O-Zone: Holding on loosely

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, do you think any of this year's draft picks could be good enough to be another potential star and give us a Josh Allen No. 2?

This is tricky, because it's always tricky to know how a rookie will fare in the NFL – particularly before he has even participated in a practice against NFL players. The Jaguars certainly like their top three selections from the 2020 NFL Draft – cornerback CJ Henderson, defensive end/linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson and wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. – enough that they would have been fine taking any of the players with the No. 9 overall selection used on Henderson. But Allen was a consensus Top 3 talent in the 2019 NFL Draft before a strange top of that draft pushed him to No. 7 overall. No player in this year's Jaguars draft class was considered a blue-chip prospect quite at that level, so you wouldn't think any of the players would be as good as Allen. On paper. We'll see how it plays out.

Bill from Jacksonville

John, what in the world is the NFL doing? They've had months and months to get a plan in place. Some players are set to report to camp in just a few days, the rest over the next couple weeks, and the NFL has no plan in place. Nothing. Preseason games kickoff in just a few weeks, and fans and players still don't know how many games will be played. This is absurd. So I ask again, what is the NFL doing?

Negotiations often need a deadline to get decided. That's historically true in professional sports. The NFL Players Association and the NFL are negotiating – and a deadline is approaching. I expect they'll come to an agreement – quite likely with an extended ramp-up period before practice and no preseason games – relatively soon that enables the regular season to start on time. Or very close to it. Also, remember: "facts" and approaches to COVID-19 have changed rapidly over the past four months and continue to change. It's not always easy to hit a moving target.

Dakota from Dupree, SD

Zone, looks like the players are upset at the NFL. Hope the NFL steps up with its safety measures.

They'll negotiate. Here's guessing they come to an agreement. My guess also is the non-financial disagreements will get resolved easier than the financial ones. We'll soon find out.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Mark Brunell vs. Blake Bortles ... really? I had hope for Bortles for a time there but this one isn't close. Brunell was never a gunslinger who was going to air it out 40-to-50 times a game and get crazy stats. However, we all trusted Brunell with the ball especially in key moments. I don't remember Brunell throwing pick-sixes at very unfortunate moments in the game. Bortles would have been better given the same cast Brunell had, but also Bortles had a problem turning the ball over, especially in unfortunate situations.

Brunell threw some bad interceptions at times, particularly early in his career. But all quarterbacks do so on occasion. As for whether Brunell-versus-Bortles in terms which former Jaguars quarterback is/was better … no, it's not close. Of course it's not.

Scott from Satsuma, FL

Hey, John. I disagree. "The Replacements" is definitely a classic that actually provides a good name for the Washington team: The Washington Sentinels. Also: definitely "The Shawshank Redemption" over "Forrest Gump." Now the question: if Gardner Minshew II was to get hurt what quarterback currently on the roster would you put in to lead the offense?

We differ on the definition of "classic," but that's fine. I expect Mike Glennon to be the Jaguars' backup quarterback in 2020, so in your scenario I would put Glennon in to lead the offense.

Andy from St. Augustine, FL

Predominately a football site? Did John wander in here by accident? Between music/movies, I've gotten more suggestions for content that I've downloaded from the questions (and answers) here than anywhere else. Not to mention the discussions regarding the respect (or lack thereof) for the flag and military - in addition to the golf and tennis questions. Predominately a football site? Certainly not during the offseason, and I still consider this to be O-Zone Dead Zone.

People ask questions. I answer. That's true whatever time of year people happen to wander into the O-Zone. I would challenge the reader to ever find a day when football wasn't a topic of multiple questions – and I feel comfortable saying there's never an O-Zone that doesn't answer at least one football question – even in the deadest of periods. Also: I can't remember ever answering a golf question primarily because I can't speak remotely intelligently about it (insert obligatory joke here).

Nick from Palatka, FL

Zone: I loved "Jacksonville John's" suggestion of a laugh track. I couldn't help thinking of a Derrick Henry rush where you might hear a giggle with his first stiff arm and then a crescendo of guffaws with each subsequent swat and finally an explosion of jocularity when he scores a touchdown followed by the soft sounds of recovery from such hilarity. I hope that's not the case this year, but I don't know that I could keep from laughing it happens.

John's got jokes. Nick likes jokes. Isn't that nice?

John from Jacksonville

As our world changes and we move forward with sports with limited fans, will this be the breaking point on escalating salaries? The money train has been out of control for years and it seems to me that maybe we start to see salaries decrease.

While sports will be played for the foreseeable future in front of limited or no fans, the expectation is that stadiums again eventually will be filled to capacity. If that's the case, any decrease in NFL salaries will be minimal and short-lived.

Chris from Section 437

I don't understand why Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue didn't sign the franchise tag. If I understand correctly how it works, if he had signed the tag by July 15 he could still negotiate a long-term deal with the Jags or whoever trades for him. By not signing, if he plays it will just be on the tag and he can't negotiate a long-term deal until after next season. If that is correct, it should be a disadvantage not to sign the tag if you really want to be traded.

July 15 was the NFL's deadline for teams and "franchised" players to agree to a long-term deal. Now that it has passed, the sides can't get a deal done until after the season. Ngakoue can still sign the tag and play any time between now and Week 10. If he doesn't sign by then, he won't play this season.

J. Hooks from Fleming Island, FL

Yo Zone. Personally, I think Jaguars General Dave Caldwell has done an admirable job this offseason. I find it admirable that he went out of his way to set up the franchise with some good quality depth all the while knowing that he may not be around next season. We've seen in the past general managers and even in the college ranks basically decimate the roster out of ill-will or just plain stubbornness being in "win now" mode. I think what Dave has shown character and loyalty knowing he may not be "the guy" next year. He didn't leave us high and dry. One for Dave.

Indeed. One fer Caldwell.

David from Oviedo, FL

KOAF - With preseason being cut from four to two to possibly no games, how is an undrafted free-agent supposed to make the team? With some of these players have been living their whole life for this opportunity, how can you say life is fair?

I've never said life is fair; it's not. Some undrafted rookies will make rosters in 2020, and they will do based on how they perform during practices – and how the team felt about them upon signing. I also would anticipate many rookie free agents who don't make 2020 rosters will be invited back in 2021 with many probably making rosters after more complete evaluations. Another twist to this – and another opportunity for many players – is that rosters may experience more short-term turnover because of players sitting out week(s) because of positive COVID-19 tests. That short-term turnover likely will provide many players significant opportunities they might not otherwise have experienced.

Ray from Jacksonville

John: The 38 Special references reminded me of a temporary business relationship I had with Donnie Van Zant. My office was on the third floor and an employee of the landlord had mentioned he wanted to ask for an autograph but was in uniform and could not do so. I told Mr. Van Zant about the comment. After concluding our meeting, he got down to the first floor and remembered what I told him. He came back up to my office and asked where he could find the employee so he could give him an autograph. Really nice and genuine man.

That's cool.

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