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O-Zone: Easy as that

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, other than Trevor, who would you like most to succeed in a big way next year? I'm really rooting for Josh Allen.

I don't know that there's a Jaguars player I want to succeed over another. If you're asking the player who would help the Jaguars the most with a huge season, I indeed would go with quarterback Trevor Lawrence first and then perhaps wide receiver Calvin Ridley. One probably goes with the other on that front. I would put outside linebacker Josh Allen third on that list, and a big season from Allen undoubtedly would significantly help the Jaguars in the area they perhaps need it most – disruption and pass rush from the defensive front seven. And yes … on a personal level, Allen likely would be among the players most people would like to see succeed. He's a decent guy who works hard and cares about winning. It's easy to root for players such as that.

_Bill from Sarasota, FL   _

According to an Associated Press article I read, Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson's performance-enhancing drug suspension voids all future guarantees in his contract. Is this a fact? Also: Would that not benefit the Jaguars' salary cap situation if Walker Little and Anton Harrison play well and they decide to move on from Robinson?

This is correct. And yes … that means the Jaguars could release him without his previously guaranteed salary counting against the salary cap. This does not mean the Jaguars will or should do this before or during this season, and I get no sense that's a direction they want to go.

Mrs. O-Zone from Springfield

Against my better judgment, I do read the O-Zone occasionally. I saw that remark about your desert island companion, and I am not amused. You will suffer for this.

Mrs. O-Zone knows where to find me.

Brian from Atlanta, GA

I have a sneaking suspicion that part of the reason that the NFL prefers that owners don't foot the bill for stadiums in small markets is to keep those city-team relationships "fluid," allowing for a future move if/when larger markets emerge. When an owner pays for/owns a stadium outright, they're pretty much guaranteeing that they're putting down stakes for good. With a publicly-funded/leased stadium arrangement, it's easier to sever ties if the league wants a team in a market with huge revenue potential. (See examples of Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders…)

NFL owners vote on such issues based on precedent. Owners in small markets historically can't make the money back if they fund modern, state-of-the-art megastadiums themselves. Owners therefore are unlikely to vote for a funding agreement that has a small-market owner doing so.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Gary from St. Augustine is a smart man.

He's a true visionary.

Arthur from Ormond Beach, FL

Did you forget the Jacksonville Robins from the 60s?

You're referencing a recent O-Zone answer about the origins of Jacksonville's passion for professional football. I cited the Sharks (1974) and Express (1975) of the World Football League, as well as the Bulls (1984-1985) of the United States Football League. I thought I was digging deep to cite the WFL, and I was feeling good about my status as an old-time football guy. But you trumped me with your Robins reference. The Robins predate me, having played in the old Southern Football League from 1962-1965. I'm glad I did the research on this – read: Google – because I learned that the Robins' star was Fred Pickard, who was the head football coach at Parker High School when I was covering high schools for the Florida Times-Union. Pickard was one of my all-time favorite coaches – and people – and it was good to have cause to remember him.

Greg from Section 122, The BANK IS BACK, Jacksonville, FL

How does the NFL quantify which correlating data elements to determine the size of a market? Is it TV households, population within a certain distance, popularity of the team per focus groups? I mean you really evaded the answer, I would never consider Kansas City or Cincinnati small markets. In any case, does the ticket price have to do with the issues in Jacksonville? Trying to understand what the urgency and appearance of panic there is from the team to make more money? Are we really making so much less than those other small markets you referenced? And another really STUPID point, but isn't SOMEONE always going to be on the bottom? If this is the case, why are we not seeing teams move every two-to-three years since someone has to be coming in last in this oh so important metric the NFL is watching?

Market size is determined by population in a team's area. This is not just the population of the team's city, but also the surrounding area. And while Kansas City and Cincinnati are not small markets, they are among the smallest eight markets in the NFL – which makes them a small market by league standards. As for the Jaguars making money … while I wouldn't call it panic, there certainly is urgency. There always has been urgency – and yes, the Jaguars long have been among the NFL's lowest-revenue markets. Someone always is going to be at the bottom. But this is an arms race. Teams don't move every two or three seasons, but they're constantly seeking new revenue streams – and new stadiums get built for that reason. You can't be content to stay there and keep lagging further and further behind.

Marlin from Greenway Palms, FL

Dear Ozone, Someone suggested you do a column about where people were when the Jaguars came into existence in 1993. I think that is a great idea, and it caused me to reflect on that period of my life. It was a bleak time; I was working at a large retail establishment making close to nothing at all. I was living in a part of town that you wouldn't want to visit in an apartment that you wouldn't want to step foot in. I couldn't even afford a television. The summer before the only thing that kept me alive and entertained was listening to the Atlanta Braves on the radio. I was, and still am, a football nut, so to say I was hoping we would get the team was an understatement. I couldn't contribute to the ticket drive, but compulsively read everything written in the paper about the effort. On November 30 when I got off work, I went to the Stadium Club at Beach and Southside. Back then it was a pretty good sports bar. I ordered nachos and watched as a young Dan Hicken got the thumbs up. I stayed at the Stadium Club all afternoon watching the coverage (former Mayor Godbold crying on air – such a strong memory) and then later went down to the old Gator Bowl to celebrate with everyone else, listened to David Lamm – who was perched up on an elevated platform above the crowd - and I got my picture in the paper. Getting the team didn't change my life to the effect that it has changed yours, but I can't even describe how immeasurably brighter the Jaguars have made my life.

One fer the Jaguars.

Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL

Everyone is assuming that Trevor Lawrence is a cinch to be our "franchise quarterback." I hope they are right, but one question lingers: What in the world happened in the first half of the Chargers playoff game? I am sure the coaches have dissected the four picks. If you have broken down these plays, how would you categorize them? How many were on Trevor (bad reads or bad throws) and how many on the receivers (wrong routes, failure to fight for the ball)?

Lawrence had a bad first half against the Chargers – and as is usually the case when assigning "blame"
in a complementary sport, the four interceptions in that half were caused by multiple issues. Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa tipped the first interception into the hands of linebacker Drue Tranquill at the line of scrimmage, cornerback Asante Samuel appeared to interfere with wide receiver Zay Jones before the second interception, Lawrence made a bad throw/read on the third interception (again by Samuel) and Lawrence threw into coverage when Samuel registered yet another interception in the fourth quarter. Lawrence was confused at times early in that game. The Chargers "got him." It happens. I once saw New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throw four interceptions in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts and I saw Colts quarterback Peyton Manning throw six interceptions in a loss to the Chargers. The key is how the quarterback responds. Lawrence responded that night against the Chargers, rallying the Jaguars from a 27-0 first-half deficit for a 31-30 victory in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game. That sort of response bodes well for Lawrence and the Jaguars moving forward.

Dale from Vancouver, BC, Canada

We are fans of Nathan Rourke and would like to follow the Jacksonville Jaguars and his progress. How can we do that?

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