JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Shane from Atlanta, GA
What better way to start today than to define the word "voluntary?"
Ah, it indeed is that time of the NFL offseason when the media often gets tight over players missing organized team activities – and the time of the offseason when fans often accuse those players of being selfish, arrogant or worse. Jaguars cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye did not attend Day 1 of 2018 Organized Team Activities Tuesday. I would be surprised if Ramsey attends OTAs this offseason and I frankly will be a little surprised the next time I see Ramsey at an OTA. Elite non-quarterbacks often choose not to attend those sessions and Ramsey certainly is an elite non-quarterback. I would be surprised if Bouye doesn't attend some OTAs moving forward this offseason, but I don't particularly care if he doesn't. He is an All-Pro Player and it's debatable how much elite non-quarterbacks really get from non-padded work in May and/or June. As for voluntary, it's defined as "done, given or acting of one's own free will." That applies to the NFL whether or not public perception agrees. I suppose the best way to close this answer is as I usually do when discussing this topic – by deferring to Edgerrin James, a clear-thinking running back who I enjoyed covering for five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and who rarely attended a voluntary OTA. "I only went to college for two and a half years," James famously said while choosing to not participate in a 2001 OTA sessions, "but I think I know the meaning of the word voluntary."
Josiah from Fargo, ND
What … Josiah … for the love of all that's holy … WHAT!!!!
David from Orlando, FL
O-Zone, it seems that many of our draft picks and free-agents have an "analytical" feel to them. For example, defensive tackle Taven Bryan didn't have eye-popping production in college. However, if your calculations are based on size, speed and athletic ability, he jumps off the analytical charts and appears the obvious choice. Free-agents like A.J. Bouye, Malik Jackson, Calais Campbell and Andrew Norwell also were at the head of the class when you analyze the numbers as the folks at Pro Football Focus are known to do. This leads me to my question: how much is Tony Khan – our analytics guru – involved in personnel decisions and do you think he is being overlooked as an essential player in putting together a top-notch roster?
Jaguars Owner Tony Khan is very involved in the team's personnel decisions, and his role in roster acquisitions indeed often is overlooked. He's not really given to seeking attention for his contributions; as such he doesn't always get due recognition. As far as your question about Bryan, being a first-round selection it's hard to put him in the category of a pure "analytics" selection because his athleticism, size and speed are the sorts of attributes scouts love – but analytics play a role in pretty much all Jaguars selections. Here's the bottom line on Tony Khan's contributions to the Jaguars and the contributions of analytics to the Jaguars: the influence is organization-wide. It's a tool that's applied throughout the organization and is part of the organizational approach and philosophy.
Michael from Middleburg, FL
You wanted to know what preparations we would have made to the change. Probably none, but we wouldn't have searched around and try to find what was wrong. Reloading the app, etc.
Eric from Jax
Tell J.P. he did an excellent job with the new website layout. Are any practices open to the public? #DTWD
J.P. Shadrick's keen eye for detail and innate design sense is just one of his many strengths that are often overshadowed by his many other strengths. All OTA and minicamp practices are closed to the public.
Brian from Jacksonville
When answering emails for the O-Zone, what album (yeah, showed my age) would you play? 1) The Clash "Sandinista", 2) The Pixies "Doolittle", 3) X "Ain't Love Grand", 4) R.E.M. "Document"?
Anything by Joy Division. You know, the whole utter-hopelessness vibe.
Bill from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Are people underestimating how hard the 2018 schedule could be? Brutal conference winner schedule plus the AFC South will be harder if Watson and Luck are healthy. 10-6 would be great.
No, people aren't underestimating this – a lot of people aren't, anyway. I actually hear people talk about the difficulty of the Jaguars' 2018 schedule all the time. And maybe it will be hard. Or maybe there will be a lot of injuries or a team or two won't play as well as expected and it won't be as hard. Projecting schedule difficulty in May is very tricky; it honestly often can't be done until five or six weeks into the season.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA
Late to the party, as usual, but I heard a former sneaker designer from Nike talking about how they would design shoes. It shed some light on why the Jaguars' previous uniforms looked how they did. He said that when they introduced a new sneaker, they didn't want people to initially like it; they wanted to change the mold with each new design, to allow the brand to grow with the upcoming generations. It made sense in a way and definitely defined the changes made on the older uniform. This new website, though...
I know. Awesome, right?
Kevin from Duval
Richie Incognito just hit free agency. Interesting plot twist ... if we can slap another Pro Bowl caliber player on the interior offensive line, we end up having the best line in the league. But then the other part of me says "Hey Kev, don't lose your focus. We need to keep cap space for Myles Jack's and Yannick Ngakoue's contracts next year ... stay the course." Would we have the best offensive line in the league if we picked him up? Should we? Will we?
Travis from High Springs, FL
I've always heard running back is the easiest position to transition from college to the NFL and that they can come in and be productive right away. And you have said before you believe players make their biggest jump between Years One and Two. So, my question: Do you think that as productive as Leonard Fournette was last year that he will be able to take a major step forward this season?
I do see Fournette taking a jump in 2018. Part of this is because as a second-year player he will be more acclimated and ready for what lies ahead this season. But the biggest reason I see him taking a step forward is I expect the Jaguars' offensive line to be improved, and I think Fournette will therefore have more room at the line of scrimmage. He gained just over 1,000 yards with a yards-per-attempt of just under 4.0 yards last season. I would be surprised if those numbers don't improve next season.
Don from Norfolk, VA
Is there any way they can fit more than a dozen annoying ads in your column?
Give it time, Don. Give it time.
Stephen from Jacksonville
Since the 2018 NFL Draft's conclusion, there has been a widely discussed opinion that the Jaguars' defense is now even better with the addition of Taven Bryan and Ronnie Harrison. Paired with the free-agent signing of DJ Hayden to play nickel, it seems reasonable to expect the Jaguars defense will be able to continue their dominant play in 2018. However, I wonder is this thinking correct? Considering the losses to the team's defense this offseason (Aaron Colvin, Paul Posluszny), is the defense truly more talented now than it was in 2017?
The defense on paper probably is just as talented as last season, if not more so. But "on paper" doesn't account for the experience of Colvin and Posluszny and the cohesion the pair had with players around them.
Josh from Pittsburgh, PA
What is the environment like down there after a great season compared to the lows of previous years? Not just for players, but around the offices?
Players and coaches typically are optimistic this time of year no matter the outcome of the previous season. As far as the business side, it obviously is a good time to be around the Jaguars. It has been a long time since the organization legitimately appeared to have a future so bright. How much fun is it? The other day I saw someone do a cartwheel at lunch. I in turn did a cartwheel and a back flip. Sexton followed with what he boldly called his "happy dance" – which was really a cross between Michael Jackson's moonwalk and a River Dance – and yelled, "Karaoke Time!!!!!!" before busting out the sweetest rendition of Sugar Ray's, "I Just Wanna Fly" you ever want to hear. I kid you not. That's honestly how it is down here pretty much on a daily basis these days: just double-barreled, 24/7 fun.