JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …
Josh from Pensacola, FL
Jalen Ramsey has quickly become one of my favorite Jags of all time. I love the way he plays football; it’s just awesome. But he seems like he may be tough to hang on to. I hope we are able to keep him through his prime, but if you look at Deion Sanders and Darrelle Revis and several other cornerbacks – with the exception of Richard Sherman – they leave. How important is it that we keep Ramsey? And my loyalty lies with the Jaguars; as soon as you leave, you’re the enemy. But there are certain players I believe are key to keeping.
Keeping Ramsey will not be easy, but keeping great players in the NFL throughout their careers never is easy – particularly when the player isn’t a quarterback and when other great players also must be kept. The Jaguars can’t do anything with Ramsey’s contract until after the 2018 season because you can’t restructure a drafted player’s contract until after his third NFL season. Another thing to remember is Ramsey is by all appearances a rare, once-in-a-generation player for this franchise – a potential Hall-of-Fame, franchise-defining player who may be the face of the team for a long time. That makes keeping him – and structuring his contract – a higher priority than for “ordinary” players. It will be a major contract that will determine a lot about the Jaguars’ salary cap going forward – and yes, it will be difficult. I can’t imagine the Jaguars won’t do it; he’s that good and that important. And while keeping him won’t be easy, neither will it be overly complicated. How do you accomplish this? Pay him. A lot.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
What's going on with Telvin Smith? Haven't heard much about him lately.
There’s not always a lot to discuss with every player in the offseason. Smith is healthy and appears to be in good shape heading into the “summer-break” portion of the offseason. He was one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL last season – perhaps the best – and I expect him to be one of the best this season.
Shirley U Jest from Skepticville
Dear John, you recently stated the Jaguars have "improved at punter." There is zero evidence and actually a low probability that seventh-rounder Logan Cooke is an improvement on Brad Nortman (Carolina franchise-record holder) or even Bryan Anger, other than being cheaper.
Bryan Anger didn’t punt for the Jaguars last season. You’re correct that there’s zero on-field evidence to suggest that Cooke is better than Nortman. You’re incorrect that there’s a low probability of that being the case. The Jaguars didn’t draft Cooke and release Nortman to get worse. So, based on their evaluation of Nortman and their projection of Cooke, isn’t there at least some probability he could be an improvement?
Biff from Jacksonville
What does it say of me that I appreciate you quoting Grease 2 in O-Zone? On another note, I’m up in Bar Harbor, Maine. Many Pats fans. They don’t appreciate me reminding them Myles Jack wasn’t down.
My guess is that’s not the worst thing fans of other teams say to Patriots fans. As for what an appreciation of Grease 2 says about you … I suppose it says your parents had HBO or Cinemax in 1983, and you turned away from MTV enough to happen to see Michelle Pfeiffer in a pink jacket and tight black pants and happened to decide it was worth the watch.
James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville
Hey, O-man: The only good thing about the dead zone is I get to be put to sleep watching baseball lowlights. Oh, yeah – and somebody said there's a soccer game on. Oh Joy. Please August: hurry up and get here!
All is not lost. Fed plays Halle this week and the fortnight starts July 2. (Not that fortnight; the Wimbledon fortnight).
Nick from Palatka, FL
Mr. Zone: Organized team activities have been very encouraging so far. The offense appears to be headed for higher ground but there are still those two big holes on defense left by Poz's retirement and Aaron Colvin's finding "greener" pastures in Houston. Coach Marrone talks about good flexibility at strong-side linebacker, but I haven't heard anything really good about D.J. Hayden at the nickel-corner position. Do you think he's our best option at that spot? Have any of the rookie corners had time to impress? Just wondering.
The persistent offseason distrust among fans in Hayden has been a Jaguars 2018 offseason phenomenon – a phenomenon perhaps only overshadowed by an accompanying distrust of and disbelief in wide receiver Donte Moncrief. Here’s something to get used to: both players are going to play key roles, and both players next season are almost certainly going to play the roles they were signed to play. In Moncrief’s case, he likely will start – and if he doesn’t, he’s going to play a critical role in the receiving rotation. In Hayden’s case, barring anything completely unforeseen he is going to be the team’s nickel corner and the top backup to Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Secondary coach Perry Fewell said while there was an early adjustment period during the offseason for Hayden because of the change in scheme, Hayden adapted and was playing well by the end of OTAs and minicamp. And yes, Hayden is the best option at the spot. I expect cornerback to be a storyline in training camp beyond the top three, but I expect those top three to be stable.
Mike from Orange Park, FL
I noticed all offseason you’ve been very critical of the Jaguars’ offensive line. The Jaguars led the NFL in rushing. What gives?
I’m not sure it’s fair to say I’ve been “very critical” of the Jaguars’ offensive line this offseason, though I have said quite often the group wasn’t as consistent as necessary late last season. I said after the Seattle game in December that the Jaguars would go to the Super Bowl if the line played the rest of the season as it did in that game, and what I meant was if they could run in key situations they would be difficult to beat. The Jaguars as it turned out couldn’t run in the most critical situation of all last season: the second half of the AFC Championship Game. Had they been able to do so, they indeed would have gone to the Super Bowl. The Jaguars made a serious move in this area with the offseason addition of All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell as an unrestricted free agent. The Jaguars’ offensive line by any measure was very good last season. That much was clear. But it was just as clear the Jaguars knew the unit needed to be better. Adding Norwell should ensure that’s the case – and his addition should move this team closer to being as good as a running team on the field as it was statistically last season.
Scott from New York, NY
I count eight wide receivers (Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, D.J. Chark, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, Rashad Greene Sr., Jaydon Mickens, Allen Lazard) that stand a shot at making the roster. How many do you think the Jags keep and who is currently on the outside looking in?
I think the Jaguars will keep six wide receivers: Lee, Moncrief, Chark, Cole, Westbrook and Greene.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK
Oh Mighty 'O' / King of Funk, "Mannequin 2"! Good Lord, I didn't even realize that they made that sequel! So flipping the question around what sequel was better than the original? Strong contenders are "Aliens" and "Terminator 2." However, for me it has to be "The Empire Strikes Back." Not only is it a great film, but along with probably every ten-year old boy at the time, when Yoda says "There is another Skywalker" I secretly hoped it was me! Alas, the Force was not strong with me.
I never saw any of the Aliens or Terminators start to finish – and if I saw Empire Strikes Back start to finish, I wasn’t paying enough attention to give it a realistic review. Let’s bowl … let’s bowl …
Jon from Jacksonville
So, the phrase "coach in the locker room" has always confused me. Are coaches not allowed in there?
I actually haven’t heard that phrase all that much, though I have heard the phrase “coach on the field” quite a bit. Either way. I’ll assume it means the same thing, which basically is a player who smart enough with enough leadership to help other players mentally. But yes – coaches are allowed in the locker room. They just don’t spend as much time there are players because they’re usually working. Or eating lunch. Or getting a run in.
Scott from New York City
What are you going to binge watch over the dead zone?
Videos of longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Gene Frenette talking football. What else?