting up with our sometimes angry questions and comments and giving us a platform to talk Jaguar football all year long. In my opinion this is the best team website because of this column. I have looked at several other team sites with similar columns but they don't compare. Thanks for all your hard work.
John: Yay for me. Good email.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
I know it's early, but do you think the 2016 NFL Draft could be remembered as one of the best drafts ever – at least with the Top 5? Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliot and Jalen Ramsey all look really, really, really, really, really good.
John: I absolutely think the top of the '16 draft class appears destined to be remembered as an all-time great bunch. All five players have the look of franchise-level players at their positions. None of the five teams remotely regret the selection. That's rare.
Jason from Falling Waters, WV:
Regarding the Branden Albert trade to this team, do the Jaguars still have to sacrifice their draft pick for him? I can't find any article providing clarification. Thanks!
John: No, they do not. The draft selection in the Albert trade was a 2018 seventh-round selection and it was conditional on Albert playing three regular-season games for the Jaguars. He did not play any regular-season games, so the Jaguars keep the selection.
Rick from Staunton, VA:
Any chance you could replace Boselli with Ashlyn?
John: Back-channeling this. Will keep updated as situation progresses.
Dustin from Orlando, FL:
I thought about Bortles' five-pick performance in preseason practice. We couldn't have known at the time but in retrospect, it would appear that was less of a testament to how horrible Blake would be this season and more of a testament to how insanely good this defense is. Funny how different things look eight games later.
Kent from Jacksonville:
I know Calais Campbell is getting all the hype, and deservedly so. I mean, have we EVER had a 12-sack guy here in Jacksonville? But how about Yannick Ngakoue? When they drafted him last year I thought he'd be a situational pass rusher, but he's really developing into an excellent all-around defensive end. Do you think Dave Caldwell knew something the rest of the league didn't when they drafted him?
John: Ngakoue might well be the most-overlooked player on the Jaguars' defense. That was probably the case last year – and because of the play of a slew of higher-profile players, he doesn't seem to get mentioned as much as a lot of players as the reason this defense is good. I suspect that situation will rectify itself as time goes on. Players on Ngakoue's level tend to get noticed because they play well and people eventually can't ignore it any longer. As for what the Jaguars and Caldwell knew about Ngakoue, they knew they liked him enough to send defensive coordinator Todd Wash to Maryland shortly before the 2016 NFL Draft. Wash loved what he saw and really wanted Ngakoue. Caldwell thought he had the potential to develop and be really good. Sometimes, general managers are right in that situation. Sometimes, they're not. In this case, Ngakoue is proving Caldwell and the Jaguars right.
Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Do you think the league's decision not to suspend A.J. Green was influenced by the fact that the suspension might have hurt the Jags since Bengals play the Titans next? Sort of a makeup call to atone for Jalen Ramsey ejection?
John: No, I think the league decided that since Green already had missed a half against the Jaguars that it was punishment enough.
Tim from Winston-Salem, NC:
Has Jalen Ramsey crossed the line from an aggressive player to a dirty player?
John: He would need to break the rules to do that.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
You know there is another top-level quarterback that had the Jaguars' number and never lost to us home or away: Ben Roethlisberger, He was 3-0 until this year. Just sayin …
John: This would be a fantastic statistic if it were true. It is not, which makes it … you know … not nearly as fantastic.
Aaron from Bethlehem, PA:
John, I went through all the playoff-caliber team's schedules and my most likely outcome is this: The Jaguars will play the Titans in the wild-card round of the playoffs one week after playing the Titans in Tennessee. That game will be for the division and home-field advantage for the next week when those two teams play each other again. Tennessee will have the chance to beat the Jags three times this season just like they did when we had … TOM COUGHLIN. I don't like the sound of it.
John: Chill, dude …
Rico from Duval:
We still haven't broken the even-week curse, I'm nervous, Johnny O.
John: … you, too.
O-Zone: Chill... chill
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Michael from Middleburg, FL: