O-Zone: From a distance

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Peyton from Sparta

Because I am a big SEC fan, I don't know much about Jeffrey Okudah. I loved watching CJ Henderson play and I am glad we drafted him, but more than enough people say Okudah is better. What makes him better than Henderson that I'm not seeing?

Okudah, who played at Ohio State, and Henderson – who played at Florida – were generally considered the two best cornerbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Okudah was considered the best "overall" cornerback while many observers considered Henderson the best pure cover corner. That means analysts considered Okudah better against the run, which was considered Henderson's primary pre-draft weakness. But let's not act as if there's a huge difference between the two. Both were Top 10 selections. When you're a cornerback selected in the Top 10, you're expected to be elite.

Mac from Jacksonville Beach, FL

What similarities do you see with Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II and former Oakland Raiders quarterback Kenny Stabler? I see a lot. Highly accurate, smaller, down-to-earth fellas. Both had cities that loved them. If Kenny Stabler was "The Snake," perhaps we should call Minshew "The Mongoose." (Credit to me when ESPN runs that same story).

There are certainly similarities between Minshew and the late Stabler in terms of persona. In that sense, both are lovable and easy for fans to support. Both have an every-man, rebel feel. Stabler also had poise, coolness and an undeniable "clutch gene" – traits that Minshew very definitely seems to possess. And neither can be called a prototype NFL quarterback. There were doubts about Stabler early in his career, just as there are doubts about Minshew. If Minshew develops into a successful NFL quarterback, I would guess the comparisons with Stabler will continue. We'll see.

T-Bone

What up Bro-zone?

Yo.

Mike from Frozen Hell, WI

Mike from Atlanta is right that Prime was an outstanding cover corner; probably the best of the modern era. He also speaks of the receivers Deion "had to cover." In fairness however, how many of those receivers could have survived much less thrived in the era prior to "the Blount Rule?" I don't think modern receivers could have lasted long in that era. I could be wrong, though. What do you think?

I get asked the reverse version of this question often, with readers wondering if players from past eras could have "survived or thrived" in the modern era that features bigger, stronger and faster players. The answer to that question is yes, because players from past eras would have had access to the same advanced training, diets and physical approaches as modern players. They would have adapted to their circumstances. The reverse is true, too. While rules were different in past eras allowing for more bump-and-run and physical coverage by cornerbacks on receivers, the better receivers of this era would have found a way to thrive against the physical corners who played in those eras. Would their numbers have been the same "back in the day?" No, because rules dictated that the game was played differently with less emphasis on the passing game. But just as receivers of that era made plays that impacted the game, receivers from this era would have done the same had they played in that era. And Jerry Rice would have been the greatest regardless of eras. Greatness is greatness. It transcends eras.

Mark from Prescott, AZ

Hi, John. Reading your column today and throughout the dead zone I have come to the stark realization that I'm ready for some football. No matter what form it takes, what it looks like, where it's played, how many people are there or any other unforeseen weirdness about it I'm just ready for some football and see the Jaguars surprise a few people. :)

OK.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

I am hoping you can help me understand the rookie contract rules and how they might apply to Minshew. If Minshew has a stellar season and establishes himself as the clear franchise quarterback, what options are there to lock him in long-term? Don't the rookie contract rules prevent extensions until after the player's third season? Is it possible we could see Minshew start both the 2020 and the 2021 season as the lowest-paid starting quarterback in the NFL?

It doesn't sound as if you need much help understanding the NFL's rookie contract rules. Players and teams may not negotiate second contracts for drafted rookies until after the player's third season, which means the Jaguars couldn't renegotiate with Minshew until following the 2021 season. And that indeed means Minshew could start the next two seasons on his sixth-round salary from the contract he signed following last offseason's draft. The only players who can re-sign earlier are those who enter the NFL as undrafted collegiate free agents; they can re-sign after their second seasons.

Allen from St. Clairsville, OH

As I recall, a young Jaguar quarterback named Mark Brunell did a lot of successful scrambling for a couple of seasons before he became more of a pocket passer. Do you see Minshew following in those footsteps of development? I hope so!

It's such a different game now than in the mid-1990s that it's difficult to compare, but yes … Brunell did survive for a couple of seasons early in his tenure as the Jaguars' starting quarterback by scrambling. And he learned to read defenses and see the field as he went along, eventually becoming a solid starting quarterback on that front. The hope would be that Minshew's ceiling is higher than Brunell's. If it's not, Minshew mimicking the success Brunell had in Jacksonville during his four-to-five-year peak is certainly something the Jaguars would take.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

I am all for having fans in the stands. As a 28-year old avid football fan, I have zero issue with even signing a waiver to be there. My question is, what will this do to ticket prices/secondary markets? Do you think, if allowed, fans going will be paying exorbitant prices to get in? Obviously, it is a supply and demand economic hypothetical, just wondering what you personally think. My opinion that matters not a whit, is that I can see myself looking at $500+ to sit next to the old beautiful tarps we all miss so much.

I'll admit I don't have a great feel for secondary markets, but it's reasonable to think supply and demand applies. Supply obviously will be as limited as any time in NFL history. If a team is playing really well and is in a big game, there figures to be higher demand for a ticket that's in shorter supply. If a team isn't playing well, there figures to be limited demand no matter the supply. I anticipate the Jaguars having very few seats compared to a normal year, and I expect that to be the case around the NFL. There will be cases when demand is high – perhaps historically so. But as with so much of this season, so much depends on COVID-19 "outbreaks" in individual markets and how people as a whole react to it. I can't predict that. I'm not sure anyone can.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, are you working from home in your pajamas, and more importantly do you intend to continue to wear them if/when you return to covering games?

Yes. And absolutely yes.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

In the NFL, the difference between the eighth and 26thbest team is often narrow. IF the Jags are relatively injury- and virus-free and they protect the ball, they can win six games. Combine that with few penalties, and a quarterback that can lead the team to clutch fourth-quarter touchdowns, then they can win 10. I like this team more than last year's. I think they have very good chance to beat 4.5 wins, which is where most sports books have their O/U on wins. I will win a lot of money this year if all games are played. Right?

I have no idea what you mean by sports books or O/Us, and I don't think the Jaguars will reach 10 victories in 2020. I have said and written often this offseason that I believe the Jaguars can get to six-to-eight victories, so that means I think they will win at least five games. That is more than 4.5. I have no idea what you mean by sports books or O/Us.

Jim from Jagsonville

Of course I have a black cape! But if you think purple would be better ...

This refers to my tips posted this week about approaching public figures. I mentioned that wearing a cape – either black or purple – is recommended. I misspoke. A cape of any color will do.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

Given your expertise on approaching public figures, I wanted to ask: How would someone hypothetically approach the King of All the Funk? Asking for a friend.

Don't. Just don't.

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