JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
John from Jacksonville:
Cheery-O! The Jags were a Super Bowl team last season. Yes, a couple of plays cost us winning the actual AFC Championship Game – but play it again, and we win and get in. A huge dose of luck that got us in the final four of the NFL was the lack of key injuries to our starters (especially the defense). I don't think we can expect this good fortune two seasons in a row. It will be interesting to see how our new roster and our depth of the roster will fare this coming season through the adversity of injuries. Of course, wishing all the players "iron-man" health. By the way, hoping you don't get injured this season as well.
John: The Jaguars' health indeed was notable last season; I'm not sure I've covered a season when one unit of a team was as injury-free as the Jaguars' defense was last season – and I've certainly never covered a unit that was as good/healthy as the 2017 Jaguars defense. The offense also avoided "catastrophic," season-ending injuries with the obvious exception of wide receiver Allen Robinson being lost for the season on the first series of Week 1. The football gods smiled on the Jaguars after that. The gods aren't always so kind, but teams make the playoffs and win Super Bowls all the time with injured players – even key injured players. The Philadelphia Eagles won one this past season without their starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, who also was an NFL Most Valuable Player candidate. Good teams overcome a few injuries at a few spots. We'll probably get a chance to see just how good – and resilient – the Jaguars are on that front next season. And by the way, I will get injured. Because that's how it is.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Shadrick moved the soft-serve machine to his office, didn't he?
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
O-man, sometimes I think you talk about base and nickel situations because anytime someone says "base and nickel situations" you can follow it up with basically anything and nobody will know what the base and nickel situation you are talking about!?
John: I'm not above using terminology to fool people. I'm not even above using words I don't understand in an effort to get done faster; the latter is actually one of the areas in which I often draw praise in performance appraisals. But in this case, I actually just refer to base and nickel situations because they're the easiest way to explain how certain players will be used. It's important to clarify, for example, that linebacker Myles Jack played in base and nickel in 2017 and only in base as a rookie because he technically started both seasons. He played a far more extensive role in 2017 because he played in both base and nickel situations. To call him a starter both seasons would be accurate but would miss the distinction. I suppose I could write out that explanation every time I use the terms, but that would lean strongly against my tendency to get done faster, so nah.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
You ever fell there are so many topics talked ad nauseam that even the ad nauseum is ad nauseam?
John: No, but I do know I get tired of being so tired of my own act.
Andy from Roswell, GA:
Wait, I'm confused. Did Tom Brady hold the Patriots back from winning the Super Bowl? I guess Nick Foles is the only quarterback who didn't hold his team back. I just don't get the hate on Bortles. Yes, he can improve. But we don't make the playoffs or advance without him. Now I'm unhappy. Thanks.
John: You're not confused. Winning the Super Bowl is the only way to be a good quarterback. Ask anyone. And embrace the unhappiness. It's the only way to the light.
Josh from Harrisburg, PA:
John, the real reason the Jags went to the AFC Championship Game had nothing to do with the facts or how good the defense was or Blake Bortles' play or the Steelers looking past the Jags ... I can go on, but I think you and the readers get the point. It all came down to
John: Wait for it …
Josh from Harrisburg, PA:
John: … there it is.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
You said Jimmy Smith "hadn't been with a team before the Jaguars signed him." Perhaps I'm hung up on semantics, but Jimmy Smith had been with Dallas and – for a short time – Philadelphia.
John: Your question refers to an ongoing discussion in the O-Zone about why I don't include former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith among the team's best free-agent signings of all time. You indeed are hung up a bit on semantics, but I also wasn't clear when discussing this previously. Smith indeed was with the Dallas Cowboys to start his career and with the Philadelphia Eagles briefly. But the Eagles released Smith in August of 1994, and he was out of football until signing with the Jaguars on February 28, 1995. It's the out-of-football-for-an-entire-season part that distinguishes Smith from a "normal" unrestricted free agent, the latter of which are signed with teams and become UFAs at the start of the ensuing league year. Smith was a so-called "street free agent." It doesn't diminish Smith's accomplishments and it in fact makes them all the more remarkable. But there is a difference.
Sebastian from Austin:
JohnO, where did all these formulas come from that everyone uses to determine specifically how many games a quarterback won for a team instead of the defense, or how many yards/touchdowns actually count because the rest of the game was all garbage time, or how does only the defense get credit for winning games when they truly only get the "W" on the stat sheet due to points scored by the offense and vice-versa, or when does the knowledge of a nucleus of several lives spent living, working and studying football up to the grandest stage in the world not automatically convince a casual or hardcore fan that their thoughts on any matter are pretty much insignificant and best left ready to be overwritten? I must've never heard the origin tales of these rules and formulas now used and accepted throughout sports media and the fans. As a fan myself, I'm kinda tired of the of the fan arrogance, but then again, I'm only fanning here.
John: Fans fan how they choose to fan based on their own interpretation of what it is to fan. That's at the core of fanning. But you knew that already. Everyone does.
Tim from St. Johns, FL:
John, you are in a position to sit at the holy table, eat from the plated treasures, touch the hems of the holy grail(s), mingle with the knowing and absorb the wisdom bestowed on the lucky by Big T. With this ascending degree of knowledge and your analytical mind combined and with your outstanding transferring ability to transfer your perceptions to the minions ... Do you think the Calais Campbell/Jaguar marriage was one made in heaven????? (His comments make me think so)
John: The Jaguars' policy is to keep me as far away from All Things Holy – and it's honestly a pretty good policy. I will say what I have said for some time, though – that the signing of Campbell last offseason will be remembered as a flashpoint moment for the franchise. It's not fair to the rest of the roster or the coaching staff to say that he was the sole reason for the franchise's turnaround, but it's equally hard to imagine the team being as successful as it was last season without him.
Justin from Virginia Beach, VA:
The same people who didn't want Leonard Fournette love him now! The same will happen when we pick at 29. Whoever it is … cough, cough … (Lamar Jackson).
John: I'm not sure it's that easy, but I am pretty sure you're setting yourself up to be disappointed on April 26. (Cough, cough …)
Hank from Toms River, NJ:
O-Zone: Just a thought but referring to the answer that "Jaguars run enough that it would make sense to have a second 'starting-level' running back," would the possibility of Adrian Peterson to back up Fournette make sense? He may not be the back he used to be but I think he still runs hard and may have some big runs left in him.
John: No. Peterson was perhaps the greatest running back of his generation and he is destined for the Hall of Fame. But you can get find what the Jaguars are looking for in a younger player with far less wear and tear.
Brian from Staten Island, NY:
What's with all the hate about being unhappy? I don't understand why anyone who sees Shadrick's face all day can be sad. He lights up the room on the darkest night. #STWD (Shadrick til we die)
John: This feels like progress.
O-Zone: Guiding light
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
John from Jacksonville: