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O-Zone: Irregularities

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bill from Bostwick

The Jaguars kept six wide receivers on the 53-man roster last season after keeping five the season before. I thought six was too many based on how little WR6 saw the field on game days. Looking ahead to this season's 53-man roster, I'd rather risk having WR6 on the practice squad and potential poaching by another team over possibly losing the 10th-best offensive linemen on the practice squad. Obviously, it only matters what the coaching staff thinks to start the season. But just for fun, does the O-Zone think the Jaguars will keep five or six wide receivers heading into Week 1? If the answer is six, why is a sixth receiver more valuable on the 53 than the 10th offensive lineman? Ideally, neither plays much. So, which is more valuable to protect from possibly being claimed off the practice squad?

Your question is posed in general terms rather than specifics. The reason this is a problem in this case is because while teams can think generally when theoretically building the roster, real decisions at the bottom of the roster often come down to specifics. This was the case last season when the Jaguars opted to keep wide receiver Elijah Cooks as the sixth receiver. They didn't do this because of a preconceived plan to keep six receivers. Rather, they did it because they believed Cooks – who signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2023 NFL Draft – likely would be claimed by another team if left on the practice squad. They felt protecting Cooks was more important than protecting, say, interior offensive lineman Ben Bartch – who indeed was signed off the practice squad during the regular season by the San Francisco 49ers (Bartch, it should be noted, was placed on the Jaguars' practice squad after the start of the regular season.) The Jaguars, like all NFL teams, likely will face similar decisions when trimming the roster before the 2024 regular season. What positions will be more valuable than others? How good are the players? That's the only way to know the answer.

Scott from Wichita, KS

Okay, Mr. Funny man. Jaguar teal helmets.

You're asking if I think the Jaguars will ever wear teal helmets. I confess I haven't the slightest idea. My gut feeling is it won't happen in the foreseeable future, but that's probably because their helmets always have been black with the exception being the black/gold combination worn from 2012-2016. I don't love the teal prototypes/designs I occasionally see on social media, but that's my opinion – and my opinion matters not a whit. Could it happen? Someday? Sure, someday can encompass a very long time.

Dwayne from Jacksonville

O-Zone, you're good. When you answered, "I get it" when Mike wrote that he loved you, I had to reread it to see that it was all a joke.

I get it.

Don from Marshall, NC

The Jaguars have great colors. How come other teams are allowed to steal that color? Look at the Carolina Panthers from the original until now. It is almost teal now. Same with Miami … they keep adding teal. These teams need to go back and get dressed in your real colors and stay off the Jaguars lawn. Go Jaguars! Titans keep adding teal also! BS

When it comes to railing about comparatively minor issues that admittedly don't interest me all that much, Don remains passionately "all in."

William from Savannah, GA

John, I enjoyed the schedule release video, but I believe the 2023 schedule release video was better. The difference was clear. The 2023 video featured the best stunt double this side of Cliff Booth. That's right - Dewey. Gotta have more Dewey!


David from Oviedo

KOAF - Back in the glory days of the New England Patriots, then-Head Coach Bill Belichick would use his best athletes on both sides of the ball if he could create an advantage. I'd like to see some of that creativity from the Jaguars, to win by using every tool in the toolbox mentality. So, we need a yard for a first down? Put in defensive tackle Jordan Jefferson at fullback and have him blast a hole in a defender's chest. That would be cool. Who wouldn't like something like that?

It's also cool to make sure young players are good at their primary jobs before asking them to diversify.

Gabe from Washington, DC

Haven't seen many people comment on the defensive free agents that were just added. Just camp bodies, or do they have a decent chance to make the final roster? If it's the latter, does that bode poorly for how the coaching staff feels about guys like Montaric Brown, Greg Junior. And Christian Braswell?

The Jaguars last week signed three veterans – cornerbacks Terrell Edmunds and Tre Flowers and linebacker Ty Summers – as free agents, doing so the week before the opening of 2024 Organized Team Activities. The moves don't necessarily bode poorly or well for cornerbacks Montaric Brown, Greg Junior or Christian Braswell specifically. Here's the reality: The Jaguars are transitioning from a 3-4 defense to a four-linemen front under coordinator Ryan Nielsen. They're also expected to play more press coverage with safety help over the top than they did last season under coordinator Mike Caldwell. The idea of the signings was to add depth and veterans to the training camp competition. It doesn't mean they don't like the three players you mention. It does mean they want to make sure they feel as good as possible about those positions entering the season.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

I'm waiting for a taxi to go snorkeling with sea turtles in the Mexican Caribbean, then come back to the resort to consume a manly quantity of delicious beverages on the beach around sunset. The last month of the schedule looks doable, what do you say?

The Jaguars play AFC South opponents in four of the last six games of the 2024 regular season – Tennessee Titans home and away, home against the Houston Texans, at the Las Vegas Raiders, home against the New York Jets and at the Indianapolis Colts. The schedule – on paper, based on 2023 results – looks manageable. If the Jaguars are playing well. If they're healthy. If all those teams are playing as they did last season. If …

Tony from Johns Creek, GA

O, I predict the Jaguars will go 17-0. I figure at this point I'm as right as the other so-called "expert" predictions.


Kathy from Palm Coast, FL

I was recently listening to NFL radio. There was a big discussion about Trevor and whether the time is right for a bid contract. The men on the radio seemed to think it is too soon and to wait another year to see how he plays. What do you think?

I think the Jaguars believe Trevor Lawrence is their franchise quarterback – and the franchise's foundation for the future – and if you believe a quarterback is your foundation for the future you pay him as such in the first offseason you are eligible to do so. Why not wait? Because the price and the potential for messiness in negotiations only rise if you wait. If you believe in your quarterback, commit to your quarterback.

Farmer Ted from Anonymous

Ozone - Is there any concern that the Stadium of the Future will look like a spaceship that landed in the middle of a cow pasture?

I think it will look a lot better than the Stadium of the Present and it will secure the Jaguars remain in Jacksonville for decades. It will be beautiful.

Al from Fruit Cove, FL

Hey, John. Thanks for the recent explanation about injury protection for drafted but unsigned rookies. But what about the undrafted free agents and tryout players? Are they paid anything for attending mini-camps or OTAs? What if they get hurt - is that just their tough luck and they're responsible for their own medical expenses? Seems like a pretty risky proposition if true.

Undrafted free agents sign with the team before rookie minicamp. Tryout players if injured are entitled to "reimbursement of reasonable and necessary medical expense incurred as a result of that injury," according to the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement between NFL Owners and the NFL Players Association. "The determination as to whether or not such expenses are 'reasonable and necessary' shall be based on the reasonable opinion of the Club's Head Team Physician."

Mike from Eagan, MN

One of your responses on players switching teams got me thinking … are players treated like regular employees? Do they get IT equipment (more than a tablet) and an email and everything? It makes me chuckle imaging Trevor sitting on a company laptop and rolling his eyes when he gets (another) Teams notification pop up from you asking "Trevor … Sbarro today? You buyin'?"

Players are contracted employees, with the terms of their employment collectively bargained. Their employment is therefore different than those of "regular" employees.