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O-Zone: Close shave

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dave from Dallas, TX

Hey, Mr. O: So, we finish plumb last, but have the 11th-hardest strength of schedule. I get it, but this isn't parity and isn't fair. How can the process be changed to make it fair? Thanks.

The NFL isn't going to dramatically change the scheduling system, nor should it. That's because the system actually is about as fair as can be imagined. All teams in a division play six games – home and away – against teams from their own division, the same four opponents from a rotating division in their conference and the same four opponents from a rotating division in the other conference. The variances in the schedule come in the other two opponents, with all teams playing two teams in their conference that finished in the same spot in their respective divisions the previous season. As for the 17th game that appears likely beginning in 2021, each team is expected to play a team from the other conference based on division finish the previous season. I can picture no fairer system. It leaves little to human input except time and date – and therefore prevents a yearly outcry of teams and fans complaining about favoritism. Maybe it doesn't give a team that struggled the previous season much of an overwhelming edge over other teams, but the league isn't trying to give struggling teams an incredibly big advantage. Just a marginal one.

John from Cape May Court House

In reference to your response to value-based drafting, you hit it spot on. I think fans get so wrapped up in "best available player" that they miss the forest through the trees. As you stated, the draft is more of culmination of needs and value. For instance, if we were to sign or tag Cam Robinson for next season, it wouldn't make sense to take a left tackle with one of first four or five picks. This team was 1-15 last season, and we need players picked high to be contributing this year, and not being blocked for playing time.

The draft indeed is always a mix of need and best-available player. Teams that draft well typically place more emphasis on value and less on immediate need, but there's too much involved to draft well simply choosing one philosophy over the other.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, Johnny-O. I don't like the term "pre-planning." People use it a lot, but it doesn't make sense. It's redundant. When else would one plan? Does "post-planning" make sense? No. Those are called "after-action reviews" or PDAs (Post Damage Assessments, John, not kissing your girlfriend in the hallway between classes). In my waning days of gainful employment, I appointed myself Chief, Pre-Planning Division, even made a cubicle sign, but the position came with no increase in responsibility or salary, and zero supporting staff. I think this settles the issue, don't you?

Not really, but I get why you're no longer employed.

Jim from Jagsonville

Classy move by the AFC South and the NFL to help out Houston like that, but do I really have to be a fan of the Texans even if only for a day? In Khan We Trust. Go Jaguars!

The Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans this week combined for a joint donation of $100,000 to the Houston/Harris County 2021 Winter Storm Relief Fund following the severe winter weather that swept through the country last week – and it indeed was a classy move. The NFL Foundation will match the donation of the AFC South teams, which brings the donation amount to $200,000. That also was a classy move. No, you do not have to be a fan of the Texans. Not even for a day. Or an hour.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, I enjoy your responses. Thanks for keeping us fans informed. Looks like an exciting year!

So, you're the one.

Will from Jacksonville

I hope I am not in the minority on this, but we have been season-ticket holders for a decade, and I love the stadium. The main reason why? The open air. Yeah, it's really hot for September home games but this year's Colts game was mild. I just hope that if/when they renovate the stadium, they do not have any sort of roof feature. The late fall and winter weather in Jax is too good to have any roof. Just wondering if you think many fans share this opinion? I just think football is an outdoor sport and JAX has good enough weather to offset the really hot days.

I would be surprised if any renovation/new stadium for the Jaguars has a roof. I also wouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of approach to have more shade than is currently the case.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, if Trevor is our man, what would be a realistic expectation for his performance in Year 1? Would you expect it to be immediately obvious to us versus every other one of our quarterbacks? I'm just trying to get some perspective.

You'll know it when you see it.

Tom from Jax

Hey O, you said you covered Peyton Manning from 2001 to 2010. You and he are probably on first-name basis. What are the chances you give him a call and see if he would be interested in coming to Jacksonville and spend a year with Trevor teaching him his defense-reading skills? It would really help the Jaguars out and you and he could rekindle old friendships. Please.

Manning and I indeed are on a first-name basis, which probably would be enough for him to not want any part of your plan. Ten years around me is what is known as a "pretty full glass."

Zac from Austin, Tejas

We have not chosen a quarterback with our first pick, but whatever happens it will be shocking if it is not a quarterback. That being said, how long until you can determine if the quarterback is a bust? I dread the talk of our new quarterback being a bust after one game, but don't quite know what the threshold is. Do we excuse another losing season in the name of development?

It's somewhere between one game and a couple of years, and the time is getting shorter – and shorter and shorter – every year.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

The creative scheduling mentioned earlier in the week to avoid early afternoon games is not that difficult. Open the season on the road somewhere, then come home for game two which will be a 4:30 start as the everyone wants to see the Trev at home for the first time and that will end the game around dusk, on the road for Game three then home on Thursday night for game four. Back on the road for game five then home for our Monday Night appearance - solved.

This would solve the issue, and I don't doubt that the Jaguars would love this sort of an early-season schedule. The problem is scheduling is determined at the league level, not the team level.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

If the Zone could have his pick of any free agent on his wish list that would have the most impact on the team in 2021, who would you pony up the dough for and why?

New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams because he appears likely to be the best defensive lineman available in unrestricted free agency this offseason – and because of the team's need at the position.

Michael from Nashville, TN

I think we can both agree that no matter who the backup quarterback next year is, if he has to play for more than a couple games, this team is not good enough to make a playoff push. For that reason, I don't think the Jags should spend much money on backup quarterback. What we need is someone that has plenty of starting experience that can help Lawrence in the film room. We need a high-character, team-first guy that has no real aspirations of being a starter again. We need someone that if called upon, can go in and make off-schedule plays with his legs to keep us in the game. O-Zone, I think it's time to bring the BOAT back home. What do you think?

I think sometimes I just don't know what to think.

David from Chuluota, FL

Zone – In 2005, the Jaguars used their first-round pick on Arkansas quarterback and super-athlete-turned wide receiver, Matt Jones. In college, he stood out for his talent and flowing locks of golden hair, but when he showed up to training camp, he had shaved off his hair – and apparently, all his talent.  What kind of guarantees do we have that Trevor Lawrence won't do the same? Does his contract specifically say, "you cannot cut your hair?" Please tell me we didn't leave this up to chance? Don't tell me fans wouldn't freak out if he showed up to camp looking like a Q-Tip!

I think sometimes I just don't know what to think.

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