O-Zone: Cold as ice

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Z from Baltimore, MD

Zone: does the Jags’ brass have more of a tendency to “like where it’s at” when it comes to certain positions compared to other teams? I don’t follow other teams as closely, but our situation at tight end, wide receiver, linebacker and safety looks an awful lot like our situation at tight end, linebacker, offensive line and wide receiver last year. That is, arguably lacking first- or second-tier talent, lacking dependable/affordable veteran depth and – in some cases – seeming woefully understaffed (linebacker last year; safety this year). What say you?

I say your question implies the Jaguars don’t want to be as good as possible at every position. This is not the case. Teams can’t spend big every offseason at every position. That’s the nature of the salary cap. Remember: no team has Pro Bowl players at every position, and the salary cap mandates that just about every team enters the season with young depth at multiple positions. It’s difficult enough to have front-line starters at every position – and impossible to have veteran, proven depth in most positions. As for the positions you cite, I don’t know that the Jaguars have been as negligent as you suggest and they certainly don’t lack first-tier talent. They drafted a tight end in Round 3 this offseason, and they have Round 2-3 or big-money free agents at every position along the offensive line. They’re starting Myles Jack and Telvin Smith at linebacker, starting third-round Ronnie Harrison at safety, and they drafted wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. in Round 2 last season. That’s not to say those positions are loaded, but they’re addressing them with their available resources. You can’t sign premium free agents and draft Day 1-2 players at every position every offseason.

Nate from St. Pete, FL

John, maybe you can give me your input on this: For years my dad has accused me of "not being a real football fan" because I ONLY watch the Jaguars. Like, if they aren't playing, I'm not going to be just sitting on my couch watching Miami and the Jets. Can someone who hasn't missed a single Jaguars game in 16 years and makes the eight-hour round trip drive from St. Pete to Jacksonville two or three times a year really not be a football fan because football doesn't interest me outside of my own team? I'd love to tell dad he's wrong, so let me know what you think, thanks!

You’re a fan. And you need a hug. Not from me, though.

Dave from Dallas, TX

Hey Mr. O: RE: your answer to Edward from LA, old-school hacks with minimal literary skills and a sense of fun are a dying breed. So, we would notice and care, come drag you for a 24-ounce beer or 12 with No. 7 shots, then pop you into an Uber to whatever return address that’s on your wrist ID. Making sure that you’d paid the tab first of course. Don’t put yourself down. That’s our job.

This initially appears to refer to a recent O-Zone question that asked if anyone would notice if I napped rather than doing my job. At second glance, I see it refers to old-school hacks with “minimal literary skills,” with the literary-skills description eliminating me from the answer. I’m no hack. I’m a damned genius.

Scott from TriBeCa

I just want you to know, Zone: I would care.

That’s what I fear the most.

Keith from Palatka, FL

I'm just spitballing here, but do you think the Jaguars just might be trying to improve their run defense that allowed Derrick Henry to gouge them for 238 yards and four touchdowns? I could not help but notice that Malik Jackson got washed out so often that Abry Jones was inserted and this year is to be replaced by Taven Bryan. Josh Allen is much better against the run than our sack artist Yannick Ngakoue. Telvin Smith was only bad in two areas last year: stopping the run and guarding the pass. I'm sure that I am wrong, and you are already, lol, but I wish I could have sat beside Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin when he replayed Game 14 against the Titans this offseason. I'm sure none of the aforementioned even remotely entered Coughlin's head.

Replacing Jackson with Jones last season undoubtedly was about improving the run defense – but it’s not as if the run defense was a season-long liability. The unit had an awful game against Tennessee, but this overall is a very good defense against the run. Not great, perhaps, but very good.

Don from Marshall, NC

All any player gets when he is drafted is a chance. Nobody knows what they will do with it. Rookie linebacker Quincy Williams gets his chance and his own fans want him to fail so they can say I told you so. Sorry bunch of fans if you ask me. Go find another team if you want to tear them down before the player gets a chance. Like it or not, he is on the team and I look forward to watching him play. Go Jaguars!

You go, girl.

Aaron from Jacksonville

Hey O, it seems like running back Corey Grant was a pretty major part of our 2017 and early 2018 success, especially keeping the offense on the field in third-down scenarios. Not sure if his contract carries any dead money this year, but wouldn't he be a cheap-but-proven third-down option to bring back? If not him, who would you project as a third-down back, Cunningham?

Grant is an unrestricted, unsigned free agent. That means he doesn’t have a contract, which means there’s no dead money to be considered. His status has more to do with his foot injury last season than his potential contract. And yes … free-agent Benny Cunningham has been mentioned as a third-down possibility. Intriguing on this front is what role Leonard Fournette will play on third downs. He’s a better receiver out of the backfield than most observers realize, and it appears the team plans to use him extensively in that area.

Marc from Oceanway

What are the odds that cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s next contract with the Jags includes a bonus for attending voluntary workouts, or is that not allowed?

It might be included, but it would need to be a mega-bonus. And why would Ramsey agree to that?

Big on Blake from Philly

Zone, I know Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell has said Josh Allen fits more of the Fowler slot in the defensive-line rotation, but I’m seeing him listed potentially as a linebacker on NFL.com. I just got chills thinking about Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, Jones/Taven Bryan, Ngakuoe on the line backed up by Smith, Jack and Allen on third down or obvious passing situations. What’s the likelihood of the Jags exploiting Allen’s athletic ability and coverage skills to strike fear in their opponents with this lineup on a regular basis? Imagine Campbell, Ngakuoe and Allen bending the edges coming after the QB. How do you stop that?!

Allen is listed as a linebacker/defensive end because he can’t wear No. 41 if he’s listed solely as a defensive end. As he develops and gets comfortable at defensive end, the Jaguars could – and probably will – move him around and take advantage of his versatility. Let’s let him get through rookie minicamp before we start asking him to play multiple positions.

Hulk from Las Vegas, NV

Think it's safe to say Jags brass are feeling the pinch from giving BB5 his payday therefore hindering their maneuverability with Yann’s contract in full-frontal view? They are walking a thin line that could've been avoided. But I guess hindsight is always 20/20.....

These things don’t always get done as quickly as fans, players or even teams want. I expect the Jaguars to sign Ngakoue to a long-term deal. Would it be easier had quarterback Blake Bortles not received his pay day last offseason? Sure, but it would be easier without a lot of other contracts, too. This can get done if the Jaguars want it to get done badly enough. But it won’t be easy. And it’s probably going to take a while.

John from Jacksonville

The Oakland Raiders traded with the Jets for running back Isaiah Crowell and he blew out his knee in one of the first OTAs. I heard Leon Searcy say as soon as that happened Yannick's agent called him up and said to skip the voluntary workouts. Don't you think everyone needs to chill unless he skips the mandatory workouts? After what happened to Dante Fowler Jr. as a rookie, I'm all for him not attending.

Crowell got hurt in offseason workouts that weren’t technically organized team activities – but whatever. I get your point. And I absolutely believe everyone should chill until Ngakoue, Smith or Ramsey miss something mandatory – either the mandatory June minicamp or training camp. I don’t anticipate this happening, because chilling is not something many fans or observers do these days. It would be nice, though.

Adam from Jacksonville

Yo Bro-zone!!! You chillin,' bro?

I’m chillin’.

Advertising