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O-Zone: Knowledge and ability

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Stu from Wrestlingworth

Hey, O. Do you think the NFL will move towards treating quarterbacks more like running backs in terms of draft 'em, use 'em for four or five years and then move onto the next one? I ask because looking back at Super Bowl winners, a lot of teams have won with quarterbacks on their rookie deals (or in the case of the Broncos winning despite an aging quarterback), and there's an awful lot of teams with a lot of salary cap used up in so-called "elite quarterbacks" who are going nowhere in the league. Is it better to spend your salary cap on getting a generally better team all round versus sinking a huge chunk of it on one player?

The big answer is that there’s no set way to win the Super Bowl, because teams have won with a franchise quarterback and they have won with a talented roster built around a serviceable quarterback. But I’m not sure the premise of your question works. While the Seahawks won with quarterback Russell Wilson on a rookie deal following the 2013 season and the Ravens won with quarterback Joe Flacco on a rookie deal following 2012, the only other salary-cap era teams to win with quarterbacks on original rookie deals were the 2001 New England Patriots, 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2007 New York Giants with Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, respectively. I don’t think you can make the argument that the last three franchises would have been better off letting those quarterbacks go after their rookie contracts; all won Super Bowls after re-signing. I do think you might see some franchise attempt to follow the Jaguars’ model of not giving up on a young, struggling quarterback if they think he has potential – and potentially trying to build pieces around an OK quarterback in an effort to strengthen the overall roster. But overall … I don’t think teams will stop trying to find a franchise quarterback and build around him. It’s still the best way to give yourself the best chance to be competitive over the long haul.

John from Jacksonville

The angst against bad calls is growing because they do sometimes impact the result of a game. I have a simple solution and the NFL has plenty of cash to do it. Each game should assign three off-camera NFL rule expert "officials.” Any controversial call on the field gets up to 60 seconds for these three off-camera officials to review and to vote. Any call getting a unanimous 3-0 vote against the controversial call (including penalties) gets reversed. Any other vote result, even 2-1, lets the call stand. Easy, effective. Just do it. No need to kneel on this idea. The only other option is installing sensors inside the official's craniums. Go Zone!

While this is not a bad idea, it is an unnecessary one. The officials officiating NFL games know the rules – better than players, often better than coaches and better than most fans. They often confer on the field during a controversy call. There’s no reason to believe three more on-site officials could better judge a situation than the experienced, qualified officials already on the field. This would be a little like the recent implementation of full-time officials – a costly move that might look on paper like the league is doing something to improve officiating … but ultimately more overkill than anything.

Jeremy from Omaha, NE

Who did the Jags draft in the first round this past draft? Has he played in any games?

The Jaguars selected defensive lineman Taven Bryan from the University of Florida in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He has played as a reserve in all three games.

Mark from Prescott, AZ

John, can one person be the majority owner of two NFL franchises?

No.

Jordan from Jacksonville

We have zero vertical passing game. Do you think we can find a way to stretch the field?

Yes. I think this can improve once the Jaguars establish their running game, which could be helped by the return of running back Fournette. Once that happens, it makes more sense to use play-action calls to push the ball downfield – and I expect those plays will be more effective once the running game improves.

Michael from Beaufort, S.C.

Why are the Jaguars’ offensive linemen not being aggressive and pushing defenders back? I know this unit can do it. Is it coaching or are they just being passive? Second, why are we not blitzing more with our linebackers on defense? Seems to me like if we did this more sacks and turnovers would be created. Lastly, why aren't our receivers and new tight end getting open and making more plays? Is it play-calling or just scheme? Thanks, John. Duuuuuuuvvvvvaaaallll

The Jaguars’ offensive linemen aren’t being passive; the National Football League is professional football and which means defensive lineman are big, strong people who are also aggressive and are actively working to not be pushed back. Second, the Jaguars’ defense does incorporate linebacker blitzes at times, and linebacker Telvin Smith has a sack this season; considering the defense has allowed just three touchdowns this season, my sense is the defensive approach is OK. Lastly, the receivers were open a lot against New England and weren’t open against the Tennessee Titans; playcalling and scheme can only do so much, and sometimes receivers just need to get open and catch passes.

Overthinker from Braintown

Is the offense flawed?

The Jaguars were fifth in the NFL in points and sixth in yards last season; it scored on three of its first four possessions in the regular-season opener and scored four touchdowns against New England this season. It is not a great offense. I doubt it will score four touchdowns a game. I expect it will play far closer to the New England game most games than the six-point game against Tennessee this past season. That game against Tennessee was a bad game. One bad game does not a flawed offense make.

Travis from High Springs, FL

Why are the Jaguars playing the Jets two years in a row? I thought the NFL schedule was set up where a team played its own division, another division within its conference and a division from the other conference.

That is the NFL’s schedule’s format for 14 of the 16 games. There are two additional games in which teams play the corresponding team from each of the other two divisions in the conference. The Jaguars are playing the Jets this season because the Jets are in the AFC East. They played them last season because both teams finished last in their respective divisions in 2016.

Derek from Brookings, SD

Zone, just out of curiosity: can a rule be changed during the season, or is that something that can only be done during the offseason? Asking for a friend, and definitely not referring to the roughing the passer penalties so far this year …

Tell your friend the NFL can change the rule midseason. But while there are reports that members of the NFL’s Competition Committee are uncomfortable with how the rule abut landing on the quarterback with full body weight is being called there currently are no plans to change the rule midseason. There reportedly will be changes to how the rule is called. And I think that’s the right approach. While a tweak may be necessary, I don’t know that this rule needs to be scrapped. There clearly have been cases when defensive players have done this unnecessarily. I have seen a couple of instances this season when I thought it was called correctly. Defensive players shouldn’t be allowed to drive a quarterback into the ground if it’s not necessary, and there are times when a quarterback is in a defenseless position that defenders are able to do that without penalty without this new rule.

Jake from Virginia

Yo-zone, I think you termed them “avalanche” games last year when the defense was creating turnovers and mass pressure upfront. We've yet to see that this season (not that they've been bad by any stretch). Before Blaine Gabbert got knocked out it felt like we were on the cusp of seeing one of those type of games. Will we see it against the Jets and their young quarterback?

It’s possible. A few things need to happen for those avalanche games to occur. The defense first needs to play well and get a turnover or two, then the offense must take advantage of those turnovers. The biggest factor Sunday: stopping the run. If the Jaguars can do that, then I believe they will be able to pressure rookie quarterback Sam Darnold into mistakes. If they can do that, the avalanche can happen.

Michael from Phoenix

Zone, because "Your vast knowledge and ability to relate to the people consistently amazes and astounds," perhaps you could explain selection bias to the Jaguars faithful. We get jobbed by the refs the most because we watch the Jaguars the most. And because we are rooting for them to win.

Yes. And because fans gonna fan.

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