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O-Zone: Hungry like something

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

TJ from Orlando, FL

Jags fans: Why doesn't the national media respect us? Also Jags fans: Why is the national media predicting us to be in the Super Bowl?! Is there a time machine I can get to that I can just hang out in until Preseason Week 1?

Nah, and I don't know that we really need a time machine. Because maybe – just maybe – it's OK for Jaguars fans and observers to enjoy these last few days of the offseason. It's even OK to enjoy the seemingly maddening storyline of whether Jaguars fans actually want the respect they have craved for so long. Do Jaguars fans indeed want respect? Don't they? What does it matter? This team is good. It has legitimate playoff expectations – and aspirations to do something memorable once it gets there. It has been a long time since either was true. So yeah … enjoy it. Why not?

Steve from Duval

In what way, if any, will the release of Chris Ivory affect Leonard Fournette's overall performance this year?

I would be surprised – very surprised, actually – if Ivory's absence has any effect on Fournette this season. Ivory was the Jaguars' backup running back last season, but he played sparingly late in the regular season and postseason. The Jaguars released him because they didn't expect him to play a significant role moving forward.

Robert from Oneota, Canada

How would you handle the Jaguars' salary cap in 2019? I know this is complicated, so let me try and narrow down some of the variables. No one on the team has any extended/career threatening injuries in 2018. Everyone plays to their known talent level, modest gains for young players, maybe a little slip for near-retirement players. Myles Jack is selected as the starting middle linebacker in the Pro Bowl (this one is a gift from me to you lol). Jags make it at least to the second round of the playoffs and are selecting in the bottom 25 percent of the 2019 NFL Draft. Again, I am asking what you would do?

This answer won't cover every detail, because – as you mention – there are countless variables when it comes to managing a 53-man NFL roster. One scenario for next offseason that seems to get the Jaguars close to the cap entering the 2019 League Year would be to release right tackle Jermey Parnell, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, safety Barry Church and a couple of the veterans signed for special teams roles this offseason (Cody Davis, Don Carey, etc.) The Jaguars drafted at all of the aforementioned positions – tackle/end Taven Bryan, tackle Will Richardson and safety Ronnie Harrison – so it stands to reason there's a plan in place under which the Jaguars could move on at those positions. That would get the Jaguars close to the salary cap, after which some contract restructuring would be possible depending on how players perform in 2018 and how the team projects them going forward. The details of these answers will improve (one would hope, anyway) as the offseason draws closer, but that's a ballpark possibility.

Joshua from Lynchburg, VA

You leave a notepad doc open on your desktop that says "Jaguars 2018 Training Camp begins July 26 with veterans scheduled to report July 25. Rookies and first-year players are scheduled to report July 18 with quarterbacks reporting July 20. The regular season begins a while after that." Don't you?

Note to self …

Irving from New York, NY

With the recent legal news on Marcell Dareus, is it safe to say the Jaguars were aware of this and with drafting Taven Bryan were proactively protecting a team strength?

It's safe to say the Jaguars were aware of what's going on with defensive tackle Marcell Dareus off the field, but it's not fair to link the drafting of defensive tackle/end Taven Bryan to it. The Jaguars didn't select Bryan for 2018. They used their first-round selection from 2018 for a player they believe can be a core, franchise-type player into the middle of the next decade.

Jeff from Jacksonville

O'Man ... Can I ask you a question?

Sure … wait … no.

Oscar from Ocala, FL

I think the coolest thing about Frenette is how he took on the Steelers Mike Mitchell on that play, agree?

Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette is a man of many talents. His toughness and willingness to "stick his nose in there" is often overlooked. Let that no longer be the case.

Julio from Southern California


Julio? JULIO?!!!

Julio from Southern California

O, Sorry about that. There is no return button on the new format. Anyway, what is the real issue with Dante Fowler Jr.? You can never have enough pass rushers, right? Is this an issue of Fowler not having the makeup Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin wants?

(Whew). Your question implies that there's some inherent dislike of Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. that no one wants to discuss publicly. My thought is you're digging for something that's not there. Fowler is entering the fourth season of the rookie contract he signed in 2015, and the Jaguars decided not to pick up their fifth-year option on that contract – an option every team gets for any first-round draft selection. The Jaguars' approach with Fowler is pretty simple: they would like to have him back for the long term but they have to make sure it makes sense under the salary cap. And while he has been a good player in three seasons, he hasn't yet shown he's a core player around him a team should build a franchise and structure its salary cap.

Rick from Greenville

Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime, I don't care meet me tonight. "I Will Dare" by the Replacements. Kind of a lay-up.

Unless you don't care about the Replacements.

Scott from New York City

What's the feeling around the office after France won this weekend?


Russell from Duuvall

With the one weakness on our team being starting linebacker, do you think starting Fowler at the position is a good idea, being that he played there at the University of Florida and is a freak athlete running 4.6-second 40-yard dash? This would allow us to play our best players on the field at the same time and might be a reason if he plays good to re-sign him. Do you think this makes sense with the depth we have on the line? Also, I know Leon Jacobs – the kid we got in the seventh round – is a freak as well and ran a 4.4 and was one of the strongest people at the combine, but Leon is raw so he needs to develop.

Playing Fowler at strong-side linebacker is one of those ideas that makes sense when looking at an online depth chart but isn't something that's going to happen in reality. While Fowler played linebacker in college – and while he has the skill set to play it in the NFL – he is a weak-side defensive end in the Jaguars' system. That's where the Jaguars want him to play, and that's where they want his focus. While there has been discussion this offseason among fans about playing Fowler at strong-side linebacker on run downs and at end in passing situations, the Jaguars rotate their defensive linemen with the idea of keeping all players as fresh as possible. Playing Fowler at linebacker and rush end would mean him playing far more plays than the Jaguars want him playing. Remember, too: while the Jaguars are deep on the defensive line overall, their front-line players at rush end are Yannick Ngakoue and Fowler. If they move Fowler away from the position, it suddenly goes from being a deep position to a strikingly thin one.

Rupert from Jacksonville

Mr. O-Zone: When I go to the open practices can we sit together?

Yes … wait … no.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

Donavin Darius has always been and continues to be one of my all-time favorite Jaguars. As succinct as the Eleven on Eleven interview with him on was, it reminded me of that fact. Did you cover him during your past stint with the team, and do you have any specific stories about him that come to your mind?

I covered Darius for three seasons – 1998-2000 – when covering the Jaguars for the Florida Times-Union. He was a talented young player who made clear immediately he was going to be a good, reliable player for a long time. He also was clearly a serious-minded young person who appeared likely to be successful on and off the field. Done and done.

Biff from Jacksonville

World Cup is over. The Dead Zone is officially here. Aren't you even more hungry like the wolf for American football to get going?

Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do… do.

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