O-Zone: Don't do that

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Opening the season against the Chiefs? Week 2 against the Texans? This is a pretty tough early schedule for a last-place team, no?

The 2019 NFL regular-season schedule was released Wednesday night, and I got some early reaction about the Jaguars’ early schedule being tough. I also heard from some people upset because the Jaguars aren’t playing at TIAA Bank Field for a span of 34 days from late October through early November. My early thoughts on the schedule: Yes, it’s a tough start with back-to-back games in Weeks 1 and 2 against teams that won their divisions last season (the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans). And it gets no easier with a home game against Tennessee in Week 3. It’s evident that the Jaguars must play well early in the season or they could be in trouble quickly. But remember: You must play all the teams on your schedule some time – and because the Jaguars are in a tough division (three of four AFC South teams were over .500 last season), they were going to have what appears to be a difficult schedule. Overall, it’s a balanced schedule. There are no three-game road or home stretches, and there don’t seem to be any brutally difficult stretches. As far as the 34 days without a game in Jacksonville, that’s the price of the annual home game in London. There’s usually going to be a stretch when the Jaguars are away from Jacksonville for a long time. That stretch is in November this season because that’s when the London game and the bye week fall. That’s just how it is.

Tim from Jacksonville Beach, FL

One prime-time game? One? And against the Tennessee Titans? Again? When will the NFL ever stop doing this, Zone? Ever?

The Jaguars indeed have been scheduled just once on prime time in 2019 – and yes, for a third time in four seasons, their lone prime-time game is against AFC South rival Tennessee. And to be fair, there’s no question that the annual Titans-Jaguars game on NFL Network has become a bit tiresome and predictable. But you know that? The reality remains what it has been for the last several seasons: The Jaguars must earn their way into the national consciousness – and into prime time – by winning. And not by just winning, but by consistently winning. Until they become a perennial contender, they’re not going to be featured on prime-time television. I understand that’s frustrating to fans, but again … that just how it is.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

I feel like the NFL is messing with us at this point. Every damn year our primetime game is on a Thursday against the Titans. I know we aren't the "sexy" team to watch and the Titans aren't either, but this feels lazy.

Fair.

Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington

Mr. O, very important question ... now what?

Now what? Now, we dance!!

Rob from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

How much does the interest in edge rusher Nick Bosa of Ohio State stem from Joey’s early success? I look at Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen and feel he is the superior athlete. Nick feels like an incredibly safe pick and I’m curious how much you think that stems from Joey’s success. I’m hoping Allen is the guy who falls to us. Fingers crossed that a couple teams go quarterback or offensive line.

Bosa has name recognition among fans because of his older brother, Joey – a big-time pass rusher for the Los Angeles Chargers. But many successful players have younger brothers enter the NFL Draft. With a few exceptions, those younger siblings aren’t selected in the Top 5. One in this case has nothing to do with the other.

Joe from St. Augie

I heard a rumor that Big Gene finished the Boston Marathon so early that the finish tape wasn't set up yet. He didn't care. He just went about his business. And he wasn't even sweating. Any truth to this?

Affirmative. Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Frenette” routinely wins competitions of endurance and/or strength in dominant enough fashion that many people don’t realize he was competing. Or refuse to acknowledge the fact. This is known among some Gene Enthusiasts as the “Soggy Hood Effect.” But as Gene enthusiasts well know, Gene competes not for awards or accolades but to achieve a perfect synchronicity with his spirit animal – the Egyptian Mongoose.

Josh from Harrisburg, PA

On an un-football-related note I was searching the annals of Florida sports reporting and found only two other occasions in which Gene P. Frenette labeled an individual as a “knucklehead” and strangely neither of which were athletes: Wesley Snipes in 2006 after his tax evasion and Steven Segal in the early 2000s with the FBI investigation. Word has it he swore off the term since it ruined two careers as it was. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen a third time.

You’re right to worry about this. Gene wields a potent pen.

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, in reading your response to Scott of Wichita Falls, I was surprised regarding your take on Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith not being here. I'm not arguing with your interpretation of the voluntary rule. I have a problem with both these players not having the courtesy to inform the team of their not coming. Disappointing.

Longtime readers of the O-Zone – and he knows who he is – shouldn’t be surprised that it doesn’t bother me when players don’t attend the voluntary portion of the offseason program. Voluntary indeed means voluntary and these players – who are, in fact, independent contractors – must make their own decisions regarding the offseason. If they are confident in their ability to have an extended career without working with the team in the offseason, that’s absolutely within their rights. I honestly don’t believe the Jaguars’ performance on the field will be hurt by either Ramsey or Smith missing time in the offseason. As for the player not informing the team … no one was particularly surprised with either player not attending.

Hutch from Cape Coral, FL

Does former Jaguars fullback Tommy Bohanon have a chance to get back on the roster?

I doubt it.

Lee from Fleming Island, FL

O-Man: Please do what you can to make O-Zone required reading for scouts and upper management to ensure that their employer (the FANS) have a voice that is heard.

I never would do this. First, I wouldn’t want the Jaguars’ decision-makers collectively wasting time reading this drivel. Second, I wouldn’t want them trying to tackle the impossible task of determining the collective will of a fragmented group of people. I value fans. The team values fans. But the teams simply can’t make on-field decisions based on what fans want. Ever.

Don from Marshall, NC

Tell that lawyer from Gainesville we are shaking in our boots over going to jail for not paying our traffic tickets. By his tone it sounds more like he comes from Waldo. He is the knucklehead, in my opinion! Go Jags and pay your tickets or next time you’re going to the big house!

That wasn’t nice.

Steve from Cape Canaveral, FL

Am I the only one who would be shocked (SCHOCKED!!!) if the Jaguars went with anyone other than that Gator tackle? A quality defensive lineman would make more sense, and maybe Coughlin wouldn't mind sticking his thumb in the eye of the "conventional wisdom (??) of the sports media establishment.

If I’m reading your question correctly – and it’s entirely possible that that’s not the case – you think the Jaguars will take Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor because Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin wants to show the “sports-media” establishment he’s a rebel by taking an offensive lineman. Well, that certainly would “show them.” No doubt about it.

Jessie from Kissimmee, FL

John, I just saw the Chargers listened to their fans and made the powder blues their home jerseys. Could we see this with teal?

Maybe. Some day. Not this season and probably not soon.

Name withheld for obvious reasons

By reading the O-Zone last week, I was reminded of my own unpaid speeding ticket and suspended license. I resolved it within the hour. Good thing, because I was pulled over yesterday for an illegal right turn on red. So, I would like to thank the O-Zone and Jaguar running back Leonard Fournette for keeping me out of jail. And for everyone else, it’s really not a big deal. Most people, including responsible people, have failed to pay a ticket on time. I, for example, am a husband, father of four, and doctor.

No problem. I can’t speak for Fournette, obviously, but here in the O-Zone the rule of thumb is … anything we can do to help. (By the way, doc, my arm hurts when I do this … )

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