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O-Zone: Fear not

JACKSONVILLE – Bye Friday O-Zone.

Let's get to it …

Nathan from Provo, UT:
Please tell Nick you don't put free agents in your pride. That's why it's called a Pride. Pedigree. Like Yannick Ngakoue. Fred Taylor. Tony Boselli. And I vote for a twin induction: the law firm of John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. Of course, I too was impressed to see the impact that is Calais Campbell. But has he really paled his career as a Cardinal? I don't think so.
John: I probably won't pass along your message – mainly because it's not correct; there's no reason a free agent can't be in the Pride of the Jaguars. In fact, wide receiver Jimmy Smith played with two NFL teams – the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles – before joining the Jaguars as a free agent in 1995. He was inducted into the Pride last season. There's also no reason a player can't be honored by two organizations. Peyton Manning was a league Most Valuable Player for both Indianapolis and Denver, and quarterbacked both organizations to multiple Super Bowls. Can both organizations not honor him? Regarding Campbell, I have no idea if he ever will be inducted into the Pride – and it's absolutely too early for the discussion. Teams typically honor players who have a lasting impact on their organization. Campbell in a very short time has shown himself to be that sort of player.
Will from Jacksonville:
Reading on websites, people seem to feel losing Barry Church was a huge loss for the Cowboys. Do you feel his presence on the Jags makes him one of the unsung players on the team?
John: Absolutely.
Frankie from London, UK:
Mr. O! I woke up Thursday on holiday in Italy to the delightful news that Telvin Smith's contract has been extended. A nice week away has just been made much better. My question: how many Jaguars in the past five years (heck, maybe even longer) have deserved a new contract more than Telvin? Duval Till We Die – and I think our fifth-round steal feels the same way, too.
John: Smith absolutely deserved a new contract, and a major issue for the organization in recent seasons absolutely has been that no Jaguars draft selection had played well enough to be re-signed to a long-term, core-player contract. That has changed in recent seasons, and the team signed center Brandon Linder to a similar deal this past summer. I would expect the Jaguars to re-sign wide receiver Allen Robinson with an eye on potentially re-signing another player or two from the 2014 draft class in the coming months.
Steve from Jacksonville:
I think the most noteworthy thing about the Telvin Smith re-signing was that the Jags have had a horrible track record of signing draft picks to second contracts. Here's hoping this is the first of a few guys worthy of second contracts. One fer Caldwell and Co. for finding him in the fifth round.
John: One fer Caldwell and Co. for finding Linder, too – or nah?
A.J. from Pensacola, FL:
Bye Week What If: If during the second half of the season, the Jaguars can make consecutive wins the norm with key players continuing to perform at a high level, how many and which players do you think will be Pro Bowl selections?
John: I think Campbell, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and running back Leonard Fournette have a very good chance to make the Pro Bowl this season; Campbell and Fournette seem likely to have the statistics to back up remarkable seasons and Ramsey's reputation is starting to match his level of play. Telvin Smith also at this point would seem deserving, but Pro Bowl honors can be tough for traditional 4-3 outside linebackers; postseason honors often unfairly go to 3-4, sack-oriented linebackers. There are others who could be deserving, but those seem the obvious four through seven games.
Rob from Jacksonville Beach:
I want to caution anyone who is automatically penciling in wins against the Bengals and Chargers. We were feeling pretty good last preseason until the Bengals absolutely destroyed us in that third preseason game, and it seemed like we never recovered. And Rivers has been a Jag killer for years. I won't believe we beat the Chargers and Rivers until I see it.
John: OK.
Dave from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada:
You recently stated that the Jaguars are playing a bit more zone coverage than in the past versus man-to-man coverage. I am just wondering what the advantage is for the Jaguars, with the cornerbacks and linebackers they have, to play more zone vs man-to-man. If opponents line up two wide receivers, then most of the time Ramsey and A.J. Bouye should be able to handle them one-on-one and the linebackers are quick enough to cover most of the tight ends in the league. Even if an opponent has three wide receivers on the field we have enough speed and vision in the back end for safety help plus Aaron Colvin is more than capable of covering most wide receivers. Could you please explain?
John: Ramsey and Bouye are certainly capable of playing man-to-man against most – if not all – teams. Sometimes an opponent's offense calls for the Jaguars to go to zone against certain formations. There also, remember, are benefits to playing zone – with the most significant being that the defenders are facing the quarterback. Because of that, it is sometimes easier to defend mobile quarterbacks. It's also sometimes easier to get interceptions and break on the ball in zone because you're facing the quarterback rather than following a receiver.
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
So Martavis Bryant? Steelers want him gone, he wants a bigger role, we need a playmaker on the outside. Sounds like a match made in football heaven. Only if he doesn't bring his problems to the locker room, which is a big if.
John: Bryant is a big-time talent. I don't know him, so I can't comment on what kind of person he is or how he is as a locker-room presence. I do know he has been suspended for a year under the NFL's substance-abuse policy. That almost certainly will affect what a team will give up for him, and it raises a concern regarding his availability once he is attained. That doesn't meant Bryant wouldn't be a good acquisition, but those are reasons it's not necessarily a "match made in football heaven." I also know the Steelers haven't seemed inclined to trade him. Perhaps that will change.
Sid from Sidsonville:
With all the potential trade rumors around, if you were the general manager who would you look at to improve this roster for the second half of the season?
John: I'd probably look for a receiver, but I wouldn't give up much for it. I'm not a big believer that midseason trades provide big impact. This isn't the NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball.
Chad from Yulee, FL:
I know it won't happen, but should Dave/Tom call the Cardinals about Larry Fitzgerald?
John: Trade rumors are fun. Fans like them.
Talha from Raleigh, NC:
I've been a Jaguars fan since fourth grade and I'm now about to graduate college. I've waited over a decade for the Jaguars to get somewhere with only a brief chance in 2007 with David Garrard. It has been a long time coming. Question: If you're an opposing offensive coordinator or head coach, what defensive player do you game plan around? Who is your biggest concern? Ramsey, Bouye, Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack? That's the stuff of nightmares.
John: My answer is Ramsey by a thin margin. You must get Ngakoue and Campbell blocked up front, but if you throw too often at Ramsey in the wrong situation he can turn the game around with an interception. Nod to Ramsey because he's the most freakish player on the defense athletically – but again, it's close.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Blake Bortles this year has seemed a bit better without having to play from behind in nearly every single game.
John: This is true of Bortles and of the entire team. It's particularly difficult to play quarterback at a high level when teams know you're going to pass every play. You might pile up a lot of statistics in that situation, but you're also more likely to take a lot of sacks and commit a lot of turnovers.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
O-man, how long do you think we could realistically keep this defense together before cap space and/or other circumstances will require we let key players go?
John: The Jaguars are seven games into their first season of having what appears to be a really good defense and already we're worried about letting people go? I kid, but the reality is this is a pretty young unit with most key players having at least two years left on their contracts. Nickel cornerback Aaron Colvin will be a free agent after this season, but this group can pretty much stay together a couple of more years with most of the players people think of as key under contract for that long. After that, you identify core players and draft around them. But fear not: the young core should be around for a while.

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