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O-Zone: Keep it shut

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jim from Cally

King of all Funk, I have one last thing to say about Tebow … Now, regarding Captain Trevor, I do recall Peyton Manning's rookie season ('98) in Indy: TONS of picks (28) and losses (13) following years of losing and ineptitude and frustration; the Indianapolis Colts were so bad they had the first and second pick in 1992 and got little to show for it. Then, the can't-miss kid matured and the Colts became the dominant team in the AFC South. Captain Trevor looks and sounds a lot like Manning. So, same ole "new energy?" I don't think so. If we get six wins and five are in Duval, that's real progress! I'd bet his career will be closer to Manning than Jeff George, another botched Colts first pick of the draft.

I, too, would call six or seven victories real progress for the Jaguars in 2021. Remember: Even with all the offseason additions, the Jaguars were still 1-15 last season – so, there's much improvement to be made before contending for the postseason. As far as comparing Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence to Manning, it's a high bar to expect Lawrence to have a career close to a player who played in four Super Bowls, made 15 postseason appearances and was named the NFL Most Valuable Player a record five times. That's consistent success few quarterbacks have matched. Ever. As for the short-term, I would expect fewer interceptions for Lawrence and better statistics overall as a rookie than Manning; the game is more quarterback-friendly than when Manning entered the league 23 seasons ago. But statistics don't matter as much as look. Manning by the end of his rookie season looked more comfortable than at the beginning. He was improving. He clearly was getting it, and that made it very clear he was going to be special. That's what you want to see from Lawrence this season – even beyond record and without regard to statistics.

Sean from JACKSONVILLE

Yikes. Now we have to go against Julio Jones twice a year? Thanks, Titans. I hope our cornerbacks are ready.

The Tennessee Titans indeed on Sunday acquired Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones in a trade. The move has many Jaguars fans concerned, which is understandable considering Jones' status as one of the NFL's best receivers. And Jones indeed is an other-worldly, game-changing receiver and a dominant player when healthy. But he has struggled in the last area in recent seasons. He also is 32 and entering his 11th NFL season, so it's fair to wonder if he will become healthier and more available moving forward.

Steve from Nashville, TN

If the Tennessee Titans can sign a collegiate wrestler who has not played football since high school to their 90-man roster, then maybe the Jaguars should be allowed to sign a Heisman winning and two-time BCS champion player to theirs?

Fair.

David from Maplewood, NJ

Ya know what this team really needs? A few more free-agent wide receivers. I don't think five is enough.

Fair.

John from Jacksonville

Assuming the NFL asks the Jaguars if they would like to be on "Hard Knocks," who decides? The owner? The coach? The general manager? A combination? That would surely gain some national media exposure – if that's want they want. I'd rather they just win.

An NFL team with a new head coach can't be mandated to appear on Hard Knocks, so the Jaguars don't have to do it this year – even if asked. A decision to appear on Hard Knocks would be organizational in nature, with the head coach, general manager and owner all having input. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan previously has said he is warm to the idea, but he wouldn't overrule Head Coach Urban Meyer if Meyer was dead-set against it. Meyer recently said he understood how it could have value for fans. We'll see.

Seamus from Vancouver, BC

Man, O-Man. You and I do not see eye to eye on the Osaka answer. Your response, similar to former quarterback Brett Favre and some other prominent personalities regarding mental and emotional health, is exactly why it is the problem it is. While you have some words that said "it is important," your whole message conditioned "but it's pro sports so suck it up buttercup." I fail to see the "competitive edge" she would or could gain by not talking immediately to media. Notice, she declined even though SHE WON. I have seen a few "pressers" and you guys seem to have no idea how strong you come on. Giving a player some extra time to process strong emotions, good or bad, absolutely does not weaken the sport. Indeed, I argue that it strengthens it, because the player is given the chance to process things best for themselves, while allowing them a chance to enrich their perspective after the fact. Tell me you have never interviewed a player a few days after a big game and they did not have a richer, deeper, more nuanced response to questions about that game! Mental health needs better respect from the professional athletic world, not just the perfunctory passing "it is important, BUT..." response.

I absolutely empathize with Osaka's mental-health issues. My intent in answering a question about this recently was not to minimize her state of mind – and she likely did the right thing withdrawing from the French Open in this situation. I also wrote in my first answer regarding this that she, her team and tennis officials could have done better to find a solution to this issue; it feels as if it will be critical in many sports moving forward to find a way for athletes to be accessible to media – and therefore, the fans – in a way that doesn't threaten the athlete's mental well-being. I suppose the difficulty I have is the idea that answering questions after a game is an undue burden on athletes' mental health. I understand that Osaka feels this way, but it has taken on a narrative in recent days that media availabilities are unfairly burdensome on all athletes. Maybe – and if so, I guess I need to understand the issue better. But whatever the solution might be, giving athletes "a few days" after an event to process sure isn't it. Fans care about results and reaction immediately, not two or three days later. By that time, athletes and media typically have either moved onto prepare for the next event – or in some cases, have played the next event. Either way, a two-or-three-day "cooling-off" period just isn't realistic. Fans in the 1920s and 1930s only waited a day – until the next morning's newspaper – to get reaction from the game; fans in a 24-7, instant-reaction environment of Twitter sure won't want to wait multiple days. Yes, mental health needs better respect from professional athletics, but one would hope it could be respected and still have athletes interact with media following events to provide fans perspective on the event.

George from Longview, TX

I have to assume at this point you've found out plus-two doesn't refer to your daily naps. Did Urban have to come to you directly to explain it? Or did HR send out a memo?

Wait, what?

Ryan Fremont, OH

I, for one, hope that the Jaguars sign up for Hard Knocks. It's time for the world to be introduced to the KOAF.

Nah, I'm good.

Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II exciting? Yes, he was. Until the other teams watched tape and prepared accordingly. Do you know what is really exciting, John? Quarterbacks that perform even with tons of tape on them.

Fair.

Justin from Jax

Hey, Zone. Random question, but did you cover Natrone Means when he was with the Jags? I was six years old when we were awarded the team, so I've grown up with this franchise and I remember him being my first favorite player. Mostly because he had a really cool visor.

I did cover running back Natrone Means when he played in Jacksonville. He was a good player who had a really good postseason when the Jaguars made their run to the 1996 AFC Championship Game. Good guy. Cool visor.

William the Contemplator from Jacksonville

Are you required to list the Jags sponsors in your replies, or do you do that on your own to contribute to your job security?

I'm not required to list sponsors in the replies, and not doing so would not hurt my job security. But just as I refer to TIAA Bank Field when discussing the Jaguars' stadium, I refer to 2021 Organized Team Activities being presented by Baptist Health and the practice facility being called the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. It's the branded world we live in and it takes a few keystrokes. It's not a huge issue.

Jim from Middleburg, FL

John, this is not gonna end well ... I just know it.

Don't open that door.

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