JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Fred from Highland Park, NJ
In your top five franchise players answer, you list the No. 6 spot being any number of people, but I think it's an easy choice with Mark Brunell. I'm always surprised at the lack of coverage and respect among the fanbase for what he was for the franchise. He quarterbacked us through some of the best years of the franchise and was at the helm with the top three players you list whose successes are tied to his quarterback play as well. I would honestly put him ahead of Calais Campbell and MJD here. Just my opinion of course, but No. 8 does not get much recognition and I can't figure out why.
I listed my top five all-time Jaguars players in a Wednesday O-Zone answer as left tackle Tony Boselli, running back Fred Taylor, wide receiver Jimmy Smith and running back Maurice Jones-Drew with No. 5 – a difficult No. 5 – being defensive lineman Calais Campbell. Brunell, the franchise's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, could have been No. 5. I wouldn't argue much against wide receiver Keenan McCardell, defensive end Tony Brackens or defensive tackle Marcus Stroud for that spot, either. Not putting Brunell on the Top 5 list isn't a lack of respect or recognition as much as an acknowledgement that there have been quite a few good players who would deserve consideration.
Nardis from Savannah, GA
Given the amount of time Cam Robinson has been with Jacksonville, why has the team not attempted to put him at guard? The name of the game is to put your best five offensive linemen on the field, and this would allow Walker Little to play tackle with Robinson and Brandon Scherff at guard. How does this not make the offensive line and team not better? What are the coaches' reservations?
The Jaguars like Robinson at left tackle and feel that's where he's best; he was re-signed early this offseason to play there. They believe the current approach of having Little and Jawaan Taylor compete at right tackle with Tyler Shatley and Luke Fortner competing at center and Scherff at right guard is the best way to make the team better. It's very possible Shatley or Fortner – or possibly Little or Taylor – could move to the other guard spot. Or Ben Bartch could remain the starter there. It would be very surprising if Robinson moved to guard.
Jodee from Tybee Island, GA
John Grisham wrote several great sports-related books. My favorite is Calico Joe. Other great reads are Playing for Pizza and Coolie. What say you?
I'm sure those books are fine, but I'm not a big Grisham guy. And I'm sure he's fine with that. He has sold enough books that he doesn't need me to buy Playing for Pizza.
Cole from Sandlots of Mandarin
Did you ever play football or any other sport at any level? If so, were you any good? I hope that God-given height and head of hair wasn't wasted on you.
I did not play football. I played baseball at Arlington Little League and Rondette in the mid-1970s; I was bad for most years and OK for one. I played basketball at Episcopal in high school. I was bad at first and sort of OK for a time, but never good. But that's OK. Although I wasn't particularly good in sports, I made up for it by being awkward and excluded socially. So, high school was cool on that front.
Big on Blake from Philly
Big on Blake can take those hits from the Ozone's loyal readers. In fact, the thing that bothers Big on Blake most (recently) is when writers comment on Nathaniel Hackett's offensive prowess by citing his ability to force Blake into a winning position. Big on Blake remembers not so fondly how stale Nathaniel Hackett's offense became in Jacksonville and also remembers that he directed an offense with Aaron Rodgers to two or three straight NFCCGs and didn't win a single one. If anything, let's not raise him up on Blake's shoulders, but point out his inability to get the job done in multiple conference championship games with any quarterback, even one considered the best in the league by many. That said, I'm still Big on Blake and would be delighted if he returned to Jacksonville in any capacity (camp-body tight end included- though he may be a season too late for that).
Denver Broncos Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett in 2017 coordinated the Jaguars' offense to a No. 6 ranking in yards – No. 5 in points. He was dismissed during the following season after a slew of injures crippled the offense – and the Jaguars' season. I didn't think it was good move at the time. I'm not going to spend a lot of time focusing on the job he supposedly didn't do here – or in Green Bay in recent seasons. He's a good offensive coordinator and I expect he will do a good job as head coach of the Broncos.
Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA
The Jags have a tough schedule this year, but I feel that they are definitely improved and will catch many NFL teams (coaches and league) by surprise with their competitiveness. What say you?
I don't know how much the Jaguars will catch other coaches by surprise. Most coaches respect their opponents and worry about them, though I suspect if the Jaguars are indeed improved it could surprise some players – and any observers – early in the season. But that element/advantage will wear off quickly. Bottom line: I expect the Jaguars to indeed be improved and more competitive. That won't surprise people for long. But winning in the NFL isn't about surprising opponents. It's about matching up and making big plays in key moments. My sense is the Jaguars could start doing that more now.
Hilarious from Funnytown
I think it was you who said something along the lines of Stanley Cup Finals being some of the most exciting sporting events to watch. I didn't get it at the time. I do now.
The Stanley Cup Finals are great. So is every round of the NHL Playoffs. The drama is unreal.
Sean from Oakleaf, FL
All signs are pointing to an improved Jaguars defense this year "on paper." Besides wins and losses is there a particular statistic that you would point to that is the key to this success? The Jaguars had 32 sacks last year, gave up 457 points to their opponents and surrendered almost 6,000 yards of offense and had few takeaways.
Sacks, turnovers forced and points. Those are the statistics that matter and you want to see improvement. Getting off the field in big situations is important, too. That's a third-down efficiency thing and it's also a feel thing. If the defense is better, you'll see it. And feel it.
Charles from Riverside
Hello, John. Many portend that the NFL and television go hand in hand. And I do agree that HD, broadcasters, replay, etc. make for a decent TV sport viewing experience. Of course everything that goes into the stadium game day makes for an exciting in-person experience. Not quite sure how to describe this, but one thing that is definitely better with attending on game day is the way some players just stand out above the rest in their performance, presence, physicality, demeanor, etc. Where I am going with this is TL. He looks way, way more accomplished on the field live as opposed to TV. Just not the same. The guy is super fluid for a tall quarterback, sees the whole field, has a great demeanor, rarely flustered, calm, focused, usually accurate and on and on. Generational players seem "a step ahead" when you see them live – i.e., former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli, wide receiver Jimmy Smith, running back Fred Taylor … all way more impressive in person. Does this make sense?
It absolutely makes sense. Football, like most sports, is better felt in person. Anyone who has seen a college game up close – even the highest-level college game – one day and seen an NFL game up close the next day, for example, can tell you the extreme difference in size, speed and violence between one sport and the other. Just as seeing an NBA game live and up close gives you a true appreciation of the athleticism and size of those players, seeing an NFL game gives the same appreciation. Can you see it in a quarterback? Sure, and Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence indeed carries himself like an NFL veteran. You can see it in his presence, walk and demeanor. You get a feel for this on television. You get a better feel in person.
Michael from Middleburg, FL
Screw Frenette and all the bullcrap made up about him.
I assume you're referencing longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette." You're a bold man, Michael. A bold, bold man.