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O-Zone: Fear and loathing

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tim from Atlanta, GA

Zone, I recently read the Jaguars have the fourth-highest attendance per seating capacity and spend the most of any fan at games. Why do you think we always get talked about as a bad fan base? Maybe it's the constant London games or the stadium being bigger than the majority of NFL stadiums?

Jaguars fans long have been criticized and mocked nationally for being a "bad fan base." This is unfair and incorrect. Why do people talk about it as such? Maybe the annual London game is a factor. People commenting on these things don't take time to research. They therefore think the Jaguars play in London because they have trouble drawing fans in Jacksonville when the real reason is the desire to expand their brand/fan base internationally – something many teams are now trying to do. The narrative that Jaguars fans are bad can be attributed to laziness on the part of people saying such things as much as anything. Let any non-traditional team lose as much as the Jaguars have lost in the last 15 seasons and see what it does to that team's home attendance. The Jaguars appear likely to be good for a while. The guess here is home attendance will continue to be strong. That may not stop the narrative. But you know what? Enjoy being part of if it and don't worry about what people say.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

If opponents' lines play even a little bit higher attempting to prevent the "Prince Poke" – as someone has referred to it – that has to be at least a little bit of an advantage in goal line, does it not?

You're referencing quarterback Trevor Lawrence's tendency to "poke" the ball over the goal line on short-yardage, goal-line plays. He has done this successfully on multiple occasions. It's effective because of Lawrence's length. It's risky because Lawrence extends the ball toward a defense that theoretically can slap it away. Would opposing lines "play higher" to stop this? Would that be an edge for the Jaguars' offensive line? A smidge, I suppose.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Say what they will. I like close games against hard teams more than I like blowouts. It's football. If you aren't enjoying games right now, I don' t think you will. Where were you for the last decade?

Here, for better and worse.

Boxcutter Bill from Mass

I saw someone say they took Freddy T for granted. I didn't. He's my favorite player of all time. The best Jaguar ever, sorry to our Hall of Famer, who's a close second. Fred Taylor was ahead of his time. He ran really hard, he ran really fast, he broke ankles, he ran through defenders, he caught the ball. Anytime he had the rock he was liable to break one. He's getting in and it's going to be so sweet to have the two best Jaguars in the Hall of Fame. Jimmy Smith should be next. What's holding that up?

Former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor is a modern-era Hall of Fame semifinalist for a fifth consecutive year. Here's hoping he becomes a finalist for the first time this time. If he can get to the finalist round, the thought here is he has a real chance for enshrinement. I expect there are still a few years to go in that process. As for former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith, I agree that he's also Hall-worthy. I worry that Smith may never get the recognition in this process he deserves. A lot of time is passing, and he has yet to be a semifinalist. Here's hoping that turns at some point. He belongs.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: Given that the Jags will re-sign outside linebacker Josh Allen and probably Lawrence, what are the odds of re-signing Calvin Ridley? He will demand a large salary and we give up a second-round draft choice. Do you think the Jags will hold on re-signing Trevor so that they can sign the other players that are free agents this year?

I don't think the Jaguars will delay re-signing Lawrence to sign other players. Lawrence's salary-cap figure in the early years of a mega-contract likely would be comparatively low, therefore allowing the Jaguars to make cap room to sign valued second-contract players for at least the short-term. Also pertinent to this question: There remains a real chance the Jaguars use the franchise tag on Allen, though there's a long way to go before a decision must be made there. Either way … yes, the Jaguars can retain Lawrence, wide receiver Calvin Ridley and Allen this offseason.

Blaine from Jacksonville

Mr. O, On Day 2 of this year's draft, with the Jaguars on the clock, I was literally and truly pounding the table for the Jaguars to take Brian Branch or Torrance. Instead, they took a tight end in Strange who at the time wasn't on anyone's radar (except perhaps the Jaguars). You have defended the pick because he is a very good blocker. I very much respect your opinion, however, how good would it be to have O'Cyrus Torrance on the squad right now? I thought Luke Farrell was our blocking tight end?

Tight end Brenton Strange is a good blocker with a chance to develop into a very capable all-around tight end. I don't care all that much about how draft selections play as rookies. That as often as not tells us very little about their career arc moving forward. I long since gave up expecting most people to understand this. Oh well, I suppose I've gone beyond caring for those who think like they do.

Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL

Hi, John. With the possible departures of left tackle Cam Robinson and right guard Brandon Scherff in the offseason, it looks like next year is Walker Little, Ezra Cleveland, Luke Fortner and Anton Harrison for our starting left tackle, left guard, center and right tackle. Question is, is our future right guard on the team now?

I expect there's a decent chance rookie Cooper Hodges, now on injured reserve, could start at right guard next season. I wouldn't call it a given. I would call it a real possibility.

Paul from Lake City, FL

I have Greg Jones holding on line one for John Oehser...

Greg Jones knows where to find me. And that scares me a little.

RJ from Jacksonville

Please tell me that when Trent Baalke wakes up at 4 a.m. (as all Football Guys do), his first thought is Josh Allen.

I'm not going to speculate on what Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke thinks about what he wakes up at 4 a.m. I just know he better not text me at that hour.

Anita from Springfield

It's really wild that we're among the AFC's top seeds and yet it feels like we're yet to see this team playing its best. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson wants a champion and wants the Jaguars to be playing their best at the end of the season. Is this what a champion looks like?


Crash from Glen Saint Mary

OZ! Sports Illustrated? I was a Sporting News guy. The baseball box scores alone was worth it.

I believe you're referencing a recent O-Zone thread discussing Sports Illustrated's one-time status as the preeminent sports publication. This is a case of different tastes, I suppose. Sporting News was terrific before the internet. Fans who craved information on their team and couldn't get it from their local paper could count on Sporting News for something from all professional teams in all major sports. And yes … the publication ran every major league box score. As quaint as that may seem now, it was a major deal at the time. Sports Illustrated was great for fans who loved great writing and behind-the-scenes reporting. I religiously read both when starting off in sports writing, a time when the written word mattered a great deal. It matters less now, for better or worse. My thought is it's for the worse, but I'm an old man whose thoughts on the matter are antiquated at best.

_Bradley from Sparks, NV          _

I don't get when fans melt down and overreact to play calls, receiver drops, bad throws, missed blocks, missed tackles, missed assignments, penalties, ref mistakes, and the such – particularly after a win – but some of fans " fanning" is probably similar to what the coaches harp on even after a win. I just don't think it's completely idiotic to point out deficiencies even after a win and – as always – it's a good hedge against happiness.

Fans aren't idiotic to note deficiencies. Fans fan. It's what they do.

Tim from Jacksonville

While we're on the question of second contracts do you see any of the recent free agent they've signed getting one?

Free agents usually are at the stage of their careers where they're on their second contract and therefore seeking third contracts. These are rare.

Chris from Tampa, FL

I loathe prime time games. Probably more than you. One of the side benefits of being terrible all of those years was having a limited number of them.

I doubt you loathe prime-time games more than me.