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O-Zone: Family connection

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Steven from Duval

This is the most I’ve ever paid attention to the terms of contracts and the process of building a roster. I’m very impressed with Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and special assistant John Idzik. It seems to me they have done an exceptional job at structuring and staggering contracts to keep this team young and competitive for the foreseeable future. I’m curious: Is this front office that good or is this commonplace in the NFL and we have just been used to poor management for too long? Thanks for your time.

It’s difficult to call any NFL front-office combination “commonplace,” because every front office and team faces different circumstances – i.e., which top draft selections work out, which free agents are available to front-office personnel at the time they have money cap/room to spend in free agency, what their cap situation was when they took over in their positions. The Jaguars’ situation was unique because the team in Caldwell’s first few seasons as general manager was able to pare down the cap to essentially the bare bones, which enabled ample cap space in the 2016/2017 offseasons. The team was fortunate that free agents such as defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive tackle Malik Jackson and cornerback A.J. Bouye were available at the time. The Jaguars were then able to take the approach of offering free agents contracts that were structured in such a way to not extend their cap ramifications over a long period of time. That has worked so far and has enabled the Jaguars to be in a position to part ways with some veteran players following next season. That could help them manage the salary cap. It all looks very good on paper – and it all has looked good on the field thus far. But the NFL and salary cap operate on tricky, ever-shifting terrain. Can the Jaguars’ front office navigate long-term deals for players such as cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue while releasing and retaining the correct veterans? Will young players such as defensive end Taven Bryan develop so that the team can transition to the future? Those are questions that must be answered going forward. But yes … a lot of credit to Caldwell and Idzik. They have this team in good position on and off the field.

Oops from Oops

What's the most commonly used word or phrase around the Oehser household?

“Let’s count our blessings.” What else?

Doug Since Day 2500

The Jags have had some horrendous drafts. I think anyone who pays attention understood that, but it just hit me how far it put the Jags back. The Jags made a huge leap with a couple of pretty good drafts and one pretty great draft. They went from a laughingstock, perennial last-place team to the AFC Championship Game pretty quickly. Stringing together a few more pretty good drafts and maybe another pretty great draft and the Jags will be the team of the decade and beyond.

A run of weak drafts indeed set this franchise back – and the reality is it has been a combination of otherworldly free-agent success and very good drafting that has gotten the Jaguars into the upper echelon of the NFL in terms of talent. At last. Draftees such as Ramsey, linebacker Myles Jack, linebacker Telvin Smith and Ngakoue are key to this franchise, but free agents such as Campbell, Jackson and Bouye are equally so. The key now for the Jaguars clearly is the draft: it’s very difficult and unusual to build through free agency as the Jaguars have done. It’s nearly impossible to sustain success with big free-agent spending. Drafting and developing is key now, and time will tell how successful the Jaguars remain on that front. It’s a difficult, pressure-filled annual task. Can the Jaguars maintain their success? It gets tougher now because they didn’t draft in the Top 10 this past offseason and shouldn’t draft in the Top 10 for a while. That doesn’t mean you can’t succeed, but it means it’s tougher. Stay tuned.

Scott from New York City

Just how thin are we at the all unimportant senior position?

What?

Big on Blake from Philly

Leon Jacobs playing ahead of Blair Brown is oddly reminiscent of Head Coach Doug Marrone keeping left tackle Cam Robinson and Fournette with the “twos” last year as rookies through training camp. Do you think Marrone is keeping Blair Brown in check by making him earn the start or is he truly evaluating the rookie liking what he saw from unpadded work? Or maybe, quite simply it’s a win-win situation? Not used to seeing those much as a Jags fan.

Jacobs is running with the first team because the Jaguars think right now he has the chance to be the team’s best strong-side linebacker. Jacobs is a rookie, so if Marrone was truly trying to keep someone “in check” I imagine it would be Jacobs being kept in check.

Renee from Duval

John! What is this #HOMEFIELD you ask? It’s the ultimate goal. It’s staying in shape in the offseason. It’s working your butt off in training camp. It’s film study. It’s mentally being prepared for the naysayers, other teams and even yourself saying “You’re good but not that good.” It’s beating the guy in front of you, winning the play, winning the series and ultimately winning the game. You win the games, you win the division and you win the right game or you win one more game than whoever is in the conference that’s #HOMEFIELD. That’s an opportunity to play for the Super Bowl! GO JAGS!

You go, girl.

John from Jagville

Wow, great new look on the app, just know now the date (or byline) doesn’t show up. You may want to add that in your lead paragraph.

The new app is cool. People seem to like it. A lot of people won’t because a lot of people don’t like anything. “Let’s count our blessings.”

Zach from Ocala, FL

Will we see running back Corey Grant line up as a deep wide receiver in the Super Bowl?

I don’t know what “deep wide receiver” means, but I do know Grant will be used creatively in the Jaguars’ offense this season. He’s a weapon. He will be used as such.

David from Severna Park, MD

It's the Jaguars' opening drive of the first game of the season. Everyone expects a Leonard Fournette run. Do you open with a pass to catch the defense off guard, or do you hand it to your No. 1 back and establish dominance?

Fifty-fifty ball to Koyack.

Bryce from Somewhere

Hey O: Just wanna say that I loved the recent interview with Dante Fowler Jr. He’s not a guy that talks to the media a whole lot, and it’s very clear that the only thing he cares about is football. He’s surrounded by leaders and competitors which is going to make him even better when it’s all said and done. Here’s one for Dante Fowler Jr. and another to the health of the squad this season. Go Jags! 

Let’s make something clear While Fowler didn’t seem thrilled during his first 2018 Training Camp availability, it’s inaccurate to portray him as being difficult with the media. I haven’t observed that in my three-plus years around Fowler, and he typically has been cordial, polite and helpful in my interactions with him. I also think Fowler is a far more important part of the Jaguars’ defense than many observers. He gives maximum effort on an usually high percentage of plays, and his knack for the impact play is rare. So, one fer Dante? Sure.

Nathan since ‘01

Padded Zone, how do I make my deposit in the "Ngakoue Trust?”

Just believe, baby.

Pradeep from Bangalore, India

Hi John, by reading offseason reports on Jaguars.com, I feel Bortles will reach new heights in 2018. Improved accuracy and second year in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s system a healthy Bortles will be a Top 10 quarterback this year. Your thoughts?

I don’t know if Bortles will quite be a Top 10 quarterback. That’s a lofty height, and it’s sometimes tricky to figure just where a quarterback ranks. But ranking is less important than playing effectively, and I don’t get the idea Bortles cares all that much about ranking or perception. I think Bortles will play more effectively than he ever has played this season, and I think he will help the Jaguars’ offense be far more efficient. So yeah … I believe Bortles will thrive in his environment this season, and I believe it will be a tangible, easy-to-see improvement.

Tom from Section 141 and the Mean Streets of Nocatee

Who is this Keegan Ole that the prophet Frenette speaks of? Did a scout for the Jaguars discover him in the back country of Mexico, a la Steve Nebraska? Did Coach Coughlin convince Justin Blackmon to come back to fulfill his destiny under an assumed identity? Inquiring minds need to know...

He’s Soggy Hood’s cousin. They grew up on turkey.

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