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O-Zone: Clockwork

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Todd from Nashville, TN

John, When you say the offensive line was better than most believe, what do you base that off of? Personal opinion? Stats? Player's names? The O-line was ranked 22nd in the NFL. Bottom line is we have no linemen we could say is a solid choice. Both tackles are questionable so far, center Brandon Linder is injured too much and could be cut (I don't think he should; he is probably our best lineman). Left guard Andrew Norwell, don't even get me started on him. He is far too inconsistent for the money he makes. Bottom line: the O-line is as good as their grade and that's 22nd in the NFL.

First, I don't know that it's accurate to say no Jaguars offensive lineman is a "solid choice," though it's fair to say none has played at a Pro Bowl level. Second, while outside "grades" make interesting reading, I've never considered them overly accurate – particularly for offensive linemen, because you can't grade the position without knowing assignments on specific plays. While it's nice to believe you know how an offensive lineman played by watching television, you just can't. As for why I say the offensive line was better than most believed, there are a few reasons – none of which are just making things up as I go along. One reason was what I saw last season, because on numerous occasions shaky pocket presence by quarterbacks made the line look worse than it played. I also saw an undrafted rookie running back rush for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns, and not doing it by himself. Another reason is because many football people I trust have told me as much. Another reason is that the Jaguars brought back offensive line coach George Warhop and appear to be bringing back the entire offensive line; a first-year regime wouldn't do that with a position group that grossly underperformed. Another reason is that offensive lines are hypercriticized by their own fans; it's the easiest position to blame for all that ails an offense, and – unlike other positions – observers notice flaws far more than strengths. Maybe my favorite reason, though, is it annoys people. I'm absolutely all about that.

Robert from Oneonta

John, I found this article from surfing the sports pages. This quote is the essence of being a football fan to me: "Jack Murphy Stadium was definitely one of my favorite stadiums growing up. This is in part because it was one of those hideous multi-use behemoths lobbed beside a highway, seemingly constructed with one color of concrete and surrounded by a different color of concrete. The aesthetics of it all simply didn't matter: Just build a place that's easy to get to where lots of people can park and then go watch sports! But I also loved it because it had a human name: Jack Murphy. Back then I was 8 years old and Google wasn't a thing and so I had no idea why it was called this (turns out it was named after a local sports writer who had pushed the city to build the facility.) But I always felt like Jack Murphy had a friendly persona and would be a nice place to sip a chocolate milk (I did not know about beer then) and enjoy a game.

That is a cool story. I don't doubt many people my age share a similar view. But the former San Diego Chargers are now the Los Angeles Chargers largely because the stadium the writer loved no longer allowed the team to keep pace in terms of local revenue as stadiums around the NFL improved and became more state of the art. I'm old school. I love old stadiums. Part of me wishes every NFL Stadium were still the one I watched on television growing up in the 1970s. That's fantasy. And fantasy doesn't allow teams to stay competitive in a fast-changing, ultra-competitive NFL.

Aaron from Edinboro, PA

The Jaguars spent a relatively high draft pick on Quincy Williams a few years ago based on speed and potential, but we haven't seen much of him. Do you think he still has value for the defense (or special teams)?

Quincy Williams as a weak-side linebacker could be a tricky fit in the Jaguars' defense moving forward, particularly if the team indeed moves to a 3-4 scheme. Stay tuned.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

The 2020 Jaguars weren't as bad as their record. The combination of not being able to stop the run and bad quarterback play created a situation where it was going to be difficult to win any games. The roster was stronger at many spots than many other Jaguars teams. The 2012 Jaguars team was so much worse off as far as talent levels. Cecil Shorts III was the best wide receiver in 2012. He was not as good as Keelan Cole, so I don't know that Short would even make the roster. The defensive ends were Andre Branch, Jason Babin and Austen Lane. The offensive line and secondary were complete disasters. Simply putting some of the players from the current roster on the 2012 team would have made a difference. The sting of how talentless those teams were is still so vivid in my head. Bringing Trevor Lawrence in with this group of skill players is going to look very different very quickly.


Jordan from Jacksonville

Would you sign Tyson Alualu to a contract?

I wouldn't sign him to a huge deal, and perhaps not as my front-line nose tackle at this stage of his career. I would always want Alualu on my team in some capacity if given a chance.

Dan from Greer

I just learned that there is a new football league called the FCF where the fans direct the plays of the game interesting concept. Although I doubt the NFL will ever adopt any portion of that concept, what do you think of the Pro Bowl trying some aspect of the concept? They pretty much choose up sides as it is. It's a good place where fans can fan with their vast knowledge of the game. I mean, look at the questions you get every day. On second thought, never mind.

Good catch.

Richard from St. Augustine, FL

John, I was surprise to see Shatley and Smoot were released. How about you?

Jaguars center Tyler Shatley and Jaguars defensive end Dawuane Smoot are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 17, the start of the NFL's 2021 League Year. That doesn't mean they were released. It also doesn't mean they will be re-signed. It doesn't mean they won't be re-signed. Stay tuned.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Why would Deshaun Watson want to leave a team that traded arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL for a washed-up running back and a second-rounder that they used on a defensive tackle that looked awful as rookie?

I'm sure Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson didn't like that. I'm sure many players don't like all things their teams do. But did Watson like the financial security of $110 million guaranteed and the generational security that provides?

Robert from Jacksonville

I don't doubt that he is a good communicator, but let's not pretend he is all that different from many coaches that have to answer the same inane questions day after day and try to find new and interesting ways to say the same thing. "The right tackle (Jawaan Taylor), I feel like his future is ahead of him, too." Cool. Can you ask him about any players who might have their futures way behind them?

Wow. Clever burn, Robert. I don't know that anyone's putting Meyer's Tuesday media availability with the Gettysburg Address or my Uncle Otto's "Edict Against All Who Wronged Me" as examples of history's great communication, but Meyer is a skilled communicator. And his media availability was informative and – dare I say it – entertaining. But hey: You know more than me, and apparently you know more about media skills than anyone else, too. How awesome for us commonfolk who read and write the O-Zone every day that you deign to do so as well. Thank you, Robert. Sincerely. Thank you.

David from Orlando, FL

KOAF - It has been noted that this will be the first time in team history that the Jaguars will draft first. I think another significant first is the fact that we will be first in line for players waived by other teams. I'm not completely sure how this works. Do we get "first dibs" for any player cut by their current team or, for example, do the Jets move up to the top spot after we claim our first player?

The Jaguars will be first in the waiver order until the third week of the regular season, after which the waiver order is based on the current standings.

Facts from Duval

Even a broken Oehser is right twice a day.

Not necessarily.