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O-Zone: Generational genius

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Tom from Loughborough, England

You said it, John: Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Calais Campbell are elite, plain and simple. But the rest of the NFL seems to think they aren't elite enough for a Top 10 spot? Ridiculous. Shows that the Top 100 isn't a fair representation of who the best players actually are. I would have put Ramsey around seventh or eighth and Campbell fifth or sixth. What do you think?

Perhaps, but I can’t get too worked up about players being selected among the NFL’s Top 20 players being “disrespected.” Campbell was revealed as the No. 14 player in the NFL Network’s NFL Top 100 for 2018 and Ramsey was No. 17. While an argument could be made for both players to be in the Top 10, their status means they are considered better than all but 13 and 16 players in the NFL, respectively. There are 32 NFL teams, which means both Campbell and Ramsey are considered better than any player on at least half of the league’s teams. That’s elite company. Could they be among slightly better company? Sure, but I imagine most of the top 30 or so players have a similarly compelling argument.

The Other Michael from Middleburg, FL

You've never seen "The Empire Strikes Back" from start to finish? Why you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerfherder!

Back off, Michael

Rusty from New Iberia, LA

I don't understand how the Jags can afford to pay all these players this year, but will be unable to next year. Were the contracts of some of these free-agent signings backloaded, meaning the bulk of the money comes at the end of the contract? Or is re-signing players on first year contracts factored into this equation?

The contracts of pretty much all the Jaguars’ recent free-agent signings indeed were “backloaded,” meaning the base salaries for later seasons were higher than for the seasons early in the contracts. This is a common way to structure NFL free-agent contracts and was done by the Jaguars by design, with the idea that a five-year contract for a high-profile free-agent signee was actually more likely a two- or three-year contract. The Jaguars never envisioned being able to keep all the recent players they have signed as free agents – a group that includes end Calais Campbell, tackle Malik Jackson, cornerback A.J. Bouye, safeties Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church, for example -- for the duration of their contracts. The idea all along was to have some of those players be two- or three-year solutions to be replaced by drafted players. The first part of the plan has worked well; the aforementioned free agents are a big reason the team has become a contender. For the team to maintain that status, the second part of the plan – the draft-and-develop part – must also work. It’s too early to know how the second part is going. Keep an eye on rookies such as end/tackle Taven Bryan, safety Ronnie Harrison and tackle Will Richardson this season to get a better idea.

Doug from Jacksonville

Is Christmas Vacation considered a sequel?

It is by me. Top 5 of all-time, easy.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I’ve read that a Bentley dealership is coming soon to Jacksonville. As the #KOAF, what color Bentley will you be getting?

I must google to see if they have the color “Once was Cinnamon Glaze but now isn’t as Cinnamon Glaze because 10 years in the sun makes this less Cinnamon Glaze.” After all, I need the Bentley to match the Escape.

Michael from Orlando, FL

A good sci-fi movie sequel, with a suitable line for the offseason: Ricardo Montalban: "You are in a position to demand nothing, sir. I, on the other hand, am in a position to grant...nothing."

OK.

Josh from Pensacola, FL

Why do people have such a problem with the ads? I see it as a sign this franchise all the way down to its website and your column are on the upswing. Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t these companies pay to put their ads on your column? Isn’t that a good thing?

Ads don’t mean this column is on the upswing at least in part because I am not driven by the almighty dollar. I am driven simply by producing a quality product day after day, month after month, year after year. … let’s bowl, let’s bowl, let’s rock and roll … #AdrianZmedtillwedie

Doug from Jacksonville

Why do you think Greene will make the team? Honestly, all I can remember about him is that he didn't know when to field a punt, didn't know when not to field a punt, fumbled it if he tried to field it and was replaced as our punt returner. Is he simply the sixth best we've got?

Your memory indeed is part of Rashad Greene Sr.’s early Jaguars career. What perhaps escapes your memory is he was impressive as a punt returner as a rookie. Here’s why I think he has a chance to make the team. The Jaguars always have liked his potential as a wide receiver, and there was a time they believed he had a chance to be on a similar level to Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee. Injuries contributed to him not being on the field much his first three seasons (17 total games). The Jaguars have had plenty of opportunities to part ways with Greene – and they have parted ways with a lot of draft selections in recent seasons. Yet, they chose to retain Greene. He showed why during 2018 organized team activities and minicamp. That doesn’t ensure he will be on the team. It does mean he has a chance.

David from Orlando, FL

Johnny-O: A few weeks ago, I submitted a question lamenting that Rashad Greene Sr. seemed to be the forgotten man. It seems now that his fortunes have changed, and he is back on the inside track for a roster spot. Now, I’m gonna fan … what about my man, Jaydon Mickens? He, like Greene, had a few bad plays, but he also proved he could be an explosive play-maker. I’m guessing, if he loses the punt/kick returner job, he’s the odd man out. One fer Jaydon…sleeping in a soft bed!

Mickens may end up being one of the more intriguing stories of Jaguars 2018 Training Camp. He was a key player for an important stretch last season, and he proved very productive as a punt returner. He also happens to be one of six or seven really good players at one of the Jaguars’ deepest positions. If he doesn’t make the roster, it will be less of a commentary on Mickens and more of a statement about the strength of one of the Jaguars’ more underrated positions.

Jon from Apple Valley, CA

I think the Jaguars need to keep Jaydon Mickens. If for nothing else, for his punt return abilities. What are the chances they keep seven receivers?

Slim to none. I have written often in the last few weeks that I believe the Jaguars will keep six wide receivers next season, and my early thought is that those six receivers will be Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, D.J. Chark and Greene. I am comparatively certain of the first five and have included Greene because he looked very impressive during organized team activities and minicamp. But that in no way is meant to imply that Greene is a lock to make this team. I anticipate barring injury that the sixth and final receiver spot could come down to Greene and Mickens; if no one from the group of Chark, Westbrook or Greene has emerged to win the punt-returner job, then Mickens’ production in the role last season could give him an edge needed to make the roster.

Scott from New York City

Can we get a link to those Frenette videos?

You’re referencing an Tuesday O-Zone answer in which I said that my Summer ’18 Dead Zone plans included binge-watching videos of longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Gene Frenette talking football. Your interest in the videos is understandable. As was the case with Dylan’s Basement Tapes, they are a fascinating and eclectic glimpse into the creative process of a generational genius at the peak of his abilities – a prodigy at once riffing and making magic on the fly. To watch the tapes is a potpourri of experiences. Mostly, it is to be at once entertained, fulfilled and awestruck at the knowledge that while many have aspired to this level of work, a previous few – if any – actually have approached this prowess. But alas, as was initially the case with the Basement Tapes, Frenette’s “Talking Football” videos remain in bootleg only, available only to a fortunate few. I am one of the few, and for that I am to be envied. I ask that you not hate me for this. Sometimes you get a break in life. This is mine.

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