O-Zone: Just fine, thanks

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

The national media talks about Jalen Ramsey trash talking and says, “Why do it? The fans don’t care what you’re saying, they just want you to produce…” – or something like that. Well, I hope I’m not the only fan that wants to hear Jalen Mic’d Up every game so I can hear what that man says while physically, mentally and spiritually dominating another player (see: A.J. Green). Most of the stuff with the media and about other quarterbacks is him just speaking his mind when asked.

Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey became a talking point this week when he joined ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s podcast and declined to evaluate quarterbacks – something he did candidly and controversially last offseason. Ramsey’s comments to Schefter in the same podcast that he was growing and that this represented “a different me” also made news. While his comments this week made news because of Schefter’s large audience, Ramsey’s maturation actually was evident late last offseason. You’re also right when you make the point that Ramsey’s trash talking isn’t nearly as big of an issue as some believe. Here are the biggest misconceptions nationally about Ramsey – that he is a bad guy, a negative presence and a problem that the Jaguars need to address or trade. He’s not any of the three. He is a young player who says more outlandish things than most players say. This annoys some fans and media, but what’s most important about Ramsey is he’s always available, always prepared to play at a high level and plays at an otherworldly level more often than not. He’s absolutely an asset to this team, and all of that is far more important than what he does or doesn’t say on or off the field.

Cliff from Callahan, FL

Gainesville in '84? I knew you looked familiar.

That wasn’t me.

Dave from Atlantic Beach, FL

Zone: .05 percent of 20 million is ten thousand. Five percent of 20 million is one million. I hope you don't do your own tax returns!

This question refers to a recent O-Zone answer in which I made the point that state taxes matter when it comes to where NFL players play. I was answering about five percent and wrote it as .05 percent. My bad, but five percent of $20 million is $1 million and that’s a meaningful number.

Braddock from Jacksonville

This 25 seasons, 25 games is the best stuff that's ever been on this site. The quotes are so insightful. Awesome job.

I thought my answer about state sales tax was pretty awesome, too – you know, except for it being mathematically embarrassing.

Chris from Space City, TX

O, so Jalen avoided the media trap of dissing other quarterbacks this offseason as he did so infamously last offseason. That's a sign of maturity and a little humility. The Jaguars don't need Ramsey to be the "Ray Lewis-type emotional leader." I'm sure the front office will be happy if he continued to play at All-Pro level and avoided the silly, negative interviews and sound bites.

Ramsey went overboard in a couple of interviews last offseason. While the criticism he received was expected – and unavoidable – in the social-media era, the uproar caused people to think that Ramsey somehow was a bad guy or a detriment. He’s not. And while I’m sure the front office would prefer he be less outspoken off the field, they also know that the on-field good with Ramsey outweighs any periphery negatives.

UnhipCat from Carlsbad, CA

Dear John: It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

Would it?

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

It’s really hard to “wait and see” what is going on with Telvin Smith. I just want to know what is going on so bad. What could be worth not leaving $10.5 million to your grandchildren who would never have another opportunity to make that kind of money? It’s for your whole family’s future, it’s not just football, what could be more important?

A positive of the social-media, internet era is fans feel connected to teams 24/7 and feel like they know the teams – and players – intimately. A negative is sometimes fans feel they have a right to know everything about players. They do not. Whatever is prompting Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith to step away from football is his business. If/when he wants to discuss it, he will. If not, that’s OK, too. It’s his life, his business. Worry about something else.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Hopefully, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and the Jaguars will come to an agreement shortly. But if not? Yannick is a tackling machine, but between the draft and free agency, the defensive front still looks strong. Telvin Smith will be harder to replace. Is it realistic to expect rookie linebacker Quincy Williams to step in and play at a high level?

Your question implies some worry that Ngakoue won’t play for the Jaguars this season. While I understand the inclination to worry – I am, after all, The Worrier King – Ngakoue almost certainly will play for the Jaguars this season; I don’t think he will be traded – and I can’t see him holding out when he needs to play in 2019 to accrue a season toward free agency. As far as Smith, here’s the best way to think of it: the 2017 version indeed will be hard to replace. The version we saw late in 2018? Not as hard. And yes … it’s realistic to think Williams can play well. As good as 2017 Smith? Perhaps not, but Williams can play well enough for the Jaguars to be a very good defense.

Sean from Fleming Island, FL

Once again your reference to jaguars.com being "free" is misleading, if you believe in the concept time is money (as Mr. Ngakoue surely does), the time it takes for loyal fans to watch ads before they are allowed to consume real content is not without cost. As the bottom message of your videos indicate "content will start in 15 seconds." How about zero?

Your endearing whining notwithstanding, calling jaguars.com free isn’t remotely misleading. More and more media outlets are placing content behind a paywall or charging for a subscription. More power to them and I hope these media outlets find a way to monetize content so they can pay the content producers. But jaguars.com is free because the reader/viewer doesn’t pay to consume the content. If the 15 seconds to watch an ad is too high a cost … well, you must be important. In fact, I’m surprised you have time to log onto the internet at all. And yet you do.

Larry from 91 Restoration

Regarding contracts, teams must take the long view. They need some players to outperform their rookie contracts. They know, no matter how well they draft, some draft choices just won't be worth the pick over the course of several years. Others will hopefully make up for that. What the player has already done has little to do with it other than as a predictor. So, it's not that Ngouke 'deserves' a new contract, it boils down to where the team sees his future value. If that's significantly different than Ngouke feels, hopefully there's a reasonable place somewhere in between they can agree on.

I don’t know who this “Ngouke” guy is, but I sure hope the Jaguars don’t overpay him. That would be irresponsible.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, you weren't kidding about the taxes in New Jersey. Don't forget the cost of living also. The cost of living in Jacksonville is super-low compared to many places, especially New Jersey. I'm painfully reminded of it daily. There also isn't a Sbarro as far as I can tell around here.

Godspeed.

David from Chuluota, FL

Zone - The league has gone out of its way in recent years to make the game safer. At this point, do we have any empirical data that show this initiative is working. For example, can the league report something like concussion have gone down 30% from 2015 to 2018, after new kick-off and helmet rules were implemented? It seems like it would be a huge PR victory for the NFL, that they can prove that they are not only “trying” to make the game safer, but it’s actually working.

The league did announce in January that concussions dropped 29 percent from the 2017 regular season to the 2018 regular season. They dropped 23.8 percent over the regular season and preseason. The league made the announcement as part of its 2018 health and safety report. While league officials credited recent rules changes regarding kickoffs and helmet contact, they also cautioned not to draw “sweeping conclusions.” There was also hope expressed that using helmets that performed well in concussion testing had helped.

Boy who Cried Wolf from JustKiddingville

Hey, do you write the O-Zone from a coma? Ya never stop. By the way, I'm back. Did ya miss me?

No.

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