JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Dalton from UCF:
Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of the whole London movement. But why do we have to send our home NFC games across the seas? We only get to see those opponents in Jacksonville once every eight years. We already got robbed of seeing the Cowboys play, which I brushed off, but now there is talk of losing the Packers game. The fans in Jacksonville will be robbed of ever being able to see future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers play in Duval. The NFL should be able to respect that the fans want to see these teams play!
John: I guess we're stuck on this question because it's a HUGE O-Zone topic today – again – but that's OK because there actually is something new in the discussion. While the past two weeks have featured fan angst in the wake of Florida Times-Union Jaguars beat writer Ryan O'Halloran's speculation that the 2016 home game against the Green Bay Packers would be played in London, Packers ESPN reporter Rob Demovsky reported Monday that the game being in London is no sure thing. Packers President Mark Murphy told Demovsky on Monday that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan told him he would be "very reluctant" to move a Packers game away from Jacksonville. That puts some pretty significant brakes on the runaway train that has been this "story," and I wouldn't expect closure on this for a while – maybe not until around the time of the Jaguars' game against the Buffalo Bills in London October 25.
Corey from Madison, WI:
Given that the Jaguars would like to think they have their franchise quarterback and that Houston has failed to address its quarterback situation in a meaningful way, I don't think second place in the division is that lofty of a goal. In fact, that should be the expectation. It's Year Three; I'm not okay with anything less than seven wins. Time to put up or shut up.
John: You make a fair and clear point. Seven victories is a realistic, attainable goal – and after a lot of years supporting a struggling team, Jaguars fans certainly have every right to want to see at least a 7-9 record this season. I think it's also reasonable to have second place in the AFC South as a goal. That's not to say if the Jaguars finish 6-10 the entire organization should be "blown up," but there's no question there should be significant, definable improvement this season.
Mike from Middleburg, FL:
When or at what point in this rebuild can we be really worried during the season that it's not working and it has to change? Thanks, sir.
John: My, oh, my … we must be getting close to training camp … the questions are inching back toward expectations and how many games the Jaguars must win this season to keep everyone safe. Look, I can't tell you when or why to worry, and you certainly don't need my permission to demand change. I've said all along that what should be expected from this regime is consistent improvement. That doesn't mean a steady, unwaveringly upward arrow in terms of the won-lost record each year; that's not realistic. But it does mean becoming more competitive each season. Record aside, the Jaguars absolutely were more competitive on a week-to-week basis with better teams last season. That needs to be the case again this season – and yes, the record also needs to improve accordingly.
Jon from Earth:
Dear Mr. Ozone, a while ago you mentioned that the NFL would like to expand to Europe and Asia. Having been to Asia while the NFL season is going on – and having been surprised by how many bars had the NFL on – which team would be interested in playing there? (Jet lag a killer) And what country? Have a great day.
John: The NFL certainly would like to expand its presence in Europe and Asia. For that matter, pretty much any sports league – or any business, for that matter – would love an international presence. The more $$$, the merrier. I doubt many teams want to be the first to play in Asia, though – particularly in the regular season. The travel issues are staggering, and having been to Tokyo with the Colts in the 2005 preseason, I just can't see a scenario in the near future under which a regular-season game could be played there. London is enough of a drain on the body with the current format. Flying to Tokyo takes at least twice the time, so it's just hard to imagine it working.
Hunter from Orlando, FL:
Things is fixin' to happen.
John: Soon, Hunter. Soon.
Ray from Pooler, GA :
What are the chances Marks start the season on the PUP list?
John: I suppose there's a chance, but I doubt it. Right now, Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks is targeting being ready for the regular-season opener after rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament throughout the offseason. I don't know whether he'll make that target – and I'm the first to say that's a difficult objective to achieve – but I think he'll get close. Putting him on the Physically Unable to Perform list would mean missing the first six weeks of the season, so if he's close enough to make Week 1 iffy I doubt PUP will be the play.
Chris from San Marco:
When you say Khan is trying to make an NFL franchise work in Jacksonville, are you being deliberately provocative or just being loose with your words? It's as if by the tone of your answer that we should feel lucky the team has been here as long as it has and if it is moved it's our own fault.
John: I'm not trying to be either provocative or loose. I'm simply saying that because of the size of the market, there are challenges in Jacksonville that Owner Shad Khan and the Jaguars are trying to address creatively in different ways. Playing a home game in London and establishing an international presence is one of those ways.
Chad from Yulee, FL:
Many owners have started considering the "value" of opponents in their home stadium – as evidenced by tiered pricing of home games. I remember enjoying the only home game we had against the Lions when Barry Sanders played. It was a treat to see him in person. Marquee teams coming into your home stadium playing at their best with star players are always more desirable to see than visiting teams like, well, the Jaguars of 2014, 2013, 2012...
John: Well-played, Chad.
Aaron from Jacksonville:
From a league perspective, the Packers are going to make every stadium they visit sell out. For some small-market teams this could be substantial revenue. Why would they ever play a game in London against a small market team?
John: The NFL wants to broaden its international presence, and toward that end, popular, historically significant teams as the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots have played in London. The Green Bay Packers are perhaps the league's most popular, historically-significant team, so it stands to reason the NFL would have them play in London sooner rather than later.
Jeremye from Jacksonville:
Hey John, I think for some the problem with putting a marquee game such as the Packers in London in 2016 is more about not seeing the great players like Aaron Rogers – or last year with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant – play in Jacksonville ever again. In 16 years, they will all be retired and we the fans will not have the opportunity to see them in play in person. Some of my best memories of going to Jags games was seeing some of the greats play in person – Dan Marino, Marcus Allen … the list goes on and on. That's why I don't like it – Make it the Raiders, a team rebuilding where those young guys might still be there in 16 years, albeit at the end of their careers. What say you?
John: Your point really only pertains to marquee NFC teams, but yes, yes, yes … I say I see your point. And when put that way – that a fan might never get to see that player in person because of the rotating schedule … yes, I do get it. I can't say that it would have bothered me that much as a fan, but that's OK; different things bother different people to different degrees. The bottom line remains that the Jaguars are probably going to play a home game in London for the foreseeable future, so this isn't an issue that's going to go away. That means fans are probably going to miss seeing a star or two because of this agreement. The other side is that the London game will give them a chance to see players from nine other teams on a year-to-year basis. Without London in the equation, that would be a trickier proposition.
Richard from Lincoln, RI:
No question, just a "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN"!!!
John: Wait. What?
O-Zone: (Hint, hint, hint...)
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Dalton from UCF: