JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Tom from Suburbanite in St. Johns, FL
John, please find the biggest, hardest blunt instrument you keep secreted in your workspace and promptly knock some sense into my head. I have fallen victim to "overachieving optimism." Silently slipping into my mind is the possibility we are on the precipice of a major turnaround. The mix of quality veterans, the aging of a potential megastar quarterbacks and the fact that a true professional leadership group is now in charge forces me to actually think a winning record in 2022 is not a cotton-candy dream. Should I see a shrink next week?????
There's no reason for psychiatric assistance – and there's also no reason for a blunt instrument, tempting though that may be for this writer. There's plenty of reason for optimism around the Jaguars. And it's OK to believe they are on the precipice of a major turnaround. The defensive front appears improved from last season, and there are plenty of young players – quarterback Trevor Lawrence, outside linebacker Travon Walker, linebacker Devin Lloyd – with potential to be core players. Head Coach Doug Pederson and this coaching staff are experienced, professional coaches who should lead this team well. They should have the ability to navigate adversity better than was the case last season. There seems to be some added depth and talent from last season that should make this defense stouter, which should make the whole defense much better. The elements are there to build and move forward positively. I expect improvement and a good feeling about the future by season's end.
Matty from St. Augustine, FL
To "Chris from Mandarin: If Vito Stellino could keep politics out of football, I might agree with you." Other than that, I welcome the dead zone for a break from trying to figure out the pros and cons getting ready to happen with this roster.
Vito Stellino, former Jaguars writer for the Florida Times-Union and a Pro Football Hall of Fame writer, is retired and unaffiliated with any publication or website. He has covered the NFL for decades and has earned the right to express any political opinion he so desires. If you don't like someone's political Tweets, don't follow – or ignore those tweets. And I agree with you on the dead zone. It's a relatively short time – a few weeks – where we talk about off-field stuff as much as on-field Jaguars issues because there aren't many new issues, topics or questions related to the Jaguars. The same philosophy hods true as with Stellino's tweets: If you don't like it, don't follow – or ignore the questions. Or come back in late July. It's less dead around here then.
Betty from Payroll
I heard you didn't write an O-Zone recently. Just letting you know there was no PTO request. Do you want to use one of your personal days?
Betty from payroll knows where to find me.
Bill from Springfield, VA
Zone, seeing as there is little to nothing left to speculate about football this offseason, are you a Tedeschi Trucks Band fan?
I do like Tedeschi Trucks Band. I am embarrassed to admit I have not dug as much into their catalogue as much as my friend and colleague J.P. Shadrick, who is a huge fan. It's a musical blind spot of mine that I plan to remedy.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK
Oh Mighty "O"/King of All Funk, you said "hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing." We had hope when Shad Khan bought the team. We had hope when Head Coach Gus Bradley said the team was "built." We had hope when Tom Coughlin returned as executive vice president of football operations. We had hope in the 2017 Championship Game. We had hope when quarterback Nick Foles became the "missing piece" that was needed. We had hope that quarterback Gardner Minshew II was the diamond in the rough that could lead our franchise to glory. We had hope that former Head Coach Urban Myer would "own it." As Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding said, "Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."
You're correct that the Jaguars have had various reasons for hope for the last decade. That hope mostly has been dashed. What's different now? Maybe nothing. The NFL is real life, not scripted television. But there are real reasons to think it will be different, a potential franchise quarterback chief among them. That guarantees nothing. But the thought here is that it makes hope a bit less dangerous than perhaps it was in past offseasons.
Matt from Jacksonville
Is there a better pure songwriter than Jason Isbell?
There are so many great songwriters that I can't in good conscience say Isbell is the greatest. I wouldn't put him on the level of the late John Prine and others. That's not a knock on Isbell, who I feel certain wouldn't put himself on Prine's level. But Isbell is up there.
Dwayne from Jacksonville
By any chance, is your Mom's email account "Gary from St Augustine?"
I asked her about this. She said no. I'm suspicious. She has lied to me before.
Marc from Oceanway
A question about your streak got me wondering. Have you actually typed out the O-Zone every single day, or have you ever typed out two O-Zones on one day and simply posted the second the next day? Like maybe the wife insisted you NOT bring any work on a certain vacation or outing, etc. As my wife frequently reminds me, "Happy wife, happy life."
I will sometimes work ahead on the O-Zone in the sense of having a few questions written one day that don't make that edition and therefore are posted in a future edition. I rarely, if ever, have an O-Zone completely prewritten in advance.
Joe from Jacksonville
I've been seeing loads of comparisons on Twitter (Trevor Lawrence is Blaine Gabbert). Talk me off the cliff.
Here's the easiest way off the cliff: Don't pay attention to comparisons you read on Twitter. In fact, don't pay that much attention to all that much you read on Twitter. This isn't an absolute path to sanity. But it won't hurt.
Scott from Jacksonville
I rarely laugh by myself regardless of how funny I think something is. I laughed at this, "When the streak ends – and it indeed will end, perhaps soon or perhaps not – it will not end subtly. It will end clumsily and with the meaningless fanfare it deserves." Thanks :)
If you throw enough darts, eventually one will stick in the target.
Jose from Miami, TX
Mr. Oehser. Do coaches pretty much have their playbooks established by now and are the players allowed to study them during this break?
Fred from East Arlington
I recently read an internet list of "25 Rookies Most Likely to Make an Impact in 2022." There was a very notable exclusion. How much of a motivator is this for our No. 1 on pick? No. 32 did use his slight to propel him to great heights, and I am hoping we can see that situation repeat itself. I would love nothing more than to see the "beast unleashed" starting in September so these national boneheads can be silenced.
I think you're saying that outside linebacker Travon Walker, the No. 1 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2022 NFL Draft, was left off an internet list about 25 rookies who could make an impact in 2022. Perhaps the writer/writers responsible this list are knowledgeable, respected types. Perhaps not. Likely not. Either way, it doesn't matter all that much. Is Walker aware of this specific list? Likely not. Will he be motivated by doubters? I would assume so, though I doubt he will say as much publicly.
Greg from St Johns, FL
No problem. Drive by the house around five and honk. I'll crack the garage door enough to roll a can of America's best-selling lager down the driveway. And please stay off the grass.
Sean from Jacksonville
You do know you woke me from hibernation by answering my question about hibernation. Will you ever learn? Off topic, but have you binged watched any shows lately?
I finished Breaking Bad and caught up on Better Call Saul recently. They were much better than I expected. I'm working my way through Barry now. Outstanding.
Robert from Fernandina Bch, FL
My favorite REM song was Talk About the Passion from Murmur. I listened to it today and thought of you, specifically regarding the lyric, "Not everyone can handle the weight of the world." It made me think of how difficult it must be for you, knowing each of your readers knows more about football than not only you but all NFL GMs and position coaches as well. A man spends his entire adult life studying and writing about just one subject ... only to find … oh well, empty mouths, combien de temps, John? Combien de temps?
Everybody hurts. Sometimes.