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O-Zone: Clever turn of phrase

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dave from Jacksonville

Oz, I was happy to see Brandon Linder discussed recently. I was concerned that most media did not have a Jaguars offensive lineman in the realm of All-Pro. Specifically: Is not Trevor's success is going to depend on his line? I would think a long term All-Pro center is a must. Brandon Linder has shown statistically he is capable. Do you think he will become linked? Will him and Trevor be that long-term answer? I think for Trevor to be successful, he has to have that center. Linder should get the recognition if Trevor is successful. Linder's second contract put him as a highest paid center. Is he set to be the highest paid center for his third contract?

Let's not get too hung up on "All-Pro" and "Pro Bowl" here. A player such as Linder certainly is capable of such accolades. His chances of receiving such accolades certainly will increase if Lawrence is good and if the Jaguars – and their offense – improve accordingly. But Linder doesn't have to be an All-Pro or even a Pro Bowl center to be important. He needs to be what he has been in recent seasons – a very good, high-level center capable of handling line calls and assisting the quarterback at the line of scrimmage. If that happens, a lot of success could come – as could a lot of accolades. I don't know that it would guarantee Linder again being the NFL's highest-paid center. But it could set up the scenario of him re-signing and being one of the longest-tenured players in franchise history. That would mean a lot of things going right and a lot of good things for the Jaguars – and for Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Jess from Glen Carbon, IL

Zone, you often get submissions referring to opinions from national or other media personalities outside of Jacksonville on the Jaguars' players or position groups. You generally answer that the national media doesn't cover the Jaguars as closely as you or other Jacksonville area media do, or that the Jaguars' coaching staff doesn't share those opinions. In fact, you have been replying similarly for your ten years here. However, at the end of each year except 2017, the national media opinions of the Jaguars were more correct than the local media or coaches. Could the local media be painting a rosy picture for the fans? There is a decade or more where local opinion hasn't matched reality.

There's truth in what you say, and it's true that local media – like all media – have been wrong at times in their projections about the Jaguars. And it's true that over the last decade, national media generally have been down on the Jaguars – and that the Jaguars often have lived up (or down) to those expectations. But when I write or say that I don't much care about the opinions of national media types when it comes to the Jaguars, it's because I know that national types aren't as close to the team and therefore don't know the details of the roster at the same level as locals. Sometimes it's true that local media might believe a team's going to be a little better than they actually will be because the local team is the only one they see – and they therefore get caught up in the enthusiasm around a team. That certainly can happen. Who's right? Who's wrong? Only the results on the field prove that out. I guess I would tell you to read and believe who you want to believe – and to watch the games on the field. When it comes to analysis and opinion on a sports team, it's all entertainment and fun. If one side is right and one side is wrong … well, I suppose that's just how it has to play out.

Scott from Longwood, FL

Trevor throws an interception in Day 1 of training camp. The sky is falling, why did we draft him ...

Pretty much.

Micah from Chicago, IL

Hypothetically, let's say the Jags ended up with the No. 2 draft pick and Urban Meyer still signed on as head coach. Who would Meyer/General Manager Trent Baalke have picked?

For the sake of your question, we'll assume Lawrence was selected No. 1 overall in your scenario. For the sake of your question, we'll assume the Jaguars would have still wanted a quarterback. So, let's say Zach Wilson of Brigham Young. Or Justin Fields of Ohio State. Whichever quarterback they liked best.

Dave from Jacksonville

KOAF, I was saddened to see Rick Dennison was the first to fall with the NFL new vaccine policy. He dedicated his adult life to a profession. He was a big part of Denver's success. Where are we going with all this?

Dennison, a 27-year coaching veteran, indeed reportedly is out as an offensive line assistant with the Minnesota Vikings after refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The NFL has mandated that all Tier 1 employees – which includes coaches – must be vaccinated. That's because Tier 1 employees are face-to-face with players in meetings and on the field. Where are we going with all of this? To a place where you must be vaccinated to be a coach or to be around players. That's where we've been for a while.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, if you are calling the plays against the Jaguars, are you running the ball until we prove we can finally, and hopefully stop it?

Yes. But that's how I would be as an offensive coordinator against any NFL defense. Or any defense at any level of football. That's how most NFL offensive coordinators approach all games, by the way. It's a passing league, but if teams can run, they will run.

Steve on his Desktop from Jax Beach

Just a quick sidebar camp-related question. With all the rather compelling storylines about to start training camp, do you expect to see more "national" reporters roaming the practices? If so, do you think it'll be a big bump?

Yes, I absolutely expect an increase in national media. Because of Lawrence. And because of Meyer. And to a lesser degree, because of tight end Tim Tebow. And yes, I believe it will be a big increase.

Don from Marshall, NC

What did former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey win? He has not won anything and if the Rams do not get it done this year there will be a major implosion of that team. Jacksonville has enough rock stars to make everyone forget Ramsey. Next year at this time he will know how big of mistake his selfish behavior costs him. I think he made the biggest mistake of his life. Go Jaguars!


Jake from Cary, NC

You commonly mention that national analysts typically don't have the time nor inclination to be as informed about a team as local analysts. I wonder though if local analysts are sometimes too close to the team to give a truly unbiased opinion. See, for example, last season when most national analysts predicted us before the season to have the worst record in the league.

A lot of local analysts predicted the Jaguars to have the worst record in the league last season, too. I thought six or seven games was the high-end possibility.

Steve from Sunroom couch

Dear, John. When does training camp start?

Jaguars Training Camp begins July 27. Players report that day and practice begins the next day.

Sean from Tampa, FL

Sad to see Dede Westbrook sign with the Vikings. I was hoping we would eventually sign him prior to the start of camp. He was solid when healthy, and I thought he would have made a great third-down target.

I wish Westbrook the best. I liked covering him, he was typically helpful in the locker room, and he showed flashes at times of being a pretty good NFL receiver. Once he sustained his season-ending knee injury last season, I never got the impression that there was much of a chance he would return to the Jaguars. The team already had DJ Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. This felt pretty much like a time-to-move-on situation for both sides.

Chris from Mandarin

It would probably be more accurate to say the Jaguars tackles didn't ever play great last season than to say they didn't always play great. Backwards Cam and Jawaan Taylor were a clown show.

I'll probably keep being the one who decides how I phrase things here in the O-Zone. Yes, I'm pretty sure that's what will happen.