O-Zone: Long, long ago

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Mike from Mandarin

John, I hope all the fans just don't show up this season. Just want to take the season off from TIAA Bank Field without any explanation. Also, just got up and left work yesterday without saying anything to my boss, too. Hope I don't get fired. But on a little more serious note, this sounds like a serious drug problem. I have no doubt that this is the demise of his career.

You’re referencing Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith’s announcement Thursday that he doesn’t plan to play in 2019 – and you are equating your position as an employee with an NFL player’s position as an employee. As I say often in this forum, NFL players – particularly star, veteran players – are in an entirely different situation than “normal employees.” This is “not fair” in much the same way that life is “not fair.” NFL players are in a very real sense independent contractors and because they can do things athletically that place them in high demand, they can do things without getting “fired” where perhaps normal “employees” would lose their jobs. As for your perception that this is a drug problem and the end of Smith’s career, I learned long ago not to assume things I don’t know, so I don’t know what led Smith here – just as I have no idea if this will be the demise of his career. We’ll see.

Steve from Duval

So, Telvin taking a year off … How do you think his teammates feel? Or do they care?

Worried. Yes.

Jay from Jacksonville, NC,

It was interesting to see former Jaguars quarterback Cody Kessler released this week. The team must really like what they have with Alex McGough/Gardner Minshew. Given that McGough has a season in the trenches on the practice squad in Seattle, does that give him any type of a “leg up” in regards to the game slowing down, or is he still as raw as Minshew coming straight out of college? Also, how do you see them shaking out the depth chart? Do the Jags actually keep THREE quarterbacks this year?

I can’t assess McGough’s level of “raw,” or how his experience on Seattle’s practice squad as a rookie this past season helped or hurt him. That’s because the Jaguars have done no 11-on-11 or seven-on-seven work, and there are no observable offseason practices until later this month. As for the depth chart, Minshew will have every chance to be the backup and it feels as if that’s what the team wants – though he must earn the position. I could definitely see the Jaguars keeping three quarterbacks this season, with the third quarterback – likely McGough – likely on the practice squad.

Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436 since 1995

Please tell me Josh Allen and Jawaan Taylor remained intact Friday in the first day of rookie minicamp.

Yes.

Strnbker from Dothan, AL

With quarterback Nick Foles having spent some limited time with the offensive line, what is the general reaction to his addition both on and off field?

There has been little reaction. I expect more once the Jaguars started organized team activities later this month. That’s when players will start getting a better feel for one another – and when players will start talking about these things publicly.

David from Maplewood, NJ

John, are you kidding? There is no way that is whole story. Still no idea what it is, maybe he is pissed at the team, maybe he hurt himself in some contractually penalizing way. We will probably never know for sure, but I will never be convinced that that dude who addressed the media all last year in the manner he did and cried at Poz's retirement needs a mental health year off in his prime. Sorry not buying that.

Until we know details, it will remain tricky for someone who is not Smith – or who doesn’t know him well – to assess “the whole story.”

Nick from Palatka, FL

Z, how much do you think Poz's retirement had to do with Telvin Smith's decline? Smith definitely had an off year last year – and now this. I really hope he gets it together, but if he follows through and really sits this year out I don't see him coming back. Hope I'm wrong.

Smith and former Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny were very close. Smith looked up to Posluszny a lot. His retirement couldn’t have been a positive for Smith. I can’t say how much it hurt or what effect it had on Smith. I don’t know Smith well enough to speculate on that.

Josh from Pensacola, FL

The Telvin Smith situation is disappointing to say the least, especially when just two seasons ago he said he wanted to be a leader on this team. He has been one of my favorite Jags since he came into the league. My question is do you believe this is an isolated incident or is there growing dissension on this team? It’s starting to become concerning, but maybe I’m overthinking things.

Dissension is defined as “disagreement that leads to discord.” What’s going on with Smith isn’t dissension. There’s nothing to suggest what’s going on with Smith has anything to do with any Jaguars player other than Smith.

Touchdown from Festus, MO

I would like to know if we are experiencing turmoil? Or is this a crisis? Telvin has blown many fans away with this whole-I'm-sitting-out-a-year deal. Maybe not, but I'm thinking the front office knew something was amiss with TS50. And Quincy fills that spot nicely in my mind ... almost too nicely ...

They have acquired five veteran linebackers and drafted a rookie – Quincy Williams – since the 2018 season ended. Of course the front office knew something was going on with Smith. They didn’t know he was going to make the announcement he made Thursday, but they knew they needed to prepare for something.

Jeremy from Dodge City, KS

Quincy is a STAR! He needs to be put up on the front-page banner.

You go, girl – and stay in your lane.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

With Nick Foles at quarterback, will the offense be more of an intermediate and downfield passing offense? If running back Leonard Fournette can bring the defense closer to the line, wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. is a size/speed guy. With a quarterback who can accurately throw downfield, this could be an exciting offense.

That’s certainly the hope.

Bob from Sumter, SC

Who is more valuable: a defensive end who can get you 10 sacks a year like Yannick Ngakoue or Jalen Ramsey, one of the best cornerbacks in the league? Your chances of finding a good – if not great – cornerback in the draft are more likely than finding a ten-sack defensive end. With only so many $100 million contracts to go around is a cornerback – as good as he is – worth that cap hit?

Double-digit-sack players are valuable – and if all else is equal, pass-rushing defensive end indeed trumps cover corner. But all else isn’t equal here. Ramsey isn’t just one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He is a player capable of changing games at his position, and he’s capable of being an All-Decade/Hall of Fame performer. There are great players and then there are transcendent ones. Ramsey has a chance to be transcendent.

Jason from Thousand Oaks, CA

John, you're an actual genius, when it comes to football.

Yes.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

I was mad we did not acquire Tyrod Taylor last season. I am now glad we have Nick Foles instead of TT. Pretty rare to have the opportunity to acquire a Super Bowl MVP. Hindsight is 20/20. Also, I feel the need to put one in the 'fer column for Ben Koyack. Is he the best tight end ever? No, but the guy ain't bad for a seventh-round pick.

Hey … one fer not being angry anymore, one fer signing Super Bowl Most Valuable Players and one fer Koyack I guess.

Scott from Nashville, TN

Diehards want to see the division games at TIAA Bank Field because they're supposed to be our biggest rivals. That said, our division kind of sucks from a popularity standpoint. We have two of the newest expansion franchises in Jacksonville and Houston, a team that was vilified for abandoning the City of Baltimore in the middle of the night, and another team that bailed on Houston. As much as I love seeing us battle those division foes, I always have the most elbow room at the stadium for the division games. I'd like to be upset when we lose a division game to London, but it has to be better for the bottom line. I let my friends be mad about it. Oh, and who cares who we play as long as we win!

Fair.

Richard from Starke, FL

Is every night "New Year's Eve?”

Not for me. Not anymore. Not in a long, long while.

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