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O-Zone: Friends forever

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Elberton, GA

Lots of things different about this season, but quite a few of them I like and hope they stick around for the long-term. What do you think has a bigger chance of carrying over into future seasons: No preseason games, larger practice squads with veteran players, or relaxed injured reserve rules? Or maybe something else new this season has real staying power in your "O"zure eyes.

I expect the NFL of the future to be influenced by the "COVID-19 rules," though I don't believe many of this year's rules will be implemented precisely as they read this season. I believe the league will reduce preseason games moving forward rather than eliminate them; they have enough value to keep one or two. I also expect the league will retain larger practice squads with veteran players – though not as large (16) nor with as many veterans (six) as this season. I am curious to see what the league does with its rules regarding injured reserve. I like the idea of teams being able to bring injured players back after three weeks, but there is potential for abuse of this rule with coaches "stashing" players who aren't all that injured with the idea of having them on the roster later in the season. I expect the league to examine closely the idea of expanding the IR rules permanently and perhaps allow a team to bring back a limited number of players. It's unlimited this season. I doubt that will be the case moving forward.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey, John. What do you think will Week 2 look like? Do you think they will improve and grow with the experience made in Week 1 or will there be a setback because of raised expectations?

I expect the Jaguars to play with confidence against the Tennessee Titans Sunday – at least in part because of the success they had in their Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. I'm not picking the Jaguars to win, but that's not because of "raised expectations" as much as the game being on the road and the Titans being good.

Brandon from Louisville, KY

With safety Jarrod Wilson out, should we look at Earl Thomas?


Bill from Jupiter, FL

Hi, John. Should the Jags be concerned by the lack of a pass rush? What appeared to be a strength going into the season could be the undoing. I see now why the Jags did everything to keep defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. And unrelated to that topic, Marcell Dareus is still out there for depth. I think depth could be an issue there.

Yes, the Jaguars should focus on the pass rush this week – and the rest of the season. Colts quarterback Philip Rivers is very difficult sack because he's good at getting rid of the ball at the right times when under pressure. And Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen had a few rushes that certainly hurried Rivers. Still, Rivers too often had too much time. I would expect this to be an issue at times this season for the Jaguars, particularly until rookie defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson develops consistent pass rush moves and adapts to the speed of the NFL. Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash called some blitzes in big situations in Week 1; I would expect that to happen perhaps more than has been the case in recent seasons. As for the Jaguars signing former defensive tackle Marcell Dareus for depth … yeah, I would expect at some point depth to be needed on the defensive interior. NFL seasons usually play out that way. But I don't expect the Jaguars to re-sign Dareus. The past is the past sometimes. I expect it will stay that way in this case.

Johnny from the Westside, Baby

Hey, Zone: just saw your beard. I am unable to find the words. They should've sent a poet.


Chris from Mandarin, FL

You know, I think it's really sad that so called Mr. NFL claims to have disdain for the Jaguars, yet apparently reads the O-Zone every day. I wish he had something better to do. I just feel bad for him.

Reading the O-Zone gives Mr. NFL's otherwise bleak, frustrating existence a purpose. Many people never find such a thing. Don't feel sad for him. Envy him. He's among the lucky.

Bill from Orange Park, FL

We haven't won in Nashville since before WWII. It's true, I looked it up.

Where did you look? Did it say anything about my hair? Or my beard.

unhipcat from Carlsbad, ca

Hi, John. In the ?What? This Is Way Too Early to Determine" category, can you tell me after Sunday's game if DaVon Hamilton will be a long-term Pro-Bowler? Thanks

That is way too early, and I don't know that I can put him in the category of a long-term Pro Bowler. Not that Hamilton, a third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, didn't play well Sunday. And not that he doesn't have a chance to be really good for a long time. But he's a pure one-technique space-eating nose tackle. Those players don't usually make the splash plays or have the sacks necessary to make Pro Bowls. That's OK. The Jaguars don't necessarily need him to make Pro Bowls. They need him to be stout against the run. He looks more than capable of that.

Todd from Frederick, MD

Hi, John. The discussion of Minshew's height had me wondering how quarterbacks like Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints have overcome their vertical limitations. What are your thoughts on what shorter quarterbacks can do besides be mobile?

The easy, non-specific answer is "be outliers." While there are cases of shorter quarterbacks succeeding in the NFL, they're historically the exception. There's a reason football people favor tall quarterbacks; they can see the field easier and can often make throws to the middle more consistently. How to be an outlier? Be very good when outside the pocket. Be very good at maneuvering inside the pocket to be in position to see the middle of the field; that can mean shifting to one side or the other quickly just before the throw – which means having exceptional pocket presence, vision and footwork. Know the offense and opposing defense so well that you can anticipate where and when a receiver will be open; Brees is exceptionally good at this and can often make throws to receivers he can barely see because he knows the receiver will be in a certain spot against a certain defense. Minshew clearly isn't Brees or Wilson yet, but that's understandable. Those players are seasoned players with hundreds of games of experience. Minshew's not that yet. Can he get there some day? Maybe.

Chris from San Diego, CA

In light of New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick's recent comments about his reverence for Wilson's play, I just want to provide my annual reminder that we had a general manager that deemed a punter was more valuable talent them Wilson.

Well, let's hope you sleep better now.

Mark from Archer, FL

John, how great is it to have kicker Josh Lambo kicking for us? I read an article about how there were more missed field goals opening week than any week since 2011. With so many kickers missing their kicks, it is awesome to have Lambo who is automatic it seems whenever he kicks.

Isn't it?

John from Jacksonville

The Jags won Sunday by minimizing mistakes and taking advantage of the opponent's mistakes. The Titans won Sunday even though they made mistakes and left points on the field. It is unlikely that both teams will have similar performances this weekend. This means the Titans are likely to win due to less mistakes and the Jags making a few. Just hoping the Jags keep the game close and competitive.

Sunday's game may be one of the Jaguars' most difficult tasks of the season. While Jaguars fans understandably hate the Titans for longstanding reasons, the reality is they're currently a very good team that knows how it wants to play – and understands how to win playing its style. They also have an experienced roster that's strong at most positions. The Jaguars have the look of a team that has a chance to grow into a very good young roster. The Jaguars need to get a lead Sunday and – as you note – they must minimize mistakes and take advantage of opportunities. If they win the turnover battle and if they are efficient with their scoring opportunities – both of which happened against Indianapolis – then the Jaguars have a real chance on Sunday. If they don't, then it will be difficult to win. We'll see Sunday.

David from Helena, MT

We can be friends if you want. As long as we don't really ever hang out or talk. I prefer more of an implied friendship.

I know of no better kind.