O-Zone: Hero of song and story

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

John, have you heard if Taven Bryan is getting any stronger and making good strides this offseason? Do you think he can win a starting job this coming season? I'd hope, being a first-round pick.

There actually wasn’t much said about Bryan during the offseason, but don’t panic over that: There often isn’t much to say about offensive or defensive linemen during the offseason; the non-padded, non-contact nature reveals little about the guys up front. Bryan, a defensive tackle and the Jaguars’ first-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, is more than strong enough to excel in the NFL. Size, speed and quickness aren’t his issues. Bryan’s task this season will be to develop football awareness and be more instinctive. As for him winning the starting job, I don’t know if he will begin the season as a starter; I suspect Marcell Dareus and Abry Jones will start the season as the starting defensive tackles. But I expect Bryan to play a key role and he does need to be starting and/or playing well as the season continues. Bryan at No. 29 overall in ’18 wasn’t a premium selection, exactly. But, the Jaguars drafted him with the idea that he would be ready to replace Malik Jackson by Year Two. The time is now.

John from Jacksonville

On Jaguars Happy Hour Thursday, Jaguars analyst Jeff Lageman answered the question of why then-Head Coach Jack Del Rio didn't know they were drafting quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the 2011 NFL Draft. He was in the buffet line because they were not on the clock. The main reason was then-General Manager Gene Smith wanted to fire him, but then-Owner Wayne Weaver wouldn't let him because he was trying to sell the team and a potential buyer would not have wanted a new coach with a new contract.

A lot of things get messy when teams get sold. This was true of the Jaguars in 2011.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Z: When will we start seeing Wimbledon under the byline?

You won’t see a WIMBLEDON dateline under this byline anytime soon, mainly because no one’s called me to ask me to cover the event. I will be locked in on the All-England Club for the next two weeks, though. No doubt.

Cliff from Callahan, FL

Only a parent of all girls would think raising boys is less worrisome. As a dad of multiple boys and girls, I worry more about the boys. I *was* a teenage boy and I know the idiocy of which we are capable ...

I have been comparatively lucky. Junior O-Zone, while certainly capable of the brain fades that accompany any boy in his teen years and early 20s, is a remarkably level-headed kid. As for me in my teens and early 20s, well …

Al from Orange Park, FL

"But I never got the sense in 2017 that the Jaguars were building to beat the New England Patriots...." shhhhh, it was supposed to be a secret …”

OK.

Christopher from Jacksonville

I know everyone will say we can't let cornerback Jalen Ramsey go, but do we really want to set the market with a cornerback? We didn't have to set the market when we got A.J. Bouye and I know that doesn't happen often. I say tag and trade; we could get so much for him after this year, eh?

The Jaguars without question could get a lot in a trade for Ramsey, and yes – it will be expensive to set the market for him. But Bouye isn’t particularly pertinent to the discussion of how the Jaguars should handle Ramsey’s contract. The Jaguars didn’t have to set the market for Bouye when they signed him as an unrestricted free agent in 2017 because he wasn’t the NFL’s best cornerback at that time, and he wasn’t a generational player at the position. That’s not a criticism of Bouye; he’s very good. But Ramsey is a generational player at the position. They don’t come around often. Let them go elsewhere at your peril.

Josh from Harrisburg, PA

While I am certain that everyone’s definition of core players is different, would it not be fair to say if a player is not good enough for a second contract they are likely not a core player?

Pretty much, yes.

George from Cowford

Been enjoying the recap of the big games over the past 25 years. Really interesting to see how they decided they could compete and win even if the “experts” didn’t think so. Great to see how champions think.

The Jaguars’ success in the 1990s wasn’t quite as simple as just deciding they could compete and win. They also happened to be a phenomenally talented team with three Hall-of-Fame-worthy talents in left tackle Tony Boselli, wide receiver Jimmy Smith and running back Fred Taylor – and a slew of really good players around them such as wide receiver Keenen McCardell, right tackle Leon Searcy, defensive end Tony Brackens and so on. But yes – there was a will and determination about that team. Tom Coughlin, then the head coach and organizational czar, had a vision that he and many others believed would get them to the Super Bowl. It very nearly did.

Big on Blake from Philly

Yo, Zone: Who “logs on” to the internet anymore? No wonder the app lags behind the website with content uploads; it’s running on dial-up. Anyway, there is definitely a Sbarro in Jersey; you just have to scour the many rest stops along the Jersey turnpike, where you undoubtedly will find the high cost of doing business in Jersey. The other problem with Jersey? It’s filled with New Jersians ...

You’re not being nice.

Josh from Savannah, GA

I went back and looked at 10 different mock drafts from 2011 and not a single one had Blaine Gabbert going later than 10; most had him in the Top 5. I for one remember exactly where I was: Freshman year apartment at Georgia Southern. I sat down in my chair and cried. I was one of the few who did not like the selection. HOWEVER, every national pundit had him as a top pick. We can beat the dead horse forever. It's stupid. The pick sucked. We moved on. I just wish the next quarterback gamble panned out.

This continues as an O-Zone topic after former Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio this week told a local radio station he didn’t know the team planned to select Gabbert in 2011. The story perhaps is indicative of a lack of communication between Del Rio and then-Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith, but it’s not indicative of very much else. The Jaguars selecting Gabbert surprised many, but most of the surprise stemmed from Gabbert being available at No. 10 overall and the Jaguars moving up to make the selection. The move has been lampooned and bemoaned by Jaguars followers, but it wasn’t a selection that was criticized heavily at the time because most observers had Gabbert ranked early in the Top 10. It became a bad selection when it became quickly apparent that Gabbert wasn’t a Top 10 worthy quarterback. That happens to a lot of quarterbacks. It doesn’t help the team that selected him, but neither does it make the situation all that noteworthy or unusual.

Bill from Hammock, FL

Zone: I don't get it. It seems everyone is quick to complain about Ramsey but gives linebacker Telvin Smith a free pass. Jalen has done everything asked of him on the field and excels at his position. I have nothing against Telvin doing what he needs to do. However, let the team know what is going on after they gave you the huge contract. Just let the team know what is going on so you don't handicap the organization and your teammates that are still dedicated to winning in 2019.

Fair.

Austin from Jacksonville

I recently read about Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark learning how to swim. Next time you get a chance to talk to him, could you ask him when he plans to learn to surf? Have you known of any Jaguars past or present that like to paddle out to the break from time to time?

New Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley is an avid surfer. I’m sure there have been other Jaguars players who surf, but he comes to mind.

Move over Oehser from Wherever

Now it's *my* turn.

Whatever.

Josh from Savannah, GA

I don’t know if you happened to have seen any social media pictures of Jalen in the last few days, but my God. He is in absolute Herculean shape. No, he does not need to be here for VoLuNtArY workouts. Keep doing whatever you’re doing, Jalen.

I haven’t seen Ramsey’s social media photos, but I saw him during the team’s mandatory minicamp early this month. He’s in great shape. This isn’t a surprise. This is normal. Perhaps he is Hercules.

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