O-Zone: Endless possibilities

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

John from Jacksonville

Jalen’s locker-room interview with the press Thursday was terrific in its entirety. Too bad some will take half answers out of context and make them fit their narrative.

You’re referencing Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s media availability this week, during which he discussed multiple topics – and toward the end of which he discussed his contract situation. Regarding his contract, he was asked about being a player around which the team might build. He answered as follows: “I’m going to let my agent and the front office handle that, but after what came out five weeks ago I’m feeling like if y’all are serious about that not being real y’all need to make it happen. If not, maybe what came out five weeks ago … we’ll see. I’m going to keep enjoying every day.” It’s important to note that Ramsey said nothing remotely threatening. He didn’t volunteer his thoughts. Neither did he speak in a selfish, me-first tone. He simply referred to the fact that there were rumors last month that the team might trade him – and that a contract extension this offseason would certainly show that that wasn’t the case. Because Ramsey has been outspoken – and perhaps because people assume he is going to reach a point of being unhappy regarding his contract – some observers this week jumped to the conclusion that he was threatening or expressing unhappiness. This wasn’t the case. The coming offseason will be the first in which the Jaguars and Ramsey can discuss a contract extension. It will be and should be a topic. Ramsey is the best young player at an important position; as such, it makes sense that he will want to be paid as such as soon as possible. For him to say as much in the manner he did Thursday made perfect sense and he handled it well. If people want to interpret it differently, that’s their prerogative. It doesn’t make those people right.

Matt from Forth Worth, TX

'Tis a bad season. 'Twas a very good season last year. 'Twill be a great season next year? Also, Krimma!

Krimma.

Mason from Palm Bay, FL

I think Jalen is a year early on wanting his extension, but he was merely answering a question. That said, don't we have to pay linebacker Myles Jack and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue this offseason? I know cuts will have to be made, but I'm curious who you think will be inked this offseason?

You’re correct that Ramsey was merely answering a question Thursday. But no, the Jaguars do not have to pay Jack or Ngakoue this offseason. Both are under contract for the 2019 season. That means the team can renegotiate with and re-sign either player during the 2019 season, late in the 2019 season or early the next offseason. I could see the team moving to re-sign Ngakoue this offseason. I would be surprised if it was as aggressive this offseason with Jack.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I think I'm going to schedule my next dentist appointment during the next Jaguars game. Do you think I'll have more fun than watching our sad team?

Who’s your dentist?

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, you’ve commented a few times that the strength-and-conditioning staff is not to blame for the ridiculous number of injuries suffered by Jaguars players this year. Why not? Is it different in the NFL on that front than it is in college? I know for a fact that, for example, the Florida Gators made changes to the strength and conditioning coaches and staff this year and the result was a team that was stronger, in better condition and that they suffered fewer injuries than they had in the few prior seasons. Can this not also apply to an NFL strength and conditioning staff?

Are some strength-and-conditioning staffs better than others? Of course. There are differences in ability in any profession or skill. But in two-and-half decades covering the NFL, one constant is the fans want to blame something – anything – for injuries. Injuries are frustrating and invariably there are teams each season that get injured less or more than others. But to blame a strength-and-conditioning staff is to imply their job is to prevent all injuries and that’s simply impossible. Football is a violent, physical game. Strength-and-conditioning staffs can do everything possible to strengthen and condition. Injuries still happen.

Steve from Greenville, DE

John, do you think the Jags will be able to trade away any players this offseason instead of an outright releasing them? I know some of our players have hefty contracts, but in some case do you think a team would trade for the talent to avoid competing against other teams for the player?

This is possible – but unlikely. Remember: A team trading for a player also trades for his contract. So, not only would a team be giving up a draft selection for a player such as defensive tackle Malik Jackson they also would be trading for the final three years of his $13 million contract.

Biff from Jacksonville

The recent quarterback debate specific to signing a veteran and how that impacts drafting a quarterback in 2019 reminds me of two quotes about fear. One by Thich Nhat Hanh: "People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar." The other is by H.P. Lovecraft: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” It also, however, reminds me of a great quote about hope by MLK: "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." Maybe we should spend more time hoping than fearing? Just a thought.

I was disappointed with Real Housewives of New Jersey season six. I thought it was better than season five, but only a little better than season two.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Zone, while you reference the cost of acquiring a quarterback in the 2018 offseason as front-office justification, the argument has always been taking an injury-prone running back with the No. 4 overall pick in 2017 after Bortles had produced three years of some of the worst quarterback play ever witnessed. While nobody being truthful with themselves can say they knew Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson would be as good as they are, we all knew they would be better than Blake; and that it was far and away the deepest running back class in recent memory. We needed a quarterback, and could have gotten an Alvin Kamara, James Conner, or Marlon Mack later... you know, where running backs are supposed to be drafted. It will go down as the single-worst decision in franchise history.

Bortles almost certainly won’t return next season while Mahomes appears likely to very good for a long time. In that sense, it certainly will be viewed as a mistake not selecting Mahomes. But the worst decision in franchise history? Nah.

Christopher from Orlando, FL

Your answer to my question with "(Whispering). Because he’s a quarterback" tells me you cannot be biased and answer the question. I am just asking for a straightforward answer, if your season is lost and you are a team player why would you not tell Blake to try tight end? Blake should know how hard it is now to keep a starting spot in the NFL, so why not try to improve your situation by playing a new position?

Me answering your question regarding Bortles playing tight end as I did quite literally has nothing to do with bias. It has quite a lot to do with the concept being silly. Bortles is not a tight end. He’s a quarterback. Come to think of it, why not try him at defensive end? Or at running back? Or kicker? For that matter, why not have him play cricket? Or be an auto racer? Or a singer? Come to think of, maybe I’ll try to be a singer. Or an actor. Or a ballet dancer. My mother always told me I was special and could do anything I set my mind to. Perhaps now’s the time. After all, I do look good in tights. And you do have to be biased not to admit that.

GPP from Savannah, GA

I agree with BB not being played at tight end, but don’t forget our 2005 blunder in taking Matt Jones a quarterback and trying to make him a receiver.

OK.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

A quarterback playing tight end. Why? Is Bortles capable of blocking players like Khalil Mack and Calais Campbell? Does he routinely make superbly athletic catches against players like Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey, and Tashaun Gibson in practice? About once a year, fans get the itch to throw out a doozy of an idea and this is this years' version of it. What will they come up with next?

I’m assuming Christopher still has access to email. In light of that, I’d say the possibilities are endless.

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