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O-Zone: Divided attention

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL

Here's a scary scenario: the NFL starts the season, but one or more teams have a COVID-19 outbreak – say, ten players or so. Let's say most of them are starters. What is the league's plan for that contingency? The players will have a heavy burden to avoid getting infected. For instance, they should essentially self-isolate except for team activities. Bars and other places where people congregate should be absolutely off limits.

The league is planning to play a full schedule in 2020 with fans, but it is continuing to develop contingencies for countless scenarios. We're a little less than three months from the start of the regular season, so the scenarios and contingencies don't have to be announced yet. But yes … players – and people close to the players – will have a heavy burden to avoid getting infected. Teams will do as much as possible to create a bubble in which players will be as socially distanced and safe as possible, but players must be smart outside that bubble. No question. Same as everybody, actually.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

From the other guy at ESPN, here's a stat that sums up the franchise's struggles: Blake Bortles' 24 victories from 2010 through 2018 are the most of any Jaguars quarterback. The guy in second place? David Garrard, who went 8-6 in 2010, followed by Gardner Minshew II (6-6), Chad Henne (5-17) and Blaine Gabbert (5-22). I just want to score points. I am honestly amazed that I, like so many fans, haven't been lost to apathy. This fan base cares and wants to win – as it should. No question here, just a shout out to all the fans out there who have supported this team with their hard-earned money and emotion through a decade of mostly abysmal play. Good times are ahead, and I can't wait to see what the offense shows this year.

Jaguars fans have endured a lot. Except for 2017, this has been a brutal decade for the franchise. That's obvious, and you will get no argument here.

Doug from Jacksonville

I have to say I'm a bit relieved to see your answer concerning which questions get answered. Mine are all gems and never get "picked."

Thank you for sharing this. We're all a little richer for it.

Steve from Woodbine, GA

Just curious ... what are your thoughts if the Jags were to give Colin Kaepernick a tryout? Seems he'd be a better option than any of our other three potential backups. It would most certainly get the attention of the media and put the spotlight on Jacksonville for a while. Meh ... idk ... just one of my many random "thoughts of the day."

I've personally never had a problem with the Jaguars signing Kaepernick from the perspective of him kneeling for the National Anthem. My inbox suggests some people agree with me on that front and that some – still – do not. I don't expect that division to change easily or quickly. But the Jaguars won't decide regarding Kaepernick based on the kneeling issue as much as they will decide on him from a football standpoint. The question won't be as much about whether he is better than the Jaguars' current backup quarterbacks as much as it will be about what it would cost for him to be the backup – and if that price makes sense for a backup given their salary-cap situation.

Zac from austin, tejas

Dead Zone Q: Do you have a favorite game commentator/commentating duo? I don't know how they are rotated out, but I suspect we get more of Kevin Harlan and James Lofton than others. Personally, I like them as a pair the most. But I think it takes two of them to make one Tony Romo on an off day.

I'm no expert on NFL commentators. I work on NFL Sundays, which means focusing on the Jaguars' games. On a typical NFL regular-season week I see the final quarter of the Sunday Night Football game, the Thursday game and the Monday Night game. Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels are obviously very good for NBC, and I've heard enough of Romo to know that he's the rising star in the industry. Beyond that …

Jeremy from Jacksonville

Mr. O, I recall in the past players have gathered in the south end zone and knelt, crossed themselves, or otherwise expressed a desire for social justice. This was done before the national anthem. I know the idea is that demonstrating during the anthem gets more coverage and reaches a wider audience. Do you think if game coverage focused more heavily on the motions in support of social justice occurring before the anthem, the NFL could and teams could find a common ground that alienates as little of the fanbase as possible.

I expect game coverage to focus heavily on this entire topic – more so than at any time recently, perhaps ever. I think there will be a portion of all fan bases that feel alienated and angry if players kneel; this won't be exclusive to the Jaguars. I expect more people not to be angry over it than was previously the case. I don't expect any of this to prevent players from kneeling, though I do expect the fervor over the issue to wane somewhat as time moves forward.

John from Jacksonville

If they play the season with no fans how much will that reduce the salary cap next season?

Most likely quite a bit, though the exact amount it undetermined.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

While I look forward to the 2020 season, I wonder how it can work. Hard to imagine camp opening and players practicing while maintaining six feet of separation. Hard to imagine social distancing in the locker room, training rooms and showers. Hard to imagine position group meetings in relatively small rooms. And especially hard to imagine the impact if a player, or players, test positive and must isolate for 14 days. No doubt the Jaguars' front office and coaching staff have plans to deal with all these scenarios, but will they share them publicly.

Players won't maintain six feet of separation while practicing. That's not realistic. I do expect players and anyone around players to be tested and monitored extensively with the idea of reducing the risk of COVID-19 spreading as much as possible. But efforts will be made to maintain social distancing in locker rooms and around the facility, measures which could include video-conferencing meetings rather than gathering large groups of players in one room. And players absolutely will test positive. That's to be expected. This won't be easy. None of this will be easy.

Sean from Jacksonville

Feels like a perfect time for some hibernation. Now, where did I put that bourbon?


Rog from St. Augustine, FL

Hey "O," this is a different slant on an earlier question. If you run the "West Coast Offense" (or any offensive scheme) with a quarterback who fits that design, why wouldn't you enlist the backups to be from the same mold? Upon injury to the starter, the game plans now have to be modified because they are not as, let's say - nibble, to run the entire offseason designed offense. Shouldn't the backup(s) be of similar skill sets as the starter? Although glad to see a veteran quarterback with the Jags, but Glennon doesn't seem to match. Am I all wet?

Mike Glennon spent last season with the Oakland Raiders, where he played for Head Coach Jon Gruden – the brother of Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. The Grudens have a similar offensive approach and run similar schemes, so the Jaguars liked Glennon's familiarity with scheme. He also was affordable within the parameters of the team's salary cap, so those two factors played a big role in Glennon being the backup quarterback.

Marlin from Newberry, FL

Dear Zone, Because of all that is happening in the world and the very real possibility of the season being shortened or even cancelled, the Dead Zone seems truly dead this year. I find myself scanning through the questions and answers and paying more attention to the town/cities of the writers than anything else. Recently there was a question from Chuluota (not Chulouta), Florida. I thought I knew every town in Northern/Central Florida, but that one was new to me. There was also Carlsbad, California and Marshall, North Carolina which looks like a lovely quaint little town to visit, up in the mountains stretching out along a cool river rushing out of the hills. Finally, I saw Farnborough over in England and I wouldn't mind going spending some time there – just to get out of this heat. Alas, I am stuck in the desolate heat-drenched boondocks of western Alachua County. It is nice to know I am not the only Jaguars fanatic here (shout-out to Mark from Archer). Do you ever find yourself sitting in front of a computer and just dreaming of getting away? It seems to happen to me more often of late.