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O-Zone: Focused on the future

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Hey, John. Hope all is well. Do you see us getting the stadium that is rendered? It seems like there has been some reluctance with the taxpayers. A 50/50 split seems like the best for all parties.

The Jaguars introduced conceptual designs for the Stadium of the Future Wednesday morning. We discussed this heavily Thursday morning in the O-Zone and I expect those heavy discussions to continue throughout the coming months. I also expect the discussions – both public and private – about this topic to be contentious because discussions about stadium funding are always contentious. That's not a Jacksonville thing. It's an everywhere thing. I do expect the City and the Jaguars to eventually agree to a deal that approves essentially the stadium that is rendered. I expect this because I expect the people leading the City to grasp the value of the NFL to downtown Jacksonville, and I expect those people to have a vision for the future. I also expect that the funding for the entire project to revitalize downtown Jacksonville to essentially be a 50-50 split between the City and the team/Jaguars Owner Shad Khan. It's difficult to say exactly what the split would be for just the stadium, though I expect the city to pay more for that part of the project. This is because the stadium deal must get approved by the NFL owners, and owners want small-market stadiums to lean more toward public funding because of the realities of those markets. Look for the Jaguars to fund more of the "surrounding area" part of the project to accomplish the "split."

Benjamin from Jacksonville

If they would hold off building the other proposed facilities by the old stadium would there be enough room to build new next to it? I would much rather wait on the other buildings and get the stadium first. That way all games can be played here.

I confess I don't know exactly what you're asking, but a new facility is about $1 billion more than a "renovated" facility. A new facility might have been the approach in a bigger market. In a smaller market such as Jacksonville, $1 billion difference is enough to push decision-makers in the less expensive direction.

Ross from Jacksonville

O, I may be mistaken, but didn't we just renew our agreement with University of Florida/University of Georgia through 2025? From a stadium build perspective, wouldn't that push the begin of any build until after the 2025 Florida/Georgia game and thus the Jaguars 2025 season?

A timeframe for the upgrade can't be determined until an agreement is reached. The Jaguars' hope is to have an agreement in place by next spring, and to begin serious construction on the updated stadium in February 2026.

Jason from Jacksonville

I bet even Greg from Section 122 has to like the stadium concept art! Jacksonville and the Jaguars need this.

I can't speak for Greg from Section 122, but one fer the project designs …

Mark from Johnstown, CO

Lifelong Jags fan here. I can't convey just how disappointed I am in the "stadium of the future." I have long thought the stadium needed to be addressed, but didn't know if Jacksonville would have the appetite for what it would take to fund a modern stadium. It appears my concerns were valid as a mere renovation is all we can hope for. The bones of the stadium are the problem, not the entrance. The stadium is already a bit of a dinosaur in its structural design. The seating has minimal upward slope and no overlap from one level to another so you end up being too far from the field in the "reasonably" priced seats. A complete rebuild is needed to improve the views of the field. This is just putting lipstick on a pig.

… and one strikingly not fer.

Josiah from Bryceville

The new stadium looks really nice, but it looks to be missing what fans wanted most: A canopy or cover to keep from getting scorched at games.

Bad eye.

Sam from Orlando, FL

Will the Jaguars be sticking with natural grass for the next stadium? Given all the discussion about it, it would make sense to stick with the real stuff, no?

Jaguars President Mark Lamping on Wednesday said the goal is to have the field in the updated stadium be natural grass. There are some challenges to this, but Lamping said that's the hope.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

I am going to try "passive cooling" at my outside job tomorrow and will let you know how it goes.

Awesome. Now we have something to look forward to.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, Stadium rendition is beautiful and the contract issues will be worked out. Curious, though, on your 11-game win prediction for the Jags this year. The Jags are entering their window of opportunity, but the Jags will be playing a first-place schedule and the teams in the AFL South are not standing still. Where do you see the 11 wins?

I'm not much for week-by-week breakdowns months before a season begins. I do expect the Jaguars to win 11 or so games this season. How do I get there? They went 9-8 last season and they weren't consistent for the first half of the season. I expect the offense to be much better in 2023 than it was in 2022. I expect quarterback Trevor Lawrence to be much better. I don't believe the Jaguars will struggle as much early in the season and I don't believe they'll hit a stretch in which they lose five consecutive games. Mainly, I think they will be better. That gets you to around 11 or so victories-ish.

Mike from Azores

Hey John, with the changes to kickoffs in the name of player safety, do you see changes to the punt game coming next? Either way, do these changes limit the need/value of special teams players going forward?

The NFL recently implemented a rule for 2023 that any fair catch on kickoffs inside the 25-yard line will result in the receiving team starting the ensuing series at its 25. The goal is to reduce kickoff returns, which are considered the NFL's most-dangerous play. I expect the rule change will have the desired effect. I expect focus to remain on kickoffs for a while, perhaps until the league just eliminates the play. I don't expect the league to focus quite so heavily on punts anytime soon because the play's not considered as dangerous as kickoffs. But yes … these changes by their nature do reduce the importance of special teams players. That's not a good thing, but considering the focus on player safety I don't see it coming back the other way.

Stuart from Cottonwood, AZ

How can anyone make a list of the league's top ten linebackers without the guy who led the league in tackles the last two years?

We live an era of lists because anyone can make a list. That doesn't mean those lists are well-thought out and it doesn't mean they have any importance whatsoever.

Eric from St. Augustine

Those who think that a certain senior writer should be used on the quarterback push need to see the 60s movie, "Paper Lion." It showed exactly how a writer fares in an actual "exhibition" game (that's what pre-season games were called at that time). Fun movie. Alex Karras was still a player and a funny guy. But John, don't do it.

I am the king of all funk.

ShanghaiStevie from Jacksonville

Is it me, or is Trevor looking jacked? Looks like he added a few pounds in the right places. Does he need to get special jerseys that fit his neck? Also: Josh Allen. Still just a guy. Love him, but based on what I'm seeing (or not seeing), I'd bet he's not in the long-term plans.

Lawrence looks to be in good shape, though I don't know exactly how to define if he is or isn't "jacked." As for Allen, he's more than just "a guy" – and he's a better player than his sacks totals indicate. Time will tell how he fits into the Jaguars' future. It's a tough spot for the team. His projected value on the open market may not match what the team will be willing to pay. But he's one of the team's best defensive players. And he might be the best. Stay tuned.

James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville

Draft and develop, draft and develop. And then let some other team have them cause we can't afford them. If half of our 13 draft picks are good, we can't keep them all either. Also: Half of your good free agents will be gone? Yeah, we better win this year. Next year looks pretty bleak.

I don't expect Lawrence to sign elsewhere next offseason. Or the season after that. As long as that's true, the future should look fine.